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Let’s talk about Rashaad Penny against the Saints

New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

In Week 7 the Seattle Seahawks dropped their fifth game of the season to the New Orleans Saints, falling 13-10 on Monday Night Football and falling into sole possession of last place in the NFC West. The Hawks were without the services of Russell Wilson and Chris Carson, but following a return from injured reserve, 2018 first round pick Rashaad Penny was active for the first time since the season opening Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Here is a look at how he performed when tasked with carrying the football against the Saints by reviewing each of his six carries.

Carry 1: 1st & 10 at the Seattle 1 (5:55 remaining Q1)

Penny only gains a yard on this play, but that is not necessarily his fault. Center Kyle Fuller nearly completely whiffs on his attempted block of Saints linebacker Pete Werner (20), and Werner creates enough disruption in the backfield that other defenders are then able to come in and make the tackle.

Carry 2: 1st & 10 at the New Orleans 43 (0:37 remaining Q1)

Penny only picks up three yards on this play, but it probably represents his best outside zone run of the game. On this particular play right guard Gabe Jackson isn’t able to stay with practice squad defensive tackle Josiah Bronson (91), who gets into the backfield and forces Penny to cut back. Penny does a very nice job of avoiding Bronson and then immediately proceeding directly up the field.

Carry 3: 1st & 10 at the Seattle 23 (4:18 remaining Q2)

Another outside zone call, and Penny appears rushed in the backfield. He makes the proper reads of the defensive linemen and looks to make the prescribed cutback, however, as a result of his apparent rushing he slips when making his plant and that ruins the play. He tries to recover by using his athleticism and beating everyone to the edge on the backside of the play, but winds up getting flipped when he attempts to leap over the backside cornerback.

Carry 4: 1st & 10 at the Seattle 40 (2:51 remaining Q2)

This is one of those plays where if Penny were a bit more proficient he likely gains more than the single yard he earned on this play. At issue here is that in spite of the left side of the line opening a gaping hole for Penny, nobody gets to the second level to block Werner (20), who makes the stop.

If a line opens holes that big, it feels like a running back should be able to get more than a yard. Of course, it’s moot if anybody puts a hat on Werner and Penny’s able to turn on the afterburners as he glides through a hole big enough for a beer truck.

Carry 5: 2nd & 9 at the Seattle 13 (12:54 remaining Q3)

This is getting Penny into the type of run where he best excels - a gap run in space where he can use his speed. Jamarco Jones and Duane Brown both pull on this misdirection play, unfortunately Cam Jordan has been playing a long time and stays home rather than buy any of what Jones and Brown are selling. That said, 32-year old Jordan likely no longer possesses the 4.87 speed he displayed at the 2011 combine, and this is a foot race he will lose one hundred times out of one hundred. The five yard gain represents Penny’s best run of the night.

Carry 6: 1st & 10 at the New Orleans 48 (11:26 remaining Q3)

Another outside zone call, and this one is likely Penny’s worst carry of the night. He gets the ball and the read is there to make the cutback across the formation based on how the defensive linemen at the point of attack are positioned. Unfortunately, rather than plant and make the cutback, Penny tip toes forward a half dozen steps before indecisively stumbling into the back of Jamarco Jones. Penny didn’t get another carry after this, and whether that was due to a pitch count in his first game back or whether Shane Waldron didn’t want to call his number any further due to ineffectiveness we may not know until we see how many opportunities he is given against Jacksonville Sunday.