Yesterday was all about the offensive tackles and today we’re looking at our list of top offensive guard performances from the 2011 season. These are the defenders of the A-gaps and the ones who put the power into physical run games.
As we did with tackles, we’re going to be listing the five best performances from both left and right guards, taking into account how they blocked in the run, pass, and screen games while also looking at what (if any) penalties they gave up.
You know the drill, so let’s get to handing out the kudos.
5. Kris Dielman, San Diego Chargers: Week 5 at Denver (+4.5)
While injuries that ended his career rightly overshadowed his performance in 2011, Dielman was on his way to another fine season. His Week 5 performance against Denver highlighted this. Sure, he gave up a hit and a pressure on 37 pass blocks, but his run blocking was stellar in helping Ryan Mathews to 125 yards on the ground. The left guard was only beaten to give up a tackle once in the run game, but with 10 positive grades, Dielman was dominant. He moved big linemen like Brodrick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas, and did a great job pulling and getting to the second level with D.J. Williams being a particular victim.
4. Korey Lichtensteiger, Washington Redskins: Week 2 vs. Arizona (+4.5)
The Redskins’ left guard has always been a favorite of Coach Mike Shanahan, and with performances like his Week 2 display against Arizona it’s easy to see why. Going head-to-head with a talent like Calais Campbell often isn’t easy. Here, Lichtensteiger gave up just one pressure to the $55 million man while picking up three positive blocks in the run game against Campbell. Throw in some good work in the screen game, and this is exactly the kind of performance Shanahan wants from his interior linemen.
3. Carl Nicks, New Orleans Saints: Week 17 vs. Carolina (+4.6)
Nicks didn’t give up a solitary piece of pressure on his quarterback in this game, but his work at the second level was what earned him a spot in the Top 5. Nearly all of his good work came against linebackers, with James Anderson finding out just how hard it can be to handle Nicks. It didn’t matter if it was in the run or screen game, as Nicks made his blocks count on his way to helping achieve another Saints victory.
2. Steve Hutchinson, Minnesota Vikings: Week 10 at Green Bay (+4.8)
The one-time perennial Pro-Bowler rolled back the years as his Vikings team traveled to Green Bay. He was rarely tested in pass protection and had absolutely no problem with B.J. Raji in the run game. Raji wasn’t the only to suffer at the hands of Hutchinson, with C.J. Wilson also struggling against a near-flawless guard display.
1. Daryn Colledge, Arizona Cardinals: Week 12 vs. St Louis (+6.7)
Games like this have observers shift their stance and start to understand why the Cardinals paid Colledge such big money. In addition to being perfect in pass protection, Colledge displayed some of the athleticism that few possess, grading positively on five pull blocks as he teed off on the Rams’ linebackers to get the highest single game grade of any guard in 2011.
5. Jon Asamoah, Kansas City Chiefs: Week 16 vs. Oakland (+4.4)
Despite being one of the most consistent pass-protecting guards, Jon Asamoah wasn’t always as reliable in the run game. It’s not a surprise that he gave up no pressure whatsoever, but it was refreshing to see how well he played in the run game. Matched up primarily with Tommy Kelly, he won their battle comprehensively.
4. Shawn Lauvao, Cleveland Browns: Week 15 at Arizona (+4.5)
It wasn’t always easy for Lauvao while starting at guard for Cleveland last year, but he put some of those struggles behind him with a strong display against Arizona here. Lauvao didn’t give up a single pressure despite having to deal with Darnell Dockett most of the game. And, outside of David Carter beating him badly once, he was on top of his battles in the run game. This was an encouraging late season display.
3. Uche Nwaneri, Jacksonville Jaguars: Week 10 at Indianapolis (+4.5)
Uche Nwaneri won’t have many easier days then going up against the likes of Antonio Johnson and Fili Moala. He moved them about at will and did a good job getting his hands on linebackers like Pat Angerer and Ernie Sims in the run game. Throw in a perfect display in pass protection and he’s in the Top 5.
2. Antoine Caldwell, Houston Texans: Week 15 vs. Carolina (+5.0)
With Caldwell on the roster, it’s not hard to see how the Texans could afford to let Mike Brisiel go. Caldwell’s play against Carolina in Week 15 was the highlight as the right guard bullied the Panthers’ weak interior without giving up a single pressure in pass protection. Showing the kind of agility the Texans need from their linemen, his work at the second level against Dan Connor also stood out.
1. Josh Sitton, Green Bay Packers: Week 1 vs. New Orleans (+5.1)
The top right guard performance of the year also occurred in the first game of the season. Sitton was part of a Green Bay interior that dominated up front; perfect in pass protection, he mauled an overmatched Sedrick Ellis. Sitton was also exceptional at the next level and seemed to zero in on and manhandle Jonathan Casillas with regularity.