Thomas Rawls Power Cover

How the Seahawks were successful running the football again

Tom Cable varied his running scheme in the Seattle Seahawks wild card win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday. As Lars Russell pointed out earlier this week, the Seahawks threw in some “power” running plays along with their traditional zone blocking scheme.

What is a “power” running play?

A power run is a running play with two lead blockers; the fullback and the backside offensive guard.

How does this differ from the Seahawks usual scheme?

Seattle runs a zone blocking scheme that was founded by Alex Gibbs. In zone blocking schemes, lineman block areas to create natural creases between the defenders and have rules on who to block based on how the defense aligns. This is different from “power” or “gap” running plays since the offensive line does not have man blocking assignments meant to target one specific hole in the defense.

In this game, Thomas Rawls ran 27 times for 161 yards and a touchdown. He had five carries that went for ten yards or more with two of his runs that went for greater than 25 yards. I tracked every carry from this game, and based on my numbers, the Seahawks offensive line blocked for 98 yards, while Rawls used his speed and power to gain an additional 63 yards.

In this video breakdown, I looked at some of the longer runs from the game and explain the power running concept and how it applies to the offensive line. Also, I discussed how this will affect Seattle’s game versus the Atlanta Falcons next week.

While this variation was certainly an interesting wrinkle to Cable’s tried and true zone blocking scheme, the Seahawks actually only ran three power plays out of Rawls’ 27 carries. They ran an “iso” concept which is “gap” style running play a few times as well called “Lead Slam” that I looked at earlier this season with the Denver Broncos and C.J. Anderson.

Heading into the Divisional round of the playoffs, there are three keys to success for the Hawks to win in Atlanta:

  • First, Seattle needs to establish the run using their zone and power concepts. If they can get the run going, they can use play-action to take deep strikes down the field to Doug Baldwin.
  • Second, the Seahawks defense needs to defend against the deep ball from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones. Richard Sherman should be following him and hopefully Steven Terrell is ready for his biggest match-up of the year helping Sherman.
  • Third, stopping Vic Beasley’s speed rush will be key for George Fant and Garry Gilliam. Beasley leads the NFL with 15.5 sacks. Earlier in the season, Noah Spence’s speed rush gave Fant nightmares versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fant needs to be even better in this game in case Beasley lines up versus him.

It all starts with the run and if the Seahawks can establish that early in the game, they have a decent shot of beating the Atlanta Falcons again just like they did back in Week 6.

Samuel Gold

<p>Sam founded NFL Breakdowns after working his way through the journalist farm system and is enjoying life in the big league. Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., Sam didn’t choose the Redskins, the Redskins chose him. Out of a love for the game and an insatiable curiosity to determine why his beloved team was underperforming, Sam turned to studying film in NFL Breakdowns.</p>