When you’re an offensive tackle, sometimes the best thing can be for people to not speak about you. It means you’re not making the kind of mistakes that lead to your quarterback getting hit, or making yourself a prop for a defensive end’s highlight reel.
It also means a lot of your good play is going unnoticed. When a running back scampers through a hole for a big gain, or when you get just enough push to pick up a first down, you’re not always getting the credit you’re due.
Which brings us to Kareem McKenzie.
The Giants’ right tackle is coming off a tremendous season, yet was ignored when it came to the end of year awards. We know there’s a massive preference for left tackles when it comes to these types of votes, but is anyone really going to say – objectively and having watched both men all season – that Donald Penn had a better year than McKenzie?
The answer of a sane person is “no”, by the way.
Getting to the next level
Where better to start than to look at the run blocking of Kareem McKenzie. It was primarily this that fueled his finish as our highest rated right tackle by a considerable distance. Granted, he faded a bit towards the end with two of his weakest performances coming in Weeks 16 and 17, but before that, he was better than any in the league.
Take what he was able to do in Week 6 against Detroit. Time and again he drove Ndamukong Suh inside to give his running back room to run off tackle. You could just as easily look what he did in Week 9 against Seattle where he dominated Kentwan Balmer, or Week 13 where he manhandled Redskin linebackers and pushed their defensive linemen about.
In fact, it was only really in Week 17 that he had any troubles with a particular player. In that game, Adam Carriker had his best outing of the season and got the better of McKenzie on multiple occasions, beating the big right tackle inside for three tackles for short gains. Still, you won’t catch many players who didn’t have a bad day at the office during the course of the season and a downer in the finale doesn’t taint the excellence of the rest of his year.
Going into our grading, the table below shows the number of positive run blocks we graded for the top five right tackles in the league as a percentage of the total number of snaps they were run blocking. McKenzie finishes just below Eric Winston, but with more positive run blocks than any other (Winston spent considerably less of his time run blocking).
Right Tackles, Positive Grade Percentage, Run Blocking, 2010
|Rank||Player||Team||Run Blocking Snaps||Positive Plays||Pos %|
What really separates McKenzie is that, unlike his peers, he makes so few mistakes. The table below shows McKenzie’s percentage of negative run blocking plays. While Eric Winston had some really bad games (noticeably whenever he seemed to line up against the Titans), McKenzie really limited his negatives outside of the aforementioned Week 17 game.
Right Tackles, Negative Grade Percentage, Run Blocking, 2010
|Rank||Player||Team||Run Blocking Snaps||Negative Plays||Neg %|
It’s that blend of opening things up with regularity and avoiding hurting your team that makes McKenzie about as dependable a right tackle as you could want in the rushing game. But what about pass protection?
Given that he plays on the right side you’d be right to not expect a player like Joe Thomas, Jake Long or D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Those kind of players have it in them to shut down all types of defensive ends. But for a right tackle, you could do a lot worse than McKenzie.
Looking at all right tackles in the league, only three of them surrendered less pressure as a percentage of their total snaps in pass protection than the giant … uh … Giant. What’s more, only Sebastian Vollmer of the Patriots gave up fewer sacks (just one) than the two McKenzie did. So, while he may not be the most athletic tackle in the game, it’s incorrect to suggest he doesn’t handle his own in pass protection.
Right Tackles, Pressure Allowed Percentage, 2010
|Rank||Player||Team||Pass Blocking Snaps||QB Disruptions Allowed||Pressure %|
If you go through his games it was only really Robert Mathis (two sacks, a hit, and a hurry) that really got the better of him. Guys who had excellent seasons like Jason Babin, Clay Matthews, and Charles Johnson notched up just one hit and three hurries between them, with McKenzie largely able to control them. That’s more than most right tackles could dream of doing in one game against any of the three.
So when you look back at 2010 and think about the players who performed the best at their position, don’t forget about the Giants’ right tackle. He may not have made many highlight reels, or played in the post season, but what was asked of him, he answered emphatically.
What more do you want out of an NFL player?