Waldron ’22: Seahawks introducing the Wald-cat…or how to stop worrying and make the worst decision since SB XLIX

Make no mistake about it, the Seattle Seahawks offense stalled at halftime in Week 1 and haven’t been able to get going since. Still, I’ve seen enough encouraging things on this team to at least give Shane Waldron the benefit of waiting for All-22 footage before fully roasting the beleaguered player. But after reviewing the movie, I can tell you that it is a lot, much worse. You do not believe me? See for yourself. Below is a clip of the sequence leading up to the Wildcat and ultimately Deejay Dallas’ fateful pass “attempt” (don’t worry, you’ll also be able to watch the All-22 of those “plays”).

Now, before I break down the plays in question, I’d like to highlight the plays that preceded it, because this is a big part of why I think this is literally a shootable offense for one player. After what was arguably the team’s best offensive drive of the afternoon, the decision to take the wind off the ball and go with the ground game is frustrating. The decision to do it the way they did is frankly inconceivable.

The team had just had a 49-yard strike to DK Metcalf called off due to Abe Lucas’s field block, but was lucky to get another drive after a DPI call against Tashaun Gipson. They responded by scoring a 27-yard drive to Tyler Lockett that put them in the Red Zone. Geno Smith used his legs to get away and Lockett performed his uncanny ability to find the softest spot on the field during the mock scramble. After seeing a lot of slick formations in this offense, it was refreshing to see them execute some game actions as Metcalf and Lockett put some vertical tension on the defense.

And then this happened.

According to rbsdm.com, the interception resulted in -4.9 expected aggregate points (EPA), which was Seattle’s worst play of the afternoon. The only event that weighed more than this on the day was the best game for the Seahawks, as Tariq Woolen’s block and Mike Jackson’s subsequent TD return resulted in a -10 EPA for the 49ers. What I mean here is that in one fell swoop, the Hawks basically delivered touchdown point value, and I mean that in the most literal sense of the term. So what were they thinking? Let’s look a little more at the design of the game.

Blocking is horrible, and the only reason the first play ends up gaining yards is because of Walker’s decisive quickness and acceleration, which allows him to cut the play short and run for some. This is fun, if only for this reason; Walker hasn’t really hit the ground running as a running back yet, and this was his first regular-season action in the NFL. Hopefully, we’ll get to see him continue to look like the most dynamic running back in this season’s draft class. However, this is not a great work. But moving on to the second play…

The most puzzling part of Dallas’ decision is that he was 2nd and 5th, and probably could have won. at least a couple of yards to establish third and short. Instead, he decided he wanted to relive his high school glory days as a QB when he delivered an early birthday present to Charvarius Ward, and the rest is history. When you look at the second angle of the All-22, you can see how much room he really had to work with; Dallas is a capable running back, and this is a situation where he absolutely needs to put his head down and charge toward the goal line. Even if he had thrown a much best pass, I don’t know if DK detects it yet, so the best case here is probably 3rd and 5th if not chosen. But this highlights why you don’t take the ball out of the hands of the guy who rightfully he won the QB competition this summer and put it in the hands of his third/fourth running back with the intent/option to pass. This play was poorly timed and poorly executed. Please never run this crap again.

Final thoughts and random notes

>On the opening play of this series, the team jogged with a full house backfield in the Pistol formation…and the screen created very little space, and Talanoa Hufnaga broke free from the rim to make sure the run didn’t come to nowhere. A week ago, I was interested in how much Pistol the Hawks were showing. Now I’m mostly sick of it. It seems like a general representation of what Waldron has shown so far: a willingness to experiment and come up with interesting game designs, but with very little rhyme or reason to the sequence, and rarely adjusting to what the defense shows.

>On a positive note, this offense can definitely improve Yes they actually start shooting Metcalf and Lockett more (emphasis on they canas this still requires Geno to deliver the ball). The offensive line isn’t great, but neither are they. the problem, and Smith has been very capable of making some shots. The thing about having playmakers like Lockett and Metcalf is that you just have to trust them to make plays in coverage and make tough catches. Sometimes this goes wrong (see: the previous interception that thankfully got returned, or the pick on the previous series that was not), but sometimes this puts you in the red zone or gives you a 6. And this offense could use a TD like I could use a new pair of steel-toed boots (since both would make us more effective at our job and more comfortable in our overall performance).

>Geno is completing an absurd percentage of his passes right now; This is likely a combination of the fact that he’s apparently an accurate passer, but also that the team is taking a lot of things short right now. Still, he adds those 50 or so yards of offense that he would have earned the pass to DK, and things look a little different. I’m hopeful we’ll really see this offense get going, or at least pick up the pace. I’m not expecting a total of 180, but a team with Metcalf, Lockett, Penny, Fant, Dissly, Walker and others shouldn’t go six quarters without scoring a single point.

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