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Waldron-22: DK Metcalf, Jalen Ramsey, and the Smash Boot concept

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A win is a win, and the Seattle Seahawks desperately needed one after dropping two winnable games in a row. The LA Rams are an entirely different squad than the Super Bowl champs we saw last year; from injuries to key players (like Aaron Donald, who had never missed a start due to injury before this season) to inconsistent play at the quarterback position... this team might look like the 2021 squad on the surface, but they have regressed in almost every way possible this season. Enter Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks, who were looking to end a two-game losing streak to LA after getting swept by Sean McVay’s team in 2021. And oh boy did they deliver.

There were a lot of great plays to look at from this game, especially on the final drive that resulted in the go ahead score. For example:

  • Tyler Lockett’s conversion on 3rd and 10 at the LA 40 — which was the only third down they faced on this drive.
  • Marquise Goodwin’s catch-and-run that took them inside the 10.
  • Geno Smith’s ability to throw the ball away and avoid taking any back breaking sacks on this drive.

But we all know the play that everybody really wants to see. To be sure, this play would not have happened were it not for the above, but this particular call produced the game winning touchdown. Of course I am talking about the go-ahead score to Metcalf. Let’s not mince words here; if you try and test DK Metcalf with a sorry DB like Jalen Ramsey, this is what happens. Roll the tape.

In the first angle, you can see that the Rams line up in a 4-man front in Wide-9 alignment, with Michael Hoecht lined up outside of Charles Cross and Leonard Floyd outside of Colby Parkinson. Keep your eye on Colby, as he pancakes Floyd right in front of Geno. The Rams only bring 4, as Rapp, Wagner, and Ernest Jones all drop into coverage; from what I can see, this looks like Raheem Morris’s basic Cover-3 defense, with Ramsey shadowing DK. You can see this alignment below, pulled from a Turf Show Times article detailing how Raheem Morris’s defense would look different than Brandon Staley’s.

You can’t really see the routes in the first angle, but you can see the play action and the slide by the offensive line; great design to get Geno on the move and boot outside the pocket, where he has about a mile of space in any direction and a wide open throwing lane. In this particular view, you can really get a good angle of the catch and throw; Geno absolutely fires a dart on the move and hits Metcalf, who started calling for the ball pretty much as soon as he made his break; he knew he had Ramsey beat and he wanted that ball.

In second angle, you can get a much better view of the play call. Watch below.

This looks a lot to me like the Smash Bootleg concept; while this is hardly a novel play, it is a well designed and well-timed call that took advantage of the Rams’ coverage. Here is an excerpt from an article describing this play when Lincoln Riley would run it with Baker Mayfield back in the day:

“This boot is typically run from a trips formation toward the three-receiver side. The quarterback fakes a zone away from the three-receiver side and then boots toward them. The No. 3 receiver has to hinge down on the end and shield him from getting outside to pursue the quarterback.

The No. 3 receiver is off the ball so he can get a better angle to block the end. It’s important to note the No. 3 receiver cannot get upfield because he has to either go horizontal or backward to make the block. After he gets a piece of the end, he runs into the flats and is the quarterback’s third read.

Typically, on bootleg passes, the flat is always the first read, but in this concept, the first read is the deep post corner by the No. 2 receiver. The second read is out route by the No. 1 receiver. Finally, the quarterback could check the ball down to the flat if nothing is open.”

The Hawks use a slightly different route combo than the one described in the article above, as Tyler Lockett takes the flat route. Parkinson may have released had he not taken the opportunity to assert some authority on Floyd. Geno’s first read is Marquise Goodwin; he sees that he is well covered, but he does a great job of looking the defense off. This, combined with the play action, keeps Ernest Jones off balance and out of position, and causes Nick Scott (#33) to hesitate, which sets up an (admittedly tight) window... at this point, nobody was going to deny DK Metcalf and Geno Smith.

Final thoughts

  • The design and execution on that playcall were great. Not only did it put DK in a one-on-one with Jalen Ramsey, the bootleg got Geno on the move, where he has proven to be effective, from what I have seen. The block by Parkinson combined with Goodwin’s corner opened up a surprising amount of space, and I don’t care which defensive back draws the assignment — nobody wants to be matched up one-on-one with Metcalf in a situation like this (or, in Ramsey’s case... he shouldn’t have been so eager).
  • I was so happy to see Parkinson plant Floyd. I got so sick of all the games where Leonard Floyd would seemingly tally a million sacks on Russell Wilson. According to StatHead, he has 6 sacks against the Seahawks in 5 regular season games (8, including that playoff game) since joining the team in 2020. He has 25 regular season sacks since 2020. I’ll put it this way: when nearly a quarter of your total takedowns have come against the same team over a three year time span... you build up some residual ill will with certain members of the fanbase.
  • I am not going to read too much into this team needing a game winning drive to beat the reeling Rams. Division games are always wild, and the Rams have always been a thorn in Pete Carroll’s side.
  • On to the Carolina Panthers!