Film Room: A Closer Look at Julie'n Davenport's Start at Left Tackle

Julie'n Davenport filled in at left tackle for the injured Eric Fisher against the Seahawks. How did the veteran tackle do in his first start?
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The Indianapolis Colts dropped another season opening game, losing to the Seattle Seahawks 28-16. The most surprising development of the game was that the Colts' offensive line, typically one of the better units in the league, struggled mightily against an aggressive Seahawks' defense.

The focal point of the unit's struggles came from left tackle Julie'n Davenport (filling in for the injured Eric Fisher). Davenport had a poor outing overall, allowing two sacks, one quarterback hit, and six pressures in 48 pass blocking snaps (according to Pro Football Focus).

In light of this being his first start (and that he may still start games in the future), I decided to bite the bullet and watch back through this performance. I will keep it short and sweet in order to spare anybody watching.

It Was Rough

Coming into this game, I was beginning to warm up a little bit to the idea of Davenport starting. While he is a negative asset in the run game and offers very little athleticism at left tackle, I did have hope that his length and size (along with Frank Reich hiding him a bit) could lead to at least below average play.

Unfortunately, Davenport was left on an island a bit too much in this game. Some of that was due to the Seahawks and how they bring pressure, while other times were simply the Colts' trusting Davenport's ability a bit too much.

This play is an example of the latter. Quenton Nelson doubles down on the 1-Tech defensive tackle, giving the edge rusher working against Davenport a very easy two-way go. Ideally, if Nelson pinches down like this, the running back could stay in and help with Davenport's man. Nyheim Hines departs to the flat, which leaves Davenport by himself to get beat by a solid pass rusher in Rasheem Green.

Davenport's lack of athleticism is going to problem in games he starts this year. In the preseason, he had the length and strength to overpower below average/bottom of the roster edge rushers. Facing Benson Mayowa is a completely different game.

Davenport is slow in his kick-slide and shoots his hands out really wide on his punch. Even though he is able to get his hands on Mayowa, he loses all leverage when Mayowa gets inside. Once Mayowa turns the corner, Davenport is too slow-footed to recover.

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Once a defender can turn the corner on Davenport, the rep is effectively over. This happened quite a few times in this game. I expected Reich to line up Mo Alie-Cox or Jack Doyle next to Davenport more in this game to at least chip in pass protection but sadly that didn't happen.

On this rep below, Braden Smith actually gets the chip that Davenport needed. Davenport is left alone backside and quickly beat around the edge for a pressure.

I'll lump these last two clips together because they are just more of the same. Alton Robinson is a talented edge rusher who had his way with Davenport late in the game. Davenport just looked lost at times, and he was completely over-matched by the skill in the Seahawks' edge group.

Since he is such a poor athlete, Davenport really needed to rely on his size and strength to win in this game. Instead, he was outside with his hand placement all game long, and was beat by swipes and rips with ease.

Final Thoughts

I would blame half of Davenport's bad performance on him and the other half on the Colts' offensive staff for not doing a better job of hiding an obviously weak starter. They didn't have to do much to protect that left side either, just line up a tight end next to Davenport and chip as often as possible.

At the end of the day, I just think it was a major oversight to trust Davenport as much as they did one on one. It is tough not having your starting left tackle in this league, as tackle depth as a whole is at an all time low. The Colts needed to find ways to better mitigate this issue. Hopefully, they can adjust if/when Davenport starts another game this year.


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