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Why the Seahawks Offense Fails (at Oakland)

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So, we have an idea of why the Seahawks offense fails, but does the tape actually bear this out? The failure of the deep passing attack certainly contributes a lot failed plays on its own, but how can we tell if it is also undermining the effectiveness of runs and short passes?

I don't know that we can be sure, but we can at least attempt to judge this hypothesis further by seeing how the Raiders responded to the Seahawks offense, and whether it was a lack of a deep threat that kept Seattle from converting firsts and scoring points, or if that was but a small component.

Well, we have 59 plays to review. Let's see what happened.

1-10-SEA 33 (13:31) 8-M.Hasselbeck sacked at SEA 28 for -5 yards (93-T.Kelly).

Defenders within five yards: 10

The Raiders are definitely crowding the line, but that doesn't come into play here. Tommy Kelly rips through Chris Spencer and sacks Matt Hasselbeck. This is a total offensive line fail, with Hasselbeck barely able to get through his drop back before he's avoiding a free rusher.

2-15-SEA 28 (13:10) 24-M.Lynch left tackle to SEA 29 for 1 yard (Team).

Defenders within five yards: 9

Defenders within 10 yards: 11

This rush is beaten down by the Raiders selling out against the run. Notice the play-by-play. "Team" is awarded the tackle. And that's the case. There wasn't an inch of space for Marshawn Lynch to run through.

3-14-SEA 29 (12:28) (Shotgun) 8-M.Hasselbeck sacked at SEA 21 for -8 yards (92-R.Seymour).

Defenders within 10 yards: 10

This is another breakdown by the offensive line. Kamerion Wimbley pressures off left end. Richard Seymour forklifts Ben Hamilton, forcing him up and then walking him back towards Hasselbeck. Spencer attempts to assist, but his block manages only to send Seymour tumbling towards Hasselbeck's legs. This play never gets started.

(The Raiders nearly match the Seahawks for offensive ineptitude.)

1-10-SEA 22 (9:55) 24-M.Lynch right end to SEA 20 for -2 yards (99-L.Houston).

Defenders within five yards: 10

Raiders rush six on the run blitz. Rolando McClain is able to cut through the left "A" gap and disrupt this run and force Lynch towards the outside. LaMarr Houston breaks through Sean Locklear on the right and tackles, but as you can see here:


Every gap is filled. McClain works through and pressures Lynch into Houston's tackle.

2-12-SEA 20 (9:26) 24-M.Lynch left end to SEA 16 for -4 yards (52-Q.Groves).

Defenders within 10 yards: 11

Seahawks set with trips on the right, but Raiders are again selling out against the run. Matt Shaughnessy pushes Tyler Polumbus back and that lengthens Lynch's angle towards the outside. He bows back and attempts to turn the corner, but Quentin Groves is keying Lynch from the outset. He catches Lynch near the left flat and drops him for a loss of four.

3-16-SEA 16 (8:42) (Shotgun) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass short right to 81-G.Tate to SEA 28 for 12 yards (33-T.Branch).

Defenders within 10 yards: 11

This is an interesting play, because it's clearly a passing down and Hasselbeck is actually in shotgun, but the Raiders are still playing very close to the line. Nine are within five and the Raiders two deep safeties are exactly 10 yards away from the line of scrimmage. Oakland is set to defend the pass--the short pass.


And that works, because Oakland's two safeties combine to stop Golden Tate.

First there's pressure, as Polumbus blows his block, but Hasselbeck steps up. Tate slows and waves open and Michael Huff closes on him from behind. Hasselbeck passes to Tate, Tate is able to spin through Huff's tackle and then continues up the right sideline. It almost works, but strong safety Tyvon Branch has the angle. He squares and contains Tate up the right sideline, waits for him to arrive and hits Tate and forces him out of bounds well short of the first.

I think of this play as just about the very definition of "no space underneath because of no threat over top." Both safeties are primed to stop the underneath route and both safeties combine to stop the underneath route.

(Raiders kick a field goal)

1-10-SEA 29 (5:07) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete short middle to 17-M.Williams.

Defenders on the line: 8

Defenders within five yards: 9

Defenders within 10 yards: 10

Oakland has a single deep safety, and that seems to be a response to Deon Butler wide left. Seattle gets the look it wants, with Butler single covered by Nnamdi Asomugha and the safety out of position to double. Asomugha has a heckuva reputation, and it's probably fair to say Butler versus Asomugha one-on-one deep isn't a dream matchup, but single coverage deep is single coverage deep. Butler actually looks like he has a step on Asomugha.

Which is pertinent, because absolutely nothing is open underneath. Seattle keeps Lynch in to block, giving them six blockers. That leads to both Mike Williams and Quinton Ganther facing double cover. John Carlson has single cover, but he's all tied up, and Huff is over top ready to double. So Hasselbeck more or less throws it away. He throws it to Williams' left, when he's breaking right, to try and avoid a linebacker in his throwing lane. Williams has no shot of catching it. It's a throw away into the field of play. No good.

