After enjoying the most dominant game of his career, Quinnen Williams will face a stiff test in the form of Colts left guard Quenton Nelson.
A mere 925 days ago, the New York Jets traded a hoard of picks to the Indianapolis Colts for the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, which they would later use to select Sam Darnold. As part of the deal, the Colts moved down from their No. 3 spot to the Jets’ No. 6 spot, and with that pick, they selected Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.
Fast forward to the present day, and Nelson is a two-time First-Team All-Pro, considered by most to be the best guard in football. He has gone 32 consecutive games without being credited for allowing a sack, has committed just three penalties since the start of 2019, and was ranked as the NFL’s best left guard by Pro Football Focus in 2019 (91.2 overall grade). Since 2018, the Colts have picked up a first down on 30.5% of their carries to the left side, second-best in the NFL over that span.
Today, Nelson will be the primary foe of Quinnen Williams.
Williams had the best game of his career against the 49ers last week, posting an NFL season-high five stops behind the line of scrimmage (2 sacks, 3 TFL).
His encore performance will largely center around battles with Nelson. So far this season, Williams has rushed from the right side of the defensive line on 88.2% of his pass-rush snaps. That, of course, would make Nelson a common matchup for Williams.
Let’s take a quick look at some examples of Nelson’s unique talent on film.
Nelson shows off tremendous awareness on this protection rep. First, he gets off the ball quickly and lays an effective two-hand strike to the 2i-technique defensive tackle, taking an outside angle so he can pass the defender off to the center. He then instinctively heads outside to help out the left tackle (Anthony Castonzo), who gets beat to the inside by Yannick Ngakoue. Nelson bails out Castonzo and stifles Ngakoue’s inside rush, giving Philip Rivers an uncontested pocket to hit Mo Alie-Cox for 21 yards. Two threats neutralized in one rep for Nelson.