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Very Long Blythe article

July 14, 2019 06:10AM
Didn't write this, but this is by t hought on Blythe, too. THough he got stronger in the offseason, can he take on the beasts. Without Saffold, we have 2 guards who can't take on the big boys in the run game--possibly
I would love to see more analysis like this...

From another locale on the net:

Underdog Blythe's winding and unlikely road to being a starting NFL guard

In 2016, Austin Blythe was a late 7th round draft pick, just 5 slots away from being Mr. Irrelevant. Most players drafted that late are fringe prospects. A few examples include Tyler Matakevich, a LB I really liked as a potential 7th rounder. He's a good special teams player for the Steelers, like their version of Bryce Hager. Scooby Wright, once a draft cult favorite, was last seen playing in the AAF. Kenny Lawler, one of Goff's favorite targets at Cal, is in the CFL.

So, for Blythe as an undersized lineman drafted very late to even be starting in the NFL is a surprise. Of course, he's not starting for the team that actually drafted him. The Colts got virtually nothing themselves out of that draft pick.

As a rookie, Blythe started one game for the Colts, against the Jaguars. It was a disaster. According to PFF, Blythe gave up 7 hurries on Andrew Luck and was also terrible at run blocking, getting repeatedly beaten. His PFF grade at that point was 36.6. That is Greg Robinson level bad (he had a grade of 38.0 in 2016).

Around the time of rookie mini-camps in 2017, the Colts added a veteran reserve center to the roster and waived Blythe. The Rams claimed him, throwing another body at the open center position (we weren't sure what to expect from John Sullivan at the time, so it was a question mark).

In 2017, Blythe got some snaps in the first game against the Niners and I thought he looked poor, getting overpowered on some plays. In the final game of the season, he and many other reserves got the chance to start against SF as the Rams treated it like a preseason contest. Initially he was at LG. On one play, DeForest Buckner beats Blythe easily and crushes Sean Mannion, causing a fumble. In the 2nd half, Blythe moved to the other side and played at RG. One small note about this game is that Jamon Brown was given an 83 PFF grade in what mostly was a very poor performance by the Rams offensive backups.

Given this very limited and very underwhelming body of work in the NFL during his first 2 years in the NFL, there was little reason to believe that Austin Blythe was ready to ascend to a bigger role for the Rams in 2018. I saw him as a reserve level center, who was too small and underpowered to hold up if asked to play guard.

Blythe's fast start in 2018

Perhaps the most important thing that helped Blythe last season was the timing of Jamon Brown's suspension. The reason I say this is that if Jamon Brown had never been suspended, but instead had started the early games in the year, but gotten injured and Austin Blythe had filled in the rest of the season as his injury replacement, I believe fans would view Blythe differently as a player today. Instead, because the suspension allowed Blythe to start the entire season, he was able to play in the early games of the year which was when he built up his reputation for being a good player.

Against the Raiders in the first game of the year, Blythe had an 87 PFF grade. In the 3rd game against the Chargers, he had an 83.7 grade. After 3 games, Blythe had an 83.1 overall grade. Blythe's numbers progressively dropped after that point in the season, slowly at first, then much more rapidly in the second half of the season.

Blythe the lamb killer

A key reason Blythe wasn't consistent in 2018 is that he was mostly a "lamb killer", performing well against weak opponents, but struggling against better opponents. Below are names of some of the defenders I noticed Blythe blocking in the first 3 games, followed by their PFF grades. Keep in mind that Austin Blythe had a 71.0 PFF grade in 2018.

Raiders: Justin Ellis 47.6, Maurice Hurst 72.4, Tank Carradine 62.2, Fadol Brown 55.1, Frostee Rucker 61.9

Cardinals: Rodney Gunter 70.5, Robert Nkemdiche 59.5

Chargers: Brandon Mebane 65.8, Darius Philon 67.8

All of these players were under a 75 grade and most of them are much lower. People made a big deal about how Blythe blocked Nkemdiche, because he's a former high draft pick. I'm not really impressed.

In the next stretch of the season, where Blythe had a slight dropoff, but was still relatively solid, these were his opponents I noticed:

Vikings: Sheldon Richardson 72.2

Seahawks: Jarrran Reed 69.2

Broncos: Derek Wolfe 75.8, Zach Kerr 67.3

Niners: Solomon Thomas 64.0, DeForest Buckner 81.4

Packers: Dean Lowry 73.8, Kenny Clark 90.5

This second group is stronger than the first, but not elite. It was when Blythe went up against an even higher tier of defenders later in the season (for example Akiem Hicks of the Bears, with a 91.6 grade) that things got really bad and Blythe was abused.

Who is on the lineup for 2019?

If the trend we saw in 2018 continues for Blythe this coming season, the natural question is how many elite interior DL opponents does Blythe have to face? If the schedule is weak, he should have a better chance to succeed. If the schedule is tough, it could be a long year.

