I’ve been reading a lot of reactions to last Sunday’s game, and a common theme has been that the receivers simply didn’t get the job done. With the TV camera angles, it is impossible to judge that statement but thanks to the all-22 coaches tape, I decided to take a look and try and verify those claims.
It turns out that having players get open was not a problem for the Seahawks. In fact, I can make this much definitive: There was not a single pass play in the first half without at least 1 open receiver. Now, I’ll prove it.
Before I get into this, make sure you check out Hawkblogger’s post on drops. I think he shows pretty definitively that, besides on the 4th down play at the end of the game, the rest of the game the receivers actually bailed out their QB and were not a problem in terms of catching the ball.
There were 4 pass plays in the first quarter that didn’t also include a PI penalty. One was the diving catch by Sydney Rice on a tipped ball right at the beginning of the quarter and another was a first of the 2 backwards pass problems that Wilson had in the game. The other 2 show exactly what I was talking about:
Here, Wilson stares down Sydney Rice, and never looks the other way, and ends up throwing into double coverage. If you look at the top of the picture, there’s a wide open receiver had Wilson bothered to look up there. His pre-snap read showed that there was going to be double coverage to the right, and single coverage on the other side, so there was no reason for him force the ball to Rice. There also wasn’t enough pressure to hurry the throw.
On the next drive, Wilson gets is right:
It’s a little tough to see in the picture since you can’t see the play develop in a still frame, but 3 of the 5 receivers are covered. The 4th (right next to the 40) has a player driving on the route, so even if the pass is complete it isn’t going to be for much. The final player, again Sydney Rice (circled) is open. Wilson made the right read here, and hits Rice in stride for an 11 yard gain.
The 2nd Quarter wasn’t any different, though there were more passes and thus more pics for me to mark up. Again, I threw out the plays with penalties and I also am not considering the Hail Mary pass at the end of the half. Lets take a look:
This play is a relative bonanza of open receivers for Russell Wilson to pick from. He doesn’t pick any of them, choosing instead to throw the ball deep to Ben Obomanu (bottom left of the picture) for the incompletion. This was an easy 20+ yard gain had he thrown the ball over the middle to the player who was wide open.
I underlined Sydney Rice, who was tightly covered, but had inside position and was able to make a good catch on the play, but 5 yards further downfield is a wide open Braylon Edwards. There was an obvious mixup on the coverage, and the Seahawks didn’t take advantage.
This is the closest play in the entire first half to there not being an open receiver. There is one in the center of the field, which I’ve circled, because of another Cardinal coverage mistake. The only person covering the receiver is the umpire, which doesn’t count. On this play, Wilson waits too long, runs around for a while, and then throws the ball away, al of which could have been avoided had he thrown the ball quickly. (Also notice the good pass protection here)
Finally the last real play of the first half. I’ve circled the 2 open players. Wilson chooses correctly and takes the deep option for a big gain to Zach Miller at the point I marked. Had he wanted to, he also could have taken either of the deep outside options since both receivers had a step on the corners, but the safeties didn’t start moving to the center until it became clear that Miller was going to be open, making the 2 outside players appear covered for most of the play.
The 2nd half was much of the same, except it included much more of Wilson making the right read, or at least a good read, and thus the offense was much more efficient. I think it should be pretty clear that receivers were getting open in the 2nd half since the Seahawks were able to move the ball much more consistently.
The half also included about 3 times as many plays that I would need to mark up and write about, and it’s already getting late here, my laptop battery is almost dead, and this article is already looking extremely long. So I don’t think I’m going to take the time to include them. Trust me though, the trend of receivers being open was quite consistent in the 2nd half as well.
I don’t want people to think that this is some sort of anti-Wilson article. It’s not. The kid made some mistakes, but he also made some great plays. It the type of thing you get with a rookie. He’ll get better. I believe that. This article is entirely about pointing out that the receivers did their job.
The receivers clearly were not the problem against the Cardinals. You’re going to have to find a new scapegoat.