After the horrendous Sunday beatdown in which the Green Bay Packers absolutely dismantled the Seattle Seahawks 38-10, I wanted to turn my efforts towards Week 15 instead of reliving the painful past; the Seahawks look to rebound against rookie Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams.
A few weeks ago, I took a deeper dive into Jared Goff's debut performance versus the Miami Dolphins. During that game, Goff was inaccurate, his offensive line was horrendous in pass protection, and his receivers did nothing to help their rookie quarterback. Well this week was very similar to Week 11 and his second interception with 9:04 remaining in the second quarter is a great example of that.
The Rams run a slant-flat concept on the right side of the field while they run a curl-flat concept on the left side of the field. The Falcons defense actually runs Cover 3 Sky with one deep safety and the outside defensive backs dropping into their deep one-third zones. LA should be in good shape, but Goff misreads the coverage and throws a pick-six.
How did Goff misread the play?
First, both of the offensive concepts that the Rams are running are designed to beat Cover 1 or to beat Cover 3. Judging pre-snap with the single high safety and the cornerbacks playing with outside technique, Goff has to immediately guess Cover 3. If he did that, he might have made the correct read.
Why is this an incorrect read?
The actual key for this quarterback on this play is the flat defender or in this case cornerback (34) Brian Poole. Notice how he takes the flat responsibility. Based on this, Goff is actually supposed to throw to the slant, however, this ignores the other defenders.
Pre-snap, the slant-flat concept is on the boundary side. With a linebacker sitting just inside the right hash marks, this is a very tight window for Goff, so he needs to adjust and read the opposite side of the field. If he did this, then he would have targeted (89) Tyler Higbee on the flat route for a five yard gain or more.
Maybe Goff thought the running back would draw the linebacker away from the play?
The slant-flat concept is run off a quick three-step drop. There is not enough time for the running back to get past his offensive line to pull the linebackers since the throw is made off his Goff’s third step.
While (44) Vic Beasley pushed right tackle (79) Rob Havenstein with a speed-to-power conversion, the pass was already thrown before any pressure arrived so that was not a factor. Simply put, Goff failed to read the coverage correctly and threw an avoidable pick-six to (45) Deion Jones.
In addition to poor play by Goff, his receivers were beyond awful. Combined they dropped five catchable passes. One of those dropped passes turned into Goff's first interception of the game which ended a really good opening drive down the field.
Before the snap, Goff motions (83) Brian Quick across the formation. Atlanta slides their linebacker protection over, but no man follows indicating zone coverage to Goff. After the snap, the inside linebacker drops into the middle third zone creating their Tampa 2 coverage.
Goff looks to his right, sees that (18) Kenny Britt has inside leverage on Robert Alford. He then fires the pass accurately into his receivers’ chest. Instead of a quick completion, the pass deflects off of Britt's arms for (37) Ricardo Allen to make an easy interception. With Britt's size and positioning, he needs to do a better job of boxing out Alford to prevent this from happening.
I mentioned this in my Dolphins film breakdown earlier in the season, but the Rams offense needs a new left tackle and it desperately needs a wide receiver that does not have a history of making drops.
On the season Tavon Austin has eight drops, while Kenny Britt and Lance Kendricks both have five, respectively.
While the offensive line generally did a poor job in this game, especially versus Vic Beasley, Goff’s pocket awareness is not always the best. He slides away from the pressure laterally but he needs to step up into the pocket to help his lineman seal out edge rushers more easily. I definitely blame Havenstein for the majority of the sack since he did not set deep enough for Beasley’s speed rush, but Goff is not 100% innocent in this play either.
In general, the offensive was an issue for a lot of these plays, but what was particularly interesting is that Goff is actually used to pressure that he typically does a good job of finding the underneath checkdown receiver to not allow the pressure to affect him. As evidenced in this table below, Goff actually performed his best whenever the Falcons blitzed.
In aggregate, this game should give the Seahawks defense a basic guide to defeating Goff and the LA offense.
As many know, Dan Quinn was Seattle’s ex-defensive coordinator and runs the same defense as his old team. This is useful since the Seahawks can study what exactly Atlanta did that was so successful and they can also look at what wasn’t.
Something that was successful was their use of tackle-end stunts (below) or by lining up their edge rushers in Wide 9 technique (above).
Finally, as we saw in the table above, Goff performed his best while blitzed. In my opinion, Seattle should sit back in zone coverage and force Goff to read the defense. It might seem counter-intuitive, but since Goff had such a porous offensive line at Cal, you might consider attacking him by playing more conservatively. I’d consider rarely blitzing and dropping seven into coverage while sometimes dropping eight.
For Thursday night, a lot hinges on how well Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense will respond to their performance versus the Packers. While I didn’t touch on that here, the entire offense needs to execute better fundamentally. Drops, penalties, interceptions, and poor pass protection were all issues on Sunday.
If Seattle can shut down the Rams offense like they did in the first match-up, and Wilson finds some resemblance of rhythm, the Seahawks have a good shot in this match. If they don’t, it’s going to be another low scoring game.