This is the third week in a row I’ve gotten to dig into the pass protection, and it has been very illuminating to see how the Seattle Seahawks offensive line has fared facing their two toughest matchups of the year, including these Jacksonville Jaguars. Courtesy of Ben Baldwin, always a big thanks to him for making this happen, here is this week’s cutup of dropbacks from his original article:
And here is the link to open this video up in another page to view the plays and notes side by side:
“Sacksonville” is playing with #97 Malik Jackson, #93 Calais Campbell, #56 Dante Fowler and #91 Yannick Ngakoue, all stellar pass rushers this year. I’m not sure how important it is to try to compare them to the Eagles from the week prior other than stating the obvious that these teams are likely 1A and 1B in terms of pass rushing defensive lines in the league. Always remember that when going through these plays. Now lets get right to these plays, its a long one this week.
Play by play once again provided by Pro Football Reference.
Play #1 1st and 10, SEA 33. Russell Wilson pass complete short left to Paul Richardson for 3 yards (tackle by A.J. Bouye). JAX challenged the pass completion ruling, and the play was overturned. Russell Wilson pass incomplete short left intended for Paul Richardson
5 on 4 for this quick throw here to start things off. Nothing too special to note here except the great pocket Russell Wilson gets to work with. Note the differences between Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi here; both do a fine job, but while Brown uses his fine footwork to mirror his man and force him out wide, Ifedi, facing a rusher who started out lined up much closer to him, latches on and uses his strength to, um, “hold” the rusher outside and drive him around the edge. He lets his hips get turned around about three yards deep into his drop which amplifies the appearance of this being a possible hold had Russ been deeper, and would’ve given the rusher a good angle on him had he had to hold on to the ball. Interior holds up well enough.
Play #2 2nd and 10, SEA 33. Russell Wilson pass complete short right to Paul Richardson for 7 yards (tackle by Paul Posluszny)
5 on 4. Rare instance where Brown loses a hand fight situation upon first contact and allows his man to rip past him. Notice how the very first point of contact with his outside hand is to the outside arm of the DE and, as he stumbles a tad from the impact, he has no leverage for that grip and the rusher is able to get his hands under and outside to get past him. For a positive, see on the snap how he shuffles out to engage the DE; this makes their angle more difficult and delays their time to get around the edge in the event Brown gets beat as he does here. The rusher is still a good five yards away at the throw. Ifedi will often take a very steep angle on his drop, allowing the rusher to build momentum and gets him closer to Russ upon contact as we see here. Interior holds up again, both DTs slant inside but Justin Britt handles the left side while Ethan Pocic gets bull rushed a bit with his man’s slant. Very typical play for Pocic here, forcing the rookie to react and taking advantage of his general lack of strength.
Play #3 3rd and 3, SEA 40. Russell Wilson pass complete short middle to Tyler Lockett for 4 yards (tackle by A.J. Bouye)
5 on 4. Pocic faces a solo outside rush and does a great job until he seemingly trips on Ifedi. Joeckel also very nice here to keep his upper body on the DT with a wide base while keeping his hips square to use his strength to keep the rusher in front of him. Might not look like much, but this is the kind of play Pocic likely can’t make, for it shows off great core and lower body strength to keep the rusher from turning him upfield. He ends up lunging as the DT tries to redirect back inside, but the throw is already out. Excellent by Brown, he glides out to engage, has better leverage for his outside grip and barely gives up an inch. When I point out Ifedi getting his hips turned it isn’t the same as this; Brown uses footwork to square up on his man before engaging with plenty of space, and is at most parallel to the sideline. Ifedi will often let himself get turned after engagement to try to correct for not having good leverage, and will continue to turn until he is past parallel to the sideline and the rusher has an angle to get to Russ. I think this has to do with comfort level/confidence as well as often engaging his man too high; see Brown squat before engaging and then extending while Ifedi tends to stand a bit tall with not much power to his hits. The combination of this and the point/angle of engagement discussed in the previous play are the two most common themes you see when watching Ifedi.
Play #4 1st and 10, JAX 44. Russell Wilson pass incomplete short left intended for Nick Vannett
Play-action pass, Jacksonville is a bit late to react and as usual we aren’t judging true pass blocking here so it is tough to judge them. That being said, take note of a fairly athletic and impressive reach block by Pocic; might not seem like much and we have no way of knowing how it would’ve done as an actual run block, but Pocic shows off good technique in his hand placement and footwork with good athleticism to get leverage.
Play #5 3rd and 10, JAX 44. Russell Wilson pass complete short right to J.D. McKissic for 6 yards (tackle by Aaron Colvin)
(Starts at :18) 5 on 4 but with a very wide alignment on the defense so Jimmy Graham and McKissic provide chips on the edges. It didn’t appear to be intentional, but the left side rushers essentially do a stunt following the chip on that side; notice how comfortable and calm Brown is to prepare for the edge rush and immediately shift to the inside rush after the DE begins to loop around. Luke Joeckel then handles that rusher fine, however he does trip Brown here at almost exactly the twenty second mark. This causes Brown to stumble, losing his balance with his outside foot, dropping the tripped foot deep back and inside to keep from falling, and when he finally reestablishes his outside foot again our old pal #93 Calais Campbell can simply disengage to get to Russ.
