On Pass Rush: Fuck the Rams

Whatever glimmer of hope there was to be drawn from the pass-rush department in last week’s Cardinals game was swiftly subverted by the indefensible apparatus known as the Sean McVay Rams (brought to you by Play-Action).

Youths.

Short drops, constant play-action, motion, and well-schemed protections kept Seattle’s already lacking overall up-front talent from getting enough solid looks at Goff to create an impact. The team effort resulted in one sack, and a few snaps throughout the game gaining depth in the backfield that didn’t really affect the play, but looked kind of nice.

Frank Clark did his damnedest coming off a severe bout of food poisoning, early in the game forcing a strip-sack that will not technically count as a sack (c’est tragique). It came on quite literally the first time Goff took a drop deep enough, anything beyond eight or so yards, that allows Clark to employ his now-if-not-soon-to-be famed speed-chop-dip combinations.

Clark gets the jump on Whitworth at the snap who is pass-setting out of standard technique—risky given these two’s history. At the completion of his third step up-field, Clark has turned Whitworth’s hips completely in the opposite direction, facing his own team’s end-zone, and now has him playing catch-up the entire the sequence. Whitworth does get his hands on Clark for a last ditch effort to bounce him beyond Goff, but Frank maintains his path, flattening to the quarterback, and finishes.

Whitworth corrected to this, taking very self- aware vertical sets out of split stances all game following. I figured we were headed for an interesting battle given how Clark had been whipping out the inside counters on tackles that overset him last week and converting to power readily. To the chagrin of many, Sean McVay is smart and Clark didn’t get enough clean reps to unfurl the entirety of his pass-rush plan against a very good left tackle who was on the retreat from the get-go… or should I say, get-off.

Clark had another effective rush later on, this time off left end.

Here he walks back the right tackle Havenstein all the way into Goff, causing the quarterback to unload a hurried, off-balanced, and just-short throw to Kupp.

Game of inches and all that.

Dion Jordan remains the team’s secondary source of edge pressure as it stands, and unfortunately, he did not have himself the game against Havenstein that he did in last year’s late season… encounter with the Rams. He still seems comfortable with his stab-chop combination move that won him many-a-showdowns last year, but he was not able to soften the edge well enough on Sunday to capitalize. The jury is still out on his long-term impact for this team, as that leg brace may still be hampering his mobility a tad. He did have one good rep on Whitworth, bull-rushing him all but within a foot or two of Goff.

Dion bullrush havenstein.gif

Whitworth anchors just in time, but Goff is moved off his spot and coughs up the ball in the process.

Nonetheless, Dion still possesses the active hands and power that excited many last year.

Barkevious Mingo got to flex his speed around the edge this week more often than normal, due to the prevalence of the 34 front Carroll and Norton schemed to stop Gurley. His day did not see much impact, but here’s one snap worth highlighting:

Mingo speed rip rams.gif

Mingo rushes straight for Havenstein’s center-mass and then suddenly transitions to half-man ripping on the outside shoulder with force. This rush proves nonconsequential as Goff has to get the ball out with Wagner blitzing through.

The interior, highlighted by Jarran Reed, Shamar Stephen, Quinton Jefferson and a sprinkling of Branden Jackson and Poona Ford, were nullified not only by McVay’s schematics and the Rams’ talent, but Carroll and Norton’s need for employment of 2-gapping 3 down fronts at the defensive line to account for Todd Gurley (whether Bear or Double-Eagle) and cancel his interior cuts. Consequential of this largely successful effort were poor opportunities for the aforementioned to get into the backfield. Reed, Jefferson, and Ford have demonstrated their ability to make things happen, but ultimately this was not the week.

And yet, Jefferson perhaps had the best showing among the group despite little production. His ability to get off the block eventually against slide protections saw him pressuring Goff on a few occasions.

Here are two such examples:

jefferson slide gif.gif

He again displayed his natural ability to work to guards’ outside shoulders and corner on them. Here’s a cut-up of him doing work aligned at multiple spots:

He does not have the athleticism, despite being fluid for 290, to get flat enough and close routinely, however — especially against the short drops and quick throws that Goff was able to rely on all game. Jefferson is still working with enough to help complement Clark when things break right.

This game was an illuminating reminder of the reality of Seattle’s talent problem. They faced one of the best pass-protecting lines in the league being coached by one of the best minds in the league so it stands to reason there was not anything more than negligible output from the group. But the point that Frank Clark cannot do it all on his own was surely hammered home.

On to London.

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