Seahawks Insider

Crunching the numbers

Post by News Tribune Staff on Nov. 9, 2006 at 12:02 pm with 16 Comments »
November 9, 2006 12:02 pm

11 09 2006 And 10 Thru Week 9.jpgAt the risk of being heckled (by my wife, mostly) for having too many charts, I thought I’d pass along a few that update themselves automatically off my play-by-play entries. I don’t immediately have time to put the numbers into context, other than to note that Seattle is more likely than its opponents to run on second/third-and-long. But there’s a method to our statistical madness here.

I was listening to Pat Kirwan on Sirius Radio this morning. A caller complained about the Vikings’ offense being too predictable on first and second downs. Pat went back through that team’s most recent game and broke down the first-half numbers. He found an equal number of runs and passes. The point: Perception isn’t always reality on these things. I’ve got the numbers for Seattle. Might as well make them available. I’ve thrown in two personnel-related charts below for those who like to dig a little deeper.

11 09 2006 Personnel by Down.jpg

The personnel charts tell a lot about a team’s personality. Take the Chiefs, for instance. They put two and three tight ends on the field routinely. In fact, Seattle never even went to its dime defense against Kansas City a couple weeks ago. That was because the Chiefs’ most exotic personnel grouping was one-back, three-wide, one-tight. Hey, whatever works.

11 09 2006 Personnel.jpgThis last chart shows how Seattle’s use of offensive personnel has changed from week to week. Some of this depends on the opponent. Some depends on injuries at a given position. Some depends on what happens during the game. Seattle goes two-back, three-wide when playing catchup. Last week, the two-minute offense consisted entirely of one-back, three-wide, one-tight end. I like to chart this because it gives us an idea of who is on the field.

Stats, etc.
Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. the run plays on third-and-10 seem to always be mack strong on a draw play. my recollection is that it has worked once for us. a few of those attempts were when we were backed up to our own goal line and i can see being conservative but a few of those runs when 3rd-and-10 have been close to mid-field. holmgren is not fooling anyone with those plays any more and i fail to see why he keeps trying to.

  2. Based on Sando’s blog comment, I’d guess Holmgren’s intentionally building tendencies for the playoffs. In 3rd and 10 situations, opponents can’t cheat against the pass because they’ll know we run 1/3 of the time, so those 3 or 4 yard pickups that aggravate you payoff later when Hasselbeck hits Darrel Jackson or Deion Branch in stride in single coverage.

    At least, that’s my guess.

  3. lsquire56 says:

    Right from the Vintage Bill Walsh gameplan guys:
    “You have plays that you are going to call for that kind of situation. A lot of high school teams will run the ball on 3rd and 8. If they can run it, they should run it because it is certainly the best way to attack somebody. 3rd down and 8 should mean something to you. You hear the sportscaster comment that the receiver did not run the distance he needed to make a first down. You have to school your team on the fact that half of the yardage you make forward passing is after the catch. 3rd down and 8 does not mean you have to throw an 8 yard pass…” This speaks to confidence in the QB / receiver combo, and it sounds like Mike likes Mack Strong’s chances better eh?

  4. He likes Mack better when he knows pressure on the QB is a factor.

  5. that would be a high price to pay for building a false tendancy by running on 3rd-and-10 since every time it fails, you punt, giving the other team a chance to score. lately it seems to fail 100%.

  6. billywatson says:

    This illustrates Holmgren’s shortcomings even if the numbers are not completely representative of what seems to happen. The Seahawks do not run enough on first-and-10, especially before they get to the redzone. It seems like they run a lot more when they get closer and the field shortens up (as well as late when they have a lead, so the numbers show more runs than I think I perceive).

    Typical Holmgren Sequence
    - Incomplete pass on first-and-10
    - Run for two yards on second-and-10

    Then the team is forced to pass on third-and-long or run a pathetic draw where they are basically trying to get a few yards before a punt. That is a big reason Matt Hasselbeck has been sacked so many times and the team has had trouble moving the ball. When the team runs on first-and-ten or second-and-medium, they seem to move the ball down the field and set-up the play-action very well keeping the opposing defense off-balance.

    I know Holmgren likes to set up the run with the pass, but he needs to adjust (setting up the pass with the run) because that doesn’t work with this group because they cannot consistently get 5+ yards running the ball on second-and-ten like they could last year.

