Yes, this is a column about how Pete Carroll didn’t run the ball enough against the opposing team’s defense.
You might have noticed that the Green Bay Packers seldom blitzed Russell Wilson, who’s spent years being one of the most blitzed QBs in the NFL and since 2018 he is by a country mile the most sacked QB on blitzes. They still got to him frequently just rushing four guys, because the Seattle Seahawks offensive line is not very good.
But on a day when the weather was cold, Russell’s finger wasn’t healed well enough to do any snaps under center, the Seahawks passed. And passed. And passed some more. And on the one drive where they reached Green Bay’s red zone, exclusively passed their way into a game-killing interception.
Next Gen Stats has the details on Green Bay consistently keeping a light box and blitzing at a low rate.
Keys to the Packers Shutout— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 15, 2021
The Packers sold out to stop the Seahawks passing attack.
Light Box Rate (6-or-fewer defenders): 97%*
Average Depth of Deepest Defender: 16.1 yards
Blitz Rate: 19%
*2nd-highest by any defense in a game this season#SEAvsGB | #GoPackGo
The Packers were able to get pressure without blitzing, generating 13 pressures and 3 sacks with four-or-fewer pass rushers (37.1% pressure rate).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 15, 2021
Russell Wilson vs Non-Blitzes
15/32, 145 yards, 2 INT (-8.8% CPOE)
-20.8 pass EPA (six-year low)#SEAvsGB | #GoPackGo
A light box, two safeties deep, etc. normally means quick passing, underneath routes, and running the ball. The Seahawks don’t work that way. Alex Collins and Travis Homer combined for 11 carries on a day when Wilson dropped back 48 times. Collins only had consecutive carries twice and in both instances he picked up a first down. Seattle’s rushing EPA was demonstrably better than its passing EPA. Six of Alex Collins’ 10 carries gained first downs and/or had more than half the yardage required to gain.
This was the total opposite of the New Orleans Saints game where they kept spamming runs into the teeth of an elite run defense. Green Bay’s rush defense was 22nd in DVOA entering this game and Seattle’s response was to go completely one-dimensional for almost the entire afternoon, even when it was 0-0 or 3-0 for 40+ minutes. If anything it felt a hell of a lot like the latter part of the 2020 season.
For all of the criticisms of Peteball and taking the ball out of Wilson’s hands, this was a game where the Packers opened the door for the Seahawks to attack them on the ground and Seattle flatly said no. Maybe not being under center impacted their intentions to run but that was nevertheless a gameplan by Shane Waldron that was doomed to fail.
In the long-term, the Seahawks are in an absolutely god awful situation where they can’t be a consistently great pass-heavy offense because pass protection doesn’t hold up (and Russell Wilson rarely challenges the middle of the field, which competent teams have surely read up on), and even when they want to invoke “Peteball” and establish a sustained ground attack they are a mediocre run-blocking unit and have an underwhelming running back group. And since Marshawn Lynch’s departure coupled with Wilson ceasing to be a read-option threat, I think Seattle has largely struggled to form a proper identity when retooling its rushing attack in recent years. I honestly have no idea what this personnel with this coaching staff is designed to do well other than deep passing and punting at a rate that is identical to the Houston Texans.
This offense is broken and I don’t know if it is fixable for the rest of 2021.