2013 Seahawks Red Zone Offense Mid-Season Report
by Jordan Plocher
The Seattle Seahawks have reached the halfway point on their 2013 Season with a 7-1 Record and are in sole possession of 1st Place in the NFC West. I charted every Seahawks offensive play in the red zone (25yd-GL), for all 8 of their 2013 Regular Season games. This mid-season report of the 2013 Seahawks’ red zone offense presents you with some of my charted data and will give you an idea of how this NFC title contender is wired. It shows you what the Seahawks do, how they do it and whom they do it with in the red zone. The report is broken down in to 5 sections; play calling philosophy, pass targets, carries, tendencies by personnel grouping, and a conclusion. Below are my findings.
Play Calling Philosophy:
The play that the entire offense is built around is the “Outside Zone” run play. The outside zone play is a run, featuring zone blocking principles that is run towards the Offensive Tackle. This is why the play is also often referred to as the “Tackle Zone.” The outside zone is the Seahawks’ preferred red zone play call in nearly every personnel grouping and is the most-heavily called play in their red zone offense by a wide margin.
The Seahawks’ offense as a whole can best be described as being based on West Coast Offense (WCO) principles. However, it is more run oriented than a traditional West Coast Offense and it doesn’t feature as many passes to Running Backs as a traditional WCO either. The Seahawks’ offense features a run-first mentality that uses predominantly a zone running scheme. The run game also employs toss plays, designed Quarterback runs and a dose of read-option runs. They also like to run play-action passes off of the zone runs. These play-action passes are predominantly three-level concepts that flood one side of the field with three players but at different levels of route depth. The Seahawks’ offense also features several other common passing concepts such as Vertical, Quick-Game, Drag, Three-Level, and Horizontal. While the run game is what makes the Seahawks’ offense tick, what really makes it run is Russell Wilson. The second-year Quarterback has the legs of a Running Back, the arm of an Infielder, and the eyes of a Point Guard.
Seattle Seahawks Red Zone Pass Target
Red Zone Pass Targets:
Rice: 9 Targets, 2 Catches, 34 Yards, 2 TD
Tate: 6 Targets, 4 Catches, 43 Yards, 1 TD
Baldwin: 6 Targets, 4 Catches, 30 Yards
Miller: 5 Targets, 4 Catches, 29 Yards, 3 TD
Kearse: 2 Targets, 1 Catch, -1 Yard
Willson: 1 Target, 1 Catch, 15 Yards
Davis: 1 Target, 1 Catch, 1 Yard, 1 TD
Lynch: 1 Target, 1 Catch, 7 Yards, 1 TD
Turbin: 1 Target, 1 Catch, 4 Yards, 1 TD
Russell Wilson Red Zone Passing Stats:
20/33, 60% completion rate, 164 Yards, 9 TDs, 0 INTs.
Russell Wilson’s red zone passing stats indicate that he is very efficient and protective of the football. Wilson’s 60% completion rate in the red zone is exceptional and represents an improvement over his 57% in the red zone last year. The most impressive number is still his 0 red zone interceptions. Wilson is very smart, very well prepared, and takes good care of the football. You’ll notice from the targets list that the players on the field predominantly in 11 Personnel are getting the most of the targets (Rice, Tate, Baldwin, Miller). I thought it was interesting how few targets went to Running Backs. Sadly, losing Rice to injury is a blow to the offense as he was the team leader in red zone pass targets.
Seattle Seahawks Red Zone Carries
Red Zone Rushing Stats:
Lynch: 23 Carries, 49Yards, 2.13 YPC, 6 TD
Wilson: 7 Carries, 36 Yards, 5.14 YPC
Turbin: 4 Carries, 30 Yards, 7.5 YPC
Ware: 3 Carries, 10 Yards, 3.33 YPC
Jackson: 1 Carry, 5 Yards, 5.0 YPC, 1 TD
Red Zone Read-Option Run Stats:
9 carries, 60 Yards, 6.66 YPC, 3 TDs
Lynch: Averaging 5 YPC
Wilson: Averaging 4.5 YPC
Turbin: Averaging 13 YPC
Jackson: Averaging 5 YPC
All 9 runs are on first or second down.