  7. pabuwal says:

    The Mack Strong 3rd and Long run has been a staple since 2003. I figured its called because they don’t think they can get long yards on 3rd down.

    How about this tendency – when a defense shows blitz and Wallace doesn’t audible, its a run. When he audibles and hand signals in a particular way to the backs, its a pass (he is getting them into position for blitz pickup). When he audibles and doesn’t hand signal, its a run.

  8. lsquire56 says:

    Mike –
    Wouldn’t you agree the basic WC plan is to complete the first down pass as often as possible, to loosen them up for the run. The Hawks did that better than anyone last year. You get to third and long via failure to do this. Without a run threat, a run ‘tendancy’ is the next best thing…otherwise the defense is waiting to jump into the passing lanes.

  9. LetsGetLoud says:

    I know the Seahawks offense better than any other because I’ve watched every one of their games for the past 4 seasons. That makes them SEEM more predictable to me than other teams. Even so, I bet I could predict a run or pass correctly only 50% of the time. ;)

  10. stephentrapani says:

    BWatson: Last season the pass on first down almost always netted a completion and five yards or more. Last season the pass game was virtually unstoppable, making the pass on first down an excellent strategy.

    The coach’s strategy always looks worse when team execution isn’t good.

  11. MagooGirl says:

    stephentrapani – you just hit on a key thing in your last statement. We can harp on the play calling all we want, but last year that play calling got us to the promised land. Why? Because the players executed with disciplined consistency. For a variety of reasons this year (injuries and who knows what else), the execution has been less than what we want. Therefore, the play calling comes into question.

    There have been breakdowns of execution throughout the team – the defense missing assignments, the offensive line missing protections, the WR dropping balls, penalties, etc. etc. etc.

    It doesn’t matter how brilliant the play calling is if the execution isn’t carried out properly.

    I’m not suggesting that as a coaching staff you simply stand pat. They have to make adjustments to what’s given them. But even with adjustments, execution is still a key part of a successful equation.

  12. foobar,

    I share with you a dislike for the Mack Strong draw, but I don’t see a conceptual problem with keeping at least the threat of a run on 3rd and 10 in the back of the opposing D’s mind. To do that, though, there are going to be some times which will aggravate the fans with a 3, 4, or 9 yard gain.

    It’s either that, or Holmgren’s senile. I’ll assume that he knows what he’s doing.

  13. MagooGirl, I think everyone’d agree that execution is key to success. But it’s possible our success last year masked some questionable play calling, simply because the execution was so impressive. If that’s so, then the injuries and poor execution this year are simply revealing an already existing problem with the play calling.

    The obvious example, as noted by foobar, is the draw to Mack Strong on third and long. Last week, the Hawks faced 3-and-10+ and I turned to my girlfriend and said “Draw to Strong,” and indeed it was. If I can predict Hawks plays that easily, so can defensive coordinators in the NFL. There are other examples — the pitch to Morris on 4th and long against the Vikings — a play that Holmgren admitted he wished he could do over.

    If I had a list of things to worry about with the Hawks, play calling would be fairly low on it. But there are some reasons to be concerned.

  14. The third-and-long draw is not a Seattle invention. I grew up following the Raiders and used to call it the Al Davis draw play. They would run on third-and-long all the time. They did it Monday night, too. It’s not like the offense is thinking the draw is going to get the first down every time. The coach is often thinking more about the bigger picture. He’s thinking, well, things aren’t going well right now. That’s why we’re in third-and-long. Hmmm. We’re not protecting very well. If I call for a pass play, maybe we get sacked and lose more field position, or my QB gets hurt, or he gets sacked and fumbles, or he throws an interception trying to make something happen. Maybe if I run now and get 10 yards or even 8, they other team has to respect the run on third-and-long when the game is on the line. Then we hit them with the pass. Those are things the coach gets paid to think about. Fans get to have it both ways. Coaches do not.

  15. exiter,
    i certainly agree it is good to keep the opposition guessing whether the play will be a run or pass but that should never come at the expense of the primary objective, which on 3rd down is to get a first. our chance of gaining 10 yards on a pass are better on anything other than a mack strong draw play – the defense has no doubt seen it in all of our game tapes at this point.

  16. kjknight3 says:

    I’m surprised at a stat that no-one has mentioned so far: Opponents 3rd down and 10 yards run/pass percent. My goodness, is this correct? The Seahawks opponents have passed 100% of the time??? I guess the secrete is out, eh?

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