Last Sunday in Houston, the Seahawks' heart and soul - the zone running game - was suffering from the quickness and penetration of the Texans' J.J. Watt and their defensive line. Alex Gibbs, mentor to Tom Cable and long-time influencer of Pete Carroll, is a proponent of a total commitment to the zone running scheme. I've read transcripts of Gibbs teaching the ZBS to coaches and he would always relate that it was his belief that unless you have a total commitment to running only zone-blocking game, it won't work correctly.
"This systems works, but you cannot work it and do other things. You do not have enough time. You do not have enough time to learn the intricacies of how this functions and fits together. It takes every spare minute of your time."
Gibbs is on record saying that he never pulls a guard. Obviously, with the Seahawks' implementation of their 'third pitch' in the read option and use of 'lead draws' and the like, this coaching staff believes they can branch out some from the pure zone running game and still be effective with it. Against Houston, the Seahawks went to a power game on their now-infamous 99 yard drive in the 4th quarter. Depending on how you look at it, the Seahawks either had to 'resort' to this because their bread and butter wasn't working, or they had the advantage of being multiple enough in the run blocking game to change things up and hit Houston with something they weren't expecting: the Power-O.
Take two examples from Seattle's drive at the start of the 4th quarter. Here, Cable pulls James Carpenter across the formation.
1-10-HST 46 (13:21) M.Lynch up the middle to HST 42 for 4 yards (J.Mays, E.Mitchell).
With a dominant force like Watt on the Houston defensive line, it makes sense to use his aggression against him. Here, Bowie washes Watt down the line and the run follows Carpenter as he pulls across to blow up the strongside inside linebacker.
On this play, tight ends Zach Miller and Luke Willson lay down key blocks as well. This netted a short positive gain (considered a win in this game) and then, on the following snap, Cable again goes to pulling one of his guards, this time with J.R. Sweezy.
The Seahawks have the ball on the Texans 42 yard line on 2nd and 6. This is a classic, 'old-school' counter lead. Lynch fakes right before moving to his left.
Seahawks have the ball on the left hash with two TE and a fullback offset on the strong side (right side). JJ Watt is lined up on the strong side on RT Michael Bowie and is anticipating a run to the strong side (Seahawks right side). Not sure what Bowie's assignment in this play was, but everyone else plays their part to perfection on the Seahawks side of the ball. Watt fires off the snap and gets penetration, but the Seahawks have lulled him away from the action. Bowie side steps Watt and Zach Miller walls him off, even though Watt is driving himself out of the play. Kellen Davis controls the OLB on the strong side.
Sweezy gets out of the gate and starts running with his sub 5.0 forty speed toward the weakside outside linebacker. THUD.
Watch James Carpenter move into the 2nd level and fake a hit on the incoming weakside ILB. The linebacker believes he's home free to blow Lynch up on the counter and then, WHAM.
Coleman moves across the formation to lead the counter and creates a beautiful collision with Joe Mays. Carpenter then steps up and walls off the the strongside inside linebacker. One hundred pound advantage there. Paul McQuistan drives the weakside DE ACROSS the running lane (impressive). Lemuel Jeanpierre singlehandedly controls the Nose Tackle.
Ed Reed makes a business decision in the 2nd level. Gibbs teaches that receivers are supposed to block safeties, not corners. "We don't block corners, we block safeties. We make corners tackle. They're as sh**ty of tacklers in our league as they are in yours."
Kearse is trying to get to Ed Reed, but is being held by the cornerback. This effects Kearse's ability to block Reed, but it doesn't matter - Marshawn Lynch is the running back. Good for 17 yards.