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Waldron Watch Week 10: He’s back... sort of?

Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Russell Wilson is back. And regardless of the final score Sunday, seeing the indomitable signal caller back on the field was welcome after the first extended absence of his career. But the cold air at Lambeau Field put a damper on things pretty rapidly as the Green Bay Packers pitched the Seattle Seahawks their first ever shut out under Russell Wilson.

It is difficult to assess who deserves the most blame for this display of offensive ineptitude (pun intended). Ultimately, there was not a lot of great game film to review, as none of us deserve the extensive torture of revisiting every missed opportunity in a game that felt like more of a blowout than it really was. The Green Bay defense played well and executed a good game plan against a Seattle offense that was predictably shaky.

Taking away the quick game

Moving on to some film, on the play below, you can see how the Packers used a basic off-coverage/rush-four scheme to stymie the quick passing game and prevent the Seahawks from getting into a rhythm.

Out of 12-personnel, the offensive line actually does a good job of holding up against the front four. Russ’s first look is covered, as both Tyler Lockett and Will Dissly break towards the sideline but are blanketed. If he lets the ball go quicker, he may have been able to hit Metcalf on his initial break, but he is late to see DK and as a result throws it away.

Third down was only part of the problem

In addition to taking away the short game, the Packers limited the Seahawks to 7 of 15 (47%) on third down, which is actually quite an improvement on their season long conversion percentage of 33.67%, per Team Rankings. Regardless, Green Bay again executed a solid strategy of taking away the easy passes for an ailing quarterback. But the wounds were largely self-inflicted, as well.

On the first play above, you can see Russ fail to connect with Swain on what would have been a phenomenal play, but also one that Wilson likely makes under better circumstances (translation: without a hole in a finger on his throwing hand). These shots won’t always land, but they are quite obviously difference makers for this offense. On the second play, Wilson actually throws a good strike to Metcalf, who makes a strong play for the first but loses the ball. DK needs to work on ball security, as this is a drop at best and a turnover at worst. He is having an incredible third season, but there is still work to be done.

The first play above is a great example of where the Packers had success against the Hawks; out of 12-personnel with Gerald Everett aligned wide right, the offense tries to stretch the defense out, but Green Bay rushes four and blankets the field with defenders. The pressure arrives far too quickly, and the only player that Russ really had a chance to find was his safety valve in Alex Collins. DK Metcalf does get open, but by the time he is calling for the ball, Wilson is already backing into the clutches of Rashan Gary.

Gerald Everett continues to look like the best signing of the offseason

On the second play above, we get to see Gerald Everett getting involved. The first-year Seahawk had a day, as he more than doubled (nearly tripled) any of Seattle’s other receivers with eight receptions, with three of those going for first downs by my count.

Gerald Everett caught all of his targets, and once again proved to be a reliable threat for Seattle. As one of the few bright spots in this loss, the former Ram is looking like a great addition to this team.

Travis Homer, third down conversion expert

The direct snap to Homer was a fun surprise that I can never recall seeing under Pete Carroll previously. At least not like this — I remember when Michael Robinson took a few snaps in a sort of Wild Cat offense, but this was some newfangled trickery. Homer’s incredible efficiency this year speaks to good playcalling and good execution; nearly half of his touches this season have gone for first downs! He has converted three rushing and seven receiving, compared to his paltry twenty-one total touches on offense. As a complementary component, Travis Homer is a shining beacon of efficiency and one of the better kept secrets on this team right now. I don’t foresee him stealing touches from Alex Collins, but his role on third down is important, and he seems to be filling the spot much better than DeeJay Dallas at this point.

The interceptions...

The interception on the pass to Lockett on the following play was less fun, and purely on Wilson. I think it is fair to say that this is another nightmare in Green Bay that he will want to forget. He is clearly not 100%, and it showed in his inconsistent accuracy, which in turn seemed to impact his decision making. Or maybe it was the other way around. But either way, this just doesn’t look like they way healthy Russell Wilson plays.

Rewinding the clock a bit back to Russ’s first interception, we can see another example of his weird decision making that is reminiscent of 2020 when the lights went out in Russ’s kitchen around the mid-point of the season. Head scratching choice to force this throw when a running lane was open. And I don’t totally fault the injury for this one, as Wilson actually had a few decent runs in this game. Call it rust, call it whatever you want, but the team needs to see better out of its quarterback.

All things considered, I don’t think many of us really expected Seattle to leave Wisconsin with a W. But I also certainly didn’t expect a shutout. This team doesn’t seem to be built like a playoff team, as they are rarely in phase with themselves and can’t seem to turn in a complete performance this season. As the stark reality becomes clearer with each week, 2021 is turning out to be the disaster that the Seahawks have managed to stave off for years. This isn’t a playoff caliber team, but it is difficult not to feel like they are under performing even by their standards. Of course, what remains to be seen is if this is simply a “Green Bay aberration.” I expect to have a clearer picture of where this offense is headed following their home matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Stats and other Notes

  • Seattle converted 7 of 15 third downs, which as mentioned above is better than their season average.
  • However, Green Bay nearly doubled Seattle’s time of possession, which is definitely a stat worth monitoring this season, as the Seahawks rank last in TOP according to Team Rankings.
  • Seattle’s only trip into the Red Zone resulted in a turnover.