Looks bad for Brown but not truly his fault here. The other three of C-RG-RT handle the other two rushers in a cluster on that side, with Pocic and Ifedi both looking strong.
Play #6 2nd and 10, SEA 25. Russell Wilson pass incomplete deep right intended for Doug Baldwin. Penalty on Germain Ifedi: Offensive Holding (Offsetting), Penalty on Jalen Ramsey: Defensive Pass Interference (Offsetting), Penalty on Germain Ifedi: Taunting, 13 yards (Offsetting) (no play)
5 on 4 again. First off, yes Ifedi holds here and does get a taunting penalty afterwards for complaining. However, if I had to guess he was complaining about his man getting away with hands to the face, which I personally felt has happened at least once already, and was in fact called twice on the following drive. With that in mind I find it hard to really blame him for holding here. Aside from that, Brown does a nice job to stay low to mirror his man on the outside again instead of giving up and flipping his hips and opening up the angle to Russ. Pocic and Britt actually start driving their man downfield a bit, so of course he is the one who forces the throw after the scramble. Joeckel gets pushed back into the pocket as he hand fights here, eventually losing and allowing a rip to the outside. Late pressure that is exacerbated by Russ sliding to that side and back because of the Ifedi situation. So late pressure by Joeckel and the penalty situation with Ifedi, so not too terrible but still another general issue with Ifedi.
Play #7 2nd and 23, SEA 12. Russell Wilson pass complete short left to Mike Davis for -1 yards (tackle by Paul Posluszny)
Screen pass, all three interior linemen break off to block for it while the tackles both do a fine enough job for this play, just a good play by the LB here.
2nd quarter now, directions will be reversed (i.e. chip on the left refers to offense’s left, right side of the screen).
Play #8 1st and 10, SEA 9. Russell Wilson pass incomplete short right intended for Mike Davis
Hey, we can see their numbers now! In all seriousness in the previous point of view it is very difficult to discern the defenders’ numbers with the angle and the color of the uniforms for Jacksonville. For the play now, we have 5 on 4 with Britt handling his first solo pass block of the day and he does fine. Brown completely handles #54 Fowler, though it should be noted that Fowler, who gets both hands to the face penalties this drive, gets both hands very close to Brown’s head on this play, particularly his right hand. Pocic faces bull rush and inside rip move by #97 Malik
McDowell Jackson, and allows some pressure, but does a decent job to stay in front of it and give Russ a chance to either work with it, scramble or get the ball out. However, Ifedi up against Campbell this time shows off Ifedi being in fairly good position but just being overpowered a bit to the edge. A pretty good veteran effort play by Campbell, and the result is Russ actually has nowhere to go and cannot step up. Not terribly poor by either guy here, and had either one not happened the effect of the other wouldn’t have been an issue for the most part.
Play #9 3rd and 9, SEA 10. Russell Wilson middle for 11 yards (tackle by Aaron Colvin)
5 on 4. Joeckel slows his man down plenty as he maneuvers around the pocket. Doesn’t look great but a good pocket that Russ breaks to get a first down on 3rd and long.
Play #10 1st and 10, SEA 21. Russell Wilson pass complete short left to Mike Davis for 34 yards (tackle by Myles Jack). Penalty on Luke Joeckel: Ineligible Downfield Pass, 5 yards (no play)
(Starts at :43) Play-action, and Jacksonville is a little late reacting so not a lot to note of here. Britt and Pocic are on the fringe of being too far downfield, but Joeckel definitely is. Tough to tell if this was a designed screen but it certainly looks like those three were setting it up.
Play #11 1st and 15,SEA 16. Russell Wilson pass complete short left to Paul Richardson for 4 yards
5 on 4, another great pocket. Ifedi does better here to keep the pocket wide and keeps low for good leverage.
Lots of space here to work with.
Play #12 2nd and 11, SEA 20. Russell Wilson pass complete short right to Tyler Lockett for 7 yards
First off, check out Fowler get away with hands to the face again on Ifedi. Pressure only comes after Russ backs out of the pocket and Brown loses his leverage between him and the rusher. Good protection prior to that though.
Play #13 3rd and 4, SEA 27. Russell Wilson pass complete short right to J.D. McKissic for -1 yards (tackle by Jalen Ramsey)
5 on 4, with a stunt coming on the right side for one of the first quirks they threw at the line. Pocic looks like he isn’t ready to engage the looping DE coming inside, though he does seem to notice it. Everyone else looks fine for this quick throw.
Play #14 1st and 10, SEA 25. Russell Wilson pass incomplete deep middle intended for Paul Richardson
Play-action, and the only gap where pressure gets through is from Doug Baldwin being tasked with blocking a DE. Fortunately, Britt is able to loop back around to help.
