Brandon Frye Picks Ray Willis Out of a Block, and Other Havoc Created by Dwight Freeney

My wife has the next two days off. I coordinate my half days with her weekend, but luckily, she's a slugabed. I should have another 90 minutes or so before she stirs.

I plan on completing my look at Ray Willis over the next two days. Seattle's inability to sustain a drive coupled with the Colts ability to drive at will meant Willis only participated in ten snaps in the third quarter. The first drive featured a good looking reach block, but little else. Seattle ran a quick pass in which Willis did not factor, then came the reach block, and Seattle finished its drive with a desperate screen pass to Justin Forsett.

Quick passes defined the following drive. Willis had a couple good blocks, handling a stunt, clearing on an edge rush and keeping Robert Mathis in front of him though he was clearly rushing the passer and nothing else.

A brief aside: If Seneca Wallace was trusted to audible and could effectively, this game would have been very different. What killed Seattle out of the blocks is that Knapp game-planned to rush at the Colts undersized defensive line. Any time Mathis edge rushes, he puts himself so out of position, a rusher could easily exploit that short right edge and get a free release into the second level. Indianapolis anticipated this. It was obvious from the personnel they played. Matt Hasselbeck would have seen Raheem Brock at left defensive end and audibled some of those runs into passes. That could have kept Seattle in it early, and kept the rush viable. Seattle could have ran at Mathis and not allowed him to load up for a sack on every play. But it didn't.

Seattle's second drive ended with a forced fumble by Mathis. It was not Willis who allowed the sack, but a combination of Dwight Freeney's dominance, Brandon Frye's weakness, Wallace's slow decision making and Mathis' quickness and agility. Willis was a minor player.

We'll start just after the snap, notice the wide spacing on Indy's line and that Wallace is in shotgun.

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Willis has a zone, of course, but we don't always consider the ramifications of that. In this next shot, we see that Willis is initially forced to block both the defensive tackle and the defensive end, because both are attempting an outside rush and therefore both are in Willis' zone. He does a good job and is able to pass the tackle to his guard. We can also see that Wallace is beginning a three step drop after receiving the shotgun snap. Seattle incorporates drops into their shotgun, perhaps a WC modification, perhaps a holdover from Holmgren, but it doesn't always seem wise. After his drop, Wallace is very deep in the pocket.

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This next shot is critical. Neither Willis nor Frye has admirable control of their assignment, but the difference between Willis and Frye is stark. Mathis is attempting to loop around Willis and Willis is in decent position to use his momentum against Mathis and chuck him. Freeney is approaching Wallace from in front and facing his back. Frye is attempting to block a man running forward by shoving his side. That isn't likely to succeed.

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And it doesn't. This final shot is a step ahead. We see Freeney has mucked up the pocket and effectively taken out both tackles. His pressure forces Wallace to step up (he should have anyway). More importantly, Frye finally does block out Freeney, but at the expense of Willis. Willis is picked out of the play and Mathis can take a long, looping route past Freeney and Frye and to Wallace. Willis has no hope.

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Wallace doesn't see or doesn't bother targeting his outlet receiver. He runs forward, double clutches and is stripped before he can complete his wind up. This, in the Seneca Wallace Portfolio of Pocket Killing, is not a stand out example. This is Dwight Freeney so overmatching Brandon Frye that even after Frye has pushed Freeney down, Freeney's influence frees Mathis and Mathis strips and sacks.

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