Dispatches on the Seahawks “Pick/Slant” Concept

The haters and doubters (most football fans and most football writers) still think Bill Belichick got lucky at the end of the Super Bowl after not calling a timeout. Part of their argument is “he couldn’t have known” the pick/slant play was coming. Here’s visual proof he could easily know it. The Seahawks ran the play many times thru the 2014 season.  The inside receiver (always aligned on the line of scrimmage) would adjust his route based on the DB depth and coverage, but the outside receiver (always aligned off the line of scrimmage) would always run a slant underneath it.

Like in the Super Bowl, it was almost always:

  • red zone and/or two-minute drill
  • 11 personnel
  • with Lynch offset to the opposite side of the field

Even when a RB or TE would replace one or both WR in the pick/slant (for instance the TE/RB combo in the Broncos game) it was still 11 personnel.

Week 3 versus the Denver Broncos. Red zone. 11 personnel. A 3×2 formation with trips bunched to the left. Two minute drill in the red zone. Wilson in shotgun, 2 players away from the formation running a pick/slant route combo (bottom of the screen):

SEAvDENpickslant

and then, the slant wide open for the touchdown:

SEAvDENpickslant2

This, below, is the best one. Week 6 versus Dallas Cowboys. Just like the SB, it’s 1. Red zone;  2. 11 personnel;  3. Stacked WRs to the QB’s right;  4. RB offset left. The DBs are stacked like in the SB, but they don’t jam. Wilson in shotgun, 2 players away from the formation running a pick/slant route combo (top of the screen):

SEAvDALstackslant

route developing…

SEAvDALstackslant2

unchallenged catch…

SEAvDALstackslant3

at the moment of the catch, the receiver two yards past the LOS. This play against this coverage in the Super Bowl would have resulted in a catch one yard into the end zone.

SEAvDALstackslant4

The following game, Week 7 versus the St. Louis Rams. Red zone. 11 personnel. RB offset to opposite side. Wilson in shotgun, 2 players away from the formation running a pick/slant route combo (top of screen) :

SEAvSTLpickslant

route developing, outside corner not in position to stop the slant…

SEAvSTLpickslant2

The other DB is prepared, though, and Wilson can’t throw it.

SEAvSTLpickslant3

Wilson throws incomplete to the pick route receiver.

SEAvSTLpickslant4

Later in the game. Two-minute drill on the edge of red zone. 11 personnel. RB offset to the opposite side. Wilson in shotgun, 2 players away from the formation running a pick/slant route combo (top of screen):

SEAvSTLsecpickslant

Boom.

SEAvSTLsecpickslant2

Later in the same possession. Two-minute drill in the red zone. 11 personnel. 3×2 formation this time (maybe Bevell thought that was an unpredictable twist?). Wilson in shotgun, 2 players away from the formation running a pick/slant route combo (bottom of screen):

SEAvSTLthirdpickslant

Here it comes!

SEAvSTLthirdpickslant2

Wilson is pressured and can’t throw it.

SEAvSTLthirdpickslant3

The following game, Week 8 versus the Carolina Panthers. Two-minute drill at the edge of the red zone. 11 personnel. RB offset to the opposite side. Wilson in shotgun, 2 players away from the formation running a pick/slant route combo (top of the screen):

SEAvCARpickslant

WIDE OPEN:

SEAvCARpickslant2

Week 11 versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Two-minute drill. Red zone. 11 personnel. Wilson in shotgun, RB offset strong, 2 receivers to the weak side, pick slant on weak side of formation (top of screen):

SEAvKCpickslant2

With the Chiefs not jamming, Wilson throws it to the over route.

SEAvKCpickslant3

Week 16 versus the Arizona Cardinals. Two-minute drill. 11 personnel. RB offset to the opposite side. Wilson in shotgun, 2 players away from the formation running a pick/slant route combo (top of screen):

SEAvARIpickslant

Wilson looks only to the slant, then has to pull the ball down due to pressure.

SEAvARIpickslant2

I’m not claiming the pick/slant is the Seahawks only pass play. I’m not even ripping them for loving the pick/slant. It’s a popular concept for a reason. Every team has their favorite concepts in the running game and passing game. When Wilson isn’t under center the Seahawks run some trips open, some trips closed, even pistol. They’ll use motion, stacks, bunches. But the 2x side of a shotgun in 11 personnel in the red zone at the end of a game basically assured the defense of a pick/slant. Once the Seahawks lined up, the Patriots counted on defending the pick/slant to the point that any other pass play probably scores.

Hell, the Seahawks SHOULD have been predictable. They just should have been predictable at their strength: Beast Mode runs. I’d have lined up in 2-back personnel and run power. They’d done it 6 times for 28 yards in the Super Bowl. The gains had ranged from 1 yard to 14. And inside the 1, with a championship on the line, they didn’t seem to even consider it.

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