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It's Not Been Like This Bellore

Welcome to Week 2. This week, the NFL Lineal Champions are at home, welcoming the team that kept them out of the playoffs last year. This may be the third straight season the Lions are playing the Seahawks, but this isn't the same situation as those past times. This time, we're the scary ones. This time, it's not like the games we played Bellore. Yes, yes, I'm really pushing the puns. Am I going to stop? Ge-no! I'll need a Walker before I stop making them!


Like usual for these previews, I'm going to look at each side of the ball one by one and see where the weak links are for our Lions to exploit, before listing my three keys for victory, making a hot take (which I technically got right last week [if you disregard Mahomes' scrambles]), and finally my score prediction for the game.


Offense:

Making a welcome return to our preview articles is the inclusion of formation data. Last week, the Seahawks ran four personnel sets for more than 5% of their offensive snaps. On 56% of their plays, they ran 11 personnel for -0.18 EPA/play and a 71% pass rate. 12 personnel was their second-favourite set, using it on 26% of their offensive plays for 0.14 EPA/play and a 62% pass rate. 4 wide (i.e. 10 personnel) was used on 8% of snaps for 0.05 EPA/play and a predictably high 75% pass rate. They ran 21 personnel on 6% of snaps for 0.47 EPA/play and a 33% pass rate. Overall, their offence created -0.04 EPA/play and passed the ball on 66% of their plays. Something that is very telling is that Seattle was most efficient in 21 personnel but used this set very little, though this could be skewed by one big play given such a small sample size. Inversely, they were least successful in their most run set, suggesting a number of bad plays from this personnel.


Moving our focus to the most important position on the field (well, behind the personal protector on punts, of course), Geno Smith posted a 59.2 offense grade last week. This grade is made up of a 59.5 passing grade, a 58.3 rushing grade and a 77.9 fumble grade. Focusing specifically on his passing, he threw 16 completions on 26 attempts (61.5%) on 29 dropbacks, for 112 yards (4.3 ypa), 1 TD and 0 interceptions. He threw away 3 passes, two were dropped by his receivers and he was hit as he threw 1. Geno gained 7 first downs with his passes, his throws had an ADOT of 6.2 yards, his adjusted completion rate was 81.8%, and Smith's passer rating was 84.1. None of his passes qualified as either a big-time throw or as a turnover-worthy play according to PFF. 2 of the 13 pressures Smith faced became sacks (15.4%), and he had an average time to throw of 2.76 seconds. On his one scramble, Geno gained 6 yards, 1 of which came after contact.


According to PFF, Geno was weakest targeting the deep left, completing none of his 2 attempts in this area for a 50.6 grade. Conversely, he was strongest targeting the intermediate left, completing his 1 attempt in this area for 10 yards, a touchdown and a 71.6 grade. Last week, 65.4% of Smith's attempts were either behind or within 9 yards of the line of scrimmage, which is more than the 57.2% rate of a certain Honolulu blue-wearing QB who gets much maligned for not pushing the ball downfield. Given this, we can assume that a similar game plan to the one that worked last week could be effective: let Geno work the short areas where he's comfortable but is unlikely to inflict much damage and trust our defensive backs to be able to limit YAC and wrap up well.


As for the people Geno throws to, three of the seven players he targeted last week received below-average PFF grades. Surprisingly one of these players was rookie slot receiver and former Buckeye Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He is a surprising part of this list for two reasons. The first is of course the fact that he broke his wrist a few weeks ago so should be resting to heal. The second is that he was a highly regarded prospect, so for him to post a sub-standard 54.1 receiving grade was interesting, to say the least. To focus on his performance, he caught 3 of his 4 targets for 13 yards (4.3 yards per reception), 0.68 yards per route fan, an ADOT of 1.0 yards, 1 drop and 1 first down. Given the only player to receive more targets than JSN last week was DK Metcalf, Branch will likely be getting more chances to add to his great stats from last week, as he is our slot corner and JSN played 81% of his snaps in the slot.


