We truly live in remarkable times. In years past, we might have simply clicked our collective television sets off following another sadly predictable loss and waited for the morning paper to read an editorial on why this offense isn’t working. But in a burgeoning world of increasingly deep analytics where every stat imaginable is available at the click of a mouse or the tap of a thumb, we now have myriad methods to detail just exactly how bad the offense of the Seattle Seahawks has been in 2021. Below is Seattle’s week-to-week EPA:
Seahawks week-by-week EPA this season. The offense has had exactly one solid performance since Russell Wilson’s injury, and it came against the Jaguars. pic.twitter.com/oIlSzbMgjI
— Stan ‘the boy’ Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) December 3, 2021
But the sad part is this: it doesn’t take much digging to to get to the bottom of this dumpster fire, where the seagulls sing an ugly tune and there is always the stench of burning garbage in the air. The issues that plague the Seahawks aren’t a mystery; in fact, the problems seem obvious to anyone observing these uninspiring performances. The playcalling is stale and lacks both creativity AND any sense of direction or intentionality; the quarterback and coaching staff don’t seem to be on the same page, or even reading the same script; the running game is both absent and ineffective; and so on and so forth. Combine this with the fact that the Front Office hedged their bets on some veterans to stay healthy and perform functionally in 2021, and as we have seen with Duane Brown, the best ability isn’t always availability…
But moving on from this, the following issues are the “big three” that I can identify right now as being the largest problems facing the Seahawks offense that are fixable at this moment in time. Russell Wilson is still healing, and Shane Waldron has no control over that. Duane Brown is declining, and nobody can stop the “Slow Cruel Hands of Time,” to quote Ben Bridwell. Chris Carson is hurt and Rashaad Penny is… Rashaad Penny. These issues don’t have an easy solution. But the following ones should.
Points Per Game
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) December 1, 2021
Yes, every team in the NFL would like to score more points on a weekly basis. Yes, I understand that scheming touchdowns into existence isn’t exactly an easy task. But it is the one that Shane Waldron has been tasked with, and he has taken an offense that has only twice ranked outside of the top ten under Russell Wilson and carried them all the way to the unenviable position of 25th in the league, per TeamRankings.com. In fact, the only other time that this team has approximated that is in 2016, which is of course the season in which Russell Wilson was beleaguered by a leg injury for much of the year (I am sensing a little bit of a trend here…). So maybe this team will right itself a bit when their steady QB rights himself over time, but the fact of the matter is that this is the worst a Russell Wilson led offense has ever looked.
Conversions: Not just for third down anymore
OC Shane Waldron notes the Seahawks’ offensive issues are “pretty isolated to third down.” The numbers pretty much back that up. They’re seventh in yards/play on first and second down but 31st in yards/play on third down. They’re 31st in converting on third down. pic.twitter.com/GEweaKTNif
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) November 27, 2021
Shane Waldron was expected to bring some of the elements that we as Seattle fans have secretly coveted from the playbook of Sean McVay. These included integrating the wide zone running scheme, the reliable timing based short passing game with YAC aplenty, and better use of up-tempo/no huddle to keep the defense reeling. And to my eyes, he has largely done these things. So why is this offense so damn broken? The issues aren’t restricted to third down, despite what the titular figurehead of this article says above. You can’t blame one down exclusively when your last eight possessions looked like this.
Seahawks last 8 drives:
— 3 and out
— 3 and out
— 3 and out
— 3 and out
— 3 and out
Then they scored a TD, failed the 2-point conversion and got a penalty when they recovered the onside kick.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 30, 2021
But regardless of where the problem starts, we all know where it finishes: on the tremendous foot of one Michael Dickson. This team is going to need to do a better job of putting itself in a position to convert, and then a better job of actually doing so when they have the opportunity. And this of course leads to our final section.
Time of Possession
The Seahawks are possessing the ball an average of 11:57 less than their opponents per game, easily the worst time-of-possession margin in the NFL. The next-worst team, Jacksonville, is at minus-5:58. Here was D.J. Reed on how much Seattle’s defense has been on the field: pic.twitter.com/UGG0kZ38Mr
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) December 3, 2021
Seattle is worst in the league in Time of Possession, and there is no excuse for this. Neither Geno Smith nor Russell Wilson should have this much trouble engineering a few drives per game with the players that they have running routes, and yet here we are.
What I am getting at here is that scheme, execution, and gameplanning are a triumvirate of intermingling ingredients that — when combined with solid roster construction — should lead to touchdowns, or at the very least field goals, or at the absolute bare minimum, a first down or two. Being able to dial up plays that occasionally work should be a given in an offense featuring DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Gerald Everett, and more, regardless of who is playing quarterback. But this simply hasn’t been happening. And at this point, nothing can save this 2021 Seattle Seahawks team from irrelevancy (that is, for everybody except the New York Jets, who have to be Salehvating right now over the draft pick they are set to receive). But putting together an inspiring offensive performance or two might do great things for our sense of optimism for the future.
Or maybe Shane Waldron is just destined to be the next Jeremy Bates.
Just writing up a story on the 2010 Seahawks and remembering that Jeremy Bates called this play with this version of Matt Hasselbeck and saw nothing wrong with it. pic.twitter.com/Z6WJExeN80
— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) May 13, 2020