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Sam’s Film Room: Mike Davis played like a capable back for the Seahawks vs the Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

While Mike Davis has gained a meager 3.3 yards per attempt on his 58 carries this season, he has flashed the ability to make plays in this offense. During the Seattle Seahawks’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Davis gained 25 yards on 15 carries. Even though this number is certainly not impressive, he did this behind some very hit-or-miss blocking by his offensive line. For this breakdown, I want to highlight some of his plays to show you some of the impressive things he did on tape and how he will continue to gain more snaps versus the Arizona Cardinals.

The first run I want to look at happened at the start of the second quarter.

In this play, the Seahawks run two-back inside zone to the right. The fullback in this play is Luke Willson and in my opinion, this is actually a really good position for him. For some reason Tre Madden and the running backs never seemed to execute their assignments properly hre, while Willson is a much better head-on blocker in this offense. As a sift blocker, he sometimes looks lost so I think this is better for him.

Going back to the play, since Seattle motioned Jimmy Graham before the snap from the left side to the right side, you can see that the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line didn’t adjust. Their linebackers were instructed to shift and fill in the gaps. This created a natural bubble and a great two-on-one for the Seahawks’ lineman between the center and the right guard.

RT Germain Ifedi is able to use his upper body strength to move the defensive end out of position, while the combination block between Justin Britt and Ethan Pocic works well to move the nose tackle backside. This created a huge hole for Davis to run through and allowed him to gain eight yards on the play.

Davis’ sixth and seventh runs were his two best runs of the game in my opinion. They both featured elements of busted blocking by the offensive line in which Davis made an initial move to create more yards than what his offensive line gave him. I truthfully have not been that impressed by Davis’ initial lateral quickness, but I definitely admit that these plays had me reconsider as I was watching this game.

The first run was out of shotgun in which Seattle ran inside zone to the right. The defensive end, (#90) Demarcus Lawrence, pinched hard inside defeating the block by Ifedi. This forced Davis to cut backside. He then found the opening behind Nick Vannett for the 5-yard gain.

The second run was right at the start of the third quarter. The Seahawks run outside zone out of singleback aiming for the weakside of the formation. The nose tackle penetrates hard through the playside A-gap which forced Davis to cut behind him. Davis spins out of his block while the backside blockers did a great job in creating a running lane through the center of the defense. This initial spin move turned this run from a 2-yard loss into another 5-yard gain.

By my tracking, I graded him negatively on two runs. His very next run was one of those plays and it happened at 13:50 left in the third quarter.

The Seahawks run two-back inside zone to the right after motioning Graham from the backside to the frontside of the formation. Davis takes the handoff and bounces this run outside of the right tackle. In my opinion, he should have seen that Ifedi allowed the defender to gain outside leverage which should have told him to cut this play inside. If he did this then he would have seen the monstrous hole in the defense in the B-gap between Duane Brown and Luke Joeckel. However, he cut this play outside missing what could have been a big gain.

Speaking of Joeckel, I was actually really impressed by his run blocking during this game. After a disastrous game versus the Los Angeles Rams, he did a great job with his double teams especially on the outside zone runs to the left. Watch this play at the start of the second quarter where Joeckel and Justin Britt combination blocked (#68) Daniel Ross down the field. This created a huge running lane for Davis to run through and gain six yards.

Earlier in the season, I was pushing hard for the Seahawks to use more misdirection and motion to help set up running lanes. They attempted this on Davis’ fifth run of the game.

Tyler Lockett ran an end around attempting to move the linebackers while upfront the Seahawks ran their backside zone running play. This, like the end around, is meant to entice the linebackers to follow the flow of the offense to the right. However all of this still takes good blocking and Graham was thrown aside for the tackle for a loss.

As a receiver, Davis was mostly used on checkdowns over the middle of the field. He caught four passes for 18 yards on five targets. The one incompletion came on a pass that seemed to be underthrown due to pressure. Beyond that play, Davis was reliable for Russell Wilson and he helped the offense stay on schedule.

Overall, I gave Davis a “B” grade on this game. By my tracking, he had six positive scoring runs, two negative scoring runs, and seven neutral scoring runs. If he didn’t have the one big negative run that I showed above, he easily would have been a “B+” on the day but that bad play lowered his average.

In my opinion, Davis should continue to get the bulk of carriers in this offense. I am not ready to commit to him or any of the other running backs on the roster yet for next year, but I do think his play is intriguing.

Note: On Wednesday, I broke down Justin Coleman’s “pick-six” versus Dak Prescott. Make sure you check that out!

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