Thursday was an ugly night in the trenches for the offensive line of the Seattle Seahawks. On 30 carries, the Seahawks managed just 72 rushing yards — and 26 of those yards came on Jon Ryan’s fake punt. Thomas Rawls, in particular, mustered just 1.6 yards per carry and according to ProFootballFocus had -10 yards before contact on his carries.
Yes, that is correct: Rawls totaled -10 yards before contact on 21 carries, meaning he actually had to make up a lot of ground to finish with his final tally of 34 yards. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly went wrong in the run game.
In the first quarter, Seattle attempted to run inside zone to the right; (34) Rawls is the running back while (82) Luke Willson pulls across the formation to block the backside defender. After the snap, defensive linemen (95) William Hayes and (90) Michael Brockers immediately gain outside leverage on their blockers forcing Rawls to cut backside.
Left guard (63) Mark Glowinski fails to assist on the combination block which allows the Rams best player (99) Aaron Donald to have a one-on-one match-up with (74) George Fant at the point of attack. On the left edge of the play, Willson completely whiffs on his cut block allowing (97) Eugene Sims to tackle Rawls for a 0-yard gain.
Speaking of poor cut blocks, Willson really needs to learn proper cut blocking technique. He consistently lowers his head and misses his target. This is an easy fix for an offensive line coach like Tom Cable; Cable needs to have Willson work on keeping his head up to aim at his target’s thigh. If he does this, Willson should have a higher success rate on these types of blocks.
Simple fixes like this should help the run game, but common errors from other players need to be cleaned up too.
In the second quarter with 10:07 remaining, (76) Germain Ifedi oversteps his reach block on Hayes while (78) Bradley Sowell underestimated TJ McDonald’s speed allowing them to blow up the run for a seven yard loss. Rawls literally had zero opportunity to make a play after receiving the handoff.
This game perfectly illustrated the skill disparity between the Seahawks offensive line and LA’s defensive line.
At the start of the third quarter, Seattle attempted to run inside zone. Glowinksi and Justin Britt jump off the line of scrimmage to combo block Donald, but Donald swims right past Glowinski for the tackle at the line of scrimmage.
The Seahawks desperately need help on their offensive line and if Willson can’t learn how to properly cut block, he needs to be replaced in his backside run blocking duties; that decision may be forced, as Willson is a free agent in 2017.
With Seattle still defeating the Rams 24-3 and the Detroit Lions losing to the New York Giants, the Seahawks have taken back the 2-seed in the NFC playoffs. Seattle stays in town this week with ample rest to face the Arizona Cardinals, who were just eliminated from playoff contention. If the Seahawks want to be competitive in the playoffs, playing at home is integral to that of course, but they really need to focus on executing their combination blocks and their cut blocks better.
Because playoff teams will have better offenses than that of the Rams.