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Seahawks Film Review: Breaking down the big plays by Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua

Are the Seahawks once again going to struggle to prevent chunk plays?

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

To put it politely, the Seattle Seahawks passing defense was bad last week against the Los Angeles Rams. They allowed Matthew Stafford to pick up 334 whilst completing 24 of his 38 passes. Additionally, Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell were each able to pick up 119 receiving yards while ripping off multiple chunk yardage plays. Seattle’s pass defense was shaky last year and they struggled mightily when it came to preventing big plays so seeing this continue into this season is extremely concerning. Seeing as it is only Week 1, it is fair to wonder if those are flukey numbers or a sign of more to come this season.

Puka Nacua

0:34 seconds in - This is a really really simple play design and route for the Rams that they are able to pick up 20 yards on. The Seahawks are in a Cover 2 zone and the Rams play is designed to put the hook zone defenders in conflict. Tyler Higbee runs a little hitch route on the same side of Nacua. The hitch route results in Coby Bryant, the defense’s left hook zone defender coming up to pick up the tight end the second Stafford moves his eyes to his right. This in turn opens up a large window for Stafford to hit Nacua on the 12 yard square in and with the missed tackle by Tre Brown, what should have been a 15 yard gain turns into 20. Had Coby Bryant continued to sink and shrunk that window, Stafford would have progressed onto Higbee for the easy pitch and catch.

What a throw this was by Matthew Stafford. If the former Georgia Bulldog did not deliver a perfect ball, this is either an incompletion or an interception. But since it was an inch perfect ball here we are. Nacua has an inside release and widens it out early before rounding it off to the inside on the corner route. Mike Jackson tried to hand fight Nacua during the route to help him stay in phase, but Nacua did a good job of fighting him off to create a hair more of separation.

The bunch formation and inside release by Nacua was done in order to put Mike Jackson in a difficult place. He had to run around another defender which puts him in catch up mode immediately off of the snap. I know the tweet sends some blame to the Seahawks defense but in my opinion this is simply just a fantastic offensive play.

Tutu Atwell

This is a beautifully designed play and fantastic throw by Matthew Stafford to Tutu Atwell. The former second-round pick, who is in motion at the time of the snap, runs a deep dig route. He widens it out off of the snap which allows him to disguise the route early and then helps him get in behind the second level defenders. Seattle looks as if they are in Cover 3 zone meaning a dig route of this nature is a perfect route to call. One of the key areas to attack Cover 3 is behind the backers and in front of the deep three zone defenders. If Stafford does not throw this with the anticipation that he does there is a strong chance that the pass at least would be broken up, but the timing of the pass made it indefensible.

The at snap motion by Atwell and alignment of Nacua and Tyler Higbee made this near impossible for Tre Brown to pick up Atwell in coverage. At the snap Brown is trying to get up field on Atwell and had he not run ran into another Seahawks defender he likely would have stuck with him seeing as it was an out-breaking route. But because of the collision Atwell is able to create a ton of separation and had the ball been a bit better it likely would have been a walk in touchdown.

It is also fair to wonder if there was a bit of miscommunication on the play as one Seahawks defender can be seen motioning to Brown to get inside. Brown though instead plays with heavy outside leverage and does not follow Atwell inside.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Seahawks this weekend as they face the dangerous Detroit Lions offense, which includes Amon-Ra St. Brown as the top receiving option.