Play #15 3rd and 10, SEA 25. Russell Wilson sacked by Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue for -5 yards. Penalty on Dante Fowler: Illegal Use of Hands, 5 yards (no play)
(Starts at 1:09) 5 on 4 but with a few peculiarities. The left side of the line faces an overloaded front; the DT between Britt and Joeckel slants across to attack between Britt and Pocic so it balances out, but the two DEs to the outside of Brown do a stunt and Brown and Joeckel both end up getting solo blocks, which they both handle fine.
Joeckel’s man ends up getting half the “sack”, but only because Russ steps up to try to avoid the sack of Fowler, who got there illegally, getting caught for hands to the face for the first time.
Play #16 1st and 10, SEA 30. Russell Wilson pass complete short right to J.D. McKissic for 6 yards (tackle by Tashaun Gipson)
5 on 4. Britt and Pocic have had several double teams recently, and this one is handled just as well as the rest. Ifedi stays low and absorbs his rusher nicely, while Brown here accentuates my point comparing him and his comfort/athleticism compared to Ifedi, aggressively playing the rusher to neutralize the angle he has to Russ. Joeckel gets his hands swiped right off the snap and allows Jackson to get upfield right away, but if you look extremely carefully and closely at his outside hand as it swipes at Joeckel you can see that he actually slapped his helmet. In that split second, he is able to get by and upfield, though it should’ve been yet another hands to the face penalty and no play here.
Play #17 1st and 10, JAX 45. Russell Wilson pass incomplete deep middle intended for Doug Baldwin is intercepted by Jalen Ramsey at JAX—9
Play-action here, with a great pocket for Russ to work with and the only pressure comes from Willson needing to solo block a DE. Not as bad as the Baldwin assignment earlier, but still a poor matchup and not the fault of the o-line proper. Love seeing Pocic come in from the side to clean things up.
Play #18 2nd and 5, JAX 30. Russell Wilson pass incomplete
Play-action again, naked bootleg on 2nd and medium. A good play call to try to get over the interception on the previous drive. LB #44 Myles Jack is late reacting and backs right into Richardson which throws off the timing of the play, but for protection things look fine.
Play #19 3rd and 5, JAX 30. Russell Wilson sacked by Malik Jackson for 0 yards. Penalty on Dante Fowler: Illegal Use of Hands, 5 yards (no play)
5 on 4. Russ either feels phantom pressure or wants to take the opening right away, and he essentially runs right into a “sack” even though protection was good. Fowler gets called for hands to the face again in one of the more obvious examples.
Play #20 3rd and 9, JAX 24. Russell Wilson pass complete short right to J.D. McKissic for 4 yards (tackle by Paul Posluszny)
(Starts at 1:36) 5 on 4 again. McKissic looks to help but no need so he flares out for the catch. Ifedi gives up way too much ground and after the initial punch on Fowler he has already opened up his hips completely.
Russ drops really deep here and is a bit late to step up in the pocket to help this situation, but this is still tough to see as the way to end the half when a touchdown should be in play instead of a missed field goal.
3rd quarter, directions remain reversed for now.
Play #21 1st and 10, SEA 25. Russell Wilson pass incomplete. Penalty on Russell Wilson: Intentional Grounding, 10 yards
Very interesting call here. They seem to like to open from breaks with sneaky plays and some type of play-action; true shotgun play-action and not just a lame run fake with pass blocking, as I mentioned last week, is not something they do very often, but here they do a bootleg off of it with Willson sprinting across to help. The LB #53 (I actually had to look up who this is, backup Blair Brown apparently) charges in after Luke Willson and, with nobody to cover, chases Russ. Hard to account for this, but it does result in a crippling penalty/sack that is not the fault of the o-line. This was really dictated by the defense’s coverage.
Play #22 2nd and 20, SEA 15. Russell Wilson pass incomplete deep right intended for Jimmy Graham is intercepted by A.J. Bouye at JAX-43. Penalty on Jimmy Graham: Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards
5 on 4. Brown initially halts his man, but Campbell does a nice job recovering to get his hands back outside of Brown’s and swipes to the inside. There wouldn’t have been an opening, but Britt pummels Joeckel’s man, Jackson, which clears up a lane for Campbell as Joeckel stumbles away. Harsh to pin this on any of them, but it would be nice for Britt to attack laterally and in general have them be more coordinated here. Pocic lets the pocket get pushed, which is about the extent of what #95 Abry Jones does on passing downs, but he stays in position well enough and remains active. He seems to have a hard time staying locked on and getting truly engaged with his man often, which is why I chose the word “active” in this case; he doesn’t let his hands get swiped and continues to reset his position, and to be fair does eventual slow his man down, but not often is he able to lock in like we see in the other four linemen. Again, as a rookie with known issues with functional strength this is expected, and its good to see him have his form down, but he still can’t quite hold up at times.
Play #23 2nd and 12, SEA 45. Russell Wilson pass complete deep left to Doug Baldwin for 43 yards
Ah, here is the shotgun run fake I know and love. Considering they call draw plays like once a month that consistently go for about 3 yards I’m not sure what the goal is here. But, I digress… Once again 5 on- now wait a second, what’s that? That’s right, we’re on play #23 and in the 3rd quarter and Jacksonville sends their first blitz. Three of the four down linemen all slant to the offense’s left with the outermost end dropping back to zone coverage, while Jack and another blitzer come off the right side.
