Skins DEFENSE vs Seattle


We were able to dictate which gaps we wanted Seattle to run into:

  • We slanted Hood and McClain in opposite directions, opening the offensive line.
  • Compton widened out and drew the center from the line.

The RB took the bait and hit the gap we designed for him, Brown took care of the rest:

End Zone View:

Compton made plays away from the ball like this one all game long.

That was the basic bones of our run defense: bait the running back and let Zach Brown clean up.  Most times it worked as planned and sometimes they got us with misdirection.

On this drive they ran back to back moving “Iso” runs.  Basically, Iso is when the fullback slams straight ahead into the linebacker and clears a path for the running back.  This was the third time they lined up to run Iso, so we answered with this:

  • McGee slants and takes the Left Guard with him.
  • This opens up a gap for Compton to smash into the fullback
  • Brown is free to clean up the running back.

But Seattle ran the “Counter” play instead and caught us in a bad defense.  The running back fakes like it’s Iso with the first step, but then they pull the left guard and fullback the other way and the running back follows:

Slanting guys around is a chess match that will go both ways, fortunately in this game we won these match ups more than we lost them.

Like the previous week, we ditched the exotic formations.  Deshazor Everett only got 1 snap even though Montae Nicholson was out for the game.  That left DHall and DJ Swearinger to man the safety corps for the entire game; we played with 2 high safeties way more than normal.

What Happened

Run defense was near perfect, but pass rush lane integrity and flat zone coverage were a problem.

Pass Rush:  The 2-high safeties put added pressure on the front 4 to get after Wilson without letting him to escape.  Guys over pursued and got bumped out of their lanes which allowed Wilson to pick up chunks of yards and extend drives with his feet.  It was reminiscent of the Philly game but without the big plays downfield.

The problems:  Lanier is facing slide protection with the center uncovered, he has to know the center might come his way, instead he’s unprepared and loses his feet as soon as he gets doubled:

Kerrigan and Galette kept losing contain due to a combination of an over aggressive pass rush and holding from Seattle’s tackles:

Other times Seattle designed the play to set up a QB run.  In the following clip:

  • The Tight End and Running Back run routes to widen our linebackers
  • The Left Tackle grabs Smith’s arm and does not allow him to wrap over top of Lanier.
  • The seas part for Wilson:

How did we fix the problem?  We did a couple of things to correct the issue.  We spied with Brown on a couple of plays, but we also blitzed the interior while a defensive end (Kerrigan in the following clip) kept contain:

Sometimes guys just executed:

Here Jones is able to stay on his feet against the double team while Lanier kept his lane integrity:

And here, Lanier bull rushes the guard into Wilson’s lap to force a short throw and almost-interception:

All together I charted 8 scrambles for 61 yards at 7.6 ypc and two first downs.  It was by far their most effective run play and besides a couple of busted coverages on our end, it was their most effective play overall.

The 1st Touchdown Drive:  On the first touchdown drive they targeted the flat/curl zones.  Here either Smith or Compton busted their coverage:

And here Brown is late to react to the releasing TE.  They had run inside zone from this formation earlier and Brown’s eyes got caught in the backfield because of that:

On the second touchdown their was a rare press-technique mishap from Norman and a bust from the one of the safeties–most likely DHall.

Those were most, if not all, of the issues that I found in 83 snaps–20 more than our average–from a roster without 2 starters at the line, 2 in the LB corps, and down a Free Safety; which forced a guy we signed off the street and another from the PUP list into a starter’s share of the snaps.  The defensive performance was amazing to say the least.


The Show

Defensive Line
Player + Total
Lanier 5.5 2 3.5: pass rush specialist
McGee 5 2 3
McClain 7 2.5 4.5
Hood 2 2.5 -0.5
Jones 1 4 -3
Total     7.5
Pressure + Total
16 3.5 12.5
+ plays are good. 

- plays are bad. 

If it's a ho-hum play, like a 3 yard gain on first down, then usually nobody will do worse or better than -1 or +1.  But give up a 64 yard touchdown (-4) or get a TFL/Sack (+2) and I go higher in either direction.