8 out of 9 are out of 11 Personnel.
6 out of 9 are on downs with 10 or more yards to go.
6 out of 9 are out of a Trips set.
The Seahawks’ red zone read-option runs are productive. Every ball carrier is doing well with the read-option, as clearly shown by the Yards Per Carry (YPC) statistics. Russell Wilson runs it well and it is still a featured part of the red zone offense. Lynch is still the bell-cow back and gets the majority of red zone rushing attempts. However, I was surprised that Lynch was only averaging 2.13 YPC in the red zone.
Tendencies by Personnel Grouping
*Listed in order of preference
Glossary: X (WR), Z (2nd WR), W (3rd WR), Y (TE)
11 Personnel(1RB/1TE)- 36 Plays (17-Run, 19-Pass)
11 Personnel is the Seahawks’ preferred red zone offensive personnel grouping by a wide margin. The run/pass mix is close to 50/50 in 11 Personnel. The runs are mostly zone runs and read-option runs. Normally the outside zone is the preferred run play in every personnel grouping but so far this year the read-option is the most heavily called red zone run play in 11 personnel. The majority of read-option runs occur in Shotgun formation with a Trips set (three pass-catchers on one side of the ball). The pass concepts employed in 11 Personnel are varied. Some common pass concepts are Vertical concepts (majority of WR routes are going vertically downfield), Two-Man concepts (where an offense is trying to get more pass-catchers than defenders in an area to force a 2-on-1), Drag concepts (with a WR crossing the field on a shallow drag route), and constraint plays (quick plays like a bubble screen that get the ball to playmakers and keep defenses honest). Most of the passes in 11 Personnel were thrown to targets outside the hashes. The X Wide Receiver or Split-End is the most heavily targeted. The routes the X was targeted on were Outs, a Vertical, and a Fade. 88% of the time in 11 Personnel the Quarterback is not under Center. 29 of the 36 snaps were in Shotgun formation and 2 were in Pistol formation. 66% of the time in 11 Personnel the Seahawks are in a Trips formation. 4 times they lined up in an Empty set. Running Backs have only caught 2 red zone passes and both were in 11 Personnel.
22 Personnel(2RB/2TE)- 12 Plays (9-Run, 3-Pass)
The preferred run in 22 Personnel is the outside zone. Two of the three passes have been play-action. The other pass was a Sprint-Out play that resulted in a sack.
The Seahawks’ Running Backs are not very productive running the ball in 22 Personnel with 8 carries for only 7 yards and zero Touchdowns. The number of 22 Personnel plays are proportionately higher this year from last. However, four of the snaps were against the 49ers when the Seahawks were up big and running out the clock.
12 Personnel(1RB/2TE)- 7 Plays (4-Run, 3-Pass)
All four runs have been either inside or outside zone runs. All three of the passes in 12 Personnel have used play-action. The pass targets have all been to Wide Receivers, Z-Post, X-Cross, X-Out. The Seahawks are using 12 Personnel much less than last year.
01 Personnel(0RB/1TE)- 7 Plays (2-Run, 5-Pass)
The two runs are a read-option and a Quarterback scramble. The preferred pass concept is Vertical. The passes are productive at 9 yards per completion.
21 Personnel(2RB/1TE)- 6 Plays (3-Run, 3-Pass)
The three runs were two outside zones and one Quarterback sweep. All three of the passes have used play-action. The targets were a Tight End on a Crossing route and the Z or Flanker on two Flag routes.
02 Personnel(0RB/2TE)- 2 Plays (0-Run, 2-Pass)
The two pass targets were a Post route to the Tight End and a Curl route to the W or 3rd Wide Receiver. The Seahawks did run a pretty cool play vs Tennessee with a Tight End running a Wheel route on each side of the field.
23 Personnel(2RB/3TE)- 2 Plays (1-Run, 1-Pass)
1 outside zone run and 1 play-action pass to the Tight End who executed a fake chop block and fell on the ground but then got up and was wide open for a TD.
