Flashback to last year: Justin Britt was bad. On a bad offensive line, a pretty terrible offensive line, there wasn't much doubt that Britt was the worst of the bunch.
Just not good at all.
So after having first failed at tackle, and then failing at guard, Britt was moved to center over the offseason. Britt had never played center in either the NFL or in college, but the move made some sense for a couple reasons. First, center is the least physically demanding of the offensive line positions. Centers are more often asked to help guards on double teams or get out and block in the second level than they are asked to handle one on one matchups. The trade off is that center is the most demanding position from a knowledge perspective, but Britt had always received high praise from the coaching staff in that area.
That brings us to today, with three preseason games under our belts. The reviews of Justin Britt the center have been overwhelmingly positive, and with good reason. What has really stood out to me is Britt's comfort with the new position. Britt works fairly seamlessly with Glowinski and Ifedi, two players he's never played with. Britt does a very nice job doubling with either guard in the run game.
Here you see him passing the defensive tackle off to Ifedi.
And here with Glowinski, allowing Glow to get out to the second level.
His teamwork shows up in the passing game as well. Britt and the two guards are able to hand pass rushers off to each other without much trouble.
Britt's also shown nice awareness, helping (mostly legally) here when Glow gets beat.
Britt has seemed to pick up the other duties of center just as well. Snapping doesn't appear to be an issue for him, and if he is responsible for line calls they, at the very least, don't seem worse than last year. Line calls will be something to monitor, however, as we move into the regular season and defenses open up their playbooks.
But what about the other, non-center specific, things? Well lets start with the good. Second level blocking is maybe the hardest thing offensive linemen are asked to do but, even considering that, Britt has, uh, had issues with that in the past.
Through six quarters, this looks to have improved quite a bit. Britt's been much more successful at engaging defenders in open space.
And his cut blocks have been more effective as well.
Where I'm not ready to say Britt has shown any improvement is at the point of attack. There's been some good, which you can see on these runs.
But there have been some ugly plays as well, like these two passes
Two badly blown blocks in three games doesn't sound too bad on the surface, but keep in mind that he's only played six quarters in those three games and that he's being put in one on one situations much less frequently. The sample size is small, but there isn't much reason to think Britt has improved when asked to go head to head with defensive linemen.
Overall, Britt has been a considerably better center than he was a tackle or guard. That's a low bar, but he looks at home at a new position that both masks his weaknesses and maximizes his strengths. Based on what he's shown so far, Britt will likely be an above average NFL center in 2016.