The second part of Jordan Plocher’s look at the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks Red Zone play from the 2013 season. Click here to read Part 1.
By Jordan Plocher
Tendencies by Personnel Grouping *Listed in order of preference
Glossary: X (WR), Z (2nd WR), W (3rd WR), V (4th WR), Y (TE)
11 Personnel(1RB/1TE)- 95 Plays (33-Run, 62-Pass)
11 Personnel is the Seahawks’ preferred red zone offensive personnel grouping by a wide margin. The run/pass mix is close to 2:1 in favor of the pass. The runs are mostly zone runs and read-option runs. Normally the outside zone is the preferred run play in every personnel grouping but this year the read-option was the most heavily called red zone run play in 11 personnel. The majority of read-option runs occurred in 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 Corner concepts (where the target is the corner of the end zone, usually with an inside receiver running that route with an outside receiver running a shorter route underneath), Horizontal concepts (designed to stretch the underneath defense from the inside out), 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), and Drag concepts (with a WR crossing the field on a shallow drag route). Most of the passes in 11 Personnel were thrown to targets outside the hashes.
The pass targets in 11 Personnel were thrown the most to the Z receiver (Hook route preferred), then the X receiver (Vertical route preferred), and the Y or Tight End saw the third most targets. Some reoccurring route combinations are the outside Wide Receiver on the three Wide Receiver side running a slant underneath the two other Receivers and also a Corner concept to the three Receiver side with the inside Receiver running a Flag route with the other two Receivers running shorter routes underneath and the Running Back releasing on the backside of the pattern. 10 times they lined up in an empty set, this is up from 4 times in 2012. The vast majority of the time the Quarterback was not under Center. When the Quarterback was under Center the play was either a run play or a play-action pass.
There is a definite trend of an increase in 11 Personnel snaps in the red zone as 95 plays were run in 2013 compared to 72 red zone plays were run in 11 Personnel in 2012 (Run-27, Pass-45) and 43 red zone plays were run in 11 Personnel in 2011 (Run-16, Pass-27).
12 Personnel (1RB/2TE)- 29 Plays (19-Run, 10-Pass)
The runs were a good mix of zone and power runs. There were also two toss plays and two read-option runs. 40% of the passes in 12 Personnel used play-action. The preferred pass concepts are Two-Man and Corner. All but one pass target was to a Wide Receiver. Targets to Z-Hook (2), Post, Post Corner, Bubble. Targets to X-Cross, Slant, Post Corner, Out. The 2nd Tight End received one target and the Running Back received none. The Seahawks used 12 Personnel much less in 2013 than 2012, as 41 red zone plays in 2012 were run out of 12 Personnel and 21 plays in 2011.
22 Personnel (2RB/2TE)- 21 Plays (14-Run, 7-Pass)
The preferred run in 22 Personnel is the outside zone. The Seahawks’ Running Backs are not very productive running the ball in 22 Personnel with 14 carries for only 8 yards for a .57 YPC average and zero Touchdowns. 6 of the 7 passes were play-action. The other pass was a Sprint-Out play that resulted in a sack. The preferred passing concepts are Drag and Three-Level as they try to flood one side of the field off of play-action. Two of the pass targets were to the X on a Crossing route. Two targets were to Running Backs and one was to the Tight End. The number of 22 Personnel plays were down to 21 plays in 2013, from 34 plays in 2012, following 13 plays in 2011.
21 Personnel (2RB/1TE)- 20 Plays (16-Run, 4-Pass)
The vast majority of the runs were outside zone. All four of the passes used play-action. The targets were a Tight End on a Crossing route and the Z or Flanker on two Flag routes, and one throw away by Russell Wilson. The number of 21 personnel plays in 2013 was much lower than the 36 plays run in 21 personnel in 2012. 20 plays in 2011 were run out of 21 Personnel.
01 Personnel (0RB/1TE)- 13 Plays (2-Run, 11-Pass)
The two runs were a read-option and an end around to Harvin. The preferred pass concepts are Vertical and constraint plays. The passes are productive at 12.8 yards per completion. The Seahawks are trying to get the ball to Harvin out of 01 Personnel because the Defense is spread out and they want to take advantage of Harvin’s speed and open-field running ability. Both of Harvin’s pass targets were short passes to the flat. The other pass targets were X-Slant (2). Z-Vertical, Curl, Out. V-Vertical. 01 Personnel was used 12 times in the red zone in 2012.
