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Chris Carson clashes with the Titans in Week 3

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Seattle Seahawks v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It’s been a week since the last installment in my review of every carry by the Seattle Seahawks running backs during the 2017, so it’s about time to get back to the film and see what fun we can find. So far I have looked at Chris Carson in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers and Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Prior to looking at Carson’s work, I went through the on field performance for Eddie Lacy, and for those fans who may have missed it, those reviews may be found at the following links:

However, back to the topic at hand, let’s jump right into the Week 3 action against the Tennessee Titans.

Carry 1: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 1st & 10 at the 20 with 13:36 to go in the 1st Quarter

This play was doomed from the snap of the ball. You can see the Titans defender in the backfield before Russell Wilson even has his hand out of Carson’s bread basket. Carson aims for the crease in between Justin Britt (68) and Luke Joeckel (78), but is hit and taken down at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Once again we see a defender in the backfield, but how did that happen? Well, here’s a two image set that shows how badly Graham got beaten off the snap.

That right there is Jimmy Graham simply getting absolutely destroyed off the snap. The outside defensive end shouldn’t be able make a tackle on a play going the opposite direction, especially if he should be blocked.

Unfortunately, as we have seen all too many times to this point in our review, the blocking by the Seahawks tight ends in 2017 left a lot to be desired. Bookmark, this page, and anytime you start feeling sad about Graham leaving for Green Bay, just come back and look at those two images.

Carry 2: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 1st & 10 at the 48 with 8:51 to go in the 1st Quarter

The line does its job and blocks a good hole for Carson, who blasts through it for a gain a five. The interesting thing here is that this is Oday Aboushi’s (75) first game starting for Seattle, and he was a little hesitant on this play. So hesitant, in fact, that in the middle of the capture we see 181 pound Tyler Lockett blocking 246 pound linebacker Avery Williamson. Williamson sheds the block without much trouble to make the tackle, but not before Lockett got in his way enough to let Carson gain five.

Carry 3: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 2nd & 5 at the 47 with 8:27 to go in the 1st Quarter

The play is beautifully blocked by the offensive line and Carson springs through the cutback lane for a gain of six.

Carry 4: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 3rd & 1 at the 28 with 4:56 to go in the 1st Quarter

For the second time in his first four carries Carson is stopped for no gain, and for the second time on those stuffed plays we see the culprit is a tight end who failed in their blocking. Carson has a small crease between Aboushi (75) and Germain Ifedi (76) through which he could squeeze to pick up the single yard he needs for a first down. However, he can’t get to that crease because Luke Willson has been absolutely destroyed and blasted into the backfield into Carson’s path. Carson attempts to slide to the outside, but as Ifedi has his man sealed from the inside, the result is that Wesley Woodyard simply disengages Ifedi to make the tackle.

Just to illustrate this a little better, here is the same play from a different angle. In this second angle we can see Willson has his left foot inside the 26 (reminder the LoS was the 28), and it is clearly visible how Ifedi has sealed Woodyard to the outside.

Carry 5: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 2nd & 7 at the 28 with 5:34 to go in the 2nd Quarter

Not much to discuss here. Aboushi gets pushed a couple of yards into the backfield, so Carson cuts inside and slides through a crease for a gain of 3.

Carry 6: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 1st & 10 at the 25 with 15:00 to go in the 3rd Quarter

On this play Carson appears to believe he has a potentially massive cutback lane off of Joeckel’s left hip, but it seems as though he misses the fact that while Joeckel is engaged with Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard is hiding unblocked behind the two of them. As soon as Carson cuts back and takes a step that direction, Woodyard jumps out and tackles him for a gain of just one. Based on what he could see, Carson probably made the right decision, but this is one of those plays where had he simply followed his blocking he would likely have had a bigger gain than just the one yard.

Carry 7: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 2nd & 8 at the 27 with 14:44 to go in the 3rd Quarter

The blockers open a good sized hole for Carson, and right in front of him is Aboushi who has pulled across the formation to engage the outside linebacker. Carson ducks under Aboushi, and just to the outside of Willson (82) for a gain of five. Willson is unable to sustain his block on Avery Williamson as Carson passes, and Williamson comes free to make the tackle. That makes this the third time in seven carries by Carson that he has been tackled by a defender blocked by either Graham or Willson.

Carry 8: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 2nd & 1 at the 49 with 12:50 to go in the 3rd Quarter

The Titans show nine men in the box against an unbalanced line with Matt Tobin (73) in as an extra tackle. The line does a great job blocking for Carson and getting him the space to get the one yard he needs for a first down, but the interesting thing here is that Tobin has his choice of two separate Titans to block in the second level. So what does he do? He shoots the gap between the two of them, blocking neither. Somehow Carson then squirts between the two of them for a gain of seven.

Carry 9: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 1st & 10 at the 44 with 12:17 to go in the 3rd Quarter

As a reminder the line of scrimmage is the 44, so take a look at Aboushi’s back foot that is on the hashmark at the 48, four yards in the backfield. For those who want to know why the team had trouble running the ball in the middle of the season, well, this shows a major part of it. For the five games from Week 7 against the New York Giants through Week 11 against the Atlanta Falcons, the Seahawks had two guards on the field who could get blasted four yards into the backfield with a simple bull rush on any given play, which has the ability to greatly complicate things. In any case, on this play, Carson sees a good sized cutback lane and hits it for a gain of seven.

Carry 10: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 2nd & 10 at the 25 with 7:26 to go in the 3rd Quarter

On this play Carson has a tough decision to make because the defense has stayed assignment correct and there is not a readily apparent large crease. I feel Carson should have stayed with the play and simply run behind his blockers to get whatever yardage he can. However, he tries to win a race to the edge, which in the NFL simply does not happen very often. This is the biggest criticism of Carson that I saw routinely in reviewing his carries, and if he is going to find sustained success in the NFL he needs to quit trying to break runs to the outside. On this play it led to a gain of just a single yard, but we’ve seen it too often this season where he attempts to make it to the outside and ends up losing yards or getting stopped for no gain.

Carry 11: Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans; 1st & 10 at the 41 with 3:08 to go in the 3rd Quarter

Carson doesn’t even have the handoff yet and there is a linebacker coming on a run blitz about to smash him in the backfield. Take a moment to notice what the linemen are doing. Rees Odhiambo is working his way to the second level while putting a hand on the man Luke Joeckel is blocking. Britt is driving his man to the outside, while Aboushi is getting ready to engage the linebacker stepping up from the second level and Ifedi is riding his man upfield and out of the play. So who is that that is a half step slow blocking the linebacker coming into the backfield? Once again it’s a tight end, Luke Willson. Willson fails to get to his assignment on time, and it leads to the play going for a loss of one.

Now, I’ve heard about enough from fans complaining about how the offense isn’t going to be able to score without Graham, Willson and Paul Richardson. Well, maybe without those three on the field the running game will actually be able to produce. Take a step back for a second and scroll through the three plays in this review that were stuffed - carries 1, 4 and 11. They were the only three carries Carson had in the game where he finished with no gain or a loss of yards, and on all three plays the defender who either made the tackle or disrupted the play leading to the tackle was blocked by one of the tight ends.

We’ve already seen this over and over and over during these reviews. So for those who want to know what the offense will do without Graham, Willson and Richardson, it appears as though the answer to that question might be “run the ball with some success”.