The line slides perfectly to meet the slanters and Mike Davis is in perfect position to meet the outermost blitzer. Ifedi embarrasses Jack’s lame attempt to rush, Davis does just enough, and LT-LG-C-RG are coordinated beautifully to stifle the remaining three linemen. 6 on 6 and it is handled wonderfully for the best play of the game to this point.
Play #24 2nd and 8, JAX 10. Russell Wilson pass incomplete short right intended for Paul Richardson
Fake toss play-action naked bootleg, trying to speed up the play a bit; this is much quicker than a fake handoff and doesn’t carry Russ nearly as far upfield. Almost works perfectly, but throw is a tad behind Richardson to try to keep him from being killed by the safety looking in from the goal line. Either overcorrection or an errant throw, you’d like to see Richardson catch this until you watch again and see how fast the ball comes in.
Play #25 3rd and 8, JAX 10. Russell Wilson pass incomplete short middle intended for Tyler Lockett
(Starts at 2:06) Back to 5 on 4. When Ifedi isn’t challenged by a speed rush he is as solid as anyone; he barely gives up a few feet to Fowler, so it is unfortunate that Russ scrambled back to give up Ifedi’s leverage. Britt/Pocic once again handle their double, Joeckel suffers from similar issue to Ifedi in that Russ looks to scramble to his left which gives Jackson just enough of an angle to get a little pressure, though there really was no danger for Russ to escape from in the first place. It gets pretty boring to talk about when people continue to do a great job, but it is manifested here as #91 Ngakoue pretty much gives up since he knows he won’t be able to beat Brown in time. Sometimes we see the DEs push upfield to simply contain Russ running, but I honestly don’t think that’s what this is. So yes, there is pressure and Russ gets hit as he throws, but he caused it in this instance.
Play #26 2nd and 11, JAX 26. Russell Wilson pass complete deep right to Doug Baldwin for 26 yards, touchdown
And the shotgun run fake has made another appearance. Davis stays to give a chip but doesn’t do much, this is essentially just 5 on 4. Brown eliminates Fowler; notice again how his first move is to the outside to widen the angle. With #99 Dareus in the gap between him and Joeckel it was likely up to Joeckel to face an outside rush, which he does, and due to this Brown could overstep outside knowing Fowler couldn’t attack inside. Either that or I’m so used to watching Ifedi give up so much space all the time that I’m just not used to it.
Anyway, Joeckel also lets a swim move get by eventually, but Britt is able to clean up. Pocic does a great job staying in front of his man, though I’m not too sure why he is attacking laterally like this. I know Jones isn’t much of a pass rusher but dang he just walks himself right into the chip and out of the play. Ifedi latches on nicely, getting to engage a man head up on him instead of rushing to the outside. He is also in a three-point stance with his outside hand on the ground to start, which they don’t often do on passing plays that don’t involve play-action. Overall yet another great pocket.
Play #27 1st and 10, SEA 25. Russell Wilson pass incomplete deep left intended for Paul Richardson (defended by A.J. Bouye)
We have a Thomas Rawls sighting! Play-action with a TE on either side to help on just the standard 4 (somewhat) rushing. As a result, there is nothing close to pressure until the ball is out as Britt lets Ngakoue get by, but had Russ wanted to scramble he could’ve easily done so to avoid him. More great protection.
Play #28 3rd and 3, SEA 32. Russell Wilson sacked by Yannick Ngakoue for -3 yards. Penalty on Germain Ifedi: Offensive Holding (Declined)
5 on 4. We see Fowler get a little handsy with Ifedi’s face (gotta love how that sounds) but it looks like he just tugs on his jersey. He actually does a fantastic job here to throw down Fowler when he attempts a spin move, and I had to take several looks at this and wanted to take a lot of time to fast forward through my DVR of this game to make sure they actually called him for holding, but alas, someone had deleted it. Anyway, if this is legit and they didn’t call the wrong number, and/or this didn’t just get entered into the site wrong then this is just atrocious. We’ve given Ifedi a lot of flak on this blog, but after seeing Fowler and Ngakoue get away with several uncalled hands to the face penalties, including on the previous play Ifedi got fouled for, and then having this called on him it must be extremely difficult to keep a level head, especially as still just a 23-year-old second year player. The only argument that can be made here is that the ref though Ifedi turned him around and pulled him down, but that is very clearly not what happened.
Besides that, we get to see one of the matchups I highlighted last week, Campbell solo on Pocic, particularly with an inside move, and I must say he handled it pretty well to not give up instant pressure even if it did cause a little chaos. The initial move is to swipe at Pocic’s hands, but he totally avoids it and gets in position to keep square on Campbell. He stumbles a bit on the swim counter move back to the outside but is able to recover and remain square to him and in position, with a little help from Russ moving up in the pocket of course. As Russ scrambles Pocic remains engaged to keep himself between Campbell and Russ and eventually gets him to the ground. Joeckel/Britt get Jackson to give up and look to contain and maybe swat at the pass, but Brown here hesitates on an inside fake by Ngakoue and ends up lunging at him as he engages. He remains engaged and drives him far upfield, but does get beat and give up the sack. Russ gets unlucky with his scrambling, for Jackson and Campbell are synchronized with their rushes and he doesn’t appear comfortable scrambling straight up the middle or to his left, so he goes back right into the path of Ngakoue after beating Brown.
