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The elements of Alton Robinson’s game

Seattle Seahawks v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Call me a sucker for embarrassing admissions but I thought this was very endearing.

All I know about The Last Airbender is Quentin Tarantino’s work of high camp. Did I mean to write M. Night Shyamalan? Those two auteurs of cinema seem to be converging at light speed. No bad ideas!

Like Mike McCarthy, I haven’t really studied the film. I’ve preferred to just enjoy what I’ve seen from Alton Robinson and leave it at that. This isn’t cold analysis of Robinson. It isn’t really hype either as hype deadens the senses. Calling him “perfect” or a “future all-pro” would be offering you a plate of aspartame and calling it dessert. But it is biased in the young man’s favor. And you better believe it is organized around the theme of Avatar: The Last Airbender.


Someday the East Asianism of Avatar will be censured and cancelled. We all know it. Shoot, I used the wrong word to avoid confusing people into outrage with the right word. Orwell really was way too prophetic. Bur for now Avatar benefits from its cultural fluidity.

My books are in a million piles around me. Ah, moving. And so this isn’t from the source but something I could find online. Please excuse me for however wrong it is.

“In the world nothing is so delicate and flexible as water, yet for attacking that which is hard and strong, nothing surpasses it. There is nothing that can take its place. The weak conquer the strong, the tender conquer the hard. Everyone knows this, but no one practices it.” The Tao Te Ching by Laozi (I guess is the current accepted spelling)

“The people of the water tribe are capable of adapting to many things.” Avatar

Comparison is not always kind.

Water is supple. It can squeeze into a minuscule crack. Water can also be unyielding. Anyone who has dived from great heights knows this.


Robinson works his way into the crack between the block of Kyle Rudolph and the body of Brian O’Neill. He remains engaged but fluid, in his gap, building energy toward the ball carrier, but relaxed. Eventually O’Neill and right guard Dru Samia are able to turn and force back Anthony Rush. Robinson immediately shoots through the resulting gap into the backfield.


We see you, #98.


I wanted to find a quote from the show but I guess the dialogue is made up of nothing but cliches. Instead enjoy this hilariously stilted and stagey scene because y’all are nice people.

Shyamalan is the unintentional successor to Zucker, Zucker and Abrams.

Wait, okay, I guess Iroh says “The people of the Earth Kingdom are diverse and strong. They are persistent and enduring.” Thank you, Iroh. Which is how Scoobie says “iron.”

Most of Robinson’s big plays have come relatively easily. He did persist in a way on his sack of Dak Prescott.

Truth be told, it’s not the kind of play you want to project too much from. #52 Connor Williams seems way too concerned with the possibility that Shaquem Griffin will blitz. For the longest time he does nothing as Griffin slowly backpedals. When he does see that Robinson is manhandling Brandon Knight, he whiffs so badly he actually stumbles out of the tackle box. All of my good resources for stats are steadily disappearing down the memory hole. I can’t tell you how many sacks Knight has allowed, but he has the build and agility of a center. Robinson effortlessly separates with a simple stab move. Probably that means Knight just isn’t that good.

Which reminds me, seriously guys, stop propping these people up:

A “pressure” is defined as sacks + hits + hurries. Here is proof of two more, one from the same drive.

I knew of those from my post about Shaquem Griffin. I don’t have the time to find them all, but there are more.

I digress only to point out that it can hard to know when a player is flashing real potential versus when a player is feasting on a weak matchup. And to say, just in case anyone important is reading, please please please do not make signings or trades based on the analysis of Pro Football Focus. As I said to Mookie in August, this took me about five minutes of research to find.

Joey Hunt is fully capable of doing what #67 B.J. Finney did there, for less and he’s not and never has been a Steeler. (That’s who we’re facing in the Super Bowl by the way.) That was Andrew Billings’ one sack in 657 snaps in 2019. My proof of this is scattered to the four winds, but back in August I also found out that Finney had allowed three sacks in 1,023 or one season’s worth of snaps as a center. Justin Britt allowed one sack in about 3,500 snaps as a center. I don’t pretend to be king shit of tape analysis, but sometimes information comes to light which makes me wonder.

