The most important position battle of the offseason for the Denver Broncos has finally concluded, as Teddy Bridgewater has been named the starting quarterback. Another key positional battle has all but wrapped up on the offensive line as well, as veteran Bobby Massie has seemingly locked down the right tackle job.
Massie was in a tight battle with third-year pro Calvin Anderson throughout camp. While Anderson will ultimately be the swing tackle to start the season, I wanted to focus on his game in this film piece.
Anderson started just two games for the Broncos in 2020 (one at each tackle spot). In those two starts, Anderson allowed just five hurries and zero sacks in 85 pass-blocking snaps.
In today's film room, I dive into the attributes that I like in Anderson's game and why he is such a valuable piece to have on an offense.
While there were certainly some miscues on his film from a year ago, I thought Anderson played well in his first two career starts. He was aggressive in pass protection and didn't show any signs of hesitation in the slightest.
The aggressiveness is something that I really want to dive into, though. Anderson didn't overlap with former Broncos' offensive line coach Chris Strausser, but his blocking style reminds me a lot of how Strausser wants his guys to block.
Pass blocking isn't passive with Anderson. He uses jump sets and angle sets on almost every single one of his pass-blocking snaps. The fact that he has kept this style of blocking under Mike Munchak, who is more of a vertical set style of coach, shows his confidence in this technique.
He uses this aggressiveness well when combating stunts and twists too. This play below is a great example, as the defensive end barrels inside to set up the stunt. Anderson does a great job of running his player out of the play and cleaning the pocket for Drew Lock to scramble out of trouble.
While there were areas to improve upon, Anderson showed positive traits in his first two starts.
Anderson was able to start at left tackle in the Broncos' first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. He had an excellent game all around, as he dominated in the ground game and consistently held his own in the passing game.
Starting with his run blocking, he (along with guard Netane Muti) was prolific with combo blocks on the first drive. They were getting vertical displacement on defensive tackles with ease, and they paved the way for rookie running back Javonte Williams to have a standout first quarter.
Upon watching every snap of Anderson's NFL career up to this point, this is an area that he is really strong in. If the Broncos plan on incorporating more power running into their system, then Anderson is a perfect fit (if/when he starts this year).
In the passing game, Anderson showcased his patented aggressive sets throughout the first quarter. The benefit to this type of set, especially against a speed rusher like D.J. Wonnum, (below) is that it allows the tackle to make first contact. The offensive tackle is regaining control in a situation where they are typically on the defensive.
This play is a good example. Anderson essentially moves horizontally out of his stance and meets Wonnum at the line. Wonnum doesn't have any time to set up a move or soften the edge because Anderson is on him in an instant. This allows Anderson to get his hands inside and effectively finish the rush before it starts.
In Game 2 against the Seahawks, Anderson got his chance to start at right tackle. He, again, turned in a solid performance in both the run and pass game.
His best rep of the game was this clip against Alton Robinson. Robinson is a big, athletic defensive end who is likely the best competition that any of the tackles for the Broncos are going to see this preseason.
Early in the rep, it appears that Robinson is going to win to the inside, as he brings a strong swipe that stuns Anderson. However, Anderson is able to get his left arm into Robinson's chest and stonewall the rest of the rush. This was just a strong rep against a talented pass rusher.
The NFL has a major crisis on their hands when it comes to offensive tackle depth around the league. This preseason has further emphasized the issue, as depth defensive line players are exploiting the lack of quality offensive tackles.
That is why having a player like Anderson is so important for the Broncos. If either Massie or Garett Bolles miss time due to injury, Anderson can step in and be a competent replacement. In a league where most backup tackles are a liability, this is a huge advantage (especially when Massie has only played 18 games in the past two years).
Anderson is a promising, young player who has a good future with the Broncos ahead of him. Hopefully, he can continue to improve and make the right tackle job his next offseason. If not, the Broncos will still have a more than capable swing tackle.
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