It’s hard to quantify the work of offensive linemen through individual statistics, and I won’t even try to do so with Stanley. But I did go to the game Sunday and spent a lot of my attention on watching the fourth-year left tackle protect Jackson’s blind side.
Actually, with a player who moves around as much as Jackson, there really isn’t one specific “blind side” to deal with — and that makes Stanley’s performance against the Bengals even more impressive.
Jackson has a tendency to keep plays alive with his feet, sliding from one side of the formation to the other, and often “up and down” in the pocket. Stanley was a mirror on Sunday, staying in front of his assignment, and consistently occupying the defender he was matched up against, oftentimes with his back to Jackson.
He moves so effortlessly that it sometimes appears that he is playing with his defender, using his nifty and agile feet to stay in position, like a defender in basketball. When he gets into hand-to-hand combat with his assignments on Sunday, he did so quickly and violently, staying engaged with his feet the entire time.
He is also improving dramatically in the run game from where he was coming out of Notre Dame. Against the Bengals, he was particularly efficient in getting off his own defender and getting in the way of a linebacker or safety, opening those slight creases Jackson or Justice Hill can slip through, and simply pushing ahead the pile when blocking for downhill runners Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards.
He is an athletic technician who is learning to better use his size in his favor, and is an absolute joy to watch ply his craft, and he seemed to be on top of his game against the Bengals.