Seahawks Insider Blog

Offseason rewind: Inside zone running play

This week I thought it would be good to take a look at some of the things the Seahawks did well offensively in 2009. Now, with the offense finishing the year ranked 21st overall, you probably would say not much.

However, I do think there’s a few things new head coach Pete Carroll can take away from the film during his evaluation of the offense. And he can begin to use these things as building blocks for bread-and-butter plays as he revamps the offense for next season.

One of those things is the inside zone running play. While the Seahawks struggled overall to consistently get the zone blocking scheme going, specifically the outside zone running plays, Seattle regularly began to hit the inside zone running plays late in the season.

Part of the reason for that is the type of running backs the Seahawks have. Justin Forsett is a guy who cannot consistently threaten the edge of a defense because he does not have elite speed, like Tennessee’s Chris Johnson. So it’s hard for him to force defenses to commit to getting to the edge of a defense in order for the offense to get the stretch it needs to create cutback lanes.

And Seattle ran the inside zone play well out of multiple formations, which you can check out here, here and here.

Secondly, the Seahawks consistently struggled to get the cut blocks on the backside of the play in order to create those running lanes on the backside.

Seahawks offensive guard Rob Sims talks about the team’s struggles on the outside zone rushing plays here.

“I think at the end of year we kind of realized, ‘Yeah we can do wide zone, but it’s going to take a little longer than we thought,'” Sims said. “And we realized that maybe this inside zone thing ain’t too bad.”

However, both Forsett and Julius Jones were successful running the inside zone plays, and that play became a staple of the team’s offense during the last three games when they had a productive running game, with Seattle averaging 128 yards a contest during that stretch.

Another reason for Seattle’s increased production in the running game was the Max Unger and Chris Spencer switching positions. Spencer had trouble getting to the point of attack while handling snapping duties with his off hand, and the switch to Unger allowed the Seahawks to get a quicker, cleaner start at the snap.

The running game has been an important staple for USC, with backs like Reggie Bush and LenDale White having success in a similar scheme for the Trojans. Check out this link to get a better understanding in the differences between the inside and outside zone running play.