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The offensive struggle continues for Seahawks

NFLPA Rookie Premiere - Portraits session Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks stand at 1-1 following their defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, and by many accounts this is better than many expected. But the offense is starting to look very much like doubters expected; the team punted the ball 5 times on Sunday, and generally failed to maintain drives throughout the afternoon. After coming out swinging in Week 1, the team has struggled to display any offensive consistency, and this is reflected in their success — or lack thereof — on the field.

Consider this: over the last 6 quarters of play, the Seahawks offense has had twelve meaningful drives, by my count, and these were their outcomes in order, starting with the first offensive series of the 3rd quarter against the Denver Broncos:

  • Fumble, Punt, Punt; punt, punt, interception, interception, end of half, punt, punt, punt, end of game.

This isn’t what any of us wanted to see; while Geno Smith is playing conservatively at times, the play calling has been head scratching, to say the least. Leading up to DeeJay Dallas’s ill-fated stint as a passer, the Seahawks were having their most successful drive of the afternoon; following what could have been Geno’s second pick of the day that was overturned due to interference, the team capitalized by hitting Tyler Lockett deep in San Francisco territory. But then rather than roll with a QB who was completing an absurd percentage of his passes, the team took the ball out of his hands and ran consecutive plays out of some sort of Wildcat formation. A couple whistles later, and Dallas is delivering one of the worst passes I have ever seen in my life.

What is particularly interesting to me is that the team didn’t go run heavy, as they might have considering this was Ken Walker’s first regular season action as a pro. Instead, they only handed the ball off 12 times; Geno is credited with two runs, and from memory one was a scramble and the other a result of a broken play, so the team has 14 attempts on the afternoon, for what that is worth. Compare this to 30 pass attempts. Despite expectations, the Seahawks have been a pass-oriented team through their first two weeks, for better or worse. Take this chart from last week, for example:

Similarly, in Week 2, only three of Seattle’s nine offensive drives started with a running play, and only one of these was a run-run-pass sequence, by my count at least. So far, through two games, the team has thrown 59 passes to 33 runs; 8 of these runs are credited to Geno Smith, and I think the majority of these have been on scrambles, so this split is likely even more pass heavy than it looks. This isn’t inherently a negative, as Smith has looked generally accurate and capable of running this offense. But taking into account the fact that they are starting rookie offensive tackles, this strategy is interesting, to say the least. Still, it would be nice to see this offense figure out a gameplan that actually utilizes their diverse set of playmakers and keeps the defense guessing; this team has the capability to do that with the current roster, but they have been failing for the last 6 quarters to do so effectively.

I still have hope that this offense will be more watchable as the season progresses than it was yesterday. But I am starting to fear that Shane Waldron is the biggest part of the problem. When you have a quarterback completing 80% of his passes, the offense should probably be able to muster at least a field goal to show for it. Instead, look at their updated team stats following two games, per Bob Condotta:

The Seahawks have punted nearly twice as many times as their opponents, are getting outgained 806-to-469 in total net yards, and are sitting at -2 in the turnover battle. These are some pretty surface level statistics, but I presume that a deeper dive isn’t going to make this offense look much better. While it would be foolhardy to expect this roster to set the league on fire, I certainly think we can expect better results than what we saw yesterday, and for the second half of the Broncos game in Week 1.

Going forward, I hope that we see a more balanced and nuanced gameplan that takes a much more calculated approach to playcalling; I want to see this team and the playcallers not look so surprised by their own success when they actually do find their way into the redzone.

And I want to see them score a dang touchdown again.