Tyler Lockett also had 4 targets last week, converting these into 2 catches for 10 yards (5 yards per reception), 0.38 yards per route ran, an ADOT of 15.0 yards, 1 contested catch opportunity that wasn't taken and 1 first down; earning him a 57.5 receiving grade. Given he took 63.3% of his snaps out wide, I would likely be matching him up on Sutton if we try travelling our corners, allowing the more physical DK Metcalf to be covered by the peak human specimen that is Jerry. The other receiver to gain a sub-60 PFF receiving grade was former Spartan Kenneth Walker III. He also got 4 targets, catching all 4 for 3 yards (0.8 yards per reception), 22 yards after the catch, 0.19 yards per route ran, an ADOT of -4.8 yards, and 1 first down for a 59.7 receiving grade. Either covering him with a safety in the box or Anzalone will probably suffice to neutralise any threat from Walker.


However, in the same area of the field lurks their best receiving weapon from last week. Posting an elite 89.7 receiving grade, catching both of his targets for 17 yards (8.5 yards per catch), 15 yards after the catch, an ADOT of 1.0 yards, 1.89 yards per route ran, 1 contested catch won, 3 forced missed tackles, and a first down was... TE Will Dissly. Given his reputation of being more of a blocker than a receiver, this is pretty interesting, and one would almost be tempted to shade the Seattle tight ends with someone like CJGJ to remove this safety blanket for Geno; to force him to pass deeper and outside the numbers where his arm talent can be tested against our new look secondary. Overall, while a WR like DK Metcalf who can be both physical and fast scares me slightly, Geno showed last week that he isn't as efficient deep as he was last week so we should allow him to dink and dunk his way down the field where he can't really hurt us. In essence, I am suggesting we play more zone like we did last week, where we almost dare Geno to try and hurt us deep to give our playmakers chances to attack the ball and force turnovers.


Looking at the other side of their offence, rookie back and former Wolverine Zach Charbonnet didn't hit the ground running. He took a handoff on all three of his snaps in running situations, taking them for 11 yards (3.7 yards a pop), 4 yards after contact, and a 49.5 rushing grade. On his 1 scramble, Geno gained 6 yards and earned himself a 58.3 rushing grade. A back who sounds like he should be working weddings in Texas rather than toting the rock in Seattle, DeeJay Dallas, took 4 snaps in rushing situations, taking 2 handoffs for 4 yards (2.0 yards per attempt), 1 yard after contact, and a 62.9 rushing grade. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their best runner last week was Walker, who took a handoff on all 12 of his snaps in rushing situations, taking the ball for 64 yards (5.3 ypa), 44 yards after contact, 4 forced missed tackles, 2 runs of over 10 yards, 1 attempt classed as "breakaway" by PFF, 3 first downs, and a 72.6 rushing grade.


Taking out Smith's scramble, the Seahawks were fairly balanced in the types of runs they called, with a slight bias towards zone plays over gap (8:7 ratio). Seattle was weakest on runs that went through the right D-gap, gaining no yards on their one attempt in this direction. Inversely, they were most successful on runs that went up the left D-gap, gaining 6.4 yards per carry in this direction. Therefore, when it comes to slowing the Seattle run game, we should first key in on Walker in particular as he is their main threat. When he is on the field, the focus should be on the right-hand side of the Seattle line and the left D-gap as he is strong running in these gaps. Similarly, all of Charbonnet's attempts last week went up the right-hand A-gap, so the focus should be on the interior of the line when he takes a handoff. Dallas seems to favour bouncing the ball outside on his runs, so the linebackers should key in on this and force him back inside into traffic.


Given the injuries to both of their starting tackles, I will disregard any data for these players as it is highly unlikely either travel to play this Sunday. Playing in relief of Lucas will be Jake Curhan. On his 11 pass-blocking snaps last week, he allowed 4 pressures (all hurries) for a 53.0 grade. The star on their interior is former Lion Evan Brown, who played all 50 of his snaps at C, allowing no pressure on his 33 pass-blocking snaps for a 77.5 pass-blocking grade, and a 56.2 run-blocking grade. The massive weakness on the Seattle line will be LG Damien Lewis, who earned himself a 7.9 pass-blocking grade by allowing 5 pressures (4 hurries and a sack), and a miserly 62.3 run-blocking grade. Lewis is who I would be targeting on the interior, especially since the Seahawks will be starting Curhan at RT and presumably veteran Jason Peters at LT, meaning Seattle's blocking focus will be on helping stem pressure from the edges, allowing more one-on-one matchups for our interior pieces. In particular, stunts like those we saw from Hutch last week where he came inside from an outside alignment to attack the Chiefs' weak link in pass protection in RG Trey Smith could be very effective.


