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All-22 Musings: Eye-catching plays from the Seahawks’ victory over the Falcons

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Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

A week after a demoralizing defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, the Seahawks went to Atlanta and held off both the Falcons, and themselves in the second-half, in a 27-20 triumph. Seattle came out just as one would hope, and marched to a 24-0 half-time lead. The second-half saw Russell Wilson throw just five passes, as Matt Schaub delivered paper cut after paper cut in a comeback that would fall short.

Though the final two quarters will be happily forgotten, the Seahawks’ Week 8 victory brought DK Metcalf’s exploitation of a confounded Atlanta secondary, another outstanding game from Shaquill Griffin, and a few of Bobby Wagner’s best plays of the season. We’ll get into all of that, and more, below.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 25] (15:00) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass deep middle to M. Turner to SEA 46 for 21 yards (D. Kazee) [G. Jarrett]

It was satisfying to see Malik Turner start the game, as someone who has been campaigning for more snaps for the receiver. Though he didn’t see an increase in workload in Week 8, Turner continues to prove he has a great understanding of the position each time he sees the ball. On Russell Wilson’s first pass of the game, Turner gains separation at the top with subtle, effective contact, before coming back to the football.

[SEA 1-10 ATL 40] (12:30) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to T. Lockett ran ob at ATL 25 for 15 yards (V. Beasley)

One of the constants for Brian Schottenheimer in a pleasantly surprising 2019 is the fun way in which he has schemed up screen passes. We saw a fun design here, with Wilson rolling to his right before throwing back across to Tyler Lockett. Lockett’s depth is a bit concerning—there’s the chance for a big loss, or a turnover the other way should a defender break through and make a play on the ball—but the blocking and deception did the job here.

[ATL 2-4 ATL 24] (10:36) D. Freeman left end to ATL 23 for -1 yards (M. Kendricks)

Though I’ve been a strong advocate of giving Mychal Kendricks’ snaps to another defender, this, in theory, is a good representation of why Pete Carroll and Ken Norton Jr. continue to play him so often. He is, generally, an effective defender around the line of scrimmage, and we see that here as he evades Austin Hooper’s lunging block with ease, and drops Devonta Freeman for a loss.

[ATL 1-10 ATL 33] (9:29) D. Freeman right guard to ATL 34 for 1 yard (B. Wagner; M. Blair)

A minimal gain through the eyes of the best middle linebacker in the NFL. Just a treat to watch Bobby Wagner here, reading Freeman, reacting to the jump cut and displaying the quick-twitch athleticism necessary to make the tackle. Rumors of Wagner’s regression are greatly overstated.

[ATL 3-5 ATL 38] (8:14) (Shotgun) M. Schaub pass incomplete short right to C. Ridley (Sq. Griffin)

This is an incredibly impressive snap from Shaquill Griffin. Not only does Calvin Ridley gain a couple steps on him through the vertical sell, but he rounds his route inside after the break to gain even more separation. Despite that, Griffin eliminates it all, recovering and making a play on the football.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 26] (8:00) C. Carson left end ran ob at SEA 32 for 6 yards (I. Oliver)

One of Chris Carson’s more underrated qualities is his ability to make a defender miss when they’re squared up to him, whether it’s by evading a tackle, running through them, or delivering a stiff arm. On this six yard gain, Carson uses both a cut then a stiff arm to pick up modest yardage.

[ATL 1-20 ATL 35] (9:08) (Shotgun) M. Schaub pass short middle intended for J. Jones INTERCEPTED by M. Kendricks at ATL 47. M. Kendricks to ATL 46 for 1 yard (A. Mack)

Kendricks’ interception is showing up here for a couple of reasons, which are related to one another. The first: What in the world was Matt Schaub seeing when he threw this football? Kendricks had it the whole way. And the second: This does not excuse Kendricks’ dreadful coverage play up to this point, and Seattle should still look elsewhere on the roster for their 11th defender on most downs.

[SEA 3-3 ATL 39] (7:38) (Shotgun) C. Carson right end ran ob at ATL 20 for 19 yards (K. Sheffield)

What more is there to say about Carson? Just enjoy a runner who demoralizes at least one defender every single time he touches the ball—or several, as he does here.

[SEA 1-10 ATL 20] (7:01) (Shotgun) C. Carson right guard to ATL 16 for 4 yards (D. Campbell)

This is one of the few reps Joey Hunt had one-on-one that he won against the Falcons. He looked fine when helping one of the guards on Grady Jarrett, but for the most part, he was overmatched in individual matchups. A lot goes into being a center—considerably more than blocking the man in front of you—so I understand the Seahawks’ acceptance of moving forward with Hunt. But if they task him with too much, he’ll be a liability.

[SEA 2-6 ATL 16] (6:18) R. Penny left end pushed ob at ATL 4 for 12 yards (D. Kazee)

It’s plays like this that really remind you how incomprehensibly fast the game of football can be. Luckily, when he gets to the perimeter, Rashaad Penny is even faster. This was a really impressive game for Penny, and Seattle needs to get him more involved the rest of the way, now that he is healthy again. (Impressive short-area quickness from Duane Brown, to pull in front of Penny, in addition to Turner delivering a needed block.)