23 Personnel (2RB/3TE)- 5 Plays (2-Run, 3-Pass)
This is a short-yardage Personnel grouping as most plays were run with only 1 yard to go. All three passes were play-action. Two of the passes went to the Tight End and the other to the Fullback. One of the play-action passes had the Tight End execute a fake chop block and fall on the ground but then got up and was wide open for a TD. Four plays were run from 23 Personnel in 2012.
10 Personnel (1RB/0TE)- 5 Plays (2-Run, 3-Pass)
The two runs were a toss and a read-option. Two of the three passes were play-action (Z-Slant, W-Cross). 9 plays were run from 10 Personnel in 2012.
13 Personnel (1RB/3TE)- 4 Plays (4-Run)
Every play in 13 Personnel is a run with three outside zones and one zone split. 8 plays were run from 13 Personnel in 2012.
Jumbo Personnel (6 Offensive Linemen)- 4 Plays (4-Run)
These Personnel groupings (6OL-1RB-1TE & 6OL-1RB-2TE) were not used in short yardage situations as each time there was more than 5 yards to go for a conversion. The runs were two read-options, one power, and one outside zone. 3 of the 4 plays were called against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game as Pete Carroll trolled Jim Harbaugh once again by using Personnel groupings and formations out of the 49ers playbook. Carroll did this in 2012 as well when he used the Pistol formation for the first time against the 49ers. Jumbo Personnel was not used in the red zone in 2012.
Extra Jumbo Personnel (7 Offensive Linemen)- 4 Plays (3 Run, 1-Pass)
All four of these plays were run in a short yardage situation from the 1-yard line. The one pass was a play-action but Russell Wilson was sacked. Only one of the four plays went for a touchdown. Extra Jumbo Personnel was not used in the red zone in 2012.
02 Personnel (0RB/2TE)- 3 Plays (0-Run, 3-Pass)
Two of the three pass targets were to the Tight End, Y-Post, Flat. The third pass target was to the W or 3rd Wide Receiver on a Curl. The Seahawks did run a pretty cool play vs Tennessee with a Tight End running a Wheel route on each side of the field. 02 Personnel was used 9 times in the red zone in 2012.
20 Personnel (2RB/0TE)- 2 Plays (2-Run)
Both runs were outside zones. Five plays were run from 20 Personnel in 2012 and 0 in 2011.
Conclusion and Trends to Watch
The Seahawks’ red zone offense used 12, 22, and 21 Personnel noticeably less in 2013 than 2012. Furthermore, 11 Personnel was used noticeably more in 2013 than in 2012 or 2011. From the 2013 to the 2012 seasons, there was approximately a 30% increase in 11 Personnel calls and a corresponding decrease in 12 Personnel (29%), 22 Personnel (38%), and 21 Personnel (44%) calls.
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. This is definitely a shift and demonstrates that the read-option is not dead. However, the rushing average on the Seahawks’ red zone read-option runs has gone down significantly from 7.13 yards per carry in 2012 to 4.53 yards per carry in 2013. It will be interesting to see if they employ it as much in 2014.
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 in the red zone with a combined 37 carries, for 27 yards, and a minuscule 0.72 average yards per carry. In one-back sets the Seahawks had 62 carries, for 220 yards, and a respectable 3.54 average yards per carry.
Marshawn Lynch saw the bulk of the red zone touches with 82. Baldwin had 12 touches, Turbin 9, Kearse 8, and Miller 6. No other player had more than 5 red zone touches.
Some things to watch for in 2014 are increase in touches for Christine Michael and Percy Harvin. Michael only saw one red zone touch in 2013 but he did get 9 yards on it. He is an explosive player who should see the field more in 2014. Harvin will also see the field more in 2014 and is an elite playmaker when healthy. It would be safe to assume that Harvin is going to get serious red zone reps and could emerge as the primary red zone threat outside of Lynch in 2014.
Another thing to watch for in 2014, is the Seahawks using more spread (no Running Back in the backfield) sets to try and stretch the opposing Defense out and then get the ball to Harvin. While the loss of Golden Tate does hurt, a healthy Harvin should more than make up for his loss of production.
In closing, some things to look for when the Seahawks are in the red zone in 2014 are 11 Personnel, a drastic increase in Percy Harvin touches, a sustained commitment to the run game, and an improved year for Russell Wilson.
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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.