Now, while he does get beat, Brown held his man off for a good three seconds, almost four seconds in fact, which in most cases is certainly good enough; you almost have to consider this a coverage sack with Russ holding the ball for so long, which doubles the disappointment of the terrible penalty with this being 3rd and short.
Play #29 2nd and 11, SEA 24. Russell Wilson pass complete short right to Luke Willson for 12 yards (tackle by Myles Jack)
Play-action screen pass to Willson with Pocic and Britt timing this perfectly. Willson initially blocks Campbell before disengaging to catch the screen and he gives Ifedi a poor angle to work with upon doing so, though you’d like to see him get a bit deeper in his drop in this case to force Campbell back down and inside with the screen going to the outside.
Play #30 1st and 10, SEA 36. Russell Wilson pass complete short left to Tyler Lockett for 5 yards (tackle by Aaron Colvin)
(Starts at 2:35) 5 on 4 with a very wide alignment by the defense. We’ll go left to right for a natural progression of the events that take place. Brown deals with some mild hand fighting from Campbell, a swipe and a swim counter inside similar to what we saw him do on Pocic two plays ago. As Joeckel completely stifles Marcell Dareus, upon his slight move to the inside he hands off the Britt and assists Brown with Campbell on that swim counter. Britt takes Dareus and looks stiff as he gets basically stiff-armed back, opening up the gap between himself and Joeckel. It appears as though Britt wasn’t anticipating Joeckel leaving and is thus out of position, leaving a wide lane right to Russ. He appears to stumble here, and I was worried Britt was holding to force him down, but it just looks like the domino effect of Britt getting hit from behind and toppling Dareus on his way down.
Pocic faces pocket-pusher Jones again, and after engaging gives up a few yards but his feet remain wide, his hips and shoulders are square, his position is stable with his hands counter the admittedly feeble hand fight attempts of Jones, and he has a very solid block until the scramble and ensuing domino tumble. Ifedi does a little better to stay wide on his drop, but still gives up space prior to engaging and allows Fowler to bend the corner around him with his hips a hair past parallel to the sideline. He still wins that battle, and Fowler counters with a big rip move to try to disengage with Russ having dropped fairly deep. For a split second the ref looks like he’ll tag him for holding here but Ifedi takes his hands off once Russ is safe.
Play #31 1st and 10, 50. Russell Wilson pass incomplete short middle intended for Jimmy Graham. Penalty on Ethan Pocic: Face Mask (15 Yards), 15 yards (no play)
Oh good, the younger sibling of the shotgun fake hand off, the shotgun fake sweep. If we want we could have fun and call this the quintuple option play; 1) sweep, 2) hand off, 3) pitch to sweeper, 4) keeper, and 5) pass. As much as I yearn for this to be accurate, I’m afraid I’ll have to maintain my now not-so silent consternation regarding this play type unless and until they score no less than a 99-yard touchdown on a draw. Sure, I’m all for a sprinkle of sweeps now and then, but not like this. Not as a draw play please.
Where were we? Ah yes, 6 on 4 rush as McKissic stays in to block. Joeckel pulls across as part of the fake, as if they want the defense to hesitate and think he is somehow going to get out in front of a fully sprinting Tyler Lockett to block. I love it folks. In all seriousness, they’ve done this type of pulling on occasion, especially with the defensive line aligned to that side and the motion heading that way that might draw a LB in. He ends up not doing anything. Pocic clearly does grab the facemask here, no question. Jackson is actually trying to read for a run play here, which is actually, I guess, you know… what the play is supposed to do… BUT Pocic is out of position for the ensuing outside rush so it caused the facemask. Sort of. He actually takes a step forward, so he is either A) expecting the DT in the gap opposite Britt to slant to his side, B) preparing for a potential blitzer that was called out to come to him, C) thinking Joeckel will pick him up coming across, or D) trying much too hard to fake that it is a run play. None of these things happens, and he grabs the facemask to try to recover. Britt also gets beat with a swipe/swim move combo from Dareus, but McKissic was there anyway so Britt was likely ensuring the outside was covered. Ifedi and Brown both very good here, and they actually look almost identical in this play which is obviously good news for Ifedi. He takes a subtle step outside on the snap and keeps the pocket wide, engaging from a low base and with his hips parallel while using his length well. I feel some remorse that I don’t highlight Brown enough like this now that I look back, but I supposed that’s is definitely a good thing.
