Rashaad Penny’s career has been plagued by injuries ever since he was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks. In four seasons, he’s played a total of 33 regular season games while missing 28 over that same time frame. With that being said, I think Penny surprised many of us in his huge performance against the Houston Texans. On 16 carries, he finished with 137 yards and two scores. He also caught one pass out of the backfield for an additional yard.
While Penny has been on the roster for four seasons now, it’s safe to say that this was one of his best games of his career. The only other two games I can think of were his Week 9 game against the Los Angeles Rams back in 2018 when he gained 108 yards and his Week 12 performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 when he rushed for 129 yards. Regardless, due to this huge performance, I wanted to do a quick film breakdown looking at his two touchdowns.
Let’s start with his first touchdown that happened with two seconds left in the first quarter. (Note: If this video doesn’t play properly, click here.)
The Seahawks had a 1st-and-10 from the Texans’ 32-yard line. They lined up in heavy personnel putting three tight ends on the right side of the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile rookie WR Dee Eskridge lined up as the solo receiver in a tight split on the closed side of the formation.
The play-call for this touchdown run was “Duo Wrap Strongside.” This play takes advantage of the defense in their pursuit of defending a zone run. Since defensive lineman and linebackers are taught to get in front of their blocks, this is a great counter play to getting a running back to the backside. Many of the Seahawks’ biggest runs are due to this play call and they have been even dating back to Darrell Bevell’s time as the offensive coordinator with the Seahawks.
The key takeaways for Duo Wrap are the emphasis on the double teams by the offensive line combined with the tight ends to seal the defenders backside. Rashaad Penny will use counter footwork to help sell the zone run and then he will sprint to the backside reading the mike linebacker to determine when to cut. Since the linebacker blitzed the A-gap, Penny knew to bounce this run to the edge. Meanwhile, Eskridge will perform a “wrap block” where he will run a jet sweep across the formation to lead block for Penny and to hit the defender on the edge. This is what will spring Penny into the secondary.
From here, it’s up to Rashaad Penny... Can he break any tackles and create any yards for himself? That answer was obviously yes on this one, so Penny was able to escape down the field for a 32-yard touchdown.
Before we move on from this play, I want you to watch Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson closely. Both executed their blocks perfectly to seal the defenders inside.
During this game, Rashaad Penny scored his first touchdown to help give the Seahawks the early lead in the first quarter. While the Texans were able to tie up the game, Seattle never surrendered the lead after their initial score on the opening drive of the game.
Let’s look at Penny’s second touchdown. This one happened in the middle of the fourth quarter on a 2nd-and-7 from Houston’s 47-yard line. (Note: If this video doesn’t play properly, click here.)
The play call for this run was “Midzone Weak.” Before the snap, you can see that the Seahawks had a numbers advantage on the left side of their offensive line. I count three defenders to that side (when starting at the center) and three offensive lineman (including the center). That means that if each offensive lineman can block their respective defender, Rashaad Penny is theoretically free to hit the secondary.
After the snap, the center and the left guard will combo block in order to seal the 1-tech nose tackle inside. Meanwhile from the backside, the right tackle Jake Curhan will attempt to seal the 3-tech defensive tackle. He made an amazing play! He stopped his defender from getting into the backfield. This is a very difficult block and while it doesn’t look pretty on film, it worked on this one which is all that matters. Outside of Curhan, the other block you need watch is the block by RG Gabe Jackson. Jackson mauls his linebacker to the ground. Thing of beauty!
From here all Rashaad Penny needs to do is read the blocks by his offensive lineman on their respective defenders and this is what gets him into the second level. Also, the strong safety #1 Lonnie Johnson Jr. overcommits on his run defense to the outside so Penny can cut inside of him. This is what springs the running back open and what allows him to score the 47-yard touchdown here.
My main takeaway from this game was just how well the Seahawks’ offensive line played. Yes, Tyler Lockett made some crazy catches like he always does and Russell Wilson looked more like himself which are obviously both positives; however, in this game, the Seahawks’ offensive line domination over the Texans’ defensive line was the key for this victory. Without them, there is no way that the Seahawks would have scored 33 points.