Pete Carroll does not care about being a running team.
Sure, he says he cares all the time, but it’s smoke.
Weekly reminder that Pete is lying to you https://t.co/h9qzf7358z— Tyler Alsin (@TylerjAlsin) November 14, 2023
It’s such an odd disparity that has existed for a number of years now, but the Seattle Seahawks are not a running team. Not really. Even though Carroll bemoans the lack of balance, it’s an unconvincing non sequitur at this point.
The NFL is now such a pass-heavy league, so perhaps this is more in line with typical?
Let’s dive in.
As of today, Seattle has 306 pass attempts against 214 rush attempts. The pass attempts is 11th in the NFL, but that rush number is the 5th-lowest in the league this season. Yes, there’s a handful of teams with byes vs some without, but it’s irrelevant. The San Francisco 49ers have had their bye as well, and have 60 more run attempts.
The Seahawks have played three of the four teams that have run fewer times than they have; only one is any good. The Carolina Panthers, Washington Commanders, New York Jets, and Cincinnati Bengals grace the bottom of the run pile.
So that’s total volume - here’s a couple more stats somewhat related. Seattle’s 4.2 Yards Per Carry is tied for 12th in the NFL, but their 51 rushing first downs is 23rd.
In short, they haven’t committed to the run in the slightest, even though they’ve been respectably successful at it.
I mentioned this in weekly stats review, but Shane Waldron only called consecutive run plays seven times against the Washington Commanders. The third drive of the game was four pass plays, one run, followed by four pass plays.
The scattering of plays has been a clear indictment of offensive tendencies, but again is it Carroll or offensive coordinator Shane Waldron?
The inconsistency itself has actually been a constant.
Remember this moment?
K9. KENNETH WALKER 45 YARDS.— Sports ON Tap Seattle (@SeattleONTap) October 29, 2023
SEAHAWKS RUN GAME GOING EARLY. pic.twitter.com/w2tq1Z7GLP
Yay, run game! Early in the 1st quarter! Let’s steamroll these guys!
For the rest of the game, Walker had 7 carries for a total 21 yards. That game against the Cleveland Browns was 37 pass to 17 run, not close to 50-50 split but a full 68% pass play lean.
I bring that one up because the Seahawks haven’t destroyed anybody except the New York Giants, and when playing in close games or from behind teams are going to pass more. I get it. But that wasn’t what happened in the Browns game. For the two subsequent drives, including times when Seattle was up 14-0 and 17-7, Kenneth Walker did not touch the ball. On the first drive, the only run play was some jet sweep garbage to Dee Eskridge. On the second, Zach Charbonnet had two carries on a field goal drive.
The half-hearted commitment to the run game has been prevalent and systemic.
Yes, the Seahawks have Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, so they should throw the ball. But they’ve also drafted 2nd-round running backs in consecutive drafts, so they should run the ball.
But obviously that’s not the end of the story. Take a look at the offensive line. Perhaps only Charles Cross came to this team as a noticeably better pass blocker? I’m going to link the draft profiles, but Damien Lewis is a better run blocker, Evan Brown is decent at both but last year was a better run blocker. Anthony Bradford projected by far a better run blocker. Phil Haynes sees himself as a run blocker. Jason Peters...is 41 and awesome.
And in fact, what comes next plays into this thinking. The Seahawks are not overtly more suited to be a better passing team, not at a 2-1 ratio.
We’re going to throw out the Baltimore game completely. Here’s a review of some of the metrics from the Washington and Cleveland games. I’m going to zero in specifically on the EPA per play for both run and pass.
NFL Week 10 - Advanced Stats Review— SumerSports (@SumerSports) November 13, 2023
Seattle Seahawks 29 - Washington Commanders 26 pic.twitter.com/ycIejTsbkR
NFL Week 8 - Advanced Stats Review— SumerSports (@SumerSports) October 30, 2023
Seattle Seahawks 24 - Cleveland Browns 20 pic.twitter.com/fJTZIU3Zp8
In both games, the yards per play and percentile is remarkably similar. Carroll’s probably at pleased with at least some semblance of big play.
But the fact is that Seattle continues to run the ball better than league average, and passes the ball at about league average. In fairness they were pretty close against the Commanders, but still weighted towards the run. The Browns game wasn’t even close.
If you’ve been confused about the offensive balance, I think the confusion is justified. I also think they’re more or less committed to this. For whatever reason, the team is well-suited to run, they run well, Pete Carroll says they want to be balanced, and they continue to not be.