Overall, especially given its relative success last week, I would employ a similar game plan to the one deployed last week in Kansas City to stop this Seattle offence. They have similar weaknesses, and Geno is not on the same plane of existence as Mahomes in terms of talent. We managed to hold the Chiefs to 20 points last week, and given how the offense should warm up and score more than 14 points by itself, we shouldn't be scared of losing the game if it comes to a grind. Allow the short completions, limit yards after catch and yards after contact on runs, force the Seahawks into third-and-longs, then pin our ears back and make Geno's life hell.


Defense:

On defense, Seattle ran 245 the most, allowing a 0.18 EPA/play on a 42% pass rate. On 21% of plays, they ran a 236 dime look, giving up 0.82 EPA/play on a 94% pass rate. The Seahawks ran a heavy 254 look on 12% of plays, allowing exactly 0 EPA/play on a 60% run rate. They were in base 344 on 9% of plays, giving up -0.14 EPA/play and facing only runs. Overall, the Seahawks defence allowed 0.27 EPA/play and faced a pass on 50% of snaps. This data suggests that the Seahawks can be efficient at stopping the run in situations where the run is obvious (short yardage, goal line, etc.), but they aren't as stout against the pass, which is something we can exploit by passing out of heavy formations and running out of traditional passing sets.


Speaking of run defence, Seattle's best run defender last week was the prodigal son returning; Bobby Wagner. On his 40 run defence snaps, he made 9 tackles, assisted 3 others, and made 8 run stops, with an average depth of tackle of 1.7 yards for a 90.4 run defence grade. Edge Nwosu was the next man up, with all 3 of his tackles classing as run stops with an average depth of tackle of -2.7 yards for an 85.2 run defence grade. The weakest run defender out of their starters was Jordyn Brooks, who posted a 57.1 run defence grade on his 36 run defence snaps, missing 1 of his 9 tackles, making 5 others and assisting another 3, making 3 run stops with an average depth of tackle of 3.4 yards. Along the defensive line, the weak spot against the run is Dre'Mont Jones. On his 27 run defence snaps, he made 2 assisted tackles and no run stops for a 62.4 grade. Overall, the Seahawks registered a 72.4 run defence grade, suggesting that the sledging might be harder than it was for our backs last week. However, they were facing a Rams OL that earned themselves a 56.6 run-blocking grade, so perhaps this high grade was more a symptom of who they were facing rather than an indication of their own performance. Furthermore, with the hint that Gibbs will be getting more touches after his great debut last week, we could exploit the Seahawks' focus on the run against them by running counter or traps.


As good as the Seahawks were against the run last week, they were not as good against the pass. In fact, according to PFF, their best pass rusher was their slot safety hybrid Coby Bryant, who got 1 pressure on 5 pass rush snaps for a 64.3 pass-rushing grade. All but one of their starting linemen earned subpar pass-rushing grades from PFF. The lone exception to this was Edwards Jr., who won 9.1% of his pass-rushing reps but no pressures, earning himself a 60.8 grade. Their most productive pass rusher was NT Jarran Reed, who won 11.1% of his reps, forced 3 pressures (1 hit, 2 hurries), and had a penalty called on him for a 57.3 grade. On the edge, Nwosu also forced 3 pressures (all hurries), winning 7.4% of his reps for a 54.6 grade. Darrell Taylor won 10% of his reps for 2 pressures (both hurries) and a 57.1 pass-rushing grade. The weakest starter pass-rushing-wise was Jones, who only won 3.8% of his reps, creating no pressure and having a penalty called on him for a 51.8 grade. Overall, if the only way the Seahawks can generate pressure against a relatively weak Rams offensive line is by generating artificial pressure with blitzes, then we should be able to keep the pocket clean for Goff to deal balls all over the field. It should also allow the backs and tight ends to be more involved in the passing game as they won't be needed as often to help pass block, allowing Ben Johnson to open up the playbook a little and give Goff more options to throw to.


