Last Sunday against the Bengals I found myself doing something I'd never done before, questioning a blocking scheme. I'm no Ben Muth and wouldn't pretend to be, but on one play in the second quarter the run blocking scheme was so odd I took notice. It was something I kept in mind when I went back to rewatch the game and, sure enough, I started spotting other odd line schemes. Below I've outlined three of them, the one that made me go back and look and two others I found.
1st & 10, 6:39 minutes left in the first quarter :
Seattle lines up single back, two tight ends right with Sidney Rice motioning in on the strong side. The yellow lines are intended to indicate the blocking assignments. The assignments are pretty straight forward with Moffit and Unger doubling up the 1 tech. The weakside linebacker is circled in red and is unaccounted for.
So far so good. McCoy is moving out to block the middle linebacker and the right side of the line gets good push and walls off the unaccounted for defender. Marshawn Lynch takes the hand off to the weakside.
Marshawn Lynch takes the hand off to the weakside and the seemingly walled off defender is now moves up to fill the hole. Lynch does have the opportunity to bounce it to the outside where there is quite a bit of room. He either doesn't see that, can't get there or chooses not to. Meanwhile the strongside walls off and forms a nice running lane between Miller and McCoy. It would have left Lynch with either a safety or corner to beat downfield (depending on who Rice gets to) instead of a linebacker.
In the interest of keeping this fanpost from becoming a mile long with photos I'll leave the result of the play out. Suffice it to say the linebacker makes the tackle.
1st & 10, 3:00 minutes left in the first quarter:
Another singleback set, one tight end on the right side with two WR tight on the left. The Bengals do something interesting here that ultimately turns out to be meaningless. They walk Chris Crocker from his safety position on the strong side next to Reggie Nelson down to the weakside next to Brandon Johnson, over the tight receivers. This puts eight in the box.
The ball is snapped and you can see the blocking assignments in the previous picture take shape. Okung and Gallery block the man across from them while Gallery and Moffit team up to block the 1 tech. Carpenter, on the other hand, moves out into the second level to block the middle linebacker. This leaves McCoy with both Carlos Dunlap and Manny Lawson to block.
It does not go well.
McCoy hesitates, attempts to block Dunlap, does not, and Lynch is forced straight into Lawson who cleans up.
2nd and 13, 6:29 left in the second quarter:
*Edit: I've uploaded a video of this play to youtube since it's a fairly complex play and is difficult to capture with pictures alone.
This is the play that I noticed while watching the game. After finding the first two plays I skipped ahead to this one, since the pictures are making this a tad long. It's possible there were more headscratchers between the second one and this one.
Shotgun, Lynch lined up on TJack's right side, Miller lined up off the line on fhe left side. Tate is split out to the right and two receivers are lined up tight wide. Carpenter and Moffit block down on Peko who is standing after running onto the field at the last second. Unger blocks the 1 tech and Okung blocks the end. Gallery and Miller pull to the right, with Gallery moving to pick up the end on Carpenter's side.
Lynch takes the hand off heading to the left side of the offensive line while Gallery and Miller are pulling to the right side. It's difficult to get a picture of this but Lynch and Miller cross paths, forcing Lynch to do a hop step which brings him to a stop. His momentum is killed and he effectively has to wait for Miller to get into position to lead block while the play is going on.
Gallery blocks the defensive end. Lynch hops right and stutter steps while waiting for Miller to lead the way between Unger and Gallery. Moffit has fallen off Peko and Carpenter is quickly losing the battle. This leaves two people for Miller to block once he gets through the hole, Peko and Brandon Johnson. This play has gone on for nearly two seconds and Lynch has moved forward about a yard and a half.
Again, Lynch looks to have the option to bounce it out wide where there is quite a bit of space. However, Brandon Johnson probably has the angle on him if he tries.
Peko is a terrible, terrible person. Moffit is laying dead on the ground, Carpenter has been sent flailing and he's currently busy torpedoing Gallery backwards into Lynch. Lynch is staggered and cleaned up by Carlos Dunlap and none other than Kelly Jennings.
On the plus side of this play, look at Miller. He explodes out of the hole and drives Brandon Johnson back a few yards. It was a great, if ultimately useless, block.
So there they are. Three plays that looked designed to fail. On the first the blocking seems designed one way while the run goes the other. The second seems overly ambitious, with Carpenter moving out into the second level before accounting for all of the defenders on the line. The third seems just...bad. Just bad. It's slow to develop, asks a lot of the pulling blockers and runs players over the top of each other.
Having said that, there are possible reasons for these plays to fail outside of scheme. The first may have been designed for a cut back, something Lynch didn't or wasn't able to do. Lynch also looked to have a lot of green if he had been able to bounce to the outside of Okung. The second could have been audibled out of by the quarterback. It's possible that Charlie isn't trusted with audibles or that Charlie simply didn't see the mismatch. On the third, Peko makes an absolute mess of things. If either Carpenter or Moffit are able to keep him blocked Lynch may have been able to sneak through the hole.