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Waldron ‘22: Seahawks’ tricky trio of Tight Ends

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Atlanta Falcons v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

Sunday was a big disappointment for those of us fans of the Seattle Seahawks who expected that this wily team might still have a trick or two up their proverbial sleeves. Of course, they did not, as the defense looked porous and undisciplined, to put things lightly. But Shane Waldron and the offense stood apart in this one; this wasn’t the kind of performance that erases all doubt, but anybody watching that game will tell you that the offense wasn’t the problem against the Atlanta Falcons. After Week 2 where I was absolutely frustrated over the offensive gameplan and playcalling, I saw a lot of reason for optimism in this one. Particularly, the use of the team’s deeper-than-anticipated Tight End corps.

On Seattle’s first touchdown drive of the afternoon, all three of the active TEs on the roster caught a pass; these went for 58 total yards and a touchdown, which would be Will Dissly’s team-leading second score on the season. The only other Hawks with a receiving touchdown are DK Metcalf and Colby Parkinson. Speaking of Parkinson, did you know that Pro Football Focus credits him with a perfect passer rating when targeted? Sure, it’s only on 4 receptions, but still... Will Dissly isn’t far behind either, having collected 8 receptions on 8 targets and posting a rating of 146.4. Noah Fant has been the least productive of the three, but the team is still getting him involved on a weekly basis.

Returning to the drive in question though, I want to look at each of these three receptions leading up to and including the score. The series started with a strike to Metcalf, then a 5 yard scamper by Penny. Following this, the team went Fant, Parkinson, and Dissly, respectively, and scored Seattle’s first offensive touchdown since Week 1. So let’s take a look!

Q1 — 6:00 — 2nd and 5 on the Seattle 45

The Seahawks use a familiar concept here, which has now transcended multiple coordinators. The ‘play action slide’ is something that former Field Gulls contributor Matty F. Brown detailed under Brian Schottenheimer (you may remember seeing Doug Baldwin absolutely run this to perfection). Geno Smith runs a naked bootleg here, with rookie linebacker Troy Anderson biting on the play fake before going after the passer. Middle linebacker Rashaan Evans — who ultimately forces the play out of bounds — gets caught in the flood of receivers and has to decide between sticking with Fant, covering the safety-valve Dissly, or DK Metcalf who is running a crossing pattern just behind him. A few yards may seem insignificant, but it set the team up for an easy conversion. But of course, an easy conversion wasn’t what happened next...

Q1 — 5:32 — 3rd and 1 on the Seattle 49

In Week 1, we saw the Seahawks use this unbalanced formation to great success on a couple Rashaad Penny runs; they busted this out again, only this time they run play action and send Colby Parkinson and DK Metcalf deep. I love this call, as it beats the blitz and catches the Atlanta defense on their heels. Even though Metcalf and Parkinson are the only players who get out into routes, Geno is able to hit Colby deep. Thinking about this lineup is intimidating for any defense: every pass catcher in this lineup stands at 6’4” or taller. When DK Metcalf is your smallest receiver on the field, you know the defense has to be at least a little bit concerned about facing a mismatch. And Parkinson does his part to get open and make the grab; after a couple anonymous seasons, he seems to be fitting into this offense nicely.

Q1 — 4:12 — 2nd and 13 on the Atlanta 18

Will Dissly is such a savvy route runner. He makes getting open look so effortless, and he has been doing this since his rookie season. The Hawks spread it out here and send Penny wide right. Colby Parkinson is in the slot, and Dissly is in a two-point stance outside Abe Lucas. Tyler Lockett is wide left with Metcalf inside of him. This is interesting to me, as both Lockett and Penny are the deep options here, each running what appears to be a fade. Metcalf crosses and Parkinson slips out to the flat as a safety valve. Geno reads the defensive look and splits the two-high safeties with a dart to Dissly. Great play call, great execution, and the offense finally gets going and puts some points on the board.

Conclusions and final thoughts

  • The Seahawks had 112 rushing yards combined following Weeks 1-2. They had exactly 112 rushing yards in Week 3. Rashaad Penny is still far and away the number 1 back, in terms of carries, but we got to see Kenneth Walker bust out a 21-yard run. Seeing the exciting rookie get more opportunities will be fun to watch as the season progresses.
  • Geno Smith is doing a lot of good things in this offense. He generally looks pretty decisive in his decision making to me, and he obviously has the ability to hit on some deep throws. It will be interesting to see how this team calls games going forward.
  • Only a small handful of receivers on the team are averaging 10 or more yards per reception. This is not a good thing, especially with a player like Metcalf only posting 8.6 yards per catch. Hopefully this will improve throughout 2022.
  • On to the Detroit Lions.