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Waldron ‘22: Reviewing key offensive plays from Seahawks’ Week 1 triumph over Broncos

NFL: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Waldron and the Seattle Seahawks kicked off their 2022 season with an inspiring victory over Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. The offense generally looked smooth while operating with Geno Smith at the helm as the team led a couple of early touchdown drives. Smith appeared to be comfortable in the pocket, and he trusted his playmakers when it counted. And the playmakers mostly did their part, so let’s take a look at the All-22!

Will Dissly scores Seattle’s first touchdown of the season

(11:26 - Q1) 3rd and 2 on the Denver 38

The Seahawks line up in the shotgun with 11-personnel, with Metcalf split right and (Eskridge/Goodwin) in the slot; Will Dissly in-line on the left side with Lockett flanking out wide. Lockett runs a shallow crosser as Dissly runs a deep route before settling down in a soft spot in the zone. Broncos linebacker Alex Singleton comes straight up the middle on a blitz, blowing up Travis Homer in the process; still, I would like to acknowledge here that if Homer doesn’t at least make the effort and absorb the hit here, that is probably a sack and Smith never gets the opportunity to step up.

Rashaad Penny and the 3TE Package getting some big gains

(11:01 - Q2) 1st and 10 on the Seattle 46 / (5:33 - Q1) 2nd and 8 on the Denver 28

This is a fun formation, and the Hawks used it on both of Penny’s longest runs on the night; Seahawks line up with a heavy personnel group, with Marquise Goodwin and rookie Dareke Young being the only wide receivers on the field, respectively. The WR lined up tight to the formation on the weak side, and on the right side of the line, you see all three tight ends bunched together — Dissly, Parkinson, and Fant, in that order. And all three of them put a hat on somebody; this unbalanced look generated a great push against the Denver front, and it looks like a great way to involve their apparently deep corps of tight ends who can all threaten as blockers AND pass catchers. And Penny, in spite of the fumble (thankfully recovered by Austin Blythe), does his part to hit the hole with decisiveness, at which point his explosiveness becomes very apparent.

Marquise Goodwin shows up with a toe-dragging sideline grab

(4:15 - Q2) 2nd and 10 on the Seattle 37

This play came immediately following Geno Smith’s FIRST INCOMPLETION OF THE GAME. And he demonstrated good awareness on this one to step up while keeping his eyes down field. The offensive line gets a lot of credit on this one; Charles Cross looks every bit the part of a highly drafted tackle here, as he smoothly slides out to absorb Baron Browning’s rush, and the line as a whole really creates a beautiful pocket. The right side wins in the numbers game, going 3-on-2, completely stonewalling the rush. Smith steps up and delivers a dart on the move, which is no easy task, and Marquise Goodwin does his part to stay in bounds and secure the catch. As for the formation, it is 11-personnel once again, with Goodwin in the slot and Lockett wide left. Lockett looks like he is getting the call a lot on the shallow crossing and in-breaking routes, and this is great — when he makes his break, two Broncos defenders converge on him, leaving Goodwin wide open as he breaks towards the sideline. Good design, as leaving Lockett in single coverage would also be an easy completion with a good setup for YAC, as we have seen the Rams do with Cooper Kupp many, many times.

Colby Parkinson exploits the mismatch and finds the Endzone

(2:24 Q2) 2nd and 6 on the Denver 25

Touchdowns are always fun. Colby Parkinson gets in on the action, as the Hawks come out in 12 personnel and line up in the pistol. Will Dissly is in the backfield as an H-back with Tyler Lockett split outside of Colby Parkinson, and DK Metcalf on the left. Great design on this play, as Lockett sits down in the short middle with Ronald Darby on him man-to-man. The Broncos go single-high at safety, and Smith diagnoses quickly and makes the perfect read; Parkinson fades to the right and his huge frame is a total mismatch for linebacker Jonas Griffin.

This is a win-win design here, as Metcalf also heads up the sideline; with Lockett settling in past the sticks and two of the team’s biggest pass catchers each going deep against a single-high look, this is a play that can work every single week, even if the results aren’t always a touchdown. Once again, the line does a great job to stymie the 5-man rush and create a textbook pocket for Geno, who does his part to make the right read and get the ball out quickly.

DK Metcalf is DK Metcalf, and for that I am thankful

(6:16 - Q3) 3rd and 10 on the Seattle 31

This one is all Metcalf. Honestly, I thought this was an interception watching it live, and on a pass to any player who doesn’t have DK’s frame, it very well may have been, or at least a likely incompletion. He runs a deep hook, settling in 15-yards upfield and boxing Pat Surtain II out to make the grab. The line does their job, and Geno puts some heat on this one. Smith waits for Justin Simmons to clear out before delivering the pass, but he honestly should have let this one go sooner. Metcalf can win this matchup, but against a better defense even he may not be able to simply outmuscle every DB he plays; a quicker decision to throw the ball and this may have been a less contested catch. Regardless, I am still happy to see Smith trusting his playmakers to do what they do and giving them an opportunity to make something happen.

General thoughts, notes, and things to watch in Week 2

  • Without looking up the exact number of plays run by formation, it appeared to me that the Hawks were running a lot of Pistol, sometimes with Dissly as the H-back in 12-personnel, like in the Parkinson TD above.
  • This offensive line looks like it is going places, and they are taking defenders with them. Teams rarely start two rookie tackles, but both of those guys looked the part of NFL starters. Sure, they had their rough patches but that was a seriously encouraging game. Austin Blythe looks like a great addition in pass pro.
  • They weren’t afraid to use heavy formations with their deep group of tight ends; Dissly paced the group with 37 snaps, Noah Fant had 31, and Colby Parkinson had 20. All of these guys are willing blockers, and they looked the part on Penny’s big runs.
  • Denver’s defense seemed to be out of sorts, but some of this may simply come from covering a team with two of the NFL’s best pass catchers, along with a running game that has the potential to be explosive behind this offensive line. Time will tell how teams adjust to this offense as the season progresses.
  • Hopefully, we will get to see Ken Walker III in the lineup this weekend when the Hawks take on the loathsome San Francisco 49ers and their 2nd-year phenom starter Trey Lance.