Russell Wilson seems to suggest the Seahawks should look at using the no-huddle more often after the success Seattle had with it Sunday in Green Bay.
As Seattle lost at Green Bay 17-9 last Sunday and gained just 225 yards — its fewest in almost three years — it was hard not to conclude that the most success the team had came when the Seahawks went with a quicker offense.
But as the topic veered in that direction this week, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell cautioned that maybe what people thought they had seen wasn’t necessarily what they had really seen.
How about the eight-play 74-yard drive to end the first half, the only drive the Seahawks really had in the first 30 minutes?
As Bevell noted, it contained just one no-huddle play and the 34-yard pass play that kick-started it came after a time out.
“I wouldn’t say that (series) was really uptempo,’’ Bevell said. “All those plays were within the flow and we got into a pretty good rhythm there and I think that’s the thing you see.’’
When the Seahawks are going well offensively, Bevell said, “it feels like we are playing fast” even if maybe they really aren’t.
The one no-huddle play in that drive worked for a 29-yard Russell Wilson run, the second-longest gain of the day for the Seahawks.
Seattle broke out the no-huddle on three straight plays as part of a 52-yard drive to set up another field goal in the fourth quarter, including consecutive completions of 28 and 13 yards from Wilson to Paul Richardson.
That drive came with Seattle down 17-6 and with just 8:01 left and Green Bay appearing content to let the Seahawks move it a little bit.
Seattle actually had just one other no-huddle play in the game (for no gain). Its second-longest drive of the game came in conventional Seahawks’ fashion — an 11-play, 71-yard march that took 6:13, an average of 33.7 seconds per play or about five seconds slower than the NFL average.
Still, that Seattle got 70 yards on its five no-huddle plays — and just 155 on its other 43 — is hard to ignore.
Certainly, it didn’t escape the notice of Wilson, who said this week there is definitely a temptation to want to use the no-huddle more considering the success the team often has when it does.
“Yeah,’’ he said. “I think that, obviously, up-tempo is really challenging on defense, and I think that offense has the advantage. I also believe that it’s just like anything else; the more you shoot, the better your chances are of scoring more points. I think that’s kind of the mentality there. I think that we’ve been very successful at it. Our guys know what we’re doing in it, and that’s part of our game. It wasn’t necessarily that that’s what we had to do in the last game, it’s definitely something that we can do really well and we have done really well. So, it’s definitely something that we need to continue to look at and see how that helps us improve.”
Coaches caution that what works in small doses and in specific situations — Seattle generally confines its regular use of no-huddle to the final two minutes of the first half or the end of games or when it’s behind significantly — may not be as successful in larger amounts and in all situations.
One advantage of the no-huddle is that it prevents a defense from substituting.
But the offense also can’t substitute. If it does, then the offense cannot snap the ball until the defense also can sub. And keeping the same 11 offensive players can limit the playbook (though this also impacts the defense) and make offensive players similarly susceptible to fatigue.
“It tires them (the defense) out,’’ Bevell said. “But I think the thing that kind of gets misconstrued sometimes is the offense gets tired as well. Those O-linemen are battling those D-linemen, so there is some fatigue on both sides.
But the rush gets a little bit different. Sometimes, depending on who you are playing, it can simplify the calls because they don’t have time and they aren’t huddling up, they are giving their two-minute style calls as well.’’
And as coach Pete Carroll said this week, a quick three-and-out no-huddle series can put the opposing offense back on the field within 20-30 seconds or so of clock time (something that was commonly cited as a failing of Chip Kelly’s up-tempo Philadelphia and San Francisco clubs).
Against a team like Green Bay on the road, the Seahawks preferred to have as few series for Aaron Rodgers as possible.
“There is some concern when you have a really explosive offense on the other side and a quarterback that can do a lot of damage,’’ Carroll said. “So we play the game a little bit in that regard.’’
The Seahawks have also simply never done a lot of no-huddle, with Carroll’s preferred philosophy one of relying on defense and the running attack to batter opponents into submission as the game wears on.
According to NFLsavant.com, Seattle has never ranked higher than 25th in number of no-huddle plays in the last four years. In 2013 and 2016, the Seahawks ran the fewest number of no-huddle plays in the NFL. In fact, in the Super Bowl-winning season of 2013 the Seahawks ran just 14 no-huddle plays the entire year.
Still, on the 34 no-huddle plays Seattle ran last year, the Seahawks gained 244 yards, an average of 7.1 per play, according to NFLSavant.com, compared to a 5.6 yards per play average overall, and 5.53 in plays in a huddle.
So maybe, as Wilson hints, it’s something the Seahawks should consider using more. Ideally Carroll and Bevell seem to suggest the hope would be that it’s always an offshoot of an already successful offense and not something Seattle has to go to out of necessity.
“We always know that we do well in those situations for the most part,’’ Carroll said. “Sometimes it’d be easier to play that way, sometimes it doesn’t.’’