Play #32 1st and 25, SEA 35. Russell Wilson right end for 8 yards
5 on 4. McKissic checks/release without helping. Often when I’ll say that it means they hesitate before going out on a route, likely looking for blitzers or somewhere that needs immediate help with a chip block before leaving. I haven’t mentioned it very often on these standard dropbacks, and I’ll explain why at the end. #94 Dawuane Smoot, a now-rookie pre-draft mid-round favorite of mine, (and not just for his killer name that I wanted to give a shout out to,) makes his first appearance with some pressure on the left side. He does a nice job to position his hands inside Brown’s and pulls him aside to shed the block, though his finish is, to put it professionally, quite lame. This is fairly immediate pressure and he just doesn’t get after Russ quick enough. Not that I’m complaining, but still important to note for Brown’s performance. Beyond that, Britt punishes Jackson attempting a spin back to the inside of Joeckel, while Ifedi uses his length well to absorb Ngakoue who has built up momentum for a bull rush. He gets his hand inside Ifedi to free up his outside shoulder and set up a move to disengage, as Ifedi has opened up his hips when he lets his feet rest a few beats too long, but Russ scrambles up away from the pressure that has already gotten there. Not pretty by Ifedi and he is saved by the scramble for sure. Pocic is in good position at first, only giving up a few yards to Jones after contact, but never quite wins with his hands to keep them inside and allows Jones to swing him to the outside in order to shed to the inside. Not a very graceful pass rush and not great to see Pocic give this up given the opponent.
To spin this positively, it was one of the few times the majority of the linemen collectively had a poor rep all in one play.
Play #33 2nd and 17, SEA 43. Russell Wilson pass incomplete deep left intended for Doug Baldwin is intercepted by A.J. Bouye at JAX-2
6 on 4 with an additional chip off the left side while Willson stays in to help on the right initially. Willson does a great job to clear out Smoot from the play before Ifedi even has to engage him, while Brown gets the chip help and does a great job right up until the throw where he does overstep ad get swiped aside, but the ball was already out. Britt/Pocic double team once again great, while Joeckel actually does well on Jones here. Notice when the ball is snapped Russ is on the hash mark, but he promptly slides a few yards to his left for no apparent reason.
This gives Jones a clear lane to Russ through no fault of Joeckel. Aside from that hiccup, this is a really good pocket just as it should be with the extra help.
4th quarter, back to regular directions.
Play #34 1st and 10, SEA 39. Russell Wilson pass complete deep middle to Paul Richardson for 61 yards, touchdown
5 on 4 with McKissic checking and quickly releasing as he’ll often do now late in the game and trailing. This is Ngakoue’s best legitimate play of the game. Brown, similar to and yet worse than play #2, gets his hands swiped on first contact and allows Ngakoue to shed the block immediately without even needing a rip, swim or even a swipe move. Quite poor by Brown here, and the lunge as he misses exacerbates the inability to recover at all and I believe qualifies as the first absolute whiff of the game. Joeckel and Britt initiate a double team on the DT and neutralize him enough to be a solo block for Britt. Pocic gives up his outside shoulder to a rip move here but stays engaged to ideally push his man upfield. However, he does a poor job of it and the rip allows his man to have a path to Russ, albeit an obstructed one. The maneuvering of the pocket here by Russ here to bail these guys out is uncanny, particularly on a day he seemed to struggle with that in general. Ifedi uses his length to hold the edge against Campbell and while he does get his hips turned too far it is much more gradual and he thus doesn’t get beaten with Russ stepping up. Not great but pretty much a typical Ifedi play.
Play #35 1st and 10, SEA 21. Russell Wilson pass complete short right to J.D. McKissic for 5 yards (tackle by Jalen Ramsey)
(Starts at 3:10) 5 on 4 with McKissic checking inside. Brown back to looking effortless here with his shirt that I’ve just noticed is now even more shamelessly untucked than it usually is. After I’ve been doing this for a few hours I start to care about weird things. Britt and Joeckel initially start a double on Jackson, but he recognizes the futility and the help on the inside and knows he probably isn’t going anywhere, so he pseudo-spies Russ instead. Pocic stays square to his man and in front of him well while hand fighting, and right as he appears to win McKissic pushes his way through which propels them into a spin around back to Pocic’s outside at the exact moment Russ looks to scramble through that gap. Unfortunate timing here on both the chip and scramble for Pocic since he was doing a decent job without giving up much ground in the process. Ifedi forces Fowler far upfield but never gets his hands latched on him. As he tries to reach for him he ends up lunging upfield and allows a fairly bland spin move that is lucky to lead Fowler right to the scramble of Russ. So, in short, Pocic’s man had more impact on the play but Ifedi was the main one who messed up here, and overall was an unlucky play. Now I’ll admit when watching other teams play I don’t typically watch for this exact type of scenario with a RB chip worsening the protection, but it is an issue that has popped up on several occasions when I’ve done this.
