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Playcalling and ‘run-run-pass’ sequences partly to blame for Seahawks’ offensive demise

The Seahawks offense generally did better when they passed early and often. Big surprise.

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks offense was a wreck in the second half, which is unfortunate because that was exactly when the LA Rams decided to spring to life. But they weren’t as awful in the first half. In fact, they were actually pretty good. Not all of this can be explained by one simple factor, as injuries to both starting tackles and Tyler Lockett hampered the offense significantly; but it is also not reasonable to explain the level of ineptitude that led to the team posting fewer than five total yards of offense in the second half, when they collected one whole first down, and it came on a penalty.

One thing jumped out at me, though. This is simply an observation — a data point for consideration to revisit later; the offense in general did much better when they threw the ball on first down. I noticed this following the first touchdown drive, and then confirmed it via the box score and tracked it throughout the game. Below is a chart that I compiled detailing every drive/set of downs/play that they ran on offense (save for the final surrender run). I tried to make it self-explanatory, but it was on the fly so let me know in the comments if you need clarification. Basically, below is every play along with the yardage gained. Stats and info were pulled from the ESPN box score.

Seahawks offense play-by-play Sept. 10, 2023

Obviously, the Seahawks didn’t render themselves inert during the second half due to not throwing the ball on first down... because they still were. But this can also be explained by game situation, which led to them playing from behind and having less latitude to mix it up, which is advantageous for the defense, clearly. This also goes back to the final two series of the first half, though: the Seahawks could have radically altered the course of this game if they had scored a touchdown on one (and especially both) of those drives, and they were in prime position to. As you can see above, they started one yard shy of the fifty-yard line on the first of the two drives, and on the Rams 42 on the second following the blocked kick. And they came away with three total points. What did both of these series have in common? They ended in a run-run-pass sequence. In the second half, their only first down came on a “pass-pass” sequence that resulted in a defensive pass interference call; both of these throws were incompletions too, and this was their most productive offensive possession of the half.

We all know that playcalling is a complicated and multifaceted art form; there isn’t an answer as simple as “never go run-run-pass.” However, I do think that this team needs to look at its strengths on offense and play to who they are; they have an accurate quarterback and a talented group of receivers. Kenneth Walker III looked his best when he was playing complementary football today — for example, the team gained three rushing first downs today, by my count, and all three occurred on second and short after a pass completion of at least 6 yards on first down. Sorry if that is a bit of a mouthful, but I think it reads correctly. Ultimately, what I am getting at is that the offense looked smooth and on schedule when they were putting the ball in Geno Smith’s hands early and often. This possibly helped to open up holes in the running game and definitely kept the team ahead of the sticks. Did you notice that they didn’t face a single third down on their only touchdown drive of the day? This will need to be a focus going forward. Their offense (like most) looks great when it is in rhythm, and to get in rhythm they are going to need to be aggressive and keep their foot on the gas.