One of the things I want to watch tomorrow is how the Seahawks work Bobby Engram back into the mix at receiver. If he continues to take baby steps, it’s not much of a story. If his reps increase significantly, I want to see how that affects the other receivers, and whether Matt Hasselbeck starts looking more comfortable with his old security blanket back on the field. Engram owned the slot before a thyroid condition sent him to the sideline. D.J. Hackett has taken over and put up impressive numbers in that position. We have learned this: Deion Branch is pretty much going to stay at split end. If Darrell Jackson were still healthy, one of the other receivers might be inactive. With Jackson out, everyone else is going to play. But how much? And where?
They could keep Branch and Burleson as the starters in the regular offense. They could move Engram into Burleson’s spot when they go one-back and three wide (zebra). They could move Hackett outside in the two-back, three-wide (E), with Engram taking over in the slot.
The chart breaks down every Seattle reception by personnel group (look atop the chart to see how many RB, WR and TE comprise each group). Notice that Engram has nine catches from the E personnel group even though he hasn’t played much this season, and that Hackett leads the team from that group. That tells us where we should expect Engram to get back into the mix, if and when that happens. The Hawks have been running that E group close to a third of the time in recent weeks. That works out to roughly 15-20 snaps per game. Engram got five snaps last week, all in the four-receiver group.
Our focus on Seattle’s offensive personnel groups is particularly relevant given the way Holmgren runs the offense. Here is what Marty Schottenheimer said on that topic the other day (he was asked about using more one-back stuff with the Chargers, but he meandered into personnel groupings toward the end): “When I was in Cleveland years ago, we had a half-a-dozen runs and that’s all we had. And all we did was change the formations. Denver is very much that way now. Denver has very few runs, but they use these multiple formations and it creates a different face, but it’s the same play. And when you are able to do that, then you do it efficiently because you’ve done it time and time again. Now we do have a few more plays than that in our basic repertoire, but I think when you are involved spreading people out, you afford yourself a couple of different opportunities to run the ball. And then the passing game, it really remains the same. I look at Seattle, and they do it with these personnel groups. They have every personnel group known to man that you’ve got to prepare for and it’s tough.”