Seahawks offense all about tempo and YAC in 2021

Aug 21, 2020; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams pass game coordinator Shane Waldron gestures during training camp at Cal Lutheran University. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2020; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams pass game coordinator Shane Waldron gestures during training camp at Cal Lutheran University. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

As mini-camps have ended and we get nearer to the real preseason work beginning, one word we hear more and more from within the Seahawks camp in tempo. What could this mean in terms of changes that the new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron could introduce?

It probably does not mean a load of no-huddle and screen passes, whilst we may see more of both of these, I do not expect this to be the core principle of the new offensive passing scheme. So what could the thinking and result of this possible new approach be?

What I think we are more likely to see is more variation in terms of use of the play clock and time the ball is in Russell Wilson’s hands. So we are likely to see some no-huddle early in games and not just when the Seahawks may be required to play catch up at the end of games, but also a greater percentage of quick, short passes to receivers.

What does a change in tempo actually mean for the Seahawks?

No huddle keeps the opposing defense more off-balance and less prepared for the next offensive play and also less able to substitute accordingly. Quick, short passes mean the offensive line is not required to protect Wilson for as long, thus negating some of the hits and pressures he endured in recent seasons.

Any such changes mean a change in approach for the entire offense, but most particularly Russell Wilson. Wilson will have to adapt and embrace this potential new approach, by having more options in the short passing game he will be required to utilize far more in 2021.

This could also mean shortening his drop significantly in 2021, Wilson along with Pat Mahomes has one of the deepest pass drops in the NFL. By definition, the longer he takes to get to his release position, the longer the offensive line needs to protect him.

Whilst the Seahawks will have an improved offensive line in 2021, any help they can get in terms of Wilson’s play and the offensive scheme will be of equal importance as any personnel changes.

Teething issues?

This may well result in some teething issues early in the season, but as the old saying goes, it is not how you start, but how you finish, is the most important thing.

And as the Seahawks demonstrated last season, they make started brilliantly, but that all meant very little when they finished the regular season disappointingly and ultimately dipped out of the playoffs at the first hurdle.

The Seahawks have two of the leading receivers in the NFL and leaned heavily on them in 2020. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will continue to rack ups the yardage in 2021, but we are likely to see them used in a far more diverse way in the coming season.

D.K. Metcalf ranked 29th in YAC and Tyler Lockett 42nd, whereas Metcalf ranked 7th in receiving yards and Lockett 17th in receiving yards.

What this meant was that their routes became more predictable the further into the season we got and the opposing secondary could scheme accordingly. Metcalf, Lockett, plus Eskridge and Everett can expect to get the ball into their hands far quicker in 2021 and thus have more room to run and gain YAC.

As I say, I do not expect this to impact Metcalf and Lockett’s overall production in terms of yards gained, but just how they get them. It is also intended to give Russell Wilson more variety in terms of receivers he can hit and when he hits them.

Wilson ended 2021 with 4,212 passing yards at an average of 263.25 yards per game. But through the first ten games of the season averaged 278.9 yards per game, and had a high of 263 in the final six games of the regular season.

If the Seahawks can introduce a new tempo and more varied pattern to the offense, Wilson could well be able to maintain an average of 280 yards per game and approach 5,000 passing yards. That would rank the Seahawks offense in the top ten in terms of passing yardage as opposed to 17th which is where they finished in 2020.

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Incidentally, this would also greatly improve Russell Wilson’s chances of getting that oh-so-overdue MVP award he deserves to have on his CV. But ultimately it could lead to the Seahawks having a greatly improved chance of making and winning the Lombardi Trophy again.