USA TODAY Sports
I wanted to put together a quick blurb here as free agent season is shortly upon us -- and to start off, I'll say this: the Seahawks will likely be passing the ball more in 2013 than in 2012. Yay.
That being said, they ran the ball more than any team in the NFL, on a percentage basis, in 2012. They also ran the ball at a very high rate on 1st and 2nd down. Additionally, Russell Wilson will exchange a handful of passing 3rd down attempts each game for scrambles. Russell is likely trained to take a 95% chance of a short 1st down with his legs as opposed to a 70% chance of completing a short pass to accomplish a similar goal. The Seahawks are not going to be throwing the ball 40 time per game in 2013. It may not be 25 times per game like it was in 2012, but 28-30 times per game is where I think it will land. This does not make for exciting fantasy football.
On top of that, Pete Carroll prefers running the ball and deep passing over short passing, all three elements being equal. Obviously, short passing is very important and oftentimes very necessary, but is less emphasized in the Seahawks' offense relative to the rest of the NFL.
Russell Wilson passes little, passes deep when he does pass, and does not benefit from high amounts of YAC (yards after catch, and I saw this stat on Advanced NFL Stats). He also does not throw a lot on 1st and 2nd down relative to other QBs. This means that many of his passes have serious "air yardage". The fact that Russell has completions percentages hovering around 64% is pretty good considering these factors. Bottom line, many of these passes have a high level of difficulty and are thrown on an obvious passing down and distance.
In addition to the facts laid out above, Pete Carroll prefers his QB to be a "point guard". John Clayton was bragging at the Combine with Pete about the success of Pete's vision of long corners, Pete's safeties, the LEO etc. Pete chimed in and said, "and the running game, and the QB being the point guard." Unless you are thinking about Stockton to Malone, a traditional point guard is paid to distribute the ball to the open man. Russell is a point guard in this sense, he likes to spread the ball around. It is very rare for Russell to key in on one WR and ride him all game. Perhaps Zach Miller versus Atlanta, but this is nothing like what it was with Hasselbeck during the DJack and Engram days.
An acquaintance of mine is a Seahawks photographer on game days, and he said - on most downs, he knew where the ball was going with Hasselbeck (camera has a tight shot), and Hass would also load up Big Mike Williams in certain games.
Bottom line: the lack of passing, the lack of short passing, and Wilson's penchant for spreading the ball around means that Seattle is not a place where a WR is going to rack up amazing stats for fantasy or traditional purposes. This is especially true in a Fantasy League where you count PPR (points per reception). I don't play Fantasy Football anymore, and don't miss it, but I remember being in a PPR league one year. "You mean I get TWO points every time a WR catches a 10 yard pass? - Wow!"
This fact has an influence on how outside free agents may or may not prefer coming to Seattle. It may have an influence on how much actual and draft capital the Seahawks spend on the WR/TE positions. It also may have an influence on how Seahawk fans perceive players on their own roster. Keep that in mind as this free agent season begins. If the Seahawks sign any free agents in this category this year, I believe this factor has to be apparent before they sign and once they are in the middle of their contract.
("We are paying this guy $4M per year, and he has 30 catches so far?!")
Every player wants to rack up stats, get paid lots of money, and win lots of games. On some teams all three goals can be accomplished. On other teams, perhaps only two of three. I do believe Seattle will add WR and TE via the draft, and possibly free agency to build depth and talent this year. But, sometimes, the system a player joins may limit their traditional stats. This may not mean that they aren't good or aren't worth their contract.
Excited to see what Seattle does in Free Agency and the Draft. Catch me on Twitter.