Tasteful Filmography: Germain Ifedi Strikes Again

In the first installment of this probable trilogy, Seattle Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi was pronounced “better.”

It’s okay to call him “good” now.

After spending Weeks 1 and 2 tussling with Von Miller and Khalil Mack (seriously? what the fuck, schedulers), Ifedi has settled in and done well against non-All-Pro competition.

Part 1, which covered Weeks 5 and 6, a split against the Rams and Raiders, saw Ifedi rack up far more wins and neutral performances on snaps than losses.

It was more of the same, the good same, after the bye, in this our Part 2, against the hated Lions and Chargers. Well. That’s a lie. Nobody truly hates the Lions and Chargers, not around here. Fuck the Rams, sure, but if you have strong feelings about Detroit and San Diego (oops), it’s time to let go of your Vikings fanhood and/or your jealousy of SoCal’s impossibly perfect weather and beaches. Elsa would want you to let it. Go.

Ifedi vs. the Lions: a scoresheet

42 run plays: 25 wins, 3 losses, and 14 neutral snaps.

20 pass plays: 10 wins, 3 losses, and 7 neutral snaps.

Ifedi vs. the Chargers

29 run plays: 15 wins, 4 losses, and 10 neutral snaps.

50 pass plays: 36 wins (!!!), 3 losses, and 11 neutral snaps.

In 141 snaps, I could only decisively conclude that Ifedi fucked up 13 times. Well, plus a holding penalty, but that was wiped out by an offsetting roughing call. A soft roughing call, the kind Cam Newton could never get. The rest of the time, he held his own or won the play. 128 times, he was fine, or superior to fine.

He’s better, he’s good, he’s cleaner, he’s emerging victorious from his battles. He has leveled up. Watch.

When people talk about Ifedi being dominant in the run game, it’s because of plays like this:

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The runner, our sneaky-good Chris Carson, breaks to the right. Ifedi’s man is removed from the list of possible tackle-makers, and finishes the play smothered on the ground. Carson doesn’t realize a big gain because the linebacker maintains gap integrity, but that’s not on Germain.

In the second quarter, on the challenge Pete Carroll somehow won, because he knows the new rulebook better than the officials:

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Ifedi doesn’t do anything exceptional here, but he does two things successfully, that both bode well. A) His feet keep moving and B) he diagnoses where his help is needed the most. Watch him ignore the lineman making noise directly in front of him to help on the edge. He trusts D. J. Fluker to made the play on the interior and elongates the defensive end’s route to Wilson. This is probably the best play he can make without making actual contact.

Some strength and tenacity, on a play with a sadder ending:

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It is factual that Ifedi gets stood up here. But he’s so strong that it doesn’t impact his ability to hold off the evil pass rusher. Other defenders get through but five seconds after the snap, Ifedi is still manhandling his man. In the parallel universe where the Seahawks are rightly 6-1-1, they score on this play.

In the 141 plays I looked at, there are many that look just like this:

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They follow the same script: Russell drops back, Ifedi doesn’t give his man even a whiff of the quarterback, and he isn’t done shoving just because the ball happens to be out quickly. It’s one of the third-year player’s most endearing qualities as an offensive lineman — he’s no pushover, and if anything, he’s a little too physical. Not quite, um, a dirtbag, but let’s just say Jim Mora Jr. would have appreciated this version of Germain Ifedi.

Except he still has some work to do on the second level.

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It’s apparent that the coaches desire to put Ifedi in position to wreck some fools past the line of scrimmage. In Part 1 we saw that he’s not gifted, yet, at placing himself in an optimal position to do so. He’s adept at getting downfield, but whiffs frequently on blocks once he’s there. It’s a small flaw in his game, and I expect to see him improve in this area as the season progresses. I mean, Ifedi is a bad man. What running back wouldn’t want him out there in front of him, doing damage? A little awareness of how the play is developing behind him will go a long way.

On to the Chargers. Check him out at the line of scrimmage here, near the conclusion of the Seahawks’ first drive, a beautiful first drive they forgot to replicate later.

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Ifedi’s basically acting as a fullback here. It’s 3rd and 1, an important conversion that means seven points instead of three. Watch him slide into the hole and provide a wall for Carson to use, a one-man phalanx to follow toward the sticks. To his credit, Ifedi doesn’t try and do too much here. He doesn’t get downfield, he doesn’t vacate the area, he doesn’t try and block the men to his right. He plants himself, shuffles his feet so as to not be caught flat-footed, and Carson gets the first down.

Of the 36 wins Ifedi posted against the Chargers in pass pro (tell your 2017 self that happened), this one tells the story best:

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It’s not Joey Bosa on the end. But the defender never has a chance. While the left side of the line starts to cave a little, Ifedi holds strong, without actually holding. One of the reasons he’s so much better in 2018 is his ability to engage without being dirty. Free of pressure, Russell drops a dime in stride to Doug Baldwin’s sure hands.

The very next play’s a run. Brian Schottenheimer likes to run. Perhaps you’ve heard.

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Number 71 for LA is erased. Carson plugs through the medium-sized hole for seven yards on first down. The Seahawks run the right plenty nowadays. Not to defend them, but wouldn’t you?

What’s interesting in the next play is the Chargers’ setup pre-snap.

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Ifedi (presumably) knows Vannett’s headed out on a shallow crossing route. Two Chargers lurk at the line. He’s going to have to choose one. He chooses… wisely. Russell throws a bad ball, a precursor to the daggery pick-six that will doom the Seahawks, but Ifedi gives him more than enough time to make a correct decision, a better one than he actually did.

But the sacks. Didn’t a couple of them come from the right side. Yep, that happened. I graded both of the following plays as “neutral.” Before you holler at me about bias, watch the plays with one thing in mind: whose fault is the sack? Either time?

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To be perfectly honest, I think an observer could make a case for a positive, neutral, or negative grade to be assigned to Ifedi on both occasions. For that reason, I compromised. In clip 1, Ifedi hand fights, holds off the defender, but eventually runs out of ways to stall him. Should Wilson have thrown the ball by the time 98 takes him down? You could argue yes.

In clip 2, which is very slightly accelerated because it’s long, a full 5.5 seconds elapse before Ifedi’s man reaches and tackles Wilson. It’s not reasonable to ask an offensive tackle to block for that long. If RW tosses the ball after stepping forward it’s a win for Ifedi. I could grade him positively here and not feel bad about it.

Two assorted/general comments by way of conclusion. First, the remarks earlier this year about Ifedi’s stance giving the play away appear to be overblown. On multiple run plays he offset his feet, which was once thought to indicate pass. Second, TE help on his side, to assist with pass plays, is intermittent — the coaches trust him to hold his own. You can see why.

In the second quarter of his third season, Germain Ifedi has been the opposite of a liability on the Seahawks’ offensive line. He’s been a boon to run behind and a strong enough pass protector, capable of many consecutive wins and of recovering when he loses leverage.

It’s simple. Right now he’s good.

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