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Waldron Watch, Week 8: Vintage victory

Jacksonville Jaguars v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Dang it, it is way more fun to write about a win. The Seattle Seahawks played their best wire-to-wire game of the season, and it happened with Geno Smith starting at quarterback. Of course, this is not an indictment of Russell Wilson, as the Jacksonville Jaguars are more than a few steps away from looking competitive this season. After last Sunday, the Jags have allowed more than thirty points four times in seven games. But this is the NFL, and blowing out any team is difficult; their offense has been more potent, to some degree, as they had been averaging 19.3 points per game coming into this contest and Seattle held them to a singular garbage time touchdown. Meanwhile, the offense had a smooth and mostly efficient day and even got to bust out some fun backpocket trickery later in the afternoon that reminded us all that football can be fun, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

Turning our focus specifically to Shane Waldron, I was generally pretty impressed with his playcalling and gameplan that took advantage of a vulnerable Jaguars defense. Below are a series of plays that caught my eye during the game and merited some further research.

Geno Smith doing Russell Wilson things

Lined up in 11-personnel, Freddie Swain motions across the backfield, and the offense does a great job selling the play action. Dissly is in at Tight End, and he follows Swain on the snap behind the line of scrimmage and makes a failing attempt at blocking Josh Allen (who was the one defender who stood out to me as terrorizing Seattle all afternoon). Otherwise, the protection is excellent — a combination of great execution on the play fake and solid blocking, specifically by Ethan Pocic and Brandon Shell, who dominate Malcom Brown and Dawaune Smoot with ease. Lockett and Metcalf are running crossing patterns, with DK overtop and Tyler underneath. Smith makes the right choice as safety Rayshawn Jenkins is hanging out over the top and drifting towards Metcalf. Excellent throw that could fit right in on a Russell Wilson tape, and Tyler Lockett does exactly what everyone expected and hauled in another terrific catch.

Duane Brown and DK Metcalf all over this screen

I don’t always like wide receiver screens (in fact I rarely do), but when I do I prefer that they throw it to DK Metcalf, who can shake would be tacklers like Chris Farley dodging grade schoolers in Black Sheep. But on this play, he isn’t the only one who gets credit, as he really just ran away from the only players who had a shot at bringing him down near the line of scrimmage. Duane Brown did some fantastic work, too. The Seahawks are lined up in 11-personnel again, this time with Everett in at Tight End. The offense does an excellent job of selling the misdirection, with the majority of the Jaguars defense getting washed way away from the play. Brown may have had some off games recently, but plays like this are great reminders of how he can still look like one of the best left tackles in the league; great quickness and movement to get out and put a block on Shaquill Griffin.

DK Metcalf was straight up mean to Shaquill Griffin

No need to revisit this one too much, but it is fun to see regardless. DK Metcalf is such a mismatch in the red zone, it just isn’t fair to opposing corners. Griffin really played this reasonably well. Also, I’m seeing a theme here; every play so far has been run out of 11-personnel. Everett stays at home to block on this one and does a great job anchoring and facing up Josh Allen, which is impressive for any blocker, especially a tight end.

Tyler Lockett Again!

This was a fun play to see live, and an even more fun play to watch from this angle. The Seahawks line up in 11-personnel yet again, but this time out of a pretty cool formation; DK is aligned wide right, with Lockett, Swain, and Everett bunched on the left side. The fact that Gerald was at the top of the formation was interesting to me, and it sets the play up well, as his inside release helps to free up Swain, who runs a quick out. Not that this ends up mattering, as both Lockett and Metcalf draw two defenders on their deep routes. The Jaguars line up in a two deep alignment, but one safety drops underneath after the snap and takes away the quick opening for Metcalf. This ends up irrelevant as well; Geno never really looks away from Tyler, who runs a phenomenal route and beats both defenders, first with his straight line speed and second with his savvy cut. Solid blocking up front, as Smith has at least three seconds to set and throw by my count. At the time of his release, he could have had his pick of any receiver, as the Jaguars were trailing everybody by this point. He chose right and found No-E for a big gain.

Geno Smith’s pocket presence

By and large, I felt like Geno Smith displayed decent pocket awareness and movement throughout the game, but this was a particularly important chain of events; Josh Allen roasts Duane Brown with the exact same inside swim on back to back plays, the first time resulting in a sack. On this play, nobody was really open, although I wouldn’t call this a “coverage sack” since Allen was there almost instantaneously and would likely have made the play regardless. However, on the second play, Smith feels the pressure and makes the smart decision to get rid of the ball. Again, nobody really open from what I could tell (although I think Russ would have tried to find a window here, as he often does with great success). What I liked about this was that Geno Smith seemed to instantly moderate his own performance following a negative play and avoided taking back to back sacks. This preserved the field position and allowed Jason Myers an easier kick. Sometimes the little victories matter, and although this fortunately was not one of those games, I am still glad to see Geno showing some veteran poise.

Seahawks Football like we all love it

The DeeJay Dallas throwback to Geno Smith that turned into a huge gain to Lockett is fun, vintage Peteball in the best sense of the term; good work to sell the fake, smooth execution, and a well placed pass to Lockett, who in turn makes a great move to get some extra yards. A short while later, DK Metcalf beat Shaquill Griffin for his second and final touchdown of the afternoon. Shane Waldron seems to be gaining an increasing level of comfort week by week exploiting the mismatches that this offense can create against almost any defense it takes on. Hopefully this win will build some momentum for a team that has struggled to put together complete games this season.

Other Observations of Note

  • Gerald Everett and Will Dissly seem to be splitting time fairly evenly, and both are doing a great job. Per Pro Football Reference, Everett outsnapped Dissly 44 to 36, though Dissly also had 12 special teams snaps (52%).
  • ESPN assigned Geno Smith a QBR of 83.6 for his play on Sunday. This is currently the highest rating for a Seahawks quarterback this season, topping Russ’s 81.5 in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts.
  • After Tyler Lockett’s huge game that saw him put up 142 yards on 12 catches, he and DK Metcalf are both within one yard of each other on the season. DK is currently in the lead with 580 to Lockett’s 579, although Metcalf has been a touchdown machine, currently tied with Mike Evans with 8 TDs on the season, which is behind only Cooper Kupp, who has 10.
  • While this was overall the most positive performance I have seen from the offense since Week 1, they still had their fair share of struggles; Michael Dickson had 5 punts on the day, and the Hawks went 3 for 10 on third down. The Jaguars actually out gained Seattle by 80 yards, as well. Of course, yards don’t score points, so I will happily take what we saw last weekend. Still, few teams remaining on the Seahawks’ schedule will put up as little resistance as Jacksonville did; the offense will need to keep improving if this team has any legitimate hope of salvaging this season. They can do it, but it is still very much a work in progress.