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Seahawks Grades: Aaron Donald introduces himself to Germain Ifedi

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The rookies first meeting against the Rams defensive line

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Merry Christmas! Welcome to the Christmas edition of Seahawks Grades!

Ho, ho, ho Vern! Merry Christmas to everyone! Can you feel the holiday cheer? I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes, Christmas is all around me and so the feeling grows!

Hope everyone enjoys their holiday and time off, as I know I will be. If you happen to be visiting New York City for Christmas, here’s a few tips. If you’ll be home alone instead, be sure to booby trap your house, to fend off any Wet Bandits. When you do your gift shopping, be sure to have them gift wrap it for you. Enjoy all the great food and treats but make sure to say “Grace” first. Also, I know it can be a stressful time of the year, but try not to freak out. And a little health advice, when you hit all those after Christmas sales in the mall, don’t take the escalator, take the stairs. And if you have some snow, be sure to enjoy a good ol’ snowball fight. Be sure to enjoy the family board games, don’t get into any fights,

I’m taking a long vacation next week, so unfortunately we won’t have a Seahawks Grades installment after the Cardinals game, but we’ll pick right back up for the 49ers. Hopefully the Hawks don’t play as terrible against Arizona as last time, or we might have to call off Christmas. In the mean time, if you’re like me and watch the same classic Christmas movies every year, make sure you add Earnest Saves Christmas, Elf and Home Alone to the list, among others. And make sure you’re ready, because Santa’s coming to town, but just watch out for the angry elves.

Now already, let’s get on with it!


Other than the LA Rams’ punter and kicker, their only strength is their defensive line, which is arguably the best, and most feared, in the entire NFL. Maybe they’re just feared most by Russell Wilson, and for good reason.

Since 2012, Wilson has faced the Rams 10 times, twice every year for five years straight. Out of those 10 games, the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams have sacked Wilson a ridiculous 38 times. That’s 11 more times than the next closest team, which is San Francisco with 27 sacks. Only two other teams have double digit sacks on Wilson, which is Arizona with 23 and then Carolina with 12. So by far, the Rams ram. Blocking their defensive line is like trying to keep a truckload of snakes.

Under more scrutiny lately is rookie right guard Germain Ifedi. So did Ifedi play as terribly as we all think he did? Let’s find out...

Play 2: Pass incomplete to Tyler Lockett

This should have been a touchdown. Just like Jared Goff missing a wide open receiver in the end zone, Wilson short arms it and throws it short of Marcel Reece. I’m assuming he’s not used to Reece’s speed at fullback, and is used to a slower Will Tukuafu. At least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. It’s good to have a fullback in the mold of Michael Robinson again, but who is actually more versatile and can line up at receiver. Hopefully Reece will be back again next year.

As for Ifedi, on this play he’s no good. He fires off the ball lightning fast, but as he does, he steps too far sideways and not enough forward to engage the defensive end. This allows the defensive end to shoot the gap.

Play 20: Pass short right to Doug Baldwin for 5 yards

Here Ifedi is mano a mano with Aaron Donald and does a phenomenal job. Watch the footwork. He uses his athleticism to get into position and keeps moving his feet. Now watch it again and watch his hands. One underrated skillset that Donald has is his hand fighting. He has hands like Floyd Mayweather, quick and deadly, in and out, but not here. Ifedi holds his own.

Play 24: Rawls right guard for -7 yards

During the game I felt bad for Thomas Rawls, and this play just reinforces my sympathy for him running behind this line. Justin Britt, Ifedi and Bradley Sowell all fail to get their blocks. Again Ifedi gets too far outside before engaging allowing the defensive end to shoot the gap.

Play 28: Wilson sacked for -2 yards

Only one word to describe this block, superb! As mentioned above, watch Donald’s hands and how active they are. He’s able to disengage but Ifedi re-engages with his hands and keeps his feet moving. Probably one of the best non-mauling blocks by Ifedi all season.

Play 29: Pass short left to Tyler Lockett for 13 yards

There were several cut blocks this game by Ifedi that got the job done, but weren’t executed properly. Not on this play. Here he targets the thigh of the defensive tackle and takes out his leg. Textbook.

Play 49: Pass short middle to Rawls for 6 yards

Here Ifedi loses leverage against Donald who bull rushes him and gets into the backfield immediately. Ifedi’s technique is poor right off the snap, standing too tall and straight, no bend in his knees or squat. He was at least able to keep Wilson from getting hit, but he could have also got an unnecessary roughness penalty at the end of the play as well.

Summary:

Ifedi continued the streak of what has plagued this entire offensive line this year: lack of consistency. He would look great one play and then turn around and lay a poop egg the next. However, overall I’m fine with his performance. Remember, this the first time he’s ever faced Donald and the Rams, there’s a learning curve that goes with that, and even after you learn about Donald, that doesn’t mean you can stop him. Well, as you saw above, Ifedi was able to do so, which is very encouraging.

There were a total of nine fails which is much too high, it needs to realistically be less than five. On the other end of the spectrum, he had nine impressive wins. Overall Ifedi had 45 total wins, which is a success rate of 75%. That’s in line with what we’ve seen from the offensive line this year. However, Ifedi’s Seahawks Grade was 68%. Even though he had a higher success rate, he’s up there for the most fails recorded in a game that’s been graded this year, which dragged his grade down. His multiple false starts certainly didn’t help.

Take Aways:

  1. When watching the game live, the thought crossed my mind that Ifedi might be better at tackle, even though I’ve said the opposite all year. At first it seemed that Ifedi was losing (more than he actually did) and it was due to letting defenders in too close to him (easier at tackle for him to use his length, than in a phone booth at guard) and that his constant over step off the snap wouldn’t be an issue at tackle, where he would need to kick slide out. After reviewing, I don’t think that’s the case at all. He’s still on track at guard and improving.
  2. As for said improvements, his hand fighting against Donald was tremendous at times. Not something you see often from a rookie. On top of that, he had great footwork and combined both together a few times. It’s starting to come together for him.
  3. Without looking too closely at Britt, it seemed like he had an off game and could have been one of the reasons why the line struggled so bad. He wasn’t terrible, but he definitely could have played better.
  4. Bradley Sowell was benched again and Garry Gilliam gets the start this week. I like Sowell, he has the heart and effort, just not the skills. When he made a block, he couldn’t sustain it. Many times he couldn’t get into position because he lacked the athleticism. He might be more physical than Gilliam, but if Gilliam can at least get in position and sustain some blocks, it’ll be better than what Sowell has provided at right tackle.
  5. Merry Christmas you filthy animal. And a happy new year!

Man how the season has flown by! We’re almost to the playoffs and Grades will continue until the Hawks are no longer in contention, however we might make a few changes in the offseason, but for the time being let me know what everyone thinks about Seahawks Grades and how we can improve on it. Submit your criticism in the comments section, give it to me!

Seahawks - Cardinals Preview

The Seahawks want victory to keep the 2nd seed. Arizona can play spoiler and has had more success than many teams at the Clink. Expect a hard fought game on Saturday.

Posted by Field Gulls: For Seattle Seahawks News and Analysis on Thursday, December 22, 2016