Passing Patterns in Seattle

By: John McCool

Despite consecutive Super Bowl appearances, and 3 straight double-digit win seasons, there was concern that the Seahawks wouldn’t even make the 2015 playoffs. By mid-November, Seattle stood at a pedestrian 4-5 after losing to the Arizona Cardinals. Local sports radio hosts and ESPN pundits labeled their receiving core mediocre, sparking rumors of locker room turmoil.

However, their early-season struggles quickly turned into late-season success. The Seahawks won 6 of their 7 remaining games, claiming a spot in the NFC Wild Card game. Over that 7 week period, the Seahawks outscored their opponents by 110 points. [1]

QB Russell Wilson averaged 50 more passing yards per game after the team’s week 10 loss to Arizona. Wilson’s answer to the team’s early season offensive struggles was to attempt more passes – and more efficiently.  He would finish the 2015 season with a passer rating of 110.1, the highest of any QB in the NFL that year.

Wilson averaged 2.2 more short pass attempts and nearly 3 extra completions per game over his final seven starts. During this stretch, he favored throwing short passes to the right side of the field (11.6 per game) compared to 8.4 attempts to the short left and just 5.4 targets to the short middle.

He also began throwing more long passes, averaging 6.6 compared to his 5.1 attempts during the first nine games. His most frequent deep pass targets were receivers Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jermaine Kearse, who each caught above 70% of their pass targets throughout 2015.

wilson-pass-ratio

With Wilson’s improved late season passing, Seattle had the luxury of relying less on Thomas Rawls’ running game. The Seahawks averaged just 57 rushing yards per game in the final seven games despite totaling 2.8 more carries per game during this stretch.

Seattle is again poised to make a playoff run with a retuning receiving core and a healthy Rawls.  Moreover, Jermaine Kearse has the potential to best his 49 receptions from last season. If so, Wilson will have another regular throwing option he can use to make the lives of opposing cornerbacks that much harder.

 

[1] Seattle scored 224 points and allowed 114 points in the final seven games in 2015

 

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