How Seahawks and Shane Waldron Deployed Dee Eskridge and the “Hank Concept”

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It’s so great to see Seattle Seahawks rookie Dee Eskridge back in training and have the opportunity to produce. His electric talent was evident as he set up a career day last Sunday, scoring his 3 targets for 35 yards and a touchdown. While this statline is respectable, it only tells part of the story; after a frightening concussion kept Dee on the sidelines for much of his rookie season, he seems to be settling in quickly. In limited action, he displayed the speed, acceleration, and post-capture running ability that made him such a coveted prospect from western Michigan.

So how did Shane Waldron get Eskridge involved in his most important action of the season so far? Let’s roll the tape.

Dee Eskridge and the “Hank” concept

I particularly like the design of the game on the first take. The classic concepts of the West Coast offensive at play here; it is a simple variation of the cover-3 “Hank Concept” drummer. It’s designed to beat the exact defense the Niners were showing, and it worked wonderfully.

In essence, this is just a fancy OMD term for a scheme that puts all five players on roads quickly (as many do), with the numbers 1 and 2 (Lockett and Metcalf, obv) lined up. on opposite sides and each performing a 12-yard hook. The tight end settles in the middle and the running back / lunge receiver comes out into the flats.

Eskridge managed the catch on the short flat, but then turned it impressively up the field, absorbing a hit from Josh Norman, who has a good size advantage over the rookie. Dee shakes Norman up and picks up another piece of yards after the capture. By far the biggest hit on Eskridge out of college outside of not playing in a power conference was his size; that’s why I’m especially happy to see him demonstrate this fearless yet intelligent physicality to the next level.

Landing

Another fun scheme in play here; DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are stacked on the right, with Eskridge widely flanking them. Basic Hi-Lo concept, which the Niners actually defend quite well, as neither Lockett nor Metcalf looks wide open. Gerald Everett executes a clearance corner that manages to temporarily occupy three defenders, leaving Travis Homer somewhat open as he runs into the apartment, but Russell Wilson never really got a chance to look his way, reckoning given how the blockage materialized. Russ tries to look away from the defense with a quick turn to Everett, but he seems to lock onto Metcalf and Lockett pretty quickly, who are the seemingly designed readings of this play. At this point, most of the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive backfield is clustered between the “A” and the other “A”(As in SeAhAwks) in the end zone.

This leaves Deommodore Lenoir one-on-one with Eskridge. Wilson steps forward and throws a dart, and Dee does his part to shake Lenoir and find the end zone for the first time in his young career. Great to see Eskridge as he settled into a weak spot in the area and gave Wilson an outlet. Also great to see Russ quickly go through his progress, and after seeing his first and second read covered, step up in the pocket and find the open man. It looks like a QB shaking off rust and sinking into its element.

Dee Eskridge: Inadequate coverage of men

So we saw Eskridge beat the area, but what does his electric speed look like in human cover? Even better. In the room above, Eskridge and Lockett can be seen stacked to the right with Colby Parkinson inside. Metcalf is wide on the left, facing Josh Norman. The Niners are putting pressure on the edge, as DB Talanoa Hufanga believes he has a clear shot on Wilson before Rashaad Penny absolutely destroys him. Big credit to Penny for her improved pass protection, without that effort this game will likely play out quite a bit differently…

The Niners go for high safety, with linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (who is talented but plays out of position due to Fred Warner’s injury) trailing around the middle court. Lockett goes deep and Eskridge walks through the formation. This is a great exploitation of the 49ers roster, as Dontae Johnson never gets a chance to catch up with the young speedster. Linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles fell back but couldn’t make up the difference, leaving Eskridge wide open on the crossing road. Good play call, good execution.

Conclusion

Pairing an offensive coordinator for the first time with a few playmakers like Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, then adding an explosive chess piece like Dee Eskridge almost seems unfair. Apparently, the universe has accepted and separated this powerful triumvirate of pass catchers for much of the 2021 season. Hopefully, however, with Eskridge’s renewed health and Wilson’s return to form, we’ll see more and more. more highlights like this every week. Head south to face a Houston Texans team who defended the passing game better than they did literally something else this season, Waldron may need to get creative with how he involves Eskridge this week. Whether that means more hits out of the backfield against a vulnerable running defense or just getting back deep into the playbook with the road combos, I can’t wait to see if this attack can build some momentum and chemistry on the remaining section.



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