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Greg Knapp, Nate Burleson for 31 and the Importance of the Seattle Seahawks Run Game

It reads like propaganda. Julius Jones is steady. Edgerrin James is undemanding. It reads like euphemisms for "not very good." It's not. I am not an apologist for Seattle's run game. I possess no delusions that it will be great or intimidate the opponent. Instead, I understand that running the ball, in the NFL, in this offense, is about making the passing offense work.

Play-action is an execution play. It's not radical and it's not flexible. A well executed play-action pass can have one read. In the case of Matt Hasselbeck's play-action pass to Nate Burleson for 31, it had one read and three receivers. Greg Knapp made a beautiful play call.

(10:36) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass deep right to 81-N.Burleson to KC 33 for 31 yards (47-J.McGraw).

Matt Hasselbeck drops, sells play-action to Julius Jones and looks for Nate Burleson. Kansas City's 3-4 is swallowed by the fake. The defensive line and both outside linebackers are charging Hasselbeck. Both inside linebackers and free safety Jon McGraw are playing run. Seattle's seven blocker, the offensive line and tight ends John Carlson and John Owens, are in max protect. Not a hint of pressure arrives. Jones, finding no one to block, releases into the right flat, but he is an outlet only. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, after motioning inside to draw deep safety Bernard Pollard, is running a deep post. Burleson, slices through Kansas City's zone with a deep crossing pattern. He is alone in the right flat, 19 yards down the field.

Hasselbeck finds him. Bulreson makes a jumping, twisting catch that, on landing, instantly redirects into a run. He is tackled after a gain of 31 yards. Impressive athleticism by Burleson and his ability to run after the catch is rightly lauded, but this is a good play call by Knapp that is executed to perfection by the Seattle Seahawks.


The deep cross is not foreign to the West Coast. Bill Walsh used it. But there are elements of this play that are counter to what most think of the West Coast. There are only three receivers, and had Jones needed to pick up a blitzer, only two. It has a designed read and the play is designed to stretch the field vertically as much as horizontally.

This is why a steady, undemanding rusher that is threat enough to grind out first downs and aggregate meaningful yards, is enough for Seattle to have a successful offense.