Seahawks believe picking up the pace helps streamroll Giants
Seahawks are convinced snapping the ball more quickly wore the New York defense down and made short work of the Giants.
Seattle Times staff reporter
In the locker room during halftime, Tom Cable approached Doug Baldwin with an important reminder.
“Let’s keep pushing these guys to get out of the huddle quickly,” the Seahawks’ offensive-line coach told Baldwin, Seattle’s wide receiver.
That directive sounds minor, but players pointed to the larger concept behind Cable’s words as one of the biggest reasons the Seahawks were so successful in a 38-17 win over the Giants on Sunday. Seattle increased the tempo, stepping on the accelerator. They made some subtle but significant changes you might not have even noticed.
They got in and out of the huddle quicker. They snapped the ball quicker. They sprinted to the line of scrimmage before the snap and then sprinted back to the huddle after the play.
They emphasized doing that all week, and they set a franchise record with 350 rushing yards and dominated in the second half. But the implications could loom larger depending on whether this was an aberration or the start of a trend.
“I think you saw that we were playing Seahawks football again,” Baldwin said.
“I keep repeating myself, but we really played our style for the first time,” guard J.R. Sweezy said. “We felt it, and we fed off it, and it showed in the end.”
“That’s something we did a lot last year,” offensive tackle Russell Okung said. “We played a lot of high tempo, and we weren’t afraid to run it down your throat. It’s good to see that back in the scheme, and the coaches really believing that they could put the game on our backs.”
The Seahawks had been more methodical earlier this season. They moved at a leisurely pace between plays and as they approached the line of scrimmage — a stroll around Green Lake compared to a sprint around a track.
The difference might have only cut a second or two between each play, but as Baldwin said, that’s “a lot for our offense.”
“We work in a game of milliseconds,” he said. “Every second is vitally important. If you get an extra second to read the defense before the ball is snapped, you’re going to give yourself an extra three seconds in your route to be able to get open and do something. And the same for the offensive line, so they could figure out who they’re blocking and be in position to get their blocks.”
The Seahawks have harped all season on the need to establish a good tempo and rhythm. When they’ve pointed to their struggles offensively, they’ve usually mentioned a lack of one or both of those things.
But there is also a psychological aspect to the Seahawks’ pace.
“If you look at it from the defensive standpoint, if the offense is running to the ball when they’re coming out of the huddle, that’s an intimidating factor,” Baldwin said.
“Just every play, play after play after play, the offense breaks the huddle and then sprints to the line of scrimmage. It definitely wears on the defense.”
Said offensive lineman Alvin Bailey: “It imposes on the defense, mentally and physically.”
The Seahawks averaged 7.8 yards per carry, and it’s hard deciphering whether they had the best rushing day in franchise history because of their increased tempo or whether it was simply a coincidence (a third possibility is that the Giants just didn’t play well defensively).
But maybe the real takeaway is that Seattle’s players believed in the importance of those adjustments.
“I felt like we were playing like we were last year at the end of the year, when we were getting after guys pretty good,” Bailey said.
“I felt like that was old Seahawks ball right there.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org