Kind of crazy to think, just a couple of years ago the Seahawks were super bowl contenders, while the Bears were the laughing stock of the league. Now Chicago’s coming off a game where they beat Seattle fairly dominantly. It just goes to show noting is fully consistent in the NFL,
… well except for the Seahawks offensive line playing poorly, that’s pretty much been the case for a while.
It’s no secret Seattle’s offensive line could use some help, so they started off by using a fair amount of sets with multiple tight ends or sets with a fullback in them. On paper, having extra protection for Wilson and extra men to help run block worked pretty well. They averaged 6.36 yards per play out of those sets. However if you look a little closer into the stats, Wilson threw a 34 yard pass that inflates the numbers a little bit. Seattle only threw the ball with a fullback or multiple tight ends in the game four times if you take out the 34 yard gain, and they only only gained 4 yards in those 4 plays. Taking out the 34 yard gain, their overall average from these sets went down to just 3.27 yards per play. It might be unfair to take out Seattle’s best play from that set (in fact, it was their best play all game), but I still felt like it was worth mentioning. Another thing worth mentioning is that when Seattle ran the ball out of a set with multiple tight ends or a fullback, they averaged 5.33 yards per carry, which was their highest average from any set. While that’s not an insanely high number, Seattle only averaged 4.76 yards per play throughout the game, so they could use yards any way they could get them.
While the Seahawks were only able to put up 4.76 yards per play, Chicago’s offense was struggling right along with them, putting up just 4.69 yards per play. Last week against Green Bay, the Bears were able to kill the Packers by running the ball from singleback sets as they averaged an insane 7.08 yards per carry. However it’s clear Seattle had plans to not let Chicago’s running backs run all over them as well, as they were ready for the run even when facing a singleback set, and they held the Bears to just 2.40 yards per carry out of singleback sets on Sunday. However one side effect from this strategy by the Seahawks coaching staff was it opened up the door for the passing game out of a set that’s primarily used for passing. Trubisky wasn’t able to make Seattle pay severely, but he helped his team gain a pretty solid 5.83 yards per passing play. And especially since yards were so hard to come by last Sunday, it was definitely a useful tool for Chicago.
One of the craziest stats from last week was how well Aaron Rodgers threw the ball out of a 4 wide set, as the Packers averaged an insane 10.44 yards per play out of that set. It was definitely something to look at for Bears fans, as it could be a cause for concern to think that perhaps Green Bay found their weakness. However Chicago proved this week that it was just a fluke (mixed with Aaron Rodgers doing classic Aaron Rodgers things). This week Seattle averaged just 4.21 yards from 4 wide or 5 wide sets (including a pick 6 that essentially put the game away). And while you’d think that’d be cause for celebration for Bears fans, they had an even worse time passing the ball out out those sets, as they averaged a horrendous 1.85 yards per play from those sets. So what do you do if you’re struggling throwing the football out of obvious passing sets? If you’re Chicago you find different sets to throw the ball out of. In their 14 plays with multiple tight ends in the game, they ran the ball for 9 of them. But in the 5 times the Bears passed the ball they gained 46 yards (9.2 yards per play). I know it’s a small sample size, but when offense was so non existent throughout most of these games, these little things can really made a big difference. In fact, on both of Chicago’s touchdown drives they passed from a multiple tight end set at least once.
Probably the most important set to have success from is the singleback set. As I mentioned earlier, Chicago was able to find some success in the passing game out of singleback sets, however for Seattle they had no success whatsoever. The Seahawks used a singleback set 35 times, which was 54.7 percent of their plays. However they gained just 4.43 yards per passing play, and just 1.75 yards per rushing play ( which ended up being 3.51 yards per play overall). While it’s admittedly easy to sit back an run the numbers after the fact, then use hindsight to nitpick decisions made throughout the game, it has to be mentioned that Seattle only averaged 3.51 yards from singleback sets, and they averaged 6.36 yards with multiple tight ends or a fullback, and yet they used a singleback set 54.7% of the time and used a set with a multiple tight end or a fullback 17.2% of the time. Hindsight is absolutely 20-20, however Chicago was able to find ways to mix things up in order to move the ball, and Seattle wasn’t, and that was probably the difference in Sunday’s game.