What We Watched – 2016 Seahawks Offense Review

2016 SEASON REVIEW: OFFENSE

This was a strange season for the Seattle Seahawks Offense, as the team was forced to move on from the Marshawn Lynch Era only to see the identity of the team grow shaky with Russell Wilson suffering injury after injury to start the year. The running game could not find a consistent step, the Offensive Line struggled mightily, and Jermaine Kearse followed up his best statistical season with his worst. With all of that working against them, they still managed to finish a somewhat respectable 17th in Offensive DVOA (though that is down from 1st in 2015, 5th in 2014, 7th in 2013, and 4th in 2012). So, that just leaves us to dissect how we got there are what the team can do to get back to where they want to be for 2017.

QUARTERBACK

Player

Comp / Att

Comp %

Yards

YpA

TD

INT

Russell Wilson

353 / 546

64.7

4219

7.73

21

11

Trevone Boykin

13 / 18

72.2

145

8.06

1

1

Looking Back:

Russell Wilson threw the football 546 times in 2016, while operating off of one and sometimes half of a leg during the season. Every year of his career Russ has thrown more than the previous, which is not surprising. However, the increase of 69 attempts beyond his 2015 number (483) and marks the largest increase from season to season of his career. Everyone knows Russ is a very good Quarterback, and with the loss of Marshawn Lynch and the run first mentality of the Seahawks Offense we knew a lot would be falling to him, however this type of increase with the type of injuries he suffered this season leaves some open questions.

Now, part of the increase in his passing attempt can also be explained by his drop in rushing attempts. Russ ran 103 times in 2015, and his previous low for attempts was 94 his rookie year in 2012. However, again likely due to injury that number was down to just 72 rushing attempts for a career low 259 yards and a career worst 3.6 yards per carry. This was clearly the case of a player still being asked to do everything while the body was just not able. A bright spot however is that in spite of all of this he did keep a very respectable passing line and though his accuracy at times evaded him on long passes and at the start of games he looked every bit the franchise QB he always has.

Not looking like a franchise QB, but also not needing to in 2016 was Trevone Boykin. The Rookie UDFA out of TCU showed his dual threat ability as he logged just 8 carries for 11 yards but still showed off impressive scrambling ability behind the shambling wreck that was Seattle’s Offensive Line. Essentially, the fact that Boykin ended the season standing up and with career still in front of him is a testament to his legs. He also showed some spotty but functioning passing ability that calmed the nerves of 12’s everywhere when it comes to the backup QB spot.

Looking Ahead:

The Seattle Seahawks in the Pete Carroll era have opted to carry 2 Quarterbacks as often as possible, so don’t look for any big additions here. I could see a UDFA or something like that to work with the Practice Squad, but that is about it. The team looks comfortable with Boykin as the backup and Russ is still the heartbeat of the Offense. What will be more interesting in 2016 is to see if they continue to ramp up Wilson’s pass attempts, or if it plateaus. Russ’s 546 attempts were only 15th most in the NFL, with 6 QBs clearing 600 attempts. However, with healthy legs for zone reads and a possible return to identity for running to set up the pass, that number could just as easily stagnate or go down. It seems to me that Russ throwing it a lot more probably isn’t the best thing for the Seahawks future.

RUNNINGBACK / FULLBACK

Player

Att

Yds

YpA

Yds/Gm

1st Dwn

20+

TD

FUM

Christine Michael

117

469

4

52.1

27

2

6

1

Thomas Rawls

109

349

3.2

38.8

21

1

3

0

C.J. Prosise

30

172

5.7

28.7

3

1

1

0

Alex Collins

31

125

4

11.4

8

1

1

2

Looking Back:

Sometimes we were able to see Thomas Rawls take the field and put in those violent, punishing runs we all fell in love with in 2015. When he was healthy he looked every bit the high quality runningback we came into the season thinking he would become. He took on tacklers, kept his feet moving, picked up first downs, and turned in punishing physical runs. Other times we were able to see Christine Michael look like a back who was running for his job, just like at the end of last season. He had a gem of a game against the 49ers in Week 3 as he grabbed 106 yards on 20 carries, and snagged 2 touchdowns. There was also CJ Prosise in his rookie year, putting up a healthy 5.7 yards per carry and busting off a 72 yard run against the Eagles and a 38 yard catch against the Patriots. Even Alex Collins looked pretty solid at times before landing himself a long stretch in fumble jail.

However…all of that sort of hints at the problem. Rawls ran physical, and spent most of the year hurt as a result. Those violent runs took a toll on his body and saw him only pick up double digit carries in 6 games during the regular season. Christine Michael found the turf early and often, many times struggling to find the hole or make room for himself. That doesn’t even include the fact that Michael was traded mid-season and despite being a disappointment was still the team’s leading rusher. CJ Prosise was injured too often to show anything more than flashes of playmaking potential, and Alex Collins had only 10 carries until the Green Bay game and just 31 carries in the regular season. The run blocking on the line was not particularly good, but the backs themselves did not make a lot happen either. Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls are the two Seahawks Runningbacks to total over 100 carries on the season, and both finished with negative run DVOA. They were both considered below replacement level. In addition to troubles for the blockers and the backs themselves were the challenge of Russell Wilson not having healthy legs to help the run game and Darrell Bevell at times seeming to look for any reason to abandon the run game.