2-10-SEA 29 (5:03) 24-M.Lynch left guard to SEA 29 for no gain (24-M.Huff; 26-S.Routt). PENALTY on SEA-50-B.Hamilton, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SEA 29 - No Play.

Defenders on the line: 6

Defenders within five yards: 9

Defenders within 10 yards: 11

This is another numbers game, assisted by a Hamilton hold. At the snap, all three linebackers crash down to defender the run, and it is a run.


Ham holds Desmond Bryant, as Bryant worked him off the snap. His effort doesn't help. This play is dead, penalty or no. Lynch collides with the pile zero yards past the line of scrimmage, and is met by a pair of DBs: Huff and corner Stanford Rout. You can see Rout already closing on the run before Hasselbeck can hand Lynch the ball. Safeties biting run so early are supposed to be punished with play action.

2-20-SEA 19 (4:41) (Shotgun) 20-J.Forsett right tackle to SEA 20 for 1 yard (92-R.Seymour; 34-M.Mitchell).

Defenders within five yards:9

Defenders within 10 yards: 10

Nine defenders within five yards on second and 20? Yep. The 11th defender is 11 yards deep, by the way. Seymour blows this up by beating Polumbus off the snap and working through his angle block. Forsett is dropped when Huff, charging down hill to attack run pretty much off the snap, joins Seymour and the two push over and fall on Justin. Mad props to Force for never looking discouraged.

3-19-SEA 20 (3:59) (Shotgun) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass short left to 20-J.Forsett to SEA 33 for 13 yards (34-M.Mitchell).

Defenders on the line: 7

Defenders within five yards: 9

The two safeties are 11 yard deep.

The screen pass fails because the secondary isn't run deep and is thus able to swarm and stop Forsett short. He has blockers and uses them, but there's defenders everywhere. Discontinuing the trend of plays failing entirely because of a lack of deep threat, this play fails because Hasselbeck has to screen it out early. Locklear blows his block on Trevor Scott and Hasselbeck is running for his life to even get the ball out. That said, had the corners not be in position to swarm Forsett, both safeties were in position to stop him short of the first.


(Raiders three and out)

1-10-OAK 27 (1:05) 24-M.Lynch left end to OAK 27 for no gain (24-M.Huff). PENALTY on SEA-32-Q.Ganther, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at OAK 27 - No Play.

Defenders within five yards: 10

Defenders within 10 yards: 11

Lynch's welcome to the Seahawks offense continues as he faces another stacked box. Ganther holds, but let's examine this play as if he got away with it. He certainly could have. Lynch attempts to turn the corner and Huff is there to meet him. That marks the third straight run attempt stopped by a defensive back. Despite what the play-by-play says, Lynch would have gained about four. Lynch Beast Modes that four, as Huff hits him just as he's turning the corner.

The basic pattern continues: linebackers and defensive backs selling out to stuff the line of scrimmage.

1-20-OAK 37 (:38) (Shotgun) 8-M.Hasselbeck sacked at OAK 45 for -8 yards (33-T.Branch).

Hey! Safety blitz!

Defenders within five yards: 8 (10 are within seven yards)

Defenders within ten yards: 10

Oakland rushes five, dropping its left defensive end into coverage. This is a typical Marshall zone blitz, one he ran into the ground in Seattle. It works, because Lynch only lands a glancing block on Branch, and because Hasselbeck is looking left the entire way and doesn't see it coming or a way out of it. On the right, Carlson is single covered by Houston, but with the blitz arriving so quickly, Hasselbeck would have had to read that prior to the snap and he doesn't. Sack.

2-28-OAK 45 (:11) 20-J.Forsett right tackle to OAK 41 for 4 yards (92-R.Seymour, 33-T.Branch).

Seattle probably should have thought again about snapping before the end of the first quarter. If there was ever a time to slow the game down and regroup, this was it, but instead Seattle quick snapped. That meant Fox had a poor camera angle and action had already started. I couldn't record exactly how the Raiders were aligned, but one thing was clear:

Defenders within five yards: 9

On second and 29. Nine defenders within five yards. On second and 29.

So Seattle ran into it, and Stacy Andrews actually executed a nice pull block, but Seymour shadowed the play down the line and met Forsett after a gain of three. Force did his tiny power back thing and pushed the pile for another yard, but Huff was there to end it. Free safety Michael Huff.

Which is exactly how a stat that is designed to measure the contributions of the offensive line by measuring the contributions of the opposing defensive line and linebackers would confuse Seattle for a good offensive line. It's not, but it's also not responsible for the stream of defensive backs flying to the ball carrier snap after snap.