In the second to last drive against New England, the Seattle Seahawks offense was as confident and smart as I have ever seen it. In the last drive, they nearly choked the game away. Ain’t that something? Let’s flip the chronology and first look at the bad drive so we may end with something positive.
The bad drive
David Foster Wallace once said:
“Worship your intellect, being seen as smart—you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.”
By extension, it seems like when people attempt to be smart, something humbling about human nature makes us do something stupid. Chris Carson attempted a very highbrow move. He did not quite fall to the disgrace of lowbrow. But perhaps we could call giving himself up after four yards as “middlebrow,” if only so I may include this line from Punch magazine.
“[The middlebrow] consists of people who are hoping that some day they will get used to the stuff that they ought to like.”
You’d think I was seeking a man in Uganda with all the padding I’ve added. To get to the point: Carson slid down untouched forfeiting at least two yards while probably achieving nothing in the way of keeping the clock running.
He’s well away from the sideline. As long as his forward progress ends in-bounds, the clock will run. The officials were probably generous too. The ball should be down where Carson decided to give himself up. He was awarded yardage all the way to the point where he was touched down.
It is often said of an athlete making mistakes that they are thinking too much. This is a whole ‘nother beast. It’s hard to feel mad at Carson. He’s awesome. He’s attempting to do the right thing. It did not inevitably cost the Seattle anything but the thrill of a dramatic finish. But if he was coached to do that!
Schotty’s shoddy play call
To give this proper context, consider Seattle’s win probability if Tyler Lockett did catch the pass compared to the win probability if Seattle simply converted the first.
Pass completed at the 40: 98.13%
1-yard gain which converts the first: 96.72%
Win probability 4th and 1 from the Seattle 31: 84.66%
The Seahawks wagered 12% WP, roughly a quarter of what it takes to win a game, in order to potentially gain 1% WP. The calculator does not include time outs in its equation, but the numbers are very similar to what’s found on ESPN.
Perhaps feeling the stupidity of their decision in their bones, the play was marked by bad execution too. Ethan Pocic badly botches the snap, nearly fumbling the ball.
Wilson does not seem to see DK Metcalf who is comparatively much more open and much easier to target.
Even Tyler Lockett, who rarely ever makes these kinds of mistakes, seems to flip around and look for the ball a tiny bit early costing him just enough speed to make the pass uncatchable.
I am not one to play junior psychologist of strangers I watch on television, but I think there’s something constructive and team building about the fact that the defense saved the offense.
The good drive
Before nearly throwing the game away the Seahawks used a pair of throwaways, good timing, and sustained run blocking to establish a 35-23 lead.
Wilson only threw two incomplete passes on this drive. Both were throwaways. Funny that this season, Wilson’s best season ever through two games, has featured almost none of the his trademark feats of escape.
Saved the drive, and for a play associated with veteran (see: old) quarterbacks, they’re both pretty dang athletic too. Wilson took five more hits last Sunday. According to Pro Football Reference, he was pressured on 32.4% of his dropbacks, which would be the worst percentage of the three seasons we have data. The Patriots and Falcons, who achieved a 20.6% and 20.4% pressure rate respectively in their other contest, combined to pressure Wilson on 32.9% of his snaps. That would have rated 1st in the NFL in 2019, well ahead of Pittsburgh, who finished with a 30.5% pressure rate.
Saving the drive is good. The next step is saving himself.
The Seahawks are sustaining run blocks very well. This seems to show up in the numbers, as Carson, Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer have all posted good yards before contact.
Among running backs, that is disqualifying Lamar Jackson, Hyde would have ranked 3rd last year. Homer and Carson would have finished in a six-way tie for 4th.
It’s not something which shows up perfectly well in one gif. It’s something you notice throughout a game, but just for the sake of showing something, here’s an example from this drive.
Not everyone is killing it. Will Dissly eventually gets ragdolled. But most of the blocks are well sustained, and that allows Carson to make two distinct cuts to best exploit the hole. Dissly had a good game blocking, and as a means to better represent how he played, here’s another gif from earlier in the half.
Dissly, the inside of Seattle’s two tight ends on the left, owns Derek Rivers. As with the previous play, the sustained blocking allows Carson to make multiple moves to best hit the hole. Duane Brown notably does not sustain his block whatsoever, opting to pop Ja’Whaun Bentley with his shoulder, but such swaggering non-blocks are an increasingly rare exception.
Wilson the Brees
Wilson is making fewer off-schedule throws because he’s making more on-schedule throws. Yes, sometimes this really could be written by an algorithm.
Throwing with touch, timing and anticipation is the key to a quarterback achieving longevity in the NFL. Every pass Wilson completed on this drive was thrown with touch, timing and anticipation. In one, I won’t ruin which one, Metcalf turns the reigning Defensive Player of the Year into a blocking sled. Being the fastest gun is a curse.
- It’s a wonder Jordan Simmons could get illegally down field. It’s not often I find myself hoping a player was injured or loafing, but holy smokes! This qualifies as a saunter!
Need help finding him? Look for the guy running like he’s wearing leg irons.
- This is great run blocking. Hyde does a good job hitting the seam with a lot of authority, but when you’re 30 and entered the league with 4.66 speed, this happens. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say Carlos left about 38 yards on the field. Or so.
For the record, I’m slower than a two legged tortoise. Keep studying that playbook, DeeJay Dallas. Get well soon, Rashaad Penny.
- Metcalf played the Jaron Brown role for a play and blocked John Simon on Wilson’s 8-yard scramble. He did well!
Why!? Just why.
- Anyone interested in a quick video on Freddie Swain’s touchdown reception? If so, I should have time tomorrow to make one. As for now, I’m keeping Mookie up. Thanks everybody, and I have no idea why some of the gifs are sharp and some are blurry.