To briefly touch on fullback, this position was again in flux as it has been since Michael Robinson’s retirement. Coleman was gone before the year, Tukuafu was on and off the roster, while getting hurt and never really looking effective. Finally, the team signed former Raider and University of Washington player Marcel Reece. In limited opportunities this season he did flash a lot of ability in both the passing and running game. You can’t help but feel if he’d been with the team all of 2016 he’d have had some good numbers on the year.

Looking Ahead:

Thomas Rawls is an injury threat at all times. That is a fact of life with the way that he runs. Unfortunately, College and Pro history tells us pretty much the same holds true for CJ Prosise. Building a backfield around two players with checkered injury records means the team is very likely to roll with 4 RBs in 2017. Nobody is happier to hear that than Alex Collins, who was so up and down on the season and could really use that seconds season to show what he is capable of doing. This does also mean that the team has 3 backs who have shown the ability to both run and catch the ball, making all of them a threat to hit the field on any down and in no way a tip to what the play is going to be. That versatility brings value, and also flexibility in who the 4th player would be. It feels likely, with the extreme depth at RB in the 2017 NFL Draft, that a mid or late round pick will go to Runningback. This especially would make sense if it was a guy who could help out in the return game.

Another avenue to helping with this hurt backfield issue could be resigning Marcel Reece. Reece is a Free Agent, and though he is a fullback he has shown the ability to both run and catch the ball effectively. That gives him value and if needed he could be the primary back without handicapping the Offense. If they don’t resign Reece, look for them to check the bargain bins or find some position flexibility with a guy who is maybe more of an H-Back and can fill in with depth at Tight End where the team has a lot of players hitting Free Agency. However, the biggest thing that will effect the running game in 2017 is the line that the players are running behind. Upgrades along the Offensive Line could go a long way to restoring the outstanding running game the Seattle Seahawks have been known for.

WIDE RECEIVER / TIGHT END

Player

Rec

Targets

Rec %

Yds

Avg

TD

YAC

Doug Baldwin

94

126

74.6

1128

12

7

467

Jimmy Graham

65

95

68.4

923

14.2

6

337

Tyler Lockett

41

67

61.1

597

14.6

1

226

Jermaine Kearse

41

90

45.5

511

12.5

1

140

Paul Richardson

21

36

58.3

288

13.7

1

72

Luke Willson

15

21

71.4

129

8.6

2

70

Looking Back:

The Seattle Seahawks passing game was going to be a much bigger part of the Offense in 2016, and that was known before the injury bug set in. Doug Baldwin stepped up and had another monster year, maintaining efficiency while doing it in higher volume than at any point in his career. This season Doug Baldwin backed up his 2015 and showed his is a legitimate Number 1 Wide Receiver. Jimmy Graham recovered much faster than many thought to show himself a perfect compliment to Baldwin in the Offense as he really arrived in Week 3 against the 49ers as he put up the first of 3 100+ yard games. Also on a positive note we saw Luke Willson really find his role as a complimentary piece in the Offense and Paul Richardson really step up towards the end of the year as he was finally healthy enough to deliver on the promise we all saw. Throw in some really good numbers from the Runningbacks as Prosise caught 17 of 19 for 208, Rawls 13 of 17 for 96, Collins 11 of 11 for 84, and Fullback Marcel Reece with 5 of 5 for 14.

If that was the good, the bad will have to start with Tyler Lockett. Lockett came on strong as a rookie in 2015 with 664 yard on 51 catches. I was very high on him as a rookie and thought he would come in 2016 even stronger. However, injuries prevented him from really getting off the ground. He struggled to stay healthy all year, went through an uncharacteristic set of issues with his hands along with those injuries in the middle of the season. Where Lockett was hurt, Jermaine Kearse was just ineffective. The 90 targets Kearse saw were 22 more than in 2015, but he came out with 7 fewer catches. That pretty much sums things up. Kearse was just not able to come up with the ball consistently. He was being used as the big bodied hands receiver for a large portion of the year and basically filled in for Lockett’s injured games and the Number 2 Wide Receiver, but he was not up for the job. In a lot of ways that summarizes the passing game for 2016 – Despite needing to step up it just didn’t quite get there.

Looking Ahead:

Baldwin has shown that he is a primary receiver in the NFL and has exception chemistry with Russell Wilson. It is a gift to have a known quantity like Doug. It seems very likely that Tyler Lockett will be able to step up as a true outside threat and big time target in 2017. Lockett was a very productive college player at Kansas State and doesn’t have a big injury history, so it is likely he will return to health and with it will come productivity that will put his counting stats much higher. However, after those two there are a lot of questions.

