EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 9: Charlie Whitehurst #6 of the Seattle Seahawks drops back to pass during a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on October 9, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Seahawks defeated the Giants 36-25. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
The theory behind a play-action heavy team is that you run to set up the pass.
A lot of teams love to be or would love to be heavy play-action. The Seahawks would love to run the ball at will and once it has a defense loading up the box, hit down-field strikes. The problem is... the Seahawks aren't there yet.
I theorized before the Giants game that the Seahawks had to pass to set up the run. I tweeted before the game that I believed that Seattle should throw on 1st and 10 75% of the time before hitting midfield and before halftime. After midfield I thought they could run it a bit more, and after halftime the run-pass ratio would be dictated by game situation.
The Seahawks found themselves in eight 1st and 10 situations before midfield, before halftime.
-(1) Q1, Game Drive 1, First and 10 on their 20 yard line. Pass complete to Ben Obomanu for 9 yards.
-(2) Q1, Game Drive 1, First and 10 on their 46 yard line. Pass complete to Ben Obomanu for 11 yards.
-(3) Q1, Game Drive 2, First and 10 on their 23 yard line. Run (out of shotgun) to Marshawn Lynch for 9 yards.
-(4) Q1, Game Drive 2, First and 10 on their 38 yard line. Designed pass becomes a scramble by TJ for 5 yards.
-(5) Q2, Game Drive 5, First and 10 on their 13 yard line. Run up the middle by Justin Forsett for 3 yards
-(6) Q2, Game Drive 5, First and 10 on their 37 yard line. Pass complete to Doug Baldwin for 25 yards.
-(7) Q2, Game Drive 6, First and 15 on their 25 yard line. Sack.
-(8) Q2, Game Drive 8, First and 10 on thier 49 yard line. Pass complete to Leon Washington for 6 yards.
The two runs on first down were disguised out of passing situations, note the formations:
(3) Q1, Game Drive 2, First and 10 on their 23 yard line. Run to Marshawn Lynch for 9 yards.
(5) Q2, Game Drive 5, First and 10 on their 13 yard line. Run up the middle by Justin Forsett for 3 yards
The sack and scramble were originally designed to be passes. Darrell Bevell designed six of the eight plays on first down - before midfield before halftime to be passes - 75% #humblebrag.
I am not saying the Seahawks should do this every game. They may be able to run the ball on Cleveland. In this game, I figured that the Giants were going to put up over 20 points (Seahawks needed to put up points and early) and that running on first down would result in a likely 2-yard gain. Now you face 2-8 on your own 22 yard line- which is a known passing situation and the Giants d-line would begin to feast.
I believe the initial first down in a drive for this team is critical because it does wonders to flip field position whether points are scored or not. I also think it builds confidence in our newly acclimated quarterback and offensive line.
It's good to see the early success in passing on the Giants set up the run in several ways:
(a) By allowing the Seahawks to run out of passing sets, i.e. draws.
(b) By putting points up before halftime (novel), it creates a game where the Seahawks can afford to run the ball in the second half when they are leading or close behind.
(c) The success in the running game when finally given more opportunity (Seahawks had 76 snaps versus the Giants, a season high) can THEN help set up play-action.