The Seattle Seahawks are back, baby! Or, maybe more realistically, they are starting to look like something resembling a team that has a cadre of future Hall of Famers on the roster. Starting to.
But all that aside, that was a fun win, and one of the most fun offensive performances we have seen in weeks. Seattle got another victory, and looked good doing it. Of course, they don’t have the great fortune of playing the Houston Texans every week, but this game served as a bit of a showcase for what the Seahawks are capable of when they are able to do things like allow zero sacks in an entire game. There were three plays on Sunday in particular that I wanted to look at today. Tyler Lockett and Rashaad Penny are getting all the well-deserved credit this week, but I want to look at three guys who contributed something significant on Sunday, even if it was simply running the play as it was designed and securing the catch. Read on for more.
Penny Hart: Pass Catcher.... Speedster... Dream Weaver.
Penny Hart's catch on Sunday from two angles. Great design and read to get Christian Kirksey to play the run while Desmond King II is in off coverage, leaving Hart wide open crossing over the middle. pic.twitter.com/91yuLDnb2o— Stan 'the boy' Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) December 18, 2021
Unfortunately, this drive ended in a punt after stalling out around midfield. But regardless, this is a cool play nonetheless. The offensive line does an excellent job of catching the defense in a wash, and Wilson boots right off the play action. Eskridge is lined up in-line right and runs what looks to be a decoy deep route, as he seemingly intentionally runs right into his defender without ever really making a move or looking for the ball. Lockett slips out into the flat, and Will Dissly sneaks out as a safety valve. This combination of short routes puts a great horizontal stretch on the defense, and the levels action going on with Hart, Lockett, and Dissly gives some vertical separation from the defenders as well.
This is a great play by Waldron and a great read by Wilson; as Penny Hart comes crossing over the middle, Russ extends the play just enough with his boot to get a wide open throwing lane to Hart and set him up for some yards after the catch. Plays like these are some of the ones we really hoped to see Waldron bring to the table in Seattle; on a career rushing day for Rashaad Penny, the team used the wide zone play action to suck the defenses in just enough to give Wilson an easy read and Hart an easy catch.
Will Dissly: Rookie Linebackers, beware.
Will Dissly making plays. The design here is nothing exceptionally special, but the pass is. In the second angle, you can really see Wilson's vision and pinpoint accuracy from the pocket to throw Diss open off the play action, in spite of rookie Garret Wallow's attempted heroics pic.twitter.com/9861rrLhDe— Stan 'the boy' Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) December 18, 2021
Will! As you can see in the tweet, this play design isn’t really anything out of the ordinary, but the pass and catch are. We have seen Dissly feast on these short middle slants and crossers this season, and this is no different. He does a great job to burn his defenders and eat up a ton of yards once he gets the ball in his hands. But this play doesn’t happen without Russell Wilson throwing one of his best passes of the season.
It looked so simple in real-time, but you can see in the second angle in the clip above just how improbable that completion really was; rookie linebacker Garret Wallow (#32) makes a pretty heroic attempt to get a diving deflection, and he nearly does. But all the talk about the demise of Russell Wilson’s accuracy has been greatly exaggerated, as he stands tall in the pocket off the playfake and makes the throw.
DK Metcalf: Having fun with the turn and run
DK Metcalf doing work on the short routes. His ability to turn up field and make something happen on this play is special; he practically invites Lonnie Johnson jr. and Justin Reid over for a group tackle, but then changes his mind and decides to run out of bounds instead. pic.twitter.com/6IEsAg3sPA— Stan 'the boy' Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) December 18, 2021
As you can see above, Tyler Lockett, Freddie Swain, and Gerald Everett are aligned on the left side, with each of them running a vertical pattern right off the snap. With Penny motioning out of the backfield prior, the defense loses Metcalf for a quick moment and he is off to the races off of a short stick route on the right.
DK Metcalf is an electric player once he gets the ball in his hands. With his even-better-than-advertised extraterrestrial combination of size, speed, and power, he has all the skills needed to be a phenomenal player in Shane Waldron’s offense. But there has been an adjustment period, no doubt. According to Pro Football Reference, his average Depth of Target (aDOT) is down a full yard from last season, and the average number of yards that a pass travels in the air before being caught by DK is down nearly 2 and 1⁄2 yards this year. While it is true that he hasn’t been hauling in the weekly deep throws on a consistent basis, I am almost more happy to see him making these plays; we all know he is a burner with size who can take the top off of unprepared defenses. But now that defenses have adjusted to Seattle’s deep-ball routine, the team is having to get creative and simply can’t out-run the other team consistently. Getting DK to create yards for himself once he has the ball in his hands is a great way to keep the playmakers involved in an evolving scheme.
Looking forward to the Los Angeles Rams...?
We all know divisional games get wild more often than not, especially out here in the West, so I fully expect this
Sunday Showdown Tuesday Throwdown to go down like nobody’s business. Or maybe it will be a by-the-numbers football game, but I fully anticipate the former over the latter. Of course, this season feels like it may be about to get real weird with regards to scheduling and consistency, so I am just going to cross my fingers and hope for the best as we await tidings of the future. Either way, Go Hawks.