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A disturbing offensive trend for the Seahawks that seems eerily familiar

Seattle Seahawks v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Like most of you, I did not expect the Seahawks to lose 2 of their first 3 games. Yet here we are, with Seattle sitting in last place in the NFC West; 2 games behind both the Rams and the upstart Cardinals with a trip to Santa Clara coming up next.

SIGH.

After giving - yes, giving - both the Tennessee Titans and the Minnesota Vikings their first win of the year, the team and the fanbase are reeling.

As they should be.

Seattle is better than this. Seattle IS better than this.

You know it, I know it, and everyone in the Seahawks organization knows it.

We should be 3-0, not 1-2.

But we’re not.

To this point, much of the focus for Seattle’s back-to-back losses has been on the defense and their inability to get off the field with any consistency (or, really, to get off the field at all).

But my focus - most of it anyway - has been on something else ...

The offense.

More specifically, I have been focused on the difference between Seattle’s first-half offense and it’s second-half offense and the obvious patterns and trendlines that have already appeared.

Granted, Seattle has a new offensive coordinator and some stumblin’ and bumblin’ was expected as RW3 and his talented crew get the hang of their new ride.

Also, it’s only been 3 games and there are still 13 14 games remaining so it’s important not to overreact.

But ...

3 games is plenty of time to form an opinion and right now seems like a damn good time to call out the offense for a disturbing offensive trend.

Consider yourself warned: this ain’t pretty.

The short version of this article is what I have been saying in the Comments of various other articles for the past couple weeks: Seattle’s offense stays in the locker room after halftime.

The longer version is, well ... this article.

Note: It is not my intention to point fingers or assign blame with this article. Y’all may do so if you wish; I am simply sharing the data and drawing attention to multiple areas of concern.


The 2021 season

The Seahawks have only played three games so I’ll provide data for each game before I summarize Seattle’s season up to this point. That way, you can see that the trends I am drawing attention to have been present in each game, win or lose, even if the method and the details have varied from week to week.

Week 1: Seattle at Indianapolis

Number of plays per possession:

  • First half: 9, 7, 4, 6
  • Second half: 5, 5, 2, 5, 7, 3

Possession results:

  • First half: Touchdown, touchdown, punt, touchdown
  • Second half: Punt, punt, fumble, punt, touchdown, punt

Russell Wilson’s stat lines:

  • First half: 9 of 11 (81.9%) for 166 yards with 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 sack (for minus-5 yards), and a passer rating of 158.3
  • Second half: 9 of 12 (75%) for 88 yards with 1 TD, 0 INTs, 2 sacks (for minus-8 yards), and a passer rating of 122.9

Seattle’s offense as a whole:

  • First half: 257 total yards of offense; 11 first downs; 4-for-5 on 3rd down (80%); held the ball for 11:55; scored 21 points
  • Second half: 124 total yards of offense; 7 first downs; 0-for-4 on 3rd down (0%); held the ball for 12:18; scored 7 points

Week 2: Tennessee at Seattle

Number of plays per possession:

  • First half: 3, 5, 9, 3, 2, 7
  • Second half: 8, 3, 3, 3, 4
  • Overtime: 3

Possession results:

  • First half: Punt, field goal, punt, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown
  • Second half: Punt, touchdown, punt, punt, end of half
  • Overtime: Punt

Russell Wilson’s stat lines:

  • First half: 11 of 15 (73.3%) for 191 yards with 1 TD, 0 INTs, 2 sacks (for minus-11 yards), and a passer rating of 137.5
  • Second half: 11 of 17 (64.7%) for 152 yards with 1 TD, 0 INTs, 0 sacks, and a passer rating of 112.9
  • Overtime: 0 of 2 with a sack (for minus-12 yards)

Seattle’s offense as a whole:

  • First half: 233 total yards of offense; 11 first downs; 1-for-5 on 3rd down (20%); held the ball for 11:16; scored 24 points
  • Second half: 176 total yards of offense; 6 first downs; 3-for-7 on 3rd down (42.9%); held the ball for 10:26; scored 6 points
  • Overtime: Minus-12 yards of offense; 3-and-out; held the ball for exactly one minute; punted from the 1


Week 3: Seattle at Minnesota

Number of plays per possession:

  • First half: 9, 11, 6, 6, 3
  • Second half: 5, 5, 5, 4

Possession results:

  • First half: Touchdown, field goal, touchdown, missed field goal, end of half
  • Second half: Punt, punt, downs, end of game

Russell Wilson’s stat lines:

  • First half: 15 of 19 (78.9%) for 218 yards with 1 TD, 0 INTs, 0 sacks, and a passer rating of 132.0
  • Second half: 8 of 13 (61.5%) for 80 yards with 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 2 sacks (for minus-15 yards), and a passer rating of 79.0

Seattle’s offense as a whole:

  • First half: 308 total yards of offense; 15 first downs; 3-for-5 on 3rd down (60%); held the ball for 16:47; scored 17 points
  • Second half: 81 total yards of offense; 6 first downs; 0-for-3 on 3rd down (0%); held the ball for 7:20; scored 0 points


The first 3 weeks combined

Possessions, plays, and results:

  • First halves: 135 plays across 15 possessions with 8 touchdowns, 2 field goals, a missed field goal, 3 punts, and a possession that ended at halftime
  • Second halves (and overtime): 70 plays across 16 possessions with 2 touchdowns, no field goals (or attempts), 10 punts, a fumble, a turnover on downs, and 2 possessions that ended with no time left on the clock

Russell Wilson’s stat lines:

  • First halves: 35 of 45 (77.8%) for 575 yards with 5 TDs, 0 INTs, 3 sacks (for minus-16 yards), and a passer rating of 155.8
  • Second halves (and overtime): 28 of 44 (63.6%) for 320 yards with 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 5 sacks (for minus-35 yards), and a passer rating of 100.6

Seattle’s offense as a whole:

  • First halves: 798 total yards of offense; 37 first downs; 8-for-15 on 3rd down (53.3%); held the ball for 39:58; scored 62 points
  • Second halves (and overtime): 381 total yards of offense; 19 first downs; 3-for-15 on 3rd down (20%); held the ball for 31:04; scored 13 points


2021 Season averages

Average time per possession:

  • First halves: 2 minutes 39.9 seconds
  • Second halves (and overtime): 1 minute 56.5 seconds

Average time per play:

  • First halves: 17.76 seconds
  • Second halves (and overtime): 26.63 seconds

Average points per possession:

  • First halves: 4.13
  • Second halves (and overtime): 0.81

Average yards per possession:

  • First halves: 53.2
  • Second halves (and overtime): 23.8

Average yards per play:

  • First halves: 5.9
  • Second halves (and overtime): 5.4


2021 Season summary (so far)

I don’t know about y’all, but I was actually quite surprised to see that the average play after halftime in Seattle’s first 3 games gained nearly the same amount of yards as the average play in the first halves of those games (from 5.9 to 5.4 is a decrease of less than 10%).

It was especially surprising after calculating that the average yards per possession plummeted by a whopping 55% after the intermission.

Also ...

Scoring has dropped by 80% after the break.

Note: That piece of data makes me sort of amazed that the Seahawks aren’t oh-and-three.

You know what increases after the break though? Seattle’s average time per play. It increases damn near 50%. And yet ...

The average time per possession drops by almost 45 seconds (roughly 29%).

Honestly, I would call the 2021 offense Jekyll and Hyde, but I have too much respect for Robert Louis Stevenson to associate him with what we’ve seen from the Seahawks through the first 3 games of the season.


Flashback to 2020

Never one to miss an opportunity to present a unique viewpoint, let’s look at the 2020 season through the lens of the first “half” of the season (Games 1-8) and the second “half” of the season (Games 9-16).

Or, as I like to call it, the reason Brian Schottenheimer is now in Jacksonville.

Note: This isn’t a “perfect” comparison to the 2021 season (so far), in part because of the scale. There are, however, some striking similarities.

Possessions, plays, and primary results:

  • Games 1-8: 514 plays across 90 possessions with 36 touchdowns, 7 field goals, and 30 punts
  • Games 9-16: 508 plays across 89 possessions with 19 touchdowns, 17 field goals, and 31 punts

Russell Wilson’s stat lines:

  • Games 1-8: 211 of 297 (71.0%) for 2,541 yards with 28 TDs, 8 INTs, 24 sacks (for minus-156 yards), and a passer rating of 117.14
  • Games 9-16: 173 of 261 (66.3%) for 1,671 yards with 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 23 sacks (for minus-145 yards), and a passer rating of 91.34

Seattle’s offense as a whole:

  • Games 1-8: 3,320 total yards of offense; 193 first downs; 32-for-86 on 3rd down (37.2%); 13 three-and-outs; held the ball for 240 minutes 21 seconds; scored 274 points
  • Games 9-16: 2,592 total yards of offense; 163 first downs; 44-for-103 on 3rd down (42.7%); 20 three-and-outs; held the ball for 241 minutes 41 seconds; scored 185 points

Note: Seattle was 7-for-9 on 4th down (77.8%) over the first 8 games in 2020, but only 1-for-5 (20%) after that.

Average time per possession:

  • Games 1-8: 2 minutes 40.2 seconds
  • Games 9-16: 2 minutes 42.93 seconds

Average time per play:

  • Games 1-8: 28.06 seconds
  • Games 9-16: 28.54 seconds

Average points per game:

  • Games 1-8: 34.3
  • Games 9-16: 23.1

Average points per possession:

  • Games 1-8: 3.04
  • Games 9-16: 2.08

Average yards per game:

  • Games 1-8: 415.0
  • Games 9-16: 320.3

Average yards per possession:

  • Games 1-8: 36.9
  • Games 9-16: 29.1

Average yards per play:

  • Games 1-8: 6.5
  • Games 9-16: 5.1


2020 Summary

As mentioned, the full 2020 season isn’t a perfect comparison for the first 3 games of the 2021 season. Scale is one reason, but there are other reasons as well.

One of those other reasons is that Seattle had virtually the same number of plays in the first half of the season as in the second half of the season (514 vs. 508).

Another reason is that the speed at which Seattle ran their plays was also similar from the first 8 games to the last 8 games (28.06 seconds vs. 26.54 seconds).

Add it up and it’s easy to see that there isn’t a lot to be learned by comparing the time aspects of the “halves.”

The rest of the numbers though ...

Points decreased across the board, as did yards; and often to a larger extent than we’ve seen thus far in 2021.

As but one example, yards per play has only decreased by half a yard after the break through the first 3 games this year, but fell by 1.4 yards per play over the back half of the 2020 season.

Points per possession is another example with a decrease of 31.6% after the first 8 games last season, but an 80% decrease between halves in 2021.


Conclusion

Remember how we complained about the offense “disappearing” / regressing over the back half of last season? Well, it’s happening in the back half of each game this year.

I won’t speculate as to why this is, but it has got to change.

Like RIGHT NOW.

Because if it doesn’t then we all know how this season is going to end, and it is NOT the way we envisioned it a few short weeks ago.