Pressure: Did the quarterback comfortably hold onto the ball for longer than 3 seconds: -1. Did the QB feel pressure in 3 seconds or less? +1

[The ‘Pressure’ score is a little high for this game since I didn’t categorize failed rush lane integrity under anything.  I tried to make a new ‘rush lane’ metric but then forgot to keep track around the 4th drive.]

Terrell McClain was OK to above average for most of the game until he got this game winning sack which earned him a +4:

that was a nasty ‘push-pull’ move he put on the guard to knock him off-balance.

Stacy McGee had one of his best games this season.  PFF gave him the second highest score from this game.  He was agile enough to get under blocks from the tackle:

And strong enough to split double teams:

His mileage may vary against stronger offensive lines, one of which is coming up next week.

Player + Total
Anderson 2 1 1
Galette 3 1 2
Compton 10 0 WTF
Brown 8 9.5 -1.5: Issues in coverage
Smith 3 1.5 1.5
Kerrigan 2.5 3.5 -1
Total     12

Compton had a couple of potential minuses that he ended up not getting, the first one was shown earlier in the busted flat zone coverage: that may have been either on Smith or Compton, so I could only give that minus to the team ‘coverage’ metric.

The second one:

With six guys in deep coverage and four rushing the QB, that’s an impossible situation he’s put in, either cover and let Wilson carve us up for another 20 yards on the ground or force the throw.  On the broadcast, it looked like Compton messed up by attacking Wilson, but on second look that’s not his fault.

Otherwise he did a ton of stuff away from the ball to help other guys stuff their stat sheet.  At the top of this post you saw him open up lanes for Brown.

Here he attacks the guard to give Lanier a path to bulldoze over a running back and flatten Wilson:

Defensive Backs
Player + Total
DJ 2 8 -6: Still the best all around safety we have
Fuller 6.5 1 5.5
Breeland 2 5.5 -3.5: replaced by Dunbar late in the game
Dhall 2 1 1: most of his pluses absorbed into the ‘coverage’ metric
Norman 4 3 1
Dunbar 1 2 -1
Total     -3
Coverage + Total
31 24.5 6.5

Playing 2-high safeties hurt our QB contain but helped with the coverage.  I have to assume we changed from our normally 1-high defense so our safeties had a better chance of staying healthy.  Everett was the only backup and he is not someone the coaches trust as evidenced by DHall and Swearinger taking all 83 snaps.

DJ: yes he had a few busts but if we lose him I don’t know who is going to step up and play the run.  DHall and Nicholson have both abstained–not because of cowardice as much as not knowing the LB reads in this system–and Everett can barely line up correctly.  Swearinger’s presence in the box makes up a considerable part of our run D in ways that don’t show up in the stat sheet or these charts.

Predictions From Last Week

  1. Lanier gets a sack
    • No, but he’s solidified himself a spot in our interior pass rush rotation.
  2. Compton cedes a first down on third and long.
    • Not that I remember, dude was a champ in this game.
  3. Kendall Fuller gets an interception
    • Yes.  I thought it would be against cover 3 since Seattle likes to pin the outside CBs to the sidelines and work the middle of the field, but it came on a hot read versus the blitz.
  4. Skins 20-13
    • Good enough.

What Does It Mean For Minnesota?

  • We should get some offensive lineman back to improve the run game, which should prevent 83 SNAPS from happening again.
  • Seattle was 28th in rushing DVOA entering this game, Minnesota is 17th, and they don’t run the quarterback like Seattle.  That probably means a stronger run game interior for Hood and company to combat.  Hopefully results are closer to this game and not the NFC East games.
  • Flat/Curl zone could be the primary mark for whoever replaces Bradford.  It’s a safe underneath zone to target and can provide wide open reads off of play action; a great way to break in a new quarterback.  They could run play action similar to what Seattle did and stretch our flat zone coverage with route combos.
  • Wait can’t Bridgewater run?

  • Well…
  • If Teddy starts:  Stay.  In.  Your.  Lanes.

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