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Tracking: Seahawks' Offense And Russell Wilson Prior To Cowboys Pacific Northwest Venture

Here's a look at what Rob Ryan is dissecting in the film room this week.
Here's a look at what Rob Ryan is dissecting in the film room this week.

Quarterbacks move the meter; that goes without question. Leading up to the start of the NFL season, the most interesting battle had to be whether or not Seattle would start offseason prize target Matt Flynn, or third-round pick Russell Wilson to line up under center.

Wilson had a dynamic senior season at Wisconsin, but wasn't regarded as one of the "sure things" worthy of a first-round pick. According to all the glowing reports from anyone that came within five feet of him was that it was solely because he's a shrimp at the position.

To be honest, the reports from the last few weeks of the preseason seemed extremely over the top to me. Every single "analyst" on TV was raving about how much sizzle Wilson showed on tape, and how meeting the young man was a life changing experience. It all seemed way over the top to me; which is my admitting that I went into Week One slightly jaded about him.

Playing quarterback in the NFL is a hard thing to do. Most quality collegiate quarterbacks can't do it; that's simply a fact. So when you are telling me that a third-round pick is going to perform at the same level as two of the more "can't miss" prospects to come along in a while; I'm skeptical. When you're telling me he's ready to do that based on his performance against vanilla preseason competition; I think you're full of it.

Regardless, I like to think of myself as open-minded. When the late games kicked off, I was intently focused on the San Fran-Green Bay game, so I didn't watch Seattle and Arizona. I did, however, have an eye on the game center.

With two minutes remaining in the first half, Wilson has completed 5 of 9 passes for 32 yards. I couldn't resist and tweeted my confusion as to how the anointed QB was putting up such paltry stats.

I made it clear; I was not questioning Russell Wilson's abilities or long-term possibilities. I was questioning the dozens of TV analysts (most whom I'm sure never saw anything except for highlights of Wilson and were parroting other's opinions) that had the audacity of ranking him higher than a Heisman Trophy winner. This was either Fox or NFLN's pregame show.

I was responded to by some non-followers who challenged my football IQ and whether I was watching the game; which I wasn't. I mean, I had flipped over to channel 714 or whatever four or five times; but I wasn't camped out with a battle of the NFC Elite going on. At that point, I decided that I would do a Tracking on Wilson prior to this weekend's game.

Follow the jump to see my running notes on what I learned.

  • This is a team that should not pose a threat to our defense in any way shape or form. They are a running team and did not look to have much of a passing game arsenal. There was very little creativity displayed in the passing game. With the return of Mike Jenkins, the press coverage of Carr and Claiborne should be enough to eliminate the short drop passes that Wilson managed to complete. I'll get more detailed later, but if the Cowboys pressed all day with Eli Manning and the Giants deep play ability; they might play press on 40 out of 40 pass plays against Russell Wilson.
  • The offense wasn't able to score unless they started their drive in Arizona territory. Every drive on their half of the 50 fizzled. Long returns and turnovers were the only way they were threatening. Two Arizona turnovers in their own territory, two long returns by the electric Leon Washington equalled four Seattle scoring drives. One touchdown, three field goals.
  • There were seven plays I counted as Russell Wilson mistakes and seven plays counted as Russell Wilson good plays, with two of them being dropped by the receiver. These were both on the final drive of the game when Seattle was trying to come from behind.
  • Six of those mistakes came out of the "11" personnel group.
  • Russell Wilson's deep ball doesn't seem to be intimidating at all. It is a rainbow throw with very little accuracy. He attempted it three times in the first half and the ball was nowhere near the receiver, sailing out of bounds on the first two and over the head of a receiver in triple coverage for a pick at the end of the half.
  • Seattle appears to block down a lot, choosing to relocate part or all of their entire blocking scheme before the runner hits the line of scrimmage. This seems to go to the left more often than not.
  • On that note, Seattle's O-line does a pretty good job at directing the Arizona D-Line where they wanted initially, when the entire line wasn't blocking down.
  • Seattle lines up their tight end Zach Miller all over the field, as TEs, SEs, flankers, slots, F-backs, you name it. Lots of pre-snap movement. Anthony McCoy is mostly inline when he's on the field, mostly but he'll split out as well on occasion. Miller might have lined up in the backfield as much as FB Michael Robinson (17 snaps)
  • Wilson is not good at the screen pass, seems to rush it; threw two that should have been ruled backward laterals; first OOB, second was challenged and correctly ruled a fumble and turnover
  • Seahawks didn't run a creative play until 8m to go in 3rd quarter. 3rd and 9 from ARI 10, 11 personnel, shotgun, TE and Y receiver left. Wilson then hustles under C for snap; fakes a quick dump off to offset right HB, comes back to middle, pump fakes and then fires to Sidney Rice who ran a slow slant from X position for the TD. This leads me to believe that Seattle has a very limited number of "clutch plays" for Wilson and will only break them out when extremely necessary.
  • Russell Okung, who might be out with a knee, played horribly. He was whistled for 3 false starts but it should have been closer to 10, got away with a lot of them as he was rocking back the entire game.
  • Wilson appears able to run a two-minute offense with better feel for the normal offense. Carroll might want to consider running this earlier in the game save for what it would do to a leaky offensive line.
  • Final drive of the game, aided by defensive penalties (which I think were correct) spanned 19 plays but came away with no points.
  • Four empty sets, 47 one-back sets, 30 two-back sets
  • Here's a look at the personnel groupings in detail (0=five wide, 1=0 RB 1 TE, 10=1 RB 0 TE, 11=1 RB 1 TE, 12=1 RB 2 TE, 20=2 RB 0 TE, 21= 2 RB 1 TE, 22= 2 RB 2 TE

"0" "1" "10" "11" "12" "20" "21" "22"
# times 2 2 9 27 11 9 15 6
Bad Plays 1 0 0 5 1 0 1 0
Quality Plays 0 1 2 4 0 0 0 0


Here's a look at the play by play as I recorded it. Highlighted cells indicate a new drive. I attempted to use some sort of butchered, orphaned football shorthand that will probably confuse you (because I wrote it and I've confused myself).