[ATL 1-10 SEA 35] (2:46) (Shotgun) M. Schaub pass incomplete short right to J. Hardy (Sq. Griffin)

Another Griffin pass breakup, and it’s strikingly similar to the first against Atlanta. I posed this question on Twitter after he made this play, and it’s a genuine curiosity. This play especially is a direct result of Griffin’s ability to plant his foot and explode to the football, something that was missing from his game last season.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 43] (2:27) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short right to DK. Metcalf pushed ob at 50 for 7 yards (B. Wreh-Wilson)

Once a week or so, we get a play like this that seems to be in direct response to the knocks against DK Metcalf as a prospect: Here he is, aligned on the right-hand side of the offense, and runs a sideline-breaking route. It may not be pretty quite yet, but Metcalf is developing every single week. Helping his cause: Every defensive back’s respect fear of his ability as a vertical threat gives him a few extra yards of cushion.

[SEA 2-10 ATL 47] (1:33) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass deep left to T. Lockett pushed ob at ATL 27 for 20 yards (K. Sheffield)

The Wilson-Tyler Lockett connection continues to be one of the most entertaining and effective in the sport, but what draws my eye on this play is Lockett’s release. I can’t think of another time I’ve seen a receiver release off the line quite like this, but it worked, so all power to Lockett.

[SEA 2-5 ATL 22] (1:21) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass incomplete deep right to DK. Metcalf

This is the second game in a row that Metcalf has used a double move to separate on a vertical route, however this one is considerably more exaggerated than the one that ended in a completion last week. Even though Metcalf was unable to complete the catch, it’s promising to see him trying different things in his game, and seeing what works—this one does, and hopefully he continues to use it.

[ATL 2-10 SEA 42] (:04) (Shotgun) M. Schaub sacked at ATL 47 for -11 yards (J. Clowney). FUMBLES (J. Clowney) [J. Clowney], RECOVERED by SEA-E. Ansah at ATL 49. E. Ansah to ATL 47 for 2 yards (K. McGary)

This time, on Jadeveon Clowney simply will not be denied.

(As an aside: Had Ezekiel Ansah been able to lateral that recovery off to Clowney, the Seahawks are absolutely looking at another touchdown before half-time, as nobody would have stopped him.)

[ATL 3-1 SEA 31] (12:22) (Shotgun) D. Freeman left end to SEA 32 for -1 yards (J. Clowney)

Three games in a row, and a handful more on the season, Clowney has chased down the running back from the backside to make the tackle for little-to-no gain. It’s incredibly entertaining, and a great example of the athleticism Clowney oozes.

[ATL 1-10 SEA 27] (11:38) D. Freeman right end to SEA 23 for 4 yards (P. Ford)

Just Poona Ford, as he does every week, disengaging and moving laterally to make a tackle on the running back. Ford’s balance, and short-area quickness, are just superb here.

The league will continue to knock defensive tackles who are below 6-foot-1, and players like Ford, Grady Jarrett and Aaron Donald will continue to use their stature to their advantage, whether it’s by keeping balance in pursuit like this, or getting leverage on an opposing lineman.

[ATL 1-10 SEA 23] (4:55) B. Hill left tackle to SEA 21 for 2 yards (A. Woods)

Al Woods has been absent from this space for a few weeks, so it’s time for him to return doing what he does best: Disengaging, and then engulfing the running back, at the line of scrimmage for a stop. His snaps have dropped significantly since Jarran Reed returned, but Woods is still a steady rotational player.

[ATL 2-8 SEA 21] (4:15) M. Schaub sacked at SEA 29 for -8 yards (B. Wagner)

One of the few wrinkles Kris Richard introduced into the defense during his time as defensive coordinator was his use of K.J. Wright and Wagner as blitzers, particularly through the A-gaps. This culminated in 2016, when the duo combined for 8.5 sacks. Though it has gone away, perhaps it’s something to be reintroduced to a defense that’s starved for sacks. Two of the most crucial things for an off-ball blitzer are the disguise, and the timing; Wagner nails both to perfection here in his sack of Schaub.

[SEA 2-8 SEA 30] (10:42) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short right to D. Moore to ATL 47 for 23 yards (D. Kazee)

When David Moore was a rookie, he was a mystery: An uber-athlete from a school unknown to most. He was even given some snaps at running back in training camp. His development was anyone’s best guess, but one thing was apparent from his first few touches in his first preseason: The ease with which he moves in the open field. Though in the past two seasons, he’s become known for his ability above the rim more than anything, that open field fluidity remains, and it’s seen here in a well-earned 23-yard gain.

Over the past two weeks, we have been treated to the best games of the season from both Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin. Presuming Flowers returns for Week 9, Seattle’s young cornerback duo will take on one of the best receiver pairs in the NFL in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. The Seahawks’ return home to take on the Buccaneers will bring a terrific matchup.