As for the coverage on the backend, Seattle was missing their fifth overall pick and star of many a Lions mock draft this off-season, Devon Witherspoon. Playing in his stead was Bryant, who, while he was good at rushing the passer, was appalling in coverage. On his 32 coverage snaps, he was targeted 10 times, allowing 7 catches for 64 yards (9.1 Y/R), 23 of which were after the catch, on an average depth of target of 7.5 yards for a 35.7 coverage grade. On the outside, Tre Brown didn't fare much better. On his 31 coverage snaps, he was targeted 4 times for 3 catches, 72 yards (24 Y/R), 21 of which were after the catch, on an ADOT of 14.0 yards. He also had a penalty called on him. He earned himself a 50.5 grade from PFF. Woolen was slightly above average against the Rams, getting a 64.6 grade. On his 39 coverage snaps, he was targeted twice. He allowed one catch for 5 yards, 1 of which was after the catch. He faced an ADOT of 18.0 yards. Former Lion Quandre Diggs played 41 coverage snaps last week, having one penalty called on him, but also not allowing a catch on his two targets (ADOT of 27.5 yards) for a 47.2 coverage grade. The other safety gave Love a bad name as he got himself a 38.5 coverage grade from PFF. Julian Love played 41 coverage snaps and was targeted 6 times, allowing 4 catches for 63 yards (15.8 Y/R), 23 of which were after the catch, on an ADOT of 13.0 yards. He also forced one incompletion. Given how mediocre their pass rush looked last week, it is no surprise that the Seahawks' coverage suffered. Since our offensive line is a lot better than the Rams', Goff should be able to pick this secondary apart like I pick apart the plot of a Young Adult novel with a stereotypical love triangle: with ease and with great aplomb.


All in all, this Seahawks team might be relatively stout against the run but they are as weak against the pass as I am when I'm tempted to buy a pack of football cards. Goff should be able to use this game as an opportunity to silence the critics by attacking the secondary hard and often. By doing this, we should force their safeties and linebackers to focus on the pass, opening up the potential for the backs to hit the holes. In an inverse of the norm, we should pass to set up the run.


Special Teams:

Myers is a decent kicker, but a miss from within 40 yards is a bit disappointing, leading to his 49.4 field goal grade from PFF. On kickoffs he was better, with two going for touchbacks, one was fair caught and the other was returned for 8 yards, leading to an average starting field position of the 26-yard line for the Rams, getting him a bang average 60.0 kickoff grade.


Dickson is a really good punter, averaging 4.71 seconds of hangtime, and only a quarter of his punts last week were returned (one went out of bounds, the other two were touchbacks), earning him a 74.4 punting grade.


In the return game, surprisingly TE Colby Parkinson took a kickoff for 16 yards, perhaps on one that went short to him as an up-man, getting him a 59.9 kick return grade. The other kickoff was taken for 34 yards by DeeJay Dallas, getting him a 61.6 grade. Dallas took the only punt return for 18 yards as well, getting a 60.3 grade in this area.


Three Keys to Victory:

  • Get pressure from the interior- We know Seattle will be missing their starting tackles, but so do they, and they'll be game-planning how to best minimise the impact on Geno's pass protection. However, this may lead them to overlook the interior, especially with how poorly Damien Lewis performed last week. Use this to our advantage; get pressure from the interior, get in Geno's face and make him uncomfortable.

  • Push the ball downfield- This Seattle defence appears to not be like those of the past, as they are vulnerable to the pass. Use this to our advantage, get the ball moving through the air, and open up the middle of the field for runs.

  • Use their aggressiveness against them- The Seahawks know they need to blitz to generate a pass rush to hurry Goff. Use this against them, call screens to Amon-Ra, Leaf, and most excitingly Gibbs. Get the ball in their hands in the open field and let them get to work.


Hot Take for the Game: Geno throws two interceptions while Goff again has a clean game, setting up the potential for him to break Rodgers' record in Lambeau in two weeks' time.


Prediction: As I keep reiterating in one way or another throughout this piece, this Seattle team doesn't worry me in the same way that those of the past do. While they will be a tough team to play, especially as they have a chip on their shoulder from last week's loss, we have an even larger one on our shoulder from them keeping us out of the playoffs last year. Expect us to show no mercy.


Detroit Lions 31, Seattle Seahawks 13


How do you think the game will go? Will our Lions continue their winning start and be 2-0 for the first time since 2017, or will the Seahawks get back to .500? Who do you think will be the stat leaders, and what will the final score be?

 

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Comments (2)

Ash, thank you so much for doing these. You and the rest of the ROTL UK gang are fantastic!

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Jerimy Walker
Jerimy Walker
Apr 30, 2023

Greetings, I was glad to listen to your interesting interview. The season went really well. I liked the quality of your broadcast, which application did you use for this? Is it on this list? I just want to do live broadcasts

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