For running plays, I noted the hole the running back focused on; using even numbers to the right and odd numbers to the left. C-RG gap: 0 hole, RG-RT gap: 2 hole, right of RT: 4 hole, etc.

X receiver is left split end, Y is slot receiver to either side, Z is right flanker. For four-wides or more I attempted to clarify.

PLAY Down Formations Bad Wilson Good Pass Play Play Details
1 1 "21" line pulls left, 1 hole run for 2
2 2 "11" 1 throw behind receiver, tipped caught
3 1 "22" line blocks down again, start mid, cutback to 4 hole, gain of 1
4 2 "21" 1 bad overthrow deep left, worse DPI call on Peterson
5 1 "21" start right, cutback to 2 hole, gain of 1
6 2 "21" 6 hole, gain of 4
7 3 "11" pressured, throws wide to right sideline
8 1 "1" 1 quick strike to inside left SE
9 1 "12" roll right- could have done a TR-Ogletree pass but runs OOB for 4
10 2 "12" run 3 hole for 8
11 1 "12" 1 backwards lateral incomplete, OOB - refs blew call
12 2 "21" start left, cutback to 0 hole for four
13 3 "11" shotgun designed keeper left fof 4
14 1 "12" neutral zone infraction
15 1 "21" C Gap blitz from LB for sack
16 2 "21" 5 hole run for 5 yards
17 3 "11" catch behind marker, roughing passer
18 1 "12" overthrown deep left sideline
19 2 "11" Wilson scrambles for no gain- holding called on Lynch
20 2 "11" Wilson escapes sack, scrambles for 1
21 3 "10" shotgun - D.o.G.
22 3 "11" shotgun draw to3/ 5 hole for 3
23 1 "12" 2/4 hole run for 3
24 2 "21" start left, cutback to 3 hole for 2
25 3 "10" 1 flanker drag for 6, led him well
26 1 "20" quick screen to Y, gain of 4
27 2 "21" leftside blocks down, run to 3 hole for 8
28 1 "21" 5 hole run for 2
29 2 "20" line slides right, cutback left to vacated 3 hole for 2 yards
30 3 "11" 1 shotgun coverage pressure, had decent pocket, ran from pocket, throw away
31 1 "20" start left, cutback to 0 hole for 2
32 2 "11" 1 finds te on seam route for 27
33 1 "11" escapes jailbreak blitz to throw away, defensive offsides (shouldve been flase start)
34 1 "10" false start Okung again
35 1 "11" 1 deep middle bomb, overthrow intercepted by S
36 1 "22" 0 hole gain of 9, fumble receoverd by Wilson
37 2 "22" block down, new 1 hole for 1 yard
38 3 "11" pressure forces scramble, gains 2 yds on stretch
39 1 "11" 1 backwards lateral incomplete, refs blew call
40 1 "12" 3 step drop quick out to X for 6
41 2 "20" starts right, cut inside to 0 hole for 7
42 1 "11" quick screen to Y right for 1 yard
43 2 "11" shotgun 3 step quick left batted down at LOS
44 3 "11" 1 slant to X for 10 yd TD
45 1 "20" 0 hole for 4 yds
46 2 "22" playfake plenty of time, scramble for 1
47 3 "0" D.o.G. (announcer said 3WR in!?!?- are you watching the game?)
48 3 "11" scrambles up middle from blitz for 5
49 1 "22" cuts inside 1 hole for gain of 3
50 2 "12" cuts inside 1 hole for 4
51 3 "1" incomplete high to Y
52 1 "20" playfake dump to rt to FB for 4
53 2 "21" false start on Okung
54 2 "21" out to flanker who threatened CB and cut out for 16
55 1 "21" run to 5 hole for no gain
56 2 "21" 5 step, quick out, throw is wide for incomplete
57 3 "11" good pocket initially, breaks down, dumps off to RB for 2
58 1 "22" starts left cuts back to 0 hole for 1
59 2 "12" pressure from right, throwaway, int'l grounding
60 3 "10" false start Okung again
61 3 "20" 3 hole run for 11
62 1 "21" 5 step out route to X for 11
63 1 "20" RB escapes backfield tackle, gets 4
64 2 "12" pressure sack, escaped first rusher
65 3 "10" 1 comeback to right Y for 15
66 1 "12" TE out for gain of 9
67 2 "11" RB circle for 7
68 1 "10" quickout to X incomplete
69 2 "11" quickout to X for 8
70 3 "11" rolls right, runs up middle for 2
71 1 "11" two pumps and a throw away
72 2 "10" dumps off underneath to HB for 5
73 3 "10" blitz sack
74 4 "11" deep right to Z, DPI for initial contact
75 1 "10" lob pass on target but floated to left, batted away by CB
76 2 "11" 1 seam route dropped in end zone
77 3 "0" CB too early, DPI
78 1 "20" 1 hole for 2 yds
79 2 "11" 1 fade to Z broken up , thrown low, no lift
80 3 "11" fade right to Y broken up
81 4 "11" 1 slant to Z dropped

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