Make no mistake about it, the Seattle Seahawks offense stagnated by halftime of Week 1 and it hasn’t been able to get going since. Still, I have seen enough encouraging things out of this team to at least give Shane Waldron the benefit of waiting for the All-22 footage before fully roasting the beleaguered playcaller. But after reviewing the film, I can tell you that it is much, much worse. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. Below is a clip of the sequence leading up to the Wildcat and ultimately the fateful pass “attempt” by Deejay Dallas (don’t worry, you will get to see the All-22 of those “plays” as well).
Every other play in the Seahawks series leading up to (but not including) the ill-conceived 'Waldron-cat' experiment... this was Seattle's best drive on the day, and it felt like the only realistic chance this offense had to put some points on the board and stay in the game. pic.twitter.com/XpQK9TbP4g— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) September 22, 2022
Now, before I get into breaking down the plays in question, I would like to highlight the plays that preceded it, because this is a big part of why I think this is literally a fire-able offense for a playcaller. After what was unarguably the team’s best offensive series of the afternoon, the decision to take the air out of the ball and go with the ground game is frustrating. The decision to do it in the manner they did is downright unconscionable.
The team had just had a 49-yard strike to DK Metcalf called back due to Abe Lucas’s downfield blocking, but were fortunate enough to get another series after a DPI call against Tashaun Gipson. They responded by dialing up a 27-yard bullet to Tyler Lockett that put them into the Red Zone. Geno Smith used his legs to escape and Lockett performed his uncanny ability to find the softest spot on the field during the scramble drill. After seeing a lot of gimmicky formations out of this offense, it was refreshing to see them run some play action while Metcalf and Lockett put some vertical stress on the defense.
And then this happened.
And both plays run out of the Waldron-Cat ("Wald-cat"?). first one is actually kind of fun, just because Kenneth Walker shows off his stuff. But the second one... you can really see exactly how bad Deejay Dallas's decision is, and it looks even worse than it did in real time. pic.twitter.com/tfqnEMJSlv— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) September 22, 2022
According to rbsdm.com, the interception resulted in -4.9 Expected Points Added (EPA), which was the worst play on the afternoon for Seattle. The only event that carried a heavier weight than this on the day was the best play for the Seahawks, as Tariq Woolen’s block and subsequent return TD by Mike Jackson resulted in -10 EPA for the 49ers. What I am getting at here is that in one fell swoop, the Hawks basically surrendered a touchdown worth of points, and I mean this in the most literal sense of the term. So what were they thinking? Let’s look a little bit more at the play design.
The blocking is awful and the only reason the first play ends up gaining yards is due to Walker’s decisive shiftiness and acceleration which allows him to cut back against the play and scamper for a few. This is fun, if only for this reason; Walker hasn’t really gotten going as a runner yet, and this was his first regular season NFL action. Hopefully, we will get to see him continue to look like the most dynamic runner in this season’s draft class. Nevertheless, this isn’t a great play. But moving on to the second play...
The most puzzling part about Dallas’s decision is that it was 2nd and 5, and he probably could have gained at least a couple yards to set up third and short. Instead, he decided that he wanted to relive his high school glory days as a QB as he delivered an early birthday present to Charvarius Ward, and the rest is history. When you look at the second angle of the All-22, you can see how much space he really had to work with; Dallas is a capable runner, and this is a situation where he absolutely needs to put his head down and charge towards the goal line. Even if he had thrown a much better pass, I still don’t know if this is caught by DK, so best case scenario here is likely 3rd and 5 if it isn’t picked. But this highlights why you don’t take the ball out of the hands of the guy who rightfully won the QB competition this summer and put it into the hands of your 3rd/4th string running back with the intent/option to pass. This play was poorly timed and poorly executed. Please, never run this garbage ever again.
Final thoughts and random notes
>On the opening play of this drive, the team trotted out a full house backfield in the Pistol formation... and the blocking created very little room, and Talanoa Hufnaga came unblocked off the edge to ensure that the run was going nowhere. A week ago, I was interested by the amount of Pistol the Hawks were showing. Now I’m mostly just sick of it. It seems like a general representation of what Waldron has shown so far: a willingness to experiment and draw up interesting play designs, but with very little rhyme or reason with regard to sequencing, and rarely adjusting to what the defense is showing.
>On a positive note, this offense can definitely improve if they actually start taking more shots to Metcalf and Lockett (emphasis on can, as this still requires that Geno delivers the ball). The offensive line isn’t great, but they also aren’t the problem, and Smith has looked very capable of dialing up some shots. The thing about having playmakers like Lockett and Metcalf is that you simply have to trust them to make plays in coverage and come up with contested catches. Sometimes this goes poorly (see: the interception above that was fortunately called back, or the pick on the previous series that was not), but sometimes this puts you in the redzone or gets you 6. And this offense could use a TD like I could use a new pair of steel toe boots (in that both of these things would make us more effective at our jobs and more comfortable in our general performance).
>Geno is completing an absurd percentage of his passes right now; this is likely a combination of the fact that he is apparently an accurate passer, but also that the team is taking a lot of short stuff right now. Still, throw in that near-50 yards of offense that the pass to DK would have gained, and things look a bit different. I have hope that we will actually see this offense get going, or at least pick up the pace. I’m not expecting a complete 180, but a team with Metcalf, Lockett, Penny, Fant, Dissly, Walker, and others shouldn’t go six quarters without scoring a single dang point.