Seattle Seahawks: Analyzing a Pass Play

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Seattle Seahawks: Analyzing a Pass Play
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Seahawks will be using a zone blocking scheme in the running game this year, but what can we expect to see when passing the ball in 2009?

Let's look at an example pass play and some of the issues that may arise in pass protection and role adjustment.

Offensive line: LT Jones, LG Wahle, C Spencer, RG Sims, RT Locklear

Wide receivers: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch

Tight end: John Carlson

Running Back & Fullback: Julius Jones and Justin Griffith

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck

4-3 defense: DE, NT, UT, DE / Will, Mike, Sam / CB, CB/ FS, SS

*The Seahawks will face ten 4-3 teams in 2009 as opposed to six 3-4 teams, so for the purpose of this example I will use the St Louis Rams' 4-3 defense expected in week one.

The play call is a two-WR set with the TE acting as the primary receiver.

The offensive line will take on a man scheme in pass protection.

New St. Louis head coach Steve Spagnuolo likes his linebackers to blitz and create pressure from all angles.

The center Chris Spencer will look for the blitz pre-snap and may call a shift. In this situation, the line may move to the left or right depending on what the center has seen.

When the ball is snapped Spencer's duties will be to remain stout at the point of attack, making sure the pocket doesn't collapse.

He will also be expected to help out one of the two guards depending on who has the toughest assignment.

The two tackles Jones and Locklear will man up the DE's. The RB Jones and FB Griffith are both blocking, but Jones is also a check down option as a receiving target.

For this example, let's say the NT is to be given particular attention. The left guard Mike Wahle would receive help from the center, with the right guard expected to hold up his man.

The split end receiver Deion Branch will run a quick out with the flanker T.J. Houshmandzadeh using a basic hitch.

Greg Knapp generally prefers to use the deep ball more than Mike Holmgren, so one of the wide receivers may be called to run a go route to take out the cornerback and possibly a safety.

Hopefully this will create some space behind the linebackers for the tight end to run an in-route middle cross 10-12 yards deep.

TE John Carlson will be expected to disguise a go or seam route before faking an outside break. This should create enough space for the quarterback to feel comfortable finding the man in behind.

If the linebackers don't blitz and the TE is covered, this could bring the RB Jones into play via a dump off.

The ability of Chris Spencer to execute his duties will be crucial if Mike Wahle and Rob Sims start at guard.

Both are athletic linemen with solid technique but don't have great size or power and could be pushed back by an aggressive defensive line with superior bulk.

Spencer has similar athleticism but is much stronger.

He will be expected to adequately support the two guards with Seattle favoring smaller, more agile lineman for the running zone-blocking scheme, which could put them at a disadvantage against bigger DT's in pass protection.

One area the Seahawks struggled with last year due to their lack of threat in the passing game was a safety blitz.

If the safety, in this case Oshiomogho Atogwe, is positioned to attack the quarterback, the center should adjust the call so that he or the right guard pick up the blitzer, with the other lineman blocking the remaining UT.

The example above is the kind of play I would expect to see used by the Seahawks in 2009.

Greg Knapp is likely to feature the RB and TE a lot in the passing game, while using 2 WR sets.

The play is easily disguised as a potential run, keeping the defense honest.

It also takes advantage of the pass-catching qualities of John Carlson and short-medium accuracy of Matt Hasselbeck.

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