NFL, Offense, Pre-Season, Seahawks, Tarvaris Jackson

The “Team” approach to any successful passing play: A Seahawk Pre-Season problem

By Will McDougle

I tend to avoid post game wrap ups because as football fans we have 2,000,000,000 different resources out there and I’m just adding to the echo chamber. However, I find it deeply troubling that the TV Broadcast failed to show what really happened last night on almost every passing play the Seahawks ran.

It’s very easy as fans to blame one player or position for the failure of a play. The NFL has a horrible problem with analysts feeding this hysteria by the way they speak on air and edit replays. Football is a TEAM sport so when something goes wrong, it’s usually a myriad of things.

For now, let’s discuss the ingredients that go into any positive passing play.

1. The QB’s Pre-snap read (PSR), Primary Key, and accurate pass.

Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst must make a Pre-Snap Read to determine the defensive coverage or shell. The purpose is to identify several things such as: safeties, weak side defender, the defensive front, and position of corners in relation to receivers i.e., depth. A QB must also focus or “key” on the primary defender based on the patterns being ran to make smart and accurate throws to open areas of the field. All of this while utilizing proper footwork, balance and pocket pressure awareness. That’s why they pay QBs the money they do. So far Tarvaris Jackson has excelled at feeling and reacting to pressure. Problem is, the pressure was getting home before receivers were finished with routes, or he was set up to throw.

2. The Offensive Line

Whether it be an area, combo, or man blocking scheme it’s simple.. If you can’t block it you can’t succeed. Our lineman have consistently lost a battle or two across the line of scrimmage and it’s making things very difficult. When an offensive line struggles in pass protection there should be an adjustment made by the offensive play caller to move the QB around and change the defensive rushing landmarks. The use of half rolls, sprint outs, and boots can help restrain a defense’s constant pressure attack. Last night against Denver it was obvious that spread formation meant primarily pass, and heavy (2 TE) meant zone run or boot action. This seemingly stubborn play calling is meant to install and work on the new offense and obviously not what we will see in the regular season.

3. The Receivers 

QB’s and receivers must understand the entire concept of each play to be on the same page.  Receivers must also run crisp routes at the proper depth, gain some separation, and be aware of breakdowns in protection or hot calls.  I can’t speak for the first two preseason games because the NFL refuses to show the defensive coverage or route combinations in full. Against Denver I was sitting 30 rows from the Seahawks bench on the 40 yd line and it gave me a great perspective of the routes as they progressed. One thing that I noticed was the extensive use of vertical timing route combinations, and sideline comebacks without much, if any separation. Timing routes, including 3-step, 5-step, and some 7-step drop passes, require a great deal of repetition between quarterback and receiver to develop the execution level needed to move the ball. Without the normal off-season, that’s going to take several games into the regular season to achieve. I watched as play after play Tarvaris stared at the back of his receiver, was cocked to throw, and had to eat it because the receiver had not even finished the stem of his route and never looked back.

I will say that when the Seahawks went to a heavy package ( multi TE’s) they seemed to fare much better in the passing game. Not because there was more people in to block, but because most passes came from boot action which I think is a huge strength of Tarvaris Jackson.

To summarize:

1. You must have a QB who has made a quality pre-and post snap read so he can throw to the open area/receiver (Grade: C+)

2. You must have sound protection and an offensive play caller who will move the QB around to assist in protection issues (Grade: D-)

3. You must have the receivers and QB on the same page. (Grade: D-)

The good news? It’s just the Pre-Season. My grades matter about as much as a win would. What matters most is that this preseason is being used like a proper mini camp would. These are scrimmages where concepts are being taught, and evaluation is being done. The coaches are working through weaknesses right now by on field reps and then reviewing film for correction. The extensive use of protection schemes that isolate James Carpenter one on one with a defender is good for his development, even though he is struggling mightily.
This third game dress rehearsal stuff you hear from NFL talking heads is fine for teams with established systems. In my opinion, that just doesn’t apply in Seattle. The Seahawks are just trying to install an offensive system with tons of new players under a huge time crunch.  Have faith Seahawk fans! It’s ugly right now, but it’s always darkest before dawn.


About Will

Football fanatic, former coach, and obsessive blogger. Proud member of the Seahawks 12thManNation. Follow him on twitter @12thManScribe


7 thoughts on “The “Team” approach to any successful passing play: A Seahawk Pre-Season problem

  1. You hit the nail on the head! How many idiots scream at the TV when they can’t even see half the field?! I wish the NFL covered games more like the least some of the time you can see the whole play.

    Posted by MoneyMaker23 | August 29, 2011, 4:19 am
  2. It aint madden folks..QB’s can’t see the field if the pocket collapses. easy to criticize when you can see the whole field from above.

    Posted by Cortez1991 | August 29, 2011, 4:21 am
  3. Great read, Will. Easy to understand, but does not shy away from getting more involved in what people are seeing when they watch a game; and equally important–what they are not. Great job!!

    Posted by Drew | August 30, 2011, 12:03 am
  4. This was a good game but some things still cnorecn me. The running game still didnt look as developed as it should be for a Bears team. I know they spent most of the offseason working on the passing game but the Bears need to establish the run. The defense is playing well but they just seem as though they are not working as a unit. The pass rush deffinetely needs to improve but the secondary seems to be doing well.

    Posted by Ursula | November 19, 2012, 6:14 am
    • That seems good so far. I like the matchup bewteen San Francisco and the New York Giants, but I also would have liked to see either San Franciso against New Orleans, New England against Baltimore or New England against the New York Giants.

      Posted by Boris | February 20, 2013, 1:06 pm


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