Play #36 2nd and 5, SEA 26. Russell Wilson pass complete deep right to Tyler Lockett for 74 yards, touchdown
5 on 4. Not a ton going on here, but Fowler uses the second spin move in a row against Ifedi. Perhaps he was looking to set this up after not showing it earlier and Ifedi turning his hips so easily often earlier in the game. Regardless, it works ok and gets Ifedi turned around, but after seeing a few glimpses of the spin move man himself Dwight Freeney you can see this isn’t a very clean transition even though it does open up a lane. Pocic faces outside rush and does a decent job to force them outside and upfield past Russ while keeping his hands on the rusher to stay in control as they try to counter back inside; this is an important note since Russ steps up to deliver this pass and Pocic remaining square with his hands active allows him to remain in position through the entire throw. More of the same for the left side.
Play #37 1st and 10, SEA 42. Russell Wilson pass incomplete short right intended for Jimmy Graham
5 on 4 with McKissic not doing much. Back to a quick throw so we don’t see very much here, but Ifedi and Pocic both get bull rushed here to allow the pocket to get collapsed on that side right as the pass goes out. Britt and Joeckel fine as usual for their double, and though Brown appears to lunge here as he misses his hand placement a bit he is already going out of frame from keeping the pocket so wide.
Play #38 2nd and 10, SEA 42. Russell Wilson pass complete short left to Doug Baldwin for 9 yards
5 on 4 with McKissic ready to help but not finding a place for it. Tackles and Britt/Joeckel double all hold up great, but Pocic gets his hands swiped away to allow a rip move outside and Jackson gets by him. Nothing special really going on here, just a rookie getting beat by a guy making about $13 million more than him this year.
Play #39 3rd and 1, JAX 49. Russell Wilson sacked by Malik Jackson for -8 yards. Penalty on SEA: Illegal Formation (Declined)
Not sure I can get away with that comment about money two plays in a row… Pocic faces the move I commented on a lot the last few weeks, an inside slanting lineman, and must solo block it. McKissic breaks through the middle and should almost certainly help here, but this is just a poor job staying in front of Jackson with his hips flipping quickly an opening upfield. Brown again does well to get wide and maintain plenty of space in the pocket, and Ifedi ironically has one of his best reps of the entire game since he stays wide and doesn’t flip his hips too far right away. I believe this penalty was on him for not being close enough to the line of scrimmage, but from this angle and being right on the logo it is impossible to tell where he is lined up. Boring but worth repeating, but Britt and Joeckel hand the double team wonderfully.
Play #40 4th and 9, SEA 43. Russell Wilson pass incomplete deep left intended for Doug Baldwin
(Starts at 3:42) We’re lucky we can’t see Richardson here or I might have a few words to say and ramble for a while. As it is, the important thing to note is Jacksonville sending just the second blitz of the game. All down linemen and both LBs rush here, with the latter both attacking the gap between Pocic and Ifedi. First, the positives. Brown absorbs the DE perfectly, and Britt and Pocic control their double time. On the negative side there is plenty to look at from various angles. For one, Britt and Pocic have a double team going despite a 6 on 6 scenario. Secondly, Joeckel against Campbell has his hands swiped aside with relative ease for his first whiff of the day. Finally, McKissic’s initial move is right up the middle to the Britt/Pocic double team as opposed to getting either of the blitzers. For a bonus round, Ifedi does fine up until Fowler gets away with yet another hands to the face that lets him break Ifedi’s leverage, get by him and almost draw a holding call. Boy if that had been called and no hands to the face or anything on Richardson I would definitely be going on a rant right about now.
Now, I’ll gladly admit that as I go to write this last part I recently got home from seeing the premiere showing of Star Wars so I’ve got a little bit of a high going still, but right up until a disappointing string of the last three to four plays where the protection deteriorated I thought the line did a pretty good job in pass protection. Going through and simply watching each play in its entirety, and looking past plays where A) play-action scheme allowed pressure, B) Russ moves around in the pocket and causes the linemen to lose leverage and allowed pressure, or C) Russ had ample time to throw and late pressure was allowed, I’d say there were maybe seven to nine or so plays you can legitimately say “The o-line has to do better for this play to work consistently.” Nine or so plays where they were solely at fault for Russ being impacted on the play on simple passes without extenuating circumstances like penalties on the defensive line (even if you include the plays where I thought a penalty should’ve been called and wasn’t) or . I saw them as plays #6, #8, possibly #20, possibly #22, #32, #34, #38, #39 and #40. The other important aspect to note is that half of these plays took place in the 4th quarter, with three of them on the final drive, which likely skews our overall perception and still is not a good sign going down the road if that is the split they continue to put forth.
I’ll qualify this assessment with a few things; I judge and evaluate with different standards for Brown and Britt than I do for the others, so when I’m pleasantly surprised and comment on a good play by Ifedi/Pocic/Joeckel it doesn’t mean it is necessarily a high-quality play on par with the some of the better o-linemen in the league, but it is a good play for those guys and I like to focus on improvement. Also, this defensive line earned the nickname “Sacksonville” for a reason- they’re extremely good. Right up until the last drive this o-line made them looked very average all day.
