Tight end has been an area of weakness for the Seattle Seahawks over the last decade. Seattle has attempted to solve this problem by acquiring multiple veterans over the years including trading for Jimmy Graham and signing the likes of Gerald Everett and Greg Olsen. Graham has been the only Seahawk tight end to record a 500+ receiving yard season over the past 10 seasons, which he did in all three years with the team. As a result of these struggles the Seahawks acquired Noah Fant, who is one of the better tight ends in the NFL, in the Russell Wilson trade this offseason. It remains to be seen how Shane Waldron is going to use the former Iowa Hawkeye, but down below we are going to look at some of the play types and routes that he can thrive in.
— NFL (@NFL) September 29, 2019
— NFL (@NFL) October 20, 2019
Amongst tight ends last season Fant was ninth in yards after the catch (309) whilst averaging 4.5 yards after the catch per reception, with both numbers being too low compared to what he brings to the table. One of Fant’s best attributes as a player is what he offers with the ball in his hands. In a league of athletic tight ends Fant ranks among the best and the first play showcases that; he makes three players miss in quick succession with relative ease on a 25-yard touchdown.
The second play is a really good way for Waldron to utilize Seattle’s personnel as well as Fant’s skillset. In an empty set with a 2×3 formation. Waldron could line up Dee Eskridge and Noah Fant on the bottom of the screen with DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Rashaad Penny at the top. The defense will naturally pay more attention to the trio at the top because of both the numbers and quality of players. The quick screen would then be thrown where Seattle would have the numbers advantage with the three-pulling linemen. Fant would be given a tunnel to walk right into the end zone but importantly he has the size and athleticism to beat a safety or linebacker if they were to avoid their block. Additionally, this play gets the ball out of the quarterback’s hand immediately which is going to be imperative in this offense no matter who is at the helm.
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— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2021
On the first play a stick nod route is run, which is when the player runs up field, takes one to two steps to the outside to get the zone or man defender to bite down and then they cut it up field into almost a post route. This is a route that Fant should be utilized in with some regularity as it will allow him to show off his athleticism to where he can quickly get into and out of his breaks, as well as his size to where he can box out defenders if they recover and stick with him on the route.
The second play is effectively a deep cross off of a play action where Fant simply has to beat the defender to the spot. The route does not have a pure stem like we see with other routes, but when Fant starts to flatten it out he does feature the size and strength to fight through the defender and stack them if he is unable to beat them with pure athleticism.
Lock dumps it down to Noah Fant, who goes ham after the catch pic.twitter.com/1QLxWFtALR
— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) January 2, 2022
This is not an exact play design for Fant to get the ball, but it would be called with him in mind. With every receiver on the play going vertical it clears out all of the zone defenders leaving Fant as an open check down option. Once he gets the ball in his hands in space, he turns what should’ve been a 7–8-yard gain into a 35-yard pickup by making multiple defenders miss. He was helped by some poor play from the defenders, but the point remains that Fant is a true threat with the ball in his hands, especially in space.
Quick passing game
— NFL (@NFL) October 27, 2020
Noah Fant @FTNFantasy advanced data
Catch% – 75%
YAC – 325
Fread Tgt- 63
Drp% – 1.4%
CTC win % – 75%
EZTgt conversation % – 60%
PassRtg when TGT- 110.9
— Jeremy (@PopesFFH) July 3, 2022
The quick passing game of this nature is another great way of highlighting Fant’s abilities with the ball in his hands.
On the first play Gerald Everett is effectively put into a 1v1 situation with a defender who is backpedaling. The defender takes a poor angle but with Everett’s quick ability to get the ball and turn up field he likely would have been able to make him miss, which is something Fant would be able to do as well. On the second play which is simply a stick route, Fant does a great job of snapping it off at the stem, presenting a catchable target and then breaking the tackle of the defender. This route is more effective against man coverage because of the added possibility of yards after the catch with Fant being in a 1v1 situation especially with only a single high safety. It is also a route that can be used against zone as it would allow Fant to find the soft spots in the defense.
Play action passes
Noah Fant FLATTENED him on the way to a 75-yard HOUSE CALL!
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 3, 2019
— NFL (@NFL) December 26, 2021
Noah Fant is now top ten among all tight ends in receiving yards and top six in yards per reception.
He’s bringing the kind of big-play explosiveness to the TE position that this team has been missing for some time. pic.twitter.com/bTc27qhASI
— Mile High Saluter (@milehighsalutes) November 4, 2019
On the first play we see Fant run a deep over, which slices right through the defense as he is too shallow for the deep zone defenders as well as being quick enough to get behind the hook zone defenders. As a result, this gets Fant the ball in space where he breaks three tackles with relative ease.
On the second play, which appears to be against a busted Cover 3 coverage, former Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is able to hit Gerald Everett on a corner route. This is a route I like a lot for Fant especially against zone coverage because of the catch radius he provides as well as his ability to box out defenders. If a quarterback has to get the ball up and float it over a cloud zone defender but in front of a deep third defender, he provides an easier target for them to do that.
The final play-action pass is one that should work great in this offense with how run heavy it is going to be. With every player selling the run right off of the snap the entire defense steps up, Fant sells the block and then leaks right up the field for an easy reception.
Fant figures to be someone the Seahawks are high on for the future, as they’ve already picked up his fifth-year option.