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Personnel report: Seahawks running game

9/18/2009



Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The highlights showed Seattle's Julius Jones breaking a 62-yard touchdown run against the Rams during a 28-0 victory in Week 1.

That run was very much an aberration among the Seahawks' nine rushing plays from their base offense featuring two backs, two receivers and one tight end. Aberrations count, of course, but the other eight base run plays netted 9 yards total. The chart breaks them out by runner.

Julius Jones, Edgerrin James and Justin Forsett averaged a more evenly distributed 4.7 yards per attempt with three receivers on the field. Their 10 rushes from these personnel groups gained 8, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 4, 2, 1 and 1 yards.

I'll be surprised if Seattle runs the ball consistently well from its base offense against the 49ers in Week 2, although the 49ers' 3-4 scheme shouldn't present additional problems. Seattle's zone blocking tendencies require relatively few adjustments against 3-4 defenses. The Seahawks also tuned up against 3-4 teams during preseason and they know the 49ers well.

  • Download: This Excel file features a sortable Seahawks offensive play-by-play sheet complete with my observations on select plays, plus a second sheet summarizing production across personnel groups. Alternate download link here.

Among the other things I noticed in watching this game a couple times:

  • Forsett has progressed dramatically since last season. He looks good as the third-down back and showed he could meet the challenges in pass protection, even when pressure came from the opposite site. Blitz pickup is largely about attitude for running backs. Watch Frank Gore the next chance you get.

  • The Seahawks aren't using zone blocking exclusively. They still pull the guard on occasion.

  • Matt Hasselbeck and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are not fully synced at this point. Check back around midseason on this one.

  • Fullback Justin Griffith seems to have a very good feel for the game and this offense. He seems purposeful.

  • Seattle ran only one snap with four wide receivers. As expected, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp prefers using two tight ends more than former coach Mike Holmgren. Seattle ran nine snaps from each of its two double-tight personnel groups, accounting for 25.8 percent of offensive snaps. The Seahawks used these groups only 7 percent of the time when I charted each of their offensive snaps in 2006.

  • Pass-rusher Darryl Tapp's strong preseason carried into the opener. Can he sustain it against better opponents? Lawrence Jackson also looks better.

  • Patrick Kerney played quite a bit. I did not notice him disrupting the Rams' offense. Fellow defensive end Cory Redding, a force during practices at training camp, did not stand out.

  • Aaron Curry's in-your-face attitude gives the Seahawks an edge that has been lacking. The defense must play well for it to matter.

  • The Seahawks put eight defenders in the box four times, allowing 5.3 yards per attempt on these rushes. They allowed 4.0 yards per attempt on 14 rushes with fewer than eight in the box. The Rams had a 10-yard run against and eight-man box. Note: I updated this final stat after phohawk discovered an error. Much thanks. I had read my own breakdown incorrectly.