By beginning to play with a better pad level and increased leverage, Zeitler also increased his anchor in the pass blocking game. Andy Dalton, a shorter quarterback who sometimes can get cabin fever in a dirty pocket, struggles when the pocket collapses up the middle. Keeping the pocket formed is perhaps more vital to Dalton’s success than shutting down an edge rusher.
But the most important development in Zeitler’s game during his rookie season was his improvement in his foot quickness. When zone blocking, Zeitler began to effectively use his bucket step to move laterally and cut off his defender, often double-teaming a tackle with the center. But, even more importantly, Zeitler looked instinctive in scraping off the block to reach a second-level defender.
Or, as he did against Hampton in second Steelers matchup, driving his man back until they both reached the second level defender.
But, either way, for a powerful guard to be comfortable enough in space to effectively reach a linebacker and seal the smaller defender off, shows a quickness that goes unnoticed with his sheer power. Even in the passing game, Zeitler began showing excellent recognition of stunts and blitzes, proactively reacting by putting himself in position to shut down the stunt.
Overall, Williams was one of the great interior linemen for a Cincinnati Bengals team that has had some great ones (read: Max Montoya, Richie Braham and Bruce Kozerski), but Zeitler can easily become the best that has ever donned stripes. And possibly in less than the four years that it took his Smith to become one of the league’s best.