Ryan Grubb will flip the script for the Seahawks time of possession issue

Offense alone won't cure Seattle's ills, but it will go a long way.
Ryan Grubb of the Seattle Seahawks
Ryan Grubb of the Seattle Seahawks / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Time of possession has handcuffed the Seattle Seahawks offense for too long. Ryan Grubb is about to change all that. It will take more than a new offensive scheme, but an innovative offense will go a long way toward reversing the recent trend.

There are several reasons the Seahawks have slipped back into the mediocrity of a mid-tier team over the past few years. Trust me, it hurts to write that as much as it hurts to read it, but what else do you call 7-10, 9-8, and 9-8 seasons?

A lot of factors contributed to those records; two of the major issues were the Hawks' third-down conversion rate and red zone performance. We'll take a deeper dive into each of those another time. Both are major contributors to what we'll look at here: Seattle's woeful ranking in time of possession. The good news is, I see a big part of the solution on the horizon: new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb.

The Seattle Seahawks need to take over the clock to win

Last year the Seahawks ranked last in time of possession. Sadly, they didn't just finish last; they were last by a lot. The Patriots were 31st in TOP, and while it warms my heart to write that, it's a fact that even they held the ball 1:24 longer than the Hawks on average.

The gap between Seattle at 32 and New England at 31 was exactly the same as the distance between the Pats and the Giants at 21st, with a TOP of 29:26. The Hawks ranked 31st in 2022, and 32nd again in 2021. Suffice it to say, it's difficult to win when the other guys have the football more than you do.

It's a gross oversimplification to say whoever wins the battle of the clock wins the game. Last year, the Bears were the third-best in the league in TOP at 31:57, and all it got them was a 7-10 record. The championship was waged by the 8th-ranked 49ers and the 11th-ranked Chiefs. The horrendous Panthers tied the Niners at 8th with an identical 31:06 mark, yet managed just two wins.

But overall, the 14 teams with a positive margin in TOP finished 139 - 99. And yes, that includes the ridiculous outlier of Carolina. The 18 teams that managed less than 30 minutes on the clock finished 133 - 139. That's a winning percentage of .584 vs .489; or a 10-7 team vs an 8-9 team. Not a big swing, but enough to make the first a playoff team - usually - versus an also-ran.

Time of possession can certainly be misleading in a positive manner as well. The Houston Texans ranked 29th, yet were the surprise of the NFL last year, winning the AFC South at 10-7. Their big-play offense, led by rookie C.J. Stroud, had a lot to do with that.

The 2013 Denver Broncos, fondly remembered by 12s as "The Losers", set the all-time record in points scored with 606. They ranked 10th in TOP that season with 30:38. The Seahawks were 17th at 29:57. Our guys won the Super Bowl TOP 31:53 to 28:07, for those wondering. So while it may not be necessary to dominate the time of possession, you can't just stink up the joint, either.

And we know the Hawks have done just that the past few years - stink up the joint, at least regarding time of possession. Their dismal defensive performance against the run certainly has a lot to do with that. But we're here to talk about offense - in particular, the Seahawks' new OC Ryan Grubb's offense. It's a given that the passing game flourishes under Gruub's tutelage, and there's every reason to expect the Hawks will do the same.

As Jake Bobo recently said, Grubb is moving his receivers all over the field. As Bobo said, "There’s a lot going on, but when it comes together, and it’s starting to right now, it’s gonna be really fun to watch.”

Don't let the air show fool, you, though. For the last four years, Grubb's offenses have led their opposition in time of possession. It's never been a big advantage - 31:38 with the Fresno State Bulldogs in 2020 was the highest - but considering how much his teams throw, it's pretty remarkable. At Fresno State, Grubb called 46 passing plays per game in 2020, then 42 in 2021. As the Huskies offensive coordinator, his teams launched their aerial attack 47 times per game in 2022, then 40 per game in 2023. All figures include sacks, by the way.

Grubb has made it clear since his introduction as Seattle's OC that a team has to establish the run to enable those deep throws he loves so much. It's no accident that he talks a lot about the run-pass balance, as he did to the press during OTAs: "So when you talk about some of the run-pass balance, you have backs like Nine (Kenneth Walker III) and Zach, you're pretty excited about your ability to run the ball."

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Interesting that Zach Charbonnet is still Zach, but K-9 is simply "Nine", like some force of nature. Which is pretty appropriate, right?

The Huskies had a 1,000-yard rusher last year with Dillon Johnson. In 2022, the duo of Wayne Taulapapa and Cameron Davis combined for over 1,400 yards, so there's ample evidence that Grubb knows the value of the running game. I have no doubt that the Seahawks will strike the balance they need to control the clock on their way to a great season.

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