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Alex Collins’ 13-yard touchdown run and the art of playcalling

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Shoot. That sucked. I spent a lot of time writing something but on further reflection I do not want to sermonize. No one wants that. I’m gonna combat my bummer impulses by writing something fun.

Alex Collins’ touchdown run was pretty dope. Let’s look at everything which made it possible.

Here’s the pre-snap formation.

The Rams are in the shape of zone coverage but they’re aligned like man coverage. Metcalf and David Moore are aligned left. Starting corners Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill oppose them, but Ramsey is over Moore and Hill is over Metcalf. It’s muddled. This irrelevant looking motion by Jacob Hollister is a fact-finding mission. He doesn’t go anywhere but no one follows him.

If ROLB Justin Hollins rushes off left end and the run goes wide left, the Seahawks can spring a trap. Hollins’ position, momentum and angle of attack will allow for an easy block. Easy enough for a wide receiver, and very easy for a hulking Gargantua of a wide receiver.

DK Metcalf pops Hollins good. To his right you can see Duane Brown releasing into the second level. He’s gonna do some Steve Hutchinson shit.

One can simply count the free defenders in range of Collins and the free blockers in front of Collins and see that Seattle has achieved a distinct advantage.

If Seattle lands every block, Collins will walk untouched into the end zone. If one block is missed, he’ll have one player to beat. Etc.

Two blocks are missed.

Jalen Ramsey entices Hollister to charge his invisible muleta. Thankfully Ramsey runs himself out of the play doing so. Kyle Fuller steals Will Dissly’s block and does it better. It’s a good decision because Fuller’s never ever ever reaching safety Taylor Rapp. Better one good block than one bad block and one missed block.

It’s up to Collins to beat Rapp in the open field. He does so in impressive fashion.

Collins stretches the defense horizontally, finds his lane, plants, cuts assertively up field, and sterilizes Rapp’s familiy for generations to come with a teacup juke. The horizontal range of the move isn’t crazy, a yard maybe, but the quickness, the quickness of his feet, plip plip plip plip across the turf like God’s own skipping stone, is dazzling. Not “dazzling” term of marketing but .. well just watch it a few times. It’s mesmerizing. You could hypnotize a chicken with that gif.

Eventually the defense closes in. Collins is near but he needs a little push, an avenue to reach the end zone. He needs a buddy, a teammate if you will, to pave that avenue, to push that poor Rams defender into the end zone.

This was Seattle’s lone touchdown-scoring drive. The sequence was run, play-action pass, pass, pass, run, pass, run. Three runs and one run fake; four passes, seven plays, four which began like a run and three which began like a pass. The actual pass-to-run ratio is in favor of passing. But in the first moments after the snap when the defense does not know the play call and will make critical decisions as to where to go how fast and why, the Seahawks had no tell and no tendency.

That seems important to me.