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Seahawks All-22 Review: A sampling of the Seattle offense’s awful 3rd down play

The Seahawks offense has been poor on 3rd down all season. We take a look at some of the plays from the past two games.

Washington Commanders v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Over the past two games (and for much of the season), the Seattle Seahawks offense has struggled to say the least. Against the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, they’ve scored 22 combined offensive points, their running backs have averaged just 3.5 YPC, and Geno Smith has been sacked 8 times. With numbers like that alone, it’s extremely difficult to win. However, the most damning thing for this offense is their struggles on third down down. Over their past two games they’ve gone 8 for 26 (30.7%) on third down, a number that is almost impossible to win with. It’s been a season-long problem for Seattle, which is why they’re 29th on the season. Down below we will break down just what has gone wrong on some of the Seahawks money downs in their last two games.

3rd and 4 sack against the 49ers

This could be perceived as a bold take but maybe, just maybe, don’t leave Stone Forsythe on an island against Nick Bosa on 3rd down? Now, getting to the route concept, I’m a bit confused as to why on 3rd and 4 with five blockers, Geno Smith’s first read on the play is a slot fade to Jaxon Smith-Njigba; a route that involved a rub from Tyler Lockett. which means it’s long developing. Had JSN’s slot fade been a simple flat route, it likely would have gotten a first down because of the early separation created. Frustratingly as well, Geno had Colby Parkinson open on a seam route for what likely would’ve been an easy completion, but his reads didn’t take him there.

3rd and goal sack against the 49ers

Despite San Francisco blitzing 6, Seattle’s offensive line held up admirably giving Geno enough time to make a throw. The problem on this play was not a single pass catcher was able to beat their man and create separation. I see a lot of people criticizing this play call, but personally I don’t have a problem with the route concept. What my problem is, is using Noah Fant on the slant and not Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a player who is far more likely to win a 1v1 matchup over the middle. Geno’s first two reads were Noah Fant on the slant and DK Metcalf on the out, both of which were locked up.

3rd and 9 near pick against the 49ers

This is a bad decision and poor anticipation by Geno Smith, which is confounded by solid route recognition by Charvarius Ward. Off of the snap, Geno Smith locked onto Metcalf and didn’t look off of him, which compounds some confusion for me. If Geno decided pre-snap that he was going to Metcalf on the dig route against man coverage, why not release it before Metcalf gets out of his break? If he did, there was a very small window for him to drive it in before Ward drove down. Instead he didn’t let it go until Metcalf was multiple steps out of his break, causing the incompletion.

3rd and 3 incompletion against the Rams (Drew Lock at QB)

I’m gonna be honest, I have zero idea as to why this play call was made by Shane Waldron. It’s 3rd and 3, not 3rd and 25. Outside of the check and release flat route by Zach Charbonnet, every route was intended to go 10+ yards down the field. Traditionally, calling a play with all deep routes in this situation isn’t the most advisable. The worst part of this play though is at the top of the screen you can see Tyler Lockett win his hitch and go with ease for what certainly would’ve been a walk in touchdown. Instead, Lock keeps his eyes on the offense’s left and throws an incompletion.

3rd and 2 incompletion against the Rams (Geno at QB)

You could see the intention of this play, but the execution of it was poor, at best. Jaxon Smith-Njigba lines up on the offense’s right and comes in motion across the field. JSN is followed by a Rams defender the entire way, which is an indicator of man coverage. This should tell Geno Smith to throw the flat route to JSN with Lockett running a quick hitch that’s meant to serve as a rub route. But this is where the positives on the play go down hill. First, Lockett doesn’t fight up field enough, which allows for the Rams defender to stay in the play, as he barely has to change his path to cover JSN. The second negative of the play is Geno never even looks at his rookie receiver off of the snap. If he lets it rip to JSN immediately there’s a chance he picks up the first down. Instead, Geno looks at Lockett and then locks onto Noah Fant who is unable to create any separation on the over ball route.

It’s these ongoing problems that are part of why the Seahawks sit at 6-5 and in danger of missing the playoffs.