In the Tuesday article that looked at the formational adjustments the Seattle Seahawks made agains the Carolina Panthers that eased the pre-snap reads, one of the commenters noted that the Panthers had a very good run defense figured out. In fact, the Panthers run defense was very good the entire day, and if not for multiple broken tackles by Chris Carson would have been even better.
That said, Chris Carson is an absolute beast of a man, and while he lacks the top-end speed to break big plays, his size, strength and athleticism allow him to be among the best in the league at generating yards after contact.
This speaks to a RBs ability to create yards on his own, something every team covets.#Browns #FightForEachOther #ChiefsKingdom #Seahawks #GiantsPride #BroncosCountry #GoSaints #FinsUp #TitanUp #GoPats #OnePride #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/CXlv4tLD6P— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) November 26, 2018
To show just how good Carson is at generating yards after contact, here’s a glimpse into the the three carries he had on Sunday against the Panthers on which he rushed for more than 10 yards.
I’ll start with his 12 yard run late in the third quarter. This is what the play looked like just after Carson took the handoff.
The unblocked defensive end, Bryan Cox Jr., is easy to see, and he would likely have an easy takedown of Carson, if Carson weren’t so strong. In the next picture it is visible that because the defensive end tried to tackle Carson high and Carson is simply extremely strong, he was able to stay on his feet.
In that picture, it’s as clear as day that Cox is trying to tackle Carson by the top of his shoulder. That probably works to bring down most NFL running backs, but because of his size and the fact that he has his left arm underneath the tackle, Carson is able to shake the tackle off and go for a gain of 12.
Moving to his next big run, Carson went for fifteen earlier in the third quarter on the play which gained the most attention because of his full flip. In any case, that play was facilitated once again by a combination of Carson’s athleticism and skill and a veteran move by D.J. Fluker. Let’s start with the all-22 view where we see Carson just after he’s taken the ball from Russell Wilson.
Everything is kind of small in that picture, so Carson is the Seahawk with a black arrow pointing at his head. It’s pretty evident that there are two Panthers defenders closing in on him, so let’s see how he was able to turn that into fifteen yards.
In the second image we see Carson slipping to the inside and working to break a tackle attempt by Luke Kuechly, who Fluker may or may not be holding. Obviously the Seahawks have seen ticky tack holding calls disrupt drives so far this season, and it appears as though the refs could have called it again on this play. In any case, Carson springs free for 15 yards on this attempt.
Now, for those readers who are contemplating heading straight to the comments to complain about how this is not holding, and holding could be called on every play and it should just be legalized by the league, let me go ahead and just post one more picture to show just how easily this could have drawn a flag.
And there, circled in red, we can see a large part of why Carson was able to slip past Kuechly and into the second level - Fluker is holding one of Kuechly’s arms. Does Kuechly make that tackle if he actually has use of both arms? I don’t know, but I am certain that if Matt Breida or Jeff Wilson pick up 15 yards on a running play on a drive that ends in a field goal in a three point game while Bobby Wagner is getting one arm held, Seahawks fans would be fuming.
In any case, moving on to Carson’s third run that gained double digits, this one is all effort from the Hawks young running back. Here’s what the play looked like shortly after Carson took the handoff.
I mean, I suppose we could credit the offensive line for allowing Carson to pick up 16 yards on that play, but in my opinion it certainly wasn’t the blocking that created a chunk gain on that play.
Now, before anyone gets too ready to pull the trigger and call me out for being negative on the run game, let me go ahead and show a handful of plays where the line blocked great. The plays I’ve looked at I’ve chosen because they are great individual efforts by Carson, but I know fans are going to take them as an assault on the Hawks line.
So, here are a couple of plays where the line generated a couple big holes.
Woo boy. Look at the size of that running lane. As I watched this unfold I thought Carson might have had a chance to take it for an even bigger gain, but unfortunately the safety we see at midfield was able to step up and make the tackle.
Moving to the critical fourth and short play late in the game on which Seattle brought in George Fant as a sixth lineman, we see that the line blocked inside to create a great hole.
Unfortunately for Seattle fans, Kuechly diagnosed the play and rapidly filled the hole.
Fortunately for Seattle fans Carson is big enough and strong enough that he pushed forward enough for the first down. In short, when these two trains collided, Carson won. In short, if that’s Eddie Lacy or Thomas Rawls carrying the ball in 2017, I don’t think either of them pick up the first down, even with the line having created that hole because Kuechly probably drives either one of them backwards.
Carson is, simply put, a beast on the field and his ability to both avoid and break tackles has certainly helped the Seahawks run game through the first eleven games of the season.
Now, had that been Bobby Wagner in the hole, Wagner stops Carson for a loss and it would have been a turnover on downs, but that’s because Wagner is better than Kuechly, which is a different story for a different day.
To close out, let me finish with a play that was a great success for both the line and Carson, his one yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He hits the hole as 55 is able to reach up and try to stop him, but that arm tackle is quickly brushed aside, and he powers through the defensive back (24) stepping up a moment too late.
Yep, folks, that’s a nice hole in the red zone, something that the heavier reliance on power blocking has created several times this season. I’ll look at that in more detail sometime down the road. For now, however, let’s all bask in the glow of having handed Carolina their first home loss of the season.