Swelling like an over-pumped balloon and failing to burst with pressure until the fourth quarter, the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive line mimicked its performance against the Nick-Mullens-quarterbacked-49ers just two weeks prior. Jarran Reed led the way yet again, deconstructing San Francisco’s interior line with Frank Clark close behind in impact. In total, the team ended the day with three sacks and ten hits on Mullens—two of which, and a handful of pressures, coming from the secondary.
It was truly Reed’s day, though (or rather fourth quarter). Let’s jump right in and look at the Seattle 3-tech Pro Bowl snub’s performance.
Reed is aligned here at left one-technique with an ensured one-on-one match-up with center as Seattle rushes five.
There isn’t much to say when a defensive lineman knifes a gap. Reed explodes out of his stance, gaining depth on the center and ripping through. His suddenness off the ball is something that he’s been able to rely on this year. Better yet is his ankle flexion and dip to maintain his position on the center and bend his path back toward Mullens to create the hit.
Notice Dion Jordan on the bottom of the screen as well. Coming from 9-technique, Jordan takes five long strides up field. Joe Staley expects to catch Dion at the apex of his kick-step, but you can tell his speed takes the tackle by surprise, and he is forced to open up immediately after gathering himself. Jordan whips out his inside-arm-stab and outside-arm hammerfist chop move to clear Staley’s set. He bends and dips phenomenally to get into Mullens’ platform in sync with Reed.
This suddenness and technique that Jordan displayed last year were the catalysts that led us to sounding the hype sirens. Hopefully we’re starting to see that consistently come back in time for the playoff push.
Reed’s next pressure comes from an outside shade over the left guard.
Seattle is in an over front, with the three-tech to the strong side and Mingo rolled to the weak side, showing a potential blitz. This creates a three-on-three matchup to the Niners’ right side, allowing Reed to work with space laterally. He immediately reads that he has a two-way-go and takes advantage, as he has been all year when these opportunities arise. He initially rushes the B-gap which expands the guard’s set, and then club-rips back to the inside, riding the rip deep enough to flush Mullens out of the pocket. The quarterback throws an incomplete pass downfield.
This time Reed doesn’t create his own pressure, but does facilitate Clark’s.
Reed and Clark run a Tackle-End stunt. Reed is in at three-tech; Clark at seven-tech to the same side. Reed rushes the B-gap and carries the guard with him up-field. Staley jump-sets Clark as though he is looking to leverage him to chip help from the releasing full-back. Instead, Clark loops inside, chopping Staley’s desperation reach away and explodes into Mullens, delivering the best hit on a quarterback by a Seahawks defender since Bobby Wagner realigned Tony Romo’s ribcage.
San Francisco does fail to read this stunt, but it is executed to perfection and causes a turnover-worthy throw into the secondary.
For Reed’s next trick…
Kyle Shanahan calls a split-action pass here from 22 personnel. It is actually a creative design here, seeing the line zone flow into slide protection, the tight-end split behind the line of scrimmage to pick up any penetrators, and the fullback chip Clark. The problem for San Fran, though, is that Reed sees this from a mile away. Reed gets inside on the right tackle who comes in high thinking he’ll wash Reed down. Reed immediately establishes leverage and is able to cast him aside, absorbing the tight-end. This gets Mullen running, who Clark is able to clean up for a sack.
More Reed destruction:
The Niners’ offensive line clearly was not on the same page here. Nearly the entire defensive line takes advantage of this. Reed specifically reads the ball and fires out of his stance, stacking up the right guard. After a subtle feign to the B-gap, Reed counters to the inside yet again with a push-pull to club move. Reed basically manhandles the right guard, tossing him to the side and gaining another hit on Mullens.
More Reed suddenness:
It’s hard not to sound like a broken record. Reed sets up another inside-counter when presented with a two-way-go. Hecomes out of his stance at three-technique and takes two steps toward the left guard’s center line. The lineman seems to overset just enough for Reed to notice and capitalize on. He engages a swipe move to pin the guard before gracefully and rapidly swimming over to clear. Reed bursts deep into the backfield and envelops Mullens, who has Clark coming for him too. This is just dominance.
But wait, there’s more.
Finally, Reed gets to play beneficiary of a well-executed stunt. Both Jefferson and Reed are aligned as loose three-techs. The left guard freezes and is unable to recover as Jefferson moves laterally across his face, dipping his shoulder. He carries the guard into the backfield. Reed’s lateral movement and speed of his own allow him to seamlessly scrape over the top on a very efficient angle and rag-doll Mullens into the dirt.
As a throw-in, here’s a good reminder that Mingo is not a non-factor as a pass rusher. Check this spin-move and shot on Mullens:
The wobbly pass helps Griffin play catch up, but is called for DPI, however suspect.
Tragically this utter takeover in the fourth by Reed was enough to give the offense the ball back for an attempt to win the game, but not enough to single-handedly overcome the rest of the Seahawks’ deficiencies on the day.
At this point in the season though, it can be said with confidence that the defensive line has itself two monsters in Reed and Clark that offenses know they have to account for on any given snap.
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