The Seahawks noticeable shift in offensive philosophy in Week 1 wasn’t just a media-driven narrative. Players noticed (and appreciated) the aggressive approach as well in Seattle’s 38-25 win over the Falcons.
In addition to a pass-heavy game plan in neutral situations, the Seahawks notably went for it on 4th-and-5 from Atlanta’s 38-yard line early in the third quarter while holding a 14-12 lead. Seattle’s roll of the dice paid off as Russell Wilson hit DK Metcalf for a long touchdown down the left sideline.
The uncharacteristic gamble wasn’t lost on Metcalf. He was just as surprised as the rest of us that Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer kept the offense out on the field.
“The one thing that really sticks out is that last year we probably would have punted in that situation,” Metcalf said on Thursday. “For Schotty to have trusted Russ and the offense in that situation, for us to go deep and to just score a touchdown shows a lot about our growth and our different mentality this year.”
Metcalf acknowledging a “different mentality” on offense is pretty significant as no other player or coach had specifically done so previously. Schottenheimer did confirm that being more aggressive, particularly on fourth down, was a point of emphasis during their offseason meetings more than ever before.
“I would say 100% we’ve talked more about it,” Schottenheimer said on Thursday. “We starting talking about it in the offseason in terms of, ‘OK, we’ve got a great player in Russ. We’ve got great weapons around him.’ Pete likes to be aggressive anyways. We certainly have had way more discussions this year about it.”
There’s another unique layer to Metcalf’s long touchdown in Week 1. The Falcons emphatically stopped Travis Homer on a third-down toss to the left to set up the 4th-and-5. Schottenheimer confirmed what Wilson said earlier this week that everyone on the Seahawks sideline was irked by how much Atlanta celebrated that play against Homer.
The Falcons were “going crazy” according to Schottenheimer.
“It was almost extinctive. I knew what Pete was getting ready to do,” he said. “The competitor in Pete was going, ‘OK those guys are going crazy over there, let’s go try to get them.’”
And that’s exactly what Seattle did.
“This one does show a little bit of the aggressiveness that we’re looking for, but we’re looking for those opportunities at different times. There could be some fourth downs this week we don’t go for for different reasons. Or we could go for every fourth down. You really never know.”
The good news, at least for Seahawks fans who were hoping for such a change, is that the thought process is different than it was a year ago. As Schottenheimer noted, that may not change the ultimate decision made on each fourth down, but it’s clear that Seattle’s offense is out for blood far more so than we’ve seen in recent memory.