Anyone who watched the Seahawks in 2010 knew that they struggled in the red zone. Too many drives stalled and resulted in field goals and for a team whose defense gave up 25.4 points a game (8th worst) and 368.6 yards per game (6th worst), settling for three points just won't get it done. We could talk all day about why the Hawks were so unsuccessful in the red zone but I wanted to bring up one particular successful play for a number of reasons. First, if run correctly it's nearly impossible to defend. Second, Pete Carroll has made a career on having big bodied receivers that excel on jump balls in the endzone so I believe this type of play will be more and more commonplace for the Hawks once we start to see the personnel changes develop here.
The play I want to break down is a back-shoulder throw on a fade route run to perfection for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7 of last season. Matt Hasselbeck to Mike Williams. Watch below:
First, the situation. Seahawks are up 3-0 in the 2nd quarter and it's second and goal from the two yard line. The box is rather stacked because this is a running situation in most cases. You see Mike Williams on an island out to the left and is in one-on-one man coverage with Arizona DB Matt Ware. The Cardinals have trotted Ware out to guard BMW because he's 6'3, 218 pounds and theoretically could matchup against the much bigger Mike Williams at 6'5, 240 in the redzone. This is a tough situation for Ware because it's arguably one of the hardest situations to defend as a corner.
Mike Williams, for his part, does a good stutter step but Ware makes the mistake of putting his outside hand into Williams' chest. On a slant route this is the correct hand placement but since Mike is going back outside on a fade, he's able to swipe across his chest with his outside arm, giving him leverage and he has Ware at a disadvantage from the beginning. At this point Ware, who should've used his inside hand as leverage while turning his torso to the outside to mirror Williams, instead is forced to make up for that split second where Mike is on his hip and his torso is opened up toward the line of scrimmage.
Knowing he's out of position, Ware overcompensates on his pursuit and ends up a bit off balance and unaware of the ball in flight. This is the perfect chance for Williams to make his leap, and the ball is thrown absolutely perfectly by Matt Hasselbeck, after a 3-step drop, to his back shoulder. BMW opens up and Ware has no chance at the ball. In Ware's defense, this is an extremely hard ball to defend - almost no one could make a play on a ball like this when the throw is timed and placed with accuracy.
In this case, I'd say BMW probably could have leaned into Ware more initially - on a fade you want to almost run a vertical route, going 'through' the corner, keeping enough space between yourself and the sideline so once the ball is thrown you can "fade" out to the sideline and the corner would have no chance. Like a blockout in basketball, if you use your body correctly to essentially blockout the corner of the endzone or the sideline, your QB can just drop the ball into a bucket in the corner where only you can get it. One variation of the fade is to throw to the back shoulder if the corner has overplayed into the back of the endzone, which is what happened here.
It's a timing play, and if the corner overplays you there's always the chance the ball is picked off. But when executed correctly, it's very hard to defend - Mike Williams' size advantage over pretty much any corner means you can put the ball high enough, or in this case, to the back shoulder and out of reach of the corner, to make it a high percentage play.
When you get Mike on an island like this play above, he's got the size advantage every time. If he can continue to win one-on-one battles like this, he'll be very hard to stop. I'm going to take a look at more of BMW's play throughout the year in more detail, but I just wanted to start out with this play because it really stood out to me.