The Seahawks offense of the last few years has been defined by running. Marshawn Lynch was one of the most impressive backs in the league, and Russell Wilson can pick up yards on the ground like few quarterbacks can. But that hasn’t been the case this year, as the team has struggled throughout the year to put together solid runs against opposing defenses.
But with a huge playoff game this weekend against the electrifying Atlanta offense, the team will need to pull out all the stops. They’ve got a new plan they’ve been working on to get the ground game going, something that offensive line coach Tom Cable calls the “pizza theory.”
The team picked up former Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece halfway through the season, and they’ve slowly been easing him into the offense. Via ESPN:
“That was the plan going in — to get [Reece] a little more involved now that he’s been here a couple weeks,” said Tom Cable, assistant head coach/offensive line coach. “Just normal ball for us. If you think about it, we looked more like we’ve always looked.”
Rawls ran the ball 10 times for 68 yards (6.8 YPC) out of the I-formation with Reece as his lead blocker. And their go-to play out of this look was “iso lead,” a run that has been in the playbook but was rarely used during the regular season
An iso lead run is an old school play from the days when teams relied more heavily on fullbacks. In it, the center and the run-side guard double cover the opposing defender and try and shut out the middle linebacker, while the offensive tackle tries to spread the edge horizontally. In theory, this should isolate the fullback with a linebacker. In order for the play to work, you need a not only a strong fullback that can stop a linebacker, but also one smart enough to change assignments on the fly.
Seattle is primarily a zone blocking team – their linemen aren’t assigned to particular defenders and instead attack any player in their designated area – which means that Reece needs to make a lot of on the fly adjustments. That’s where “pizza theory” comes in.
“He knows how to target that thing,” Cable said. “And he can do what’s called read off the block. So if a lineman’s in a combination, he can read off that. And if we take his, he takes ours. We call it the ‘pizza theory.’ If you take my piece of pizza, I’ll take yours. And he’s really good at it.”
Here’s what it looks like in action.
Now that the team feels confident they’ve worked the play out, they’re ready to bring it out in a big way against the Falcons. With a great defense taking on the best offense, success for Seattle’s run game could be a major factor in who wins this game.