In his breakthrough game, Seahawks rookie Rashaad Penny reeled off the longest run by a Seahawk this season.
A good run game is truly a team effort, a combination of good play design by the coaches and proper execution by all 11 offensive players.
That was the case in the Seahawks’ 36-31 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, when the Seahawks tallied a season-high 273 rushing yards and also produced Seattle’s longest run of the season.
That season-long run also happened to be a career high for rookie running back Rashaad Penny. That 38-yard scamper in the first quarter kicked off a breakout game for Seattle’s first-round draft choice.
Penny didn’t play until the second series Sunday.
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But on the third play of Seattle’s second series, first-and-10 at the Seahawks’ 36, with the game tied at 7-7, Penny got his chance.
The Seahawks lined up in the shotgun using an alignment that’s one of their staples – 11 personnel, meaning three receivers, one back and a tight end.
But this time, they did so in a formation they don’t show often — all three receivers left (Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and David Moore) in what is commonly called a “bunch’’ formation, with tackle George Fant technically serving as the tight end to the right (he was declared as an eligible receiver on the play).
Baldwin was at the front of the bunch left, with Moore shaded a step behind him to the left and Lockett two steps behind but to the right.
Teams often throw receiver screens out of this set and Seattle was obviously hoping to make the Rams think they might do that here.
Meanwhile, Seattle had a strong offensive line to the right, with Fant lined up alongside tackle Germain Ifedi.
In the backfield, Penny was flanked to the right of quarterback Russell Wilson.
At the snap, Lockett took a step back as if getting ready to receive a pass from Wilson, which helped influence Rams’ cornerback Troy Hill to take a couple of steps forward.
Wilson then handed the ball off to Penny but also executed a fake run to the right, hoping to further influence the Los Angeles defense.
Left tackle Duane Brown and left guard J.R. Sweezy then blew open a huge hole for Penny to step through and he headed to the left sideline where he got another big block — a crushing blow from Moore on Ram cornerback Marcus Peters at about the 48.
Los Angeles safety Lamarcus Joyner was able to slide past Moore at that point and begin chasing down Penny.
But Joyner couldn’t get to Penny until he finally pushed him out of bounds at the Los Angeles 26, setting up what would be Penny’s 18-yard touchdown run two plays later.
Penny showed good patience to let the blocks develop and the eyesight and athleticism to get through the available holes.
But the play design also helped give Seattle some personnel advantages on that side of the field, and the block by Moore helped pave the way for Penny to get some extra yards and jumpstart a much-needed breakthrough game for the Seahawks rookie.