All of the Cowboys’ tape should take a few weeks tops to study well. McCarthy is making millions of dollars to be Dallas’ head coach, and he seems to have gotten the job by bluffing. These are hundred-million dollar businesses in a billion dollar industry. If anyone’s really making personnel decisions based on a self-appointed scouting agency because it’s too hard to watch football, please for the love of God contact me! I like to watch football! And I’m damn sure better at it than a lot of y’all!


Back to this infernal Airbender theme I have doomed myself too.

Robinson also endured minor humiliation after scoring a big play on third and short.

The Dolphins were preparing to kick a field goal. Robinson hadn’t played a special teams snap all season, but was sent back out. By what I can tell, he went right back to the sideline a second later, because he wasn’t out there for the field goal attempt. Which means which special team snap he played remains a mystery. “Persistent and enduring.”


The makers of Avatar: The Last Airbender have the audacity to call the different seasons of the show “books,” and each episode a “chapter.” Given the boom in population, the availability of education, and the gains we have made toward equalizing opportunity, it seems almost impossible that people have become stupider. Yet, here we are.

Books! Chapters!

Whatever the show has to say about the fire element is surely stupid. Here’s a couple more cool gifs of Robinson doing fire shit.

This may all seem unbelievably discursive and unhinged, but that’s the internet I grew up on and that’s the internet I love. People need a moral holiday. We all need to be less righteous. Me especially.

I can’t really tell you how good Alton Robinson can be and I’d rather not presume that kind of authority. But if you’re looking to be bummed out, here’s the skinny:

He’s pretty strong especially for a kid and he seems to have a natural talent for separating even in small spaces. His bend isn’t remarkable and I don’t think he’ll ever be exactly what the Seahawks want in a LEO. It’s somewhere between the ridiculous feats some pass rushers are capable of and the kind of purely linear rush style which requires exceptional hand fighting talent and technique to make work. I cannot tell you much about his anchor or containment skills, but he’s much more likely to be able to develop those skills if they’re lacking. They’re not as rooted in talent, but obviously the guy’s not going to have a growth spurt and become Calais Campbell. His footwork and closing ability will allow him to get mileage out the blocks he does win.

Right now he has one sack and three tackles for a loss in 92 snaps. That would project to about eight sacks over the snaps typical of an end starting for the Seahawks. Cliff Avril ranged between 715 and 832 in his three seasons starting for Seattle. Robinson’s sack came against an okay but maybe not even okay player but it was a very good sack. Easy, but why it was easy isn’t obvious. The two tackles for a loss I captured in the gifs above were also easy, relatively easy, and probably more properly the highlights of other players. L.J. Collier smokes Connor Williams in the first. Bryan Mone and to a lesser extent Damontre Moore do most of the heavy lifting in the second. Don’t get me wrong. Making the play matters, a lot. I’ve seen all of the ineffectual block shedding I can stand, but a great end sheds blocks and makes plays. Robinson was unblocked before tackling Ezekiel Elliott and Myles Gaskin. It makes those tackles a lot easier.

There is not enough tape to say too much about the young man. He’s not Reggie White or Von Miller. I’m not sure he has the dip to be Cliff Avril either. But he’s quicker than the Avril Seattle signed in 2013 and he’s a little bit bigger too. He might prove to be more powerful than Avril, less able to sneak around the edge and appear just so to strip sack, but better able to set the edge, contain and squeeze the pocket. For the most part, good players pop quickly. Much of a player’s supposed emergence is just earning more snaps. It might take 800+ snaps but I think Robinson could get double digit sacks. Whatever the case, it’s a virtual lock he outperforms his draft spot. It’s very likely that, God willing he stays healthy, he has a multi-million dollar contract in his future. Youth and success are the elements of freedom.