It’s no secret that fans of the Seattle Seahawks have wondered for years why the team isn’t better at executing screen passes. The question is especially confounding given that the Hawks have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL under center and some of the talent that they’ve had at the running back position. Whether it’s been Marshawn Lynch, Chris Carson or any of the other backs who have carried the ball for the Hawks in recent seasons, the screen game has never been strong.
How does the Seattle screen game compare to other teams across the NFL?
Well, here’s a comparison of all 32 teams by EPA per dropback for passes with air yards less than 0 (pass thrown behind the line of scrimmage) that gained one or more yards after the catch. The results are, obviously, not all that surprising.
quick plot I threw together to show epa per dropback on passes with < 0 air yards that gained 1 or more yards of yac. Minnesotas screen game was insane last year pic.twitter.com/gDX8pkr98T— betz (@alltwentytwo) February 10, 2020
Now, this is analysis is imperfect, obviously, for a couple of reasons. First, with the requirement for at least one or more yards gained by the receiver after the catch, this eliminates all the screen passes that get sniffed out and blown up. How many times over the years have we seen K.J. Wright, aka the destroyer of screen passes, sniff out a screen pass and drop the intended receiver immediately upon catching the football?
For example, just to show how an average can be distorted by just a handful of plays, both the Chris Carson fumble on a screen pass in Week 1 and the DK Metcalf fumble on a wide receiver screen in Week 7 meet the criteria for this evaluation. Those two plays combined to account for EPA of -12.25, which dropped the average EPA per play from around 0.20 to the 31st pace 0.0114 listed in the table. Further, looking at the success rate of the plays, the Hawks come in 16th by success rate, which is, of course, right in the middle of the pack.
The question again, however, is how a team with offensive weapons like Wilson, Carson, Metcalf and Tyler Lockett can finish middle of the pack? It would seem that with those weapons in the offense the team should be able to finish better than middle of the pack.