A review of the snap counts from Seattle's wildcard playoff win over Detroit makes clear the team's desire to get its between-the-tackles running game going.
A review of the snap counts makes clear something that was evident while watching Seattle’s 26-6 win over the Lions Saturday in a wildcard playoff game — the Seahawks returned to some old-school football to get the running game going.
Specifically, Seattle used the I-formation with fullback Marcel Reece leading Thomas Rawls into holes as much as at any time this season.
Reece finished with 33 snaps, playing 45 percent of the team’s 73 official offensive snaps.
That is by far a season high — Reece was on the field for 12, 10, 12 and 18 snaps in the four regular season games he played with Seattle after signing. But on many of those snaps, Reece was often split out as a receiver and not necessarily a fullback. Saturday, he usually appeared to be a true fullback and often in the I as the Seahawks got the running game going as consistently as any game this season, finishing with 177 yards, second behind only the 240 against Carolina.
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“Marcel contributed too, at fullback,” coach Pete Carroll said after the game. “It was just a terrific night to see us run the football.”
Here’s another way to consider the increased fullback contribution — Seattle had a fullback on the field for just 107 snaps in 16 regular season games, meaning Reece got almost one-third as many snaps Saturday as the fullback had gotten for the entire season.
Carroll said after the game that Reece “might have banged his foot up a little bit” and was the only player the Seahawks were listing as potentially injured. Reece, though, was on the field for the final two plays of the game, two kneeldowns on Seattle’s final possession.
Here are a few other quick thoughts on the snap counts (which you can see all of embedded below):
- The Seahawks were indeed in nickel for almost the entire game with Jeremy Lane on the field for 52 snaps as the nickel (he also had one snap filling in for Richard Sherman in the base defense) which meant strongside linebacker Mike Morgan got just three snaps (Morgan comes off when the team goes into nickel). Lane played 72 percent of the snaps during the regular season, mostly in the nickel (he also played every snap as the base corneback against Tampa Bay when DeShawn Shead was out). As a pure nickel, the 96 percent of snaps he played against the Lions was a season high. The previous high in a game in which Lane played only nickel was 87.3 percent against the Jets. Morgan had never played fewer than nine snaps, or 13 percent, this year before playing just five percent of snaps against the Lions.
- With Tony McDaniel out with a concussion, the Seahawks had John Jenkins active and he played eight snaps. But as had been thought, the Seahawks used a little less of their “run defense” defensive line, making it a good opponent against which to not have McDaniel. Seattle compensated by using Frank Clark a bit more — his 73 percent of snaps were his most in the last five games and his most in any game other than when he was starting during the time when Michael Bennett was out.
- Interesting to see the receive snap distribution with Paul Richardson getting the most — 55 — with Doug Baldwin at 51 and Jermaine Kearse at 47. Richardson’s 75 percent of snaps was a season high. One possible thought is that Richardson often also plays in a receiving grouping with Tanner McEvoy in which Kearse and Baldwin come off the field (and one in which Seattle often runs). McEvoy played 18 snaps, his second most of the season — he played 21 last week against the 49ers when Seattle also went into the game with a plan to run it a lot (even if ending up doing it less successfully than against Detroit).
- The gamebook shows Devin Hester with one snap as a receiver, but I don’t specifically remember it (I checked quickly to see if it was the kneeldown plays and it was not). I’ll try to check later to see where it was.
- Luke Willson got 44 snaps to 40 for Jimmy Graham. One reason is that Seattle used a lot of two-tight end sets. Graham also missed a few plays when he had the wind knocked out of him in the first half.
- Kelcie McCray played four snaps at free safety when Steven Terrell left briefly in the first half.