Seahawks Offense: 11 Personnel and What to Expect vs. St Louis


In an attempt to better understand the Hawks offense, I started charting personnel groupings during week 5 against the Giants. For those unfamiliar with the term, simply put, personnel groupings are organized by a two digit number. The first numeral represents the number of running backs on the field in a given play, and the second represents the number of tight ends. We can therefore deduce the number of WR by subtracting the number of RB and TE on the field from 5 (the remaining non-QB and OL players).

For example, 12 personnel is one running back, two tight ends, and thus two wide receivers. 11 personnel is one RB, one TE, and 3 WR. 10 personnel is one RB, zero TE, and four WR. And so forth.

Unfortunately, when I watch games, take notes, and attempt to chart personnel and plays in live time, my fandom usually gets the best of me and I nearly always take fewer and less detailed notes and/or stop altogether. This morning I found my personnel chart from the Giants game, and for conversation sake, thought I’d share an interesting trend that I had planned to write about earlier, as well as what to expect at St. Louis.

The Seahawks had 70 offensive snaps in the game. Of those 70, I charted 50 (I got really jacked up toward the end, rightfully so). Of the 50 I charted, 25 were pass, and 25 run- a perfect 50/50 ratio. The interesting trend to me: 33 out of those 50 plays (66%) were from 11 personnel (one RB, one TE, three WR). Of those thirty three plays in 11 personnel, it broke down 13 run, 20 pass (39% run, 61% pass).

I REALLY wish I had the time and talent to make a sweet graphic for you guys, and I know it would really help both aesthetically and comprehensively. I am also aware that, unfortunately, this is from four games ago, and quite a bit has changed in the offense. I didn’t chart personnel last week, as I was in the CLink nosebleeds yelling my head off, but I do recall more run-based groupings. It was blatantly clear to everyone watching; the plan was to run the ball and grind it out. It’s interesting to note then, our two biggest wins this year (or the most surprising, at least) came against very good defenses and utilized two pretty different approaches on offense.

What does this mean for tomorrow, you ask? Part of the reason I bring up the 11 personnel is because it’s what I expect to see against the Rams. Coming off a good victory over the Ravens, Pete Carroll will want to run the ball, he always does. The Rams know this, but are worst in the league in run defense, giving up 150.6 yards/ game. The Seahawks have a new right side of the line, but a (dare I say) very good left side. Michael Robinson played a huge role in the run game last week, but I don’t expect him to be as involved against what is an almost anti-Ravens run defense. Then again, Fred Robbins, Justin Bannan, and James Laurinaitis are pretty damn good football players. James Hall and Chris Long on the edges last year were pressure masters. Their front-7 is a lot better than the stats let on and I hope Pete Carroll doesn’t undersestimate the talent there.

What I do expect is a lot of 11 personnel. I expect Jackson to be diagnosing the defense as he sees it, calling audibles based on the looks he’s getting (hey, isn’t that what a QB is supposed to do?). That’s the beauty of 11 personnel, you can run or pass effectively: there’s already three WR plus another receiver or blocker in the TE. The Rams are actually middle of the league (12th) in pass defense, but their secondary has been obliterated by injuries. That can be exploited if Jackson sees blitz or soft coverage. Luckily, Baldwin and Rice are probable to play.

Make it known: I’m basing this all on pure speculation. I haven’t charted personnel since the Giants game. What I do know is Carroll will try to run, and the talent level among St. Louis’ front 7 is much greater than their stats indicate. Lynch may really miss his rookie lineman if St. Louis can effectively stack against the run on the left. If they do stack the left, and bring in Robinson to block for the right, it’ll be fairly obvious to the coaches and players on defense. 11 personnel is a perfect counter: dial up pass if they stack the left, show blitz, or soft coverage; run it LG or strongside if they show pass D.

What I do know, and this aint no prediction: with Rice and Williams wide, Baldwin in the slot, Miller at TE, and Lynch ready to go beast mode, it’s matchup hell for a depleted Rams secondary. That can be exploited for big plays.