Something else that I noted earlier; prior to the 4th quarter and the hurry up style offense, there were 33 dropbacks that were charted here. Of those, by my count exactly 20 involved no fake, play-action or screen of any kind. For a pessimistic negative (in my humble opinion) aspect, every single one of those passes was from the shotgun, with not a single under center pass. As for the positive, on only 6 plays did a RB/TE stay in to help block. On 3 of those it was a simple check and release with the RB prepared to block but quickly bailing. The first time a TE helped was a double wing chip on play #5. For the remainder of the game there was just one play where a TE helped in the blocking, ply #33 with McKissic also helping, and there was just 1 other play where the RB needed to help block and chipped a rusher. Out of 20 plays that is pretty darn amazing if you ask me. Now part of that is there was only 1 blitz and it came on a run fake, so I didn’t count it in this set of 20 plays. The only other blitz even including the 4th quarter came on the jailbreak on the very last play. That being said, the capability to generally handle a 4-man rush on a standard dropback without drawing an eligible receiver in to help on a consistent basis is a key trait to ac strong o-line, and it is certainly one they lacked early in the year.
Only other note; just two blitzes and maybe one stunt the entire game. The first two games I did this for were the Packers in week one and the 49ers a few weeks ago, and they were both very creative with looping and slanting linemen, zone blitzes with dropping linemen and varied alignments. These last two weeks have been much more straightforward; the quality surely has something to do with that, as the Eagles and Jaguars are typically able to get consistent pressure with just the standard 4-man rush, but it is still interesting to see in action and compare how the game plans compare to the results against this o-line.
For the individuals:
- Brown had a pair of rough plays, one early and one late, but overall looked like his normal, dominant self.
- Joeckel was pretty decent most of the time. He seemed to have his normal mix of good and meh plays with the usual handful of poor plays, but the key is the reduction of the “What the hell was that!?” plays from him. Only the last play of the game was terribly concerning with him, while he usually puts up a few of these a game. He certainly isn’t a Pro Bowler, but he has been good enough in pass protection most of the time to get by.
- Britt is his usual self. Center is a fairly boring spot to dig into unless they are playing poorly, particularly in pass protection, but other than a couple of shaky plays he continues to be solidly above average.
- Pocic honestly had a better game than I thought he would heading into the game. I came in with the mindset that this could be a bit of a regression from previous weeks with a 5ish sack, Russ scrambling for his life all day type of game, but most of the time he had good pockets to work with. It wasn’t really until the 4th quarter when Malik Jackson got hot that Pocic was really noticeable, and in about half of those plays in the 4th quarter he was poor. With Pocic there aren’t any dominant plays and plenty of indifferent or meh plays; most of these seemingly result from his strength issues, or at least still getting accommodated to the size/speed/strength of NFL players as should be expected of a rookie. That is what is important to note here; he probably allowed as many pressures as the rest of the line combined, but Pocic is a rookie going against the best pass rushing d-lines in the league two weeks in a row and looked decidedly OK under those circumstances, which I’ll definitely take. In terms of league-wide standards, yes, he’s allowed plenty of pressure and can’t be considered a strong bet to be a positive in a given week, but I like what I see from him in terms of his future.
- Ifedi’s penalties have been addressed, but personally I feel he got the rotten end of things this week, with a number of potential penalties going uncalled against him and one extremely ticky-tack at best call going against him. Beyond that he had his usual blend of having consistently average technique that didn’t allow him to make full use of his length and strength at times, giving up a bit too much space outside before engaging by not widening his drop, and opening his hips up to allow easier angles for rushers. Now, if I had to pick any of the linemen to go head to head in a confined space I’d obviously go with Brown first but Ifedi would likely be the next bet. When he successfully engages and hasn’t given up an easy angle to bend the edge there is no hand fighting him to disengage. His tendencies I mentioned set himself up to get called for more holding penalties since he latches on so strong, but he has cut down on major mistakes outside of penalties these last few weeks against extremely tough competition, and he is showing off his potential much more than the beginning of the year. Gotta cut down on penalties still, but I like that he hasn’t had a game where he’s truly collapsed and given up on his technique entirely after getting frustrated early as we’ve seen him do from time to time. Admittedly I am still definitely disappointed he hasn’t progressed more so than this level of competency, but in a given week I’m OK with him treading water as long as he doesn’t start drowning. Down the line we definitely need to see more out of him in year 3.
I know a lot of people were down on the o-line after this game, so I’m very interested to hear what other people have to say this time around. It can be tough to put the offense’s performance in context in such tough games, but in this game Seattle had three 60 yard receivers; Jacksonville had only given up three such games to receivers prior to this game (plus one RB and two TEs). Seattle had the two longest plays Jacksonville has given up all year, they’ve scored 24+ points four games in a row now, and Russ was the first QB to throw 3+ TDs against them all year. Take from that what you will. I like to be the optimist, but that doesn’t change the usual Rams/Aaron Donald dread leading up to this weekend, which will undoubtedly feature Pocic in a starring role one way or another.
Thoughts and opinions? Feedback is always welcome here. Once again big thanks to Ben Baldwin for providing the video of dropbacks and for doing the posts that initially inspired this (potentially) weekly article. Are some parts a bit too wordy, or areas were a bit more depth would be appreciated? I was a bit busy this week so sorry it came out a little late, and thanks as always if you took the time to read!