Jermaine Kearse is being paid a lot more money than he is worth at this point if his efficiency doesn’t improve a lot. At 6’1 and 209Lbs he is the big receiver on the team for those who see a decent amount of reps (aside from Graham of course). It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team spend a mid round pick on another option with a bigger receiver who can maybe play on the outside and especially if they have some return skills. As for Jimmy Graham, while he could be cut for a big relief to the salary cap, the team finally figured out how to use him and it seems much more likely he puts up big numbers wearing a Seahawks uniform in 2017 than that he goes anywhere else. Look for Willson to likely walk on a Free Agency deal elsewhere. It is likely the team drafted Nick Vannett with this situation in mind, and though he wasn’t super productive last year Vannett is still a solid pass catcher and already a better blocker than Willson. Look for the team to maybe grab another TE to fill out the roster, but that could be a very late round pick, UDFA, or a league minimum guy.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Sacks

Adj Sack Rate

Sack Rank

QB Hits

Hits Rank

Pass Blocking*

42

7.3%

27th

111

29th

Pwr % (Rnk)

Stuff % (Rnk)

Adj Line Yds (Rnk)

LE (Rnk)

LT (Rnk)

C/G (Rnk)

RT (Rnk)

RE (Rnk)

Run Blocking*

53%(27)

23%(30)

3.50(26)

2.49 (29)

4.05 (17)

3.34(31)

3.88(14)

3.75(12)

*Pass and Run Blocking Statistics provided by analysis from Football Outsiders

Looking Back:

Expectations for this group were fairly low coming into 2016, with Russell Okung gone and the team struggling quite a bit along the line in 2015. Justin Britt was a revelation in his move to Center, ranking 16th at the position according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) and just clearly looking like a solid to above average NFL Center in 2016. Mark Glowinski also had flashes, especially as a run blocker, as he ranked 63rd at Guard according to PFF which puts him in the hemisphere of being a worthy NFL starter. If that sounds like grasping at straws to make a positive, that is because it kind of is. There was not a lot of good news when it comes to the Offensive Line. It was a dumpster fire.

Let’s start with the Offensive Tackles. George Fant, Bradley Sowell, Garry Gilliam, and J’Marcus Webb took pretty much all the snaps at Tackle for Seattle in 2016, and they were hot garbage. There is no kind way to put the level of play from these players. By any measure, they were the worst set of Tackles in the NFL. Watching the video, you saw an inexcusable number of missed blocks from these players, an inability to pick up a Tackle/End stunt, and in the case of Sowell and Gilliam far too many times they gave up on a play after the initial block. The Offensive Line as a whole wasn’t good, but this Offensive Tackle group was so bad it actually makes it harder to evaluate the rest of the players.

For the Guards, the analysis is a bit more complex. Germain Ifedi is a player many hoped could be a Left Tackle, then figured could at least be a run blocking mauler of a Right Tackle, and then watched play Right Guard all year. After looking at the video, I’d say Right Guard is exactly where he belongs right now. He has some bad habits taking aggressive first steps into his block that could get him out of position as a Tackle. His field awareness also needs help. However, there was a lot ot like as he played hard to the whistle with some nasty in his blocks and was a mauling run blocker with a very strong anchor in pass blocking. Looking at Glowinski he flashed just about every ability you want to see and has the makings of a very good Guard. He moves well and showed occasional ability to stick his blocks against even very good Defensive Linemen. However, he also had a tendency to make poor choices in stressful spots. When a Tackle missed his block on a stunt, Glowinski would try to block both players and end up blocking nobody, or cheat to one side and get beat by a rip or swim. With an upgrade in play at Tackle it’ll be easier to grade out the Guards in 2017, but from what was put on tape this year they both looked below average but with promise.

Looking Ahead:

The team flat out needs 2 Offensive Tackles at the very least to become a passable NFL Offensive Line. Britt has proven himself capable at Center and with what he did this year he appears to be an anchor they can build around. The verdict is still out a bit on Glowinski and a bit more on Ifedi, though with the 1st Round Pick invested in him it is pretty much a sure thing he gets a crack at Guard. They may try to move him to Tackle, but with his first step that feels like it would be a disaster. There is a secondary issue though, and that is the need for depth along with at least 2 starters. Look for the team to add a veteran player along the line, likely at one of the two Tackle spots. They’ll likely fill one of the Tackle spots with a draft pick, and preferably a high draft pick. I could also see another Free Agent and a mid round pick go to the line, as the team needs 2 starting Tackles, a backup Guard, and probably a backup or swing Tackle as well. I really didn’t see anything from Odhiambo that tells me his roster spot is secure, and even if it is it would likely be as the backup Guard at best. The other things to look for would be Gilliam possibly backing up the Tackle spot, and seeing if George Fant can be pushed to the practice squad as he clearly needs a few years of seasoning.

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