13 Personnel(1RB/3TE)- 1 Play (1-Run)
1 outside zone run.
10 Personnel(1RB/0TE)- 1 Play (1-Pass)
1 play-action pass that was a Slant to the Z Receiver.
20 Personnel(2RB/0TE)- 1 Play (1-Run)
1 outside zone run.
Conclusion and Trends to Watch
One noticeable trend in the Seahawks’ red zone offense is that the number of 11 Personnel calls is increasing every year. The 2013 Seahawks’ offense is on pace to surpass the number of 11 Personnel calls in 2012. However, it is when you view the 2013 numbers to the numbers from 2011 that the trend becomes the most noticeable. The Seahawks were only in 11 Personnel for 43 red zone plays for the entirety of the 2011 Season. This year the Seahawks have already been in 11 Personnel for 36 red zone plays and should surpass 43 by Week 10. Furthermore, the Seahawks have already run the ball out of 11 Personnel in the red zone more in the first half of this year(17) than they did in the entire 2011 Season(16).
The increase in 11 Personnel calls means that 12 Personnel and 21 Personnel have both been called proportionately less. For example the 11 Personnel to 12 Personnel ratio was 2:1 last year and is 6:1 this year. The Seahawks’ red zone offense is much more productive running the ball with one-back sets than two-back sets. In fact the Seahawks are not very productive with two-back sets at all with a combined 12 carries, for 1 yard, and a minuscule 0.08 Average Yards Per Carry.
As previously mentioned, it was interesting that in 11 Personnel the Seahawks are running the ball using the read-option more than the outside zone. In 2011 and 2012 the Seahawks’ preferred run in 11 Personnel was the outside zone. However, so far this year nearly half of the 11 Personnel red zone runs have been read-option. This is definitely a shift and demonstrates that the read-option is not dead like so many pundits predicted. While there is no indication the Seahawks are running the read-option more than last year it does seem like they decided they run it best out of 11 Personnel. The rushing average on the Seahawks’ red zone read-option runs has gone down slightly from 7.13 yards per carry last season to 6.66 yards per carry this season.
Russell Wilson has not suffered from a sophomore slump! Wilson has continued to impress with his red zone accuracy and decision-making. His completion percentage has increased from 57 percent last year to 60 percent this year. He makes good decisions in the red zone and takes care of the ball. In fact, Russell Wilson has now started 26 Regular Season and Playoff games and has yet to throw an interception in the red zone! Russell Wilson’s outstanding play as a pro is due to his scary combination of meticulous preparation and improvisational playmaking ability.
It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks finally employ the dynamic playmaking ability of Percy Harvin. The addition of Harvin to the offense in the second half of the season could result in some different play calls as they try to take advantage of his particular skill-set. Harvin is an explosive open-field runner who would arguably be more dangerous than Marshawn Lynch on a read-option run or Golden Tate on a bubble screen. The injury to Sidney Rice means someone has to step up and fill the void as Rice was an important piece of the offense and the Seahawks’ most frequently targeted Wide Receiver in the red zone. Harvin is going to get serious red zone reps and could emerge as the primary red zone threat.
In closing, some things to look for when the Seahawks are in the red zone on Sundays in the second half of this season, are 11 Personnel, read-option runs, Percy Harvin touches, and the ruthless efficiency of their talented second-year Quarterback, Russell Wilson. I’ll be sure to write a full red zone report for the Seahawks after their season is over.
You can find me on twitter @StarvingScout
Study Note: The reason I chart the red zone out to the 25 yard line and not the 20 is because I don’t know the exact moment an Offensive Coordinator actually goes to his red zone sheet. There are some scenarios when an Offensive Coordinator might be calling plays from his red zone play call sheet even though the ball might be spotted at the 21 or 22. Also some Offensive Coordinators consider the red zone from the 25 to the Goal Line on their sheets anyway, so I felt that charting out to the 25 would include more actual calls from the red zone sheet than if I stopped charting at the 20. Therefore, it would yield a more accurate representation of the Offensive Coordinator’s red zone play calling philosophy.