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The false step that could determine tackle depth for the Seahawks

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Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Over the course of the 2019 season many fans of the Seattle Seahawks were desperate for the team to make a change at right tackle. They had long tired of Germain Ifedi at right tackle, and were comfortable that someone, anyone, could perform better at the position. Some wanted George Fant to be inserted into the starting lineup, while others felt the position would be best manned by 2018 fifth round pick Jamarco Jones.

Jones had surprised many when called upon to play guard in an emergency, but he never seen playing time at tackle. Fant, meanwhile, had developed from a college basketball player who spent just a single season, 2015, as a backup tight end for Western Kentucky before joining the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2016.

In any case, while fans wanted to see either of the two at right tackle, it was in Week 16 when Duane Brown with a knee injury that Jones was given his first regular season snaps at tackle. It was a forgettable day for Jones, who faced off against two time All Pro Chandler Jones. Chandler tied a career high with four sacks that day, while setting a new career high of six quarterback hits laid on Russell Wilson.

Obviously, facing off against the runner up for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year is not the ideal way for any player to dip their toes in the water of playing tackle at the top level. However, with training camps set to open in just a matter of weeks, the competition for a spot as tackle depth will certainly be heating up. Brandon Shell appears to be the presumed starter at right tackle with Ifedi now a member of the Chicago Bears and Fant having moved on to the New York Jets.

That brings things back to Jamarco Jones, of course, who comes in off an up and down 2019 season that saw the highs of being praised for his Week 5 performance against Aaron Donald against the lows of the disastrous matchup against Chandler Jones. Also in competition at the spot are Chad Wheeler, who previously started for Mike Solari during their time with the New York Giants and spent the second half of 2019 on the Seattle practice squad. In addition, Cedric Ogbuehi is an athletic former first round pick who seems like his athleticism could give him a leg up in the battle for swing tackle as he could have the potential to fill the sixth lineman role the Hawks have used so extensively over the past two seasons.

That pares things down to Wheeler and Jones battling for the fourth tackle spot, and that could come down to how much work either player is able to do during the offseason. Specifically, most fans are aware of how ugly the performace at left tackle was by Jamarco Jones against Chandler Jones in Week 16 last season, but what most fans don’t realize is that Chandler may have had a cheat code while battling against Jamarco. Specifically, this:

For those who are unaware of the terminology, in offensive line parlance a false step is when an offensive lineman’s first step out of their stance is really just an up and down by one leg that doesn’t actually move the lineman anywhere. It may not seem like a big deal, but when it comes to technique and fundamentals a false step is a bad habit that can be extremely difficult to break. In addition, depending on how and when the bad habit appears, it can be a giveaway to a defender what is coming.

Specifically, with Jamarco Jones’ false step, it is something he does while pass blocking, and his footwork differs from that which he uses on run plays. When run blocking he has a distinct pivot and fire process that is instantly recognizable as different from his pass blocking. That might not seem all that sinister in and of itself, but the risk lies in the information that can be gleamed from that first step by an offensive lineman because it’s not just on pure passing sets that Jones’ false step appears. While he didn’t play a ton, logging 396 offensive snaps during the regular and postseason in 2019, it’s enough of a sample to see that the false steps shows up on pure passing sets, as well as regularly showing up on play action and RPO pass sets as well. Basically, Jones’ footwork is often telling the defense whether a play is a run play or play action without the defender even needing to look in the backfield.

This is not to say that a false step is the end of the world. It’s technique and it can be practiced and addressed. One of the big knocks on 2018 first round pick of the then-Oakland, but now Las Vegas Raiders Kolton Miller was a false step, but by the time he had hit the field for the first preseason game he’d largely corrected the issue.

So, it’s certainly something for Jones to work on during the offseason, because if he has not put int he work to address it, it could be a false step that takes him off the roster come roster cuts.