clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Waldron-22: Noah Fant’s big game

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Noah Fant had his best game of the season on Sunday. Officially, he finished with 5 catches on 6 targets for 96 yards, which nearly doubled his previous season-high of 49 yards in Week 5. Up until this game, he had started to look like the forgotten man in Seattle’s tight end room. After his effort against the Arizona Cardinals, he currently paces the group with 272 yards. Will Dissly is next up with 230, followed by Colby Parkinson who has collected 165 yards. Obviously, Waldron likes to get the big guys involved in the passing game, and Geno Smith seems to be developing a great connection with all three players. But Noah Fant is the focus of this piece; below, you can see all six of his targets from Sunday, so let’s take a look!

  • In the first play, the Seattle Seahawks come out in 11-personnel on 3rd down. Fant is the only tight end on the field. Isaiah Simmons tries to jam Fant but he gets a good release and Geno finds him easily on the crossing pattern. If Simmons doesn’t make the shoestring tackle, this play could have gone for an even bigger gain.
  • The second reception is a screen to Fant that never really gets going; Zaven Collins shuts it down in the backfield, and that would be Fant’s only reception that didn’t net a first down Sunday.
  • Following this, we see Fant line up in the slot outside Abe Lucas. Cameron Thomas bullrushes Charles Cross right into Geno Smith, who does his part to stand tall and deliver an off-balance strike to Fant, who finds a soft spot in the zone and gets another first. Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons are sugaring the A-gaps, but they drop out of it into coverage; Geno does an incredible job of looking off Zaven Collins — at :38 seconds in the video, you can see him staying on his first read, and Collins follows his eyes and starts to drift towards the middle of the field. This opens up a nice comfy spot around the hash marks and gives Fant plenty of space to make the catch and convert another 3rd down.
  • Next up is a particularly fun one — the throwback flea flicker that put Seattle deep in Arizona territory on what would be their first touchdown drive of the game. I absolutely love this call — Waldron has been setting this one up for weeks. The team lines up in their 3TE formation and sends Colby Parkinson motioning from left to right. Dissly is in-line next to Lucas, and Fant is offset in a 3-point stance. Seattle has been running out of this formation with great success early in the season, and the pitch to Walker looks more or less exactly like some of the stuff they had been doing. However, here it’s all a mirage, and the Cardinals defense takes the bait — hook, line, and sinker. Fant and Metcalf are the only guys who get out into routes on this one, and Noah really sells his “blocking” at first, leaving him essentially uncovered. He finds some wide open real estate around the 30, and Geno hits him for a big gain. This is some next level playcalling.
  • Following this is the only incompletion in this reel, and it looks like a slight miscommunication or just a misfire on Geno’s part; he throws with anticipation on the quick hook, just as Fant is coming out of his break. The ball is just a little too far inside and Noah isn’t able grab it.
  • This of course brings us up to the final play on the day — Noah Fant’s 51-yard catch and run that essentially put the game away for good. Apparently, Vance Joseph was livid that the defense allowed this one; I don’t blame him, the Seahawks have been running some variation of the ‘play action slide’ concept for years. This isn’t even the first time I’ve talked about it this season; I even featured it in Waldron-22 following the Atlanta Falcons game. This is one of those plays that I recognize the moment it is happening, but it seems to throw almost every defense off. I don’t need to go into great detail on this one; basically, it is a simple concept that takes advantage of the Cardinal’s over-aggressive pursuit of Kenneth Walker on the playfake. Fant sneaks behind the line of scrimmage and ends up uncovered in space, where he gets to put his 4.50 speed on display.

While Noah Fant has often ended up in the background this season, he will look to capitalize on this performance when the team takes on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in Munich, Germany. Even if he regresses back to his usual complimentary role, I am thrilled to see him continuing to get opportunities. His size and speed combo look like a huge mismatch on paper, and we got to see that featured a bit on Sunday. Combine this with Dissly’s stability and Parkinson’s low-key emergence and I would say Shane Waldron is doing a pretty good job involving the tight ends in the passing game.