During Monday night’s game against the Lions, and with 10:23 left in the fourth quarter, Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy went low on Lions defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker while he was briefly engaged with center Drew Nowak. Walker immediately went down screaming in pain grabbing his leg. Here is a zoomed-in version of the clip.
Trainers rushed to Walker’s side after several players looked away in disgust. ESPN cut away to commercial and both Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden noted the replay was too gruesome to show. Turns out the chop block caused an open fracture on Walker’s tibia and fibula.
Here’s what former NFL physician David Chao had to say:
Walker will (obviously) miss the rest of the season, and who knows if/when he can return to playing football.
This is the second time the Seahawks have been involved in a questionable, but legal chop clock resulting in a serious injury. Two years ago, several Niners players called the team out after Ian Williams suffered a broken ankle on a similar play.
I feel like as a linebacker or a D-lineman, any cut, it’s a man sport — be a man, hit me up high,” Willis said, per CSN Bay Area. “Hit like rams. You don’t see a ram going and cutting another ram’s legs. They hit head to head, pad to pad.
“I feel like that’s something the league should look into more. You see some of that stuff, and it’s uncalled for. You have a guy who’s 300 pounds cutting a guy who’s 250 pounds. Do physics to that. Hit the man up high. It should be a good collision.”
Following the Tyrunn Walker injury, Ian Williams weighed in on Twitter.
Again, to reiterate, this type of chop block is legal. On a running play, an offensive lineman can engage a player below the waist provided he is not more than one position away from the initial block. In layman’s terms, the right guard can chop the nose tackle engaged with the center. The right tackle cannot.
On a running play, A1, an offensive lineman, chops a defensive player after the defensive player has been engaged by A2 (high or low), and the initial alignment of A2 is more than one position away from A1. This rule applies only when the block occurs at a time when the flow of the play is clearly away from A1.
If you watch the play again, both Sweezy and Russell Okung block down on a diagonal path toward the flow of the play. This leaves Walker in a terrible position, unable to go left to dodge the block for fear of having Okung roll into him. And if he doesn’t react in time jumping back, he’s screwed.
Sadly, that’s what happened.
It’s time for the NFL to look closely at these blocks. It’s time for the NFL to put their foot down and stop offensive linemen from ruining people’s careers.