Some opponents the Rams face look weak on paper, but for the most part, I believe the DT matchups look tough.

Panthers: Kawann Short 83.7, Gerald McCoy 78.6, Dontari Poe 69.0

First game of the season and already a tough assignment against Short and McCoy. The Panthers also have Vernon Butler, a former 1st round pick.

Saints: Sheldon Rankins 81.6, David Onyemata 81.2, Malcom Brown 64.4

Browns: Sheldon Richardson 72.2, Larry Ogunjobi 64

Bucs: Ndamukong Suh 82.6, Vita Vea 74.2

Suh and Vea are both very strong players and there is reason to believe Vea could be much better in 2019.

Hawks: Jarran Reed 69.2, Poona Ford 88.2

Ford didn't play many snaps in 2018, but came on very late in the season with more playing time. His tape looked decent, so he might play much more against the Rams in 2019.

Niners: DeForest Buckner 81.4, Arik Armstead 74.8

Falcons: Grady Jarrett 91.0, Deadrin Senat 71.8, Jack Crawford 71.4

Bengals: Geno Atkins 83.5, Andrew Billings 74.9

Steelers: Cam Heyward 84.9, Stephon Tuitt 81.8, Javon Hargrave 82.7

Between Jarrett, Atkins and a talented Steelers front, this is a difficult group of games.

Bears: Akiem Hicks 91.6, Eddie Goldman 89.2, Bilal Nichols 77.0

Hicks wasn't the only one causing problems for the Rams. Both Nichols and Goldman are also powerful and were pushing around Blythe and Sullivan.

Ravens: Michael Pierce 91.0, Brandon Williams 76.8, Pernell Mcphee 68.4, Chris Wormley 68.8

Possibly the toughest game the entire season. Pierce is an absolute monster, the things he does on the football field make me go "Wow". I think he's one of the best in the NFL in terms of sheer power and strength.

Cards: Darius Philon 67.8, Nkemdiche 59.5, Corey Peters 69.5, Rodney Gunter 70.5

Maybe the easiest game, but watch out for DE Zach Allen, a 3rd round pick. I think he might become a decent player.

Cowboys: Maliek Collins 61.8, Antwaun Woods 68.5, Ty Crawford 72.0

Overall, in terms of the matchups for Blythe, I think the early part of the season is "medium", the middle is "very difficult" and the late part of the year should be the easiest. In other words, the order of the games has been shuffled around compared to the 2018 season, when the early games were "easy", the middle was "medium" and the later part was "hard".

Perception is reality

My prediction as to what is likely to happen is that somewhere around halfway to 2/3 through the season, Blythe will be struggling and PFF and others will say that he has "regressed" compared to 2018, If this happens, I think it will be ironic, because in many ways PFF caused the problem themselves in they way they hyped up Blythe so much with their silly grading system. In my opinion, Blythe never was a "85 grade" type guard. By building him up so much, PFF has created expectations for Blythe that are going to be difficult for him to meet. If Blythe were a QB, he might be Trevor Siemian (7th round pick in 2015).

So, give Blythe some slack if he's not great in 2019. Just being in the NFL as a late 7th round pick is a great accomplishment and to be a starter, even if he's a poor starter is even better. Don't bail on him if he's trashed by someone like Grady Jarrett in the middle of the season, because it is possible that Blythe will be outstanding in say the last 5 games of the year and suddenly his PFF grade will jump up.

Blythe is one of the most interesting Rams players for 2019. He is only making about $2 million, so if he proves me wrong and has a great season, he should be in line for a huge jump in salary in 2020. That contract might come from another team, not from the Rams. Maybe his future isn't at guard, and he could end up playing center. Or, was 2018 his best year, his one season under the sun? I'm curious to see what happens and how it impacts the team's success in 2019.
SubjectAuthorViewsPosted

  Very Long Blythe article

Steve469July 14, 2019 06:10AM

  Re: They will be looking hard for his replacement this camp

merlin180July 14, 2019 06:44AM

  Re: Very Long Blythe article

Rams43124July 14, 2019 07:33AM

  link?

zn90July 14, 2019 07:48AM

  Link attached to this article

Steve46July 15, 2019 09:03AM

  Re: Very Long Blythe article

LMU93111July 14, 2019 08:29AM

  Re: Very Long Blythe article

zn130July 14, 2019 09:52AM

  Re: Very Long Blythe article

Scottish Ram57July 15, 2019 11:52AM

  Could Have Kept J. Brown

droopy63July 15, 2019 04:18PM

  Allow me to explain it.

AlbaNY_Ram97July 15, 2019 06:01PM

  Re: I don't think he was a scheme fit

merlin44July 16, 2019 11:04AM

  Re: I don't think he was a scheme fit

zn40July 16, 2019 11:15AM

  Re: I don't think he was a scheme fit

AlbaNY_Ram28July 16, 2019 01:35PM

  Re: Very Long Blythe article

Classicalwit56July 16, 2019 03:34AM