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Snap Reactions: Notes on the Seahawks’ snap counts from Sunday’s loss to the Broncos

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Seattle Seahawks v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

More so than usual, the Seattle Seahawks’ snap counts on Sunday were of interest. A couple of contributing factors—mainly the health of certain players and altitude—led to curious usage for a few players.

Every week, we’re going to go over any player’s snap counts that are worth noting or otherwise worth discussion. First, here are the full snap counts from offense, defense and special teams from Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos:

Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny’s equal workloads

In Seattle’s first game with both Carson and Penny, the two backs finished with the same number of snaps: 25 each (44%).

This is a curious decision by the coaching staff. On Thursday, Brian Schottenheimer was asked how the running back group would split the workload. He stressed they didn’t have a specific split in mind, saying:

“We’ll just kind of see how the game goes. You normally get a sense as the game goes (on) of who’s got the hot hand, or hey this guy’s really feeling good or he’s running well.”

Out of the gate, it was clear Carson’s form he came into training camp with had carried into the regular season. His first two carries went for 34 yards (essentially book-ending the first quarter) only for Penny to get two consecutive drives, where he struggled.

Meanwhile, as former Field Gulls writer Sam Gold so aptly put it, Carson literally jumped a dude:

Between Carson’s tremendous form and Penny’s uninspiring play, the rotation between the two left something to be desired.

Earl Thomas’s usage

Despite only being added to the active roster on Saturday, Thomas starting the game came to the surprise of no one. However, playing his first game since January’s Pro Bowl, he was eased back in, sitting out an entire drive after picking off Case Keenum.

After the game, Carroll admitted they were resting Thomas “As much as they could.” Carroll later said they wished they had played Thomas even less.

In total, Thomas played 86% of the defense’s snaps. Perhaps Bradley McDougald’s injury forced the Seahawks to play Thomas more than they would have liked. The more interesting part of Thomas’s workload was how it was handled.

Would Seattle have been better off featuring Thomas on every drive, while spelling him on early downs? Denver’s first touchdown drive, which came on an all-too-easy six plays, was with Thomas on the sideline.

Dion Jordan and Frank Clark aren’t 100%

One of the most discouraging parts of the Seahawks’ opening day loss was how poorly Seattle played along the defensive line. A contributing factor towards this was Jordan and Clark’s workload. Jordan played just 20% of snaps — no surprise — while Clark played 58%. The ends were led by Rasheem Green (62%) and and Quinton Jefferson (65%).

This, more than likely, was temporary. Jordan is working back from a stress fracture in his leg, while Clark began training camp limited as he recovered from hand surgery. However, while the duo remains slowed, Jefferson and Green will be forced into roles larger than the ones planned for them.

As the season goes on, expect Green and Jefferson’s snaps to fall into the 45-55% range. With a lower workload, the entire unit’s effectiveness should increase.

Doug Baldwin slowed, even before leaving

I don’t have much to add here, but it’s still worth noting. Before leaving the game for good ahead of the second half, Baldwin played just 11 of 26 first half snaps. Of course, he missed some after initially leaving, but still perhaps a sign of what was/is to come with Baldwin playing with pain in 2018. They’ll be managing his work and likely even more so now.

With a long week—the Seahawks don’t play until Monday night—the rotations should begin to settle in Week 2. Thomas will be back to full speed, while Clark and Jordan will be another week closer. In the coming days, we’ll get a better idea of Baldwin’s health moving forward. Sunday’s loss was just the beginning and all reactions should be tempered.