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Breaking down Seahawks RB Eddie Lacy’s best game of the season against the Colts

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday we looked at every Eddie Lacy rushing attempt from Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers, and his unimpressive five carry performance to start the season. Fans apparently weren’t the only ones left unimpressed, as the Seattle Seahawks coaching staff did not give Lacy another chance to carry the ball until Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Lacy had his best game of the season against the Colts, with 11 carries for 52 yards. Unfortunately, rather than being a harbinger of better things to come, it represented the high point of his 2017 campaign. But that’s enough chit chat, let’s get to the rushing attempts.

Carry 1: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 2nd & 10 at the 37 with 11:49 to go in the 1st Quarter

Here Lacy gets the handoff and follows his blocking into the crease between Luke Joeckel and Rees Odhiambo. Jabaal Sheard (93, defender on far right) sheds the block of Odhiambo and slides down to tackle Lacy after a two yard gain. If Odhiambo had held the block just a bit longer against Sheard, there’s a decent chance Lacy ends up with a four or five yards.

Carry 2: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 1st & 10 at the 1 with 4:52 to go in the 1st Quarter

This play is almost over before it even really gets started. Germain Ifedi takes a bad angle off on the snap, firing forward too much and laterally too little. The result is that Colts DE Henry Anderson beats him to the inside, causing problems for Lacy in the backfield. Lacy hurdles Anderson, running into the back of Justin Britt, and then steadies himself as he fights his way out of the end zone to get back to the line of scrimmage.

Carry 3: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 2nd & 10 at the 1 with 4:36 to go in the 1st Quarter

A well blocked play by the line, Lacy has two creases to choose from. He can either proceed through the hole that has developed between Britt and Oday Aboushi, or he can slide outside off the hip of Luke Willson. Lacy chooses the outside option, initiating contact with a defender at the three yard line and then driving his legs as two more Colts pile on. Lacy ends up with a five yard gain on the play.

Carry 4: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 2nd & 5 at the 33 with 4:46 to go in the 3rd Quarter

This image is a great example of the type of holes that can be created in the ZBS when it is blocked properly playside. As Lacy takes the handoff, Britt has done a great job sealing his defender to the backside of the play and the playside blocking is solid. Aboushi, Ifedi and Willson have engaged their defenders and combined with Britt’s seal, there is a good sized hole.

The play goes for a three yard gain, however, it could easily have gone for more if not for two things. First, as discussed in the Saturday piece on Lacy against the Packers, part of the idea behind running in a zone scheme is for the back to take two steps, and then plant and go on the third step. On this play Lacy is too patient, not planting and committing until his fourth step, in spite of the fact that the crease he should hit is readily apparent as he is getting the ball. Secondly, both backside linemen Joeckel and Odhiambo failed to seal their defenders out of the play, and both help fill the gap and take down Lacy.

Carry 5: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 2nd & 8 at the 28 with 0:48 to go in the 3rd Quarter

That lineman circled in yellow is Oday Aboushi, and he’s in the process of getting absolutely blasted by defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. Remember, the line of scrimmage is the 28, and the rest of the linemen are doing a good job of blocking their defenders. Unfortunately, Aboushi being 3 yards in the backfield blows up the play. Lacy does what he can to slide in between Aboushi and fullback Tre Madden, getting back to the 27 for a loss of a yard.

Carry 6: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 1st & 10 at the 16 with 9:18 to go in the 4th Quarter

Good blocking by the line generates multiple creases for Lacy to choose from. In this picture he is about to cross the line of scrimmage having already committed to running just off Ifedi’s block of Hassan Ridgeway (91). Lacy is through the gap quickly then picks his way through the traffic and fights for extra yards, ending up with a gain of 11.

Carry 7: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 2nd & 7 at the 30 with 8:18 to go in the 4th Quarter

I’ve put an arrow pointing at Lacy on this play because he’s kind of lost in the wash behind the battle in the trenches. Here, Lacy had a good crease behind the blocking of Ifedi (blocking 51), Aboushi (blocking 57) and Britt (blocking 90), but he was once again too patient and a half step slow hitting the crease. Lacy did not commit to where he was going until his fourth step, and had he planted and driven through the crease behind Aboushi on step three, there’s a chance he picks up four or five yards, if not more. However, because of that extra step before committing, the crease has started to close and Lacy decides to try and cut back, off Britt’s left hip (towards the right side of the picture). Unfortunately, as soon as he does that, Jabaal Sheard (the defender circled in yellow), who is in full speed pursuit from the backside, hits him and takes him down.

Carry 8: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 2nd & 10 at the 37 with 11:49 to go in the 1st Quarter

It is a thing of beauty when things work like they’re supposed to. Joeckel has sealed his man to the outside, Britt has sealed his man to the inside and we see Lacy planting to go on his third step. Gain of seven on the play.

There is the potential that the play could have gone for more had Amara Darboh done a better job blocking his defender. Darboh crashed down on 41, lowering his shoulder into him before then unsuccessfully attempting to engage and establish control. Unfortunately, his defender tripped up Lacy, otherwise the play goes for a double digit gain. Darboh was a rookie, and he’ll improve with time.

Carry 9: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 3rd & 3 at the 47 with 5:48 to go in the 4th Quarter

Great play design combined with solid blocking results in a big run. Here, the line has done a good job blocking. Odhiambo has sealed off his defender at the top of the picture, and Britt is about to release into the second level as a lead blocker after he and Joeckel had successfully initially doubled their defender. Aboushi and Ifedi have both let their defenders drive themselves to the outside and out of the play.

Meanwhile, the pre-snap alignment had trips right, and the inside receiver slipped out as if he were going to receive a bubble screen, which drew the defensive back circled in yellow out and away from the running lane. The play gained 19 yards.

Carry 10: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 2nd & 6 at the 30 with 4:22 to go in the 4th Quarter

Lacy is once again impatient on this run. The two images show almost the same moment in the play (yes, I realize the top image is a split second later), and we see Lacy has two options. He can run right through the crease that will appear as soon as Britt moves out of the way, or he can take the cutback lane.

Apparently the cutback lane was too tempting, and that is where Lacy goes. Unfortunately, the lane gets quickly filled by Matthias Farley (in the top picture he’s the defender standing on the the 25 yard line, and Lacy ends up with a two yard gain.

Carry 11: Week 4 against the Indianapolis Cots; 3rd & 4 at the 28 with 3:35 to go in the 4th Quarter

Exact same play as the play that went for 19 yards just minutes prior, and this is a great example of the butterfly effect within the confines of the offensive line. On the play, Joeckel is blocking Johnathan Hankins (identified by yellow arrow), and Odhiambo’s job is to assist on a double team of Hankins before releasing to the second level to engage a linebacker. Odhiambo hits Hankins so hard in assisting on the double team that Joeckel is knocked backwards and puts his foot back to anchor. However, as we see in the yellow circle, Joeckel doesn’t just anchor, he steps on Britt’s foot tripping Britt. In turn, Britt stumbling allows Colts nose tackle Al Woods (99) to come off the block and force Lacy to evade an attempted tackle. Lacy makes Woods miss, only to then find himself in the arms of Sheard and Jonathan Bostic, gaining just a yard on the play.

And that wraps up Eddie Lacy’s best performance of the 2017 season, which happened to come against a Colts defense that ended the year as the tenth ranked run defense by DVOA. From this point forward is where things started to really get ugly for Lacy, so looking at the rest of his rushing attempts should be interesting. From Week 5 until his final carry of the season in week 12, Lacy averaged just 2.34 yards per carry so we may need to break out the dramamine or get the ginger root ready in order to prevent nausea as we work our way through the rest of the season.