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Mone-Ball: Bryan Mone making a statement in year three

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Seattle Seahawks v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks defensive line put on a show against the Indianapolis Colts, who were expected to have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Second-year “rookie” Darrell Taylor — and the rest of Seattle’s deep EDGE group — stole the spotlight with the constant pressure and a bevy of sacks on Carson Wentz. But they weren’t the only ones who got in on the fun.

Third year defensive tackle and former undrafted free agent Bryan Mone finished the game with 5 total tackles and a quarterback hit. Per Pro Football Focus, this was the highest graded game of Mone’s young career thus far, as he tallied three pressures on fourteen pass rush snaps and collected five run stops. Getting this kind of performance out of a previously under-the-radar defensive linemen is fantastic, but also not an entirely novel occurrence for the Hawks.

Over the past decade, the Seahawks have made an annual tradition of finding unheralded or underrated defensive tackles who end up making a substantial on-field impact. Often, these players have been established veterans like Al Woods (welcome back, Al) or Tony McDaniel. But younger players such as Mone and Poona Ford are looking more and more like the future of this defensive line rotation. Below is a series of plays where Bryan Mone left his stamp on the Colts vaunted offensive line.

The Film

Below is a critical sequence from the game on Sunday. Before watching the clip, here is a succinct play by play synopsis by Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic:

“One sequence that stood out happened in the third quarter. The Colts were slowly starting to establish momentum after Chris Carson’s fumble and they were nearing scoring territory, trailing 21-10 with a chance to make it a one-score game. Indy called an inside run with Jonathan Taylor, who went to his left behind All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson. He gained 4 yards before winding up in Mone’s arms. On the next play, Taylor tried to burst inside again, but he was met by Mone after a gain of just 3. Nyheim Hines carried the ball on the next snap, tried to dance outside to the offense’s left and — you guessed it — ended up running into Mone, who held the running back up long enough for free safety Quandre Diggs to finish the play short of the first down.”

And that wasn’t Mone’s only shining moment from the game. He also flashed some fearsome pass rushing capabilities.

Between Mone’s flattening and Darrell Taylor’s leveling, Carson Wentz had a rough day. And #90 had other good looks getting penetration into the backfield throughout the day.

Woods’s hustle may be the focus in the above clip, but we can also see Mone get a good push up the middle. Even though pro bowl center Ryan Kelly does manage to push him past Wentz and ultimately take him out of the play, his interior pressure still forces the QB to step up and make a quick throw. Plays like this may not consistently turn into sacks for Mone, but can still be instrumental in forcing opposing quarterbacks out of rhythm and, hopefully, into the waiting arms of another defender. At an imposing 6’3” and 345 pounds, the development of “Bryan Mone the Run Stuffer,” is exciting, but the development of “Bryan Mone the Pass Rusher,” is straight fierce, to say the least.

Of course, Corbin has been singing Mone’s praises for a while now.

Bryan’s development didn’t happen out of nowhere. I shared Corbin’s enthusiasm after last season, and expected Mone to improve in year three. But I didn’t expect such a statement out of the gates. I look forward to seeing where he can take his role with the team this season and beyond.

Looking Towards the Future

The Indianapolis Colts are one of the league’s biggest unknowns right now. Will they rebound from a brutal loss to the defending NFC West Champions or no? But the fact of the matter is that, regardless of how their season unfolds, they field one of the most decorated offensive lines in the NFL. Of their starting five — Eric Fisher, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, and Braden Smith — they have amassed a variety of All-Pro, Pro Bowl, and All-Rookie nods. And Mone found himself regularly lining up across from the likes of Nelson and Kelly — their two best returning linemen from 2020 — and he looked borderline unblockable at times.

Consistency will be key for Mone. One great game does not a career make, but this is hardly the first time that #90 has made his presence felt. In my mind, the big question that he will need to answer is if he can maintain this dominant play throughout an entire season, or if he will be relegated to another “turnstile” player at the position. Hopefully he will make a resounding statement in the affirmative when he lines up across from the offensive line of the Tennessee Titans Sunday in the home opener. While Tennessee may not field a unit as celebrated as that of Indianapolis, Mone’s run stuffing capabilities will need to be on point to shut down 2020’s leading rusher Derrick Henry 2K. And of course, if he brings Ryan Tannehill to the turf a time or two, I can’t imagine any of us will be disappointed.