The Seahawks offense has predominantly operated out of 11 personnel over the last two seasons. That means, for 72% of the snaps in 2018 and 73% in 2019, Seattle had one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers on the field (per Sharp Football).
Those numbers plummet to 12% and 14%, respectively, in regard to how often the Seahawks came out in 12 personnel (one running back and two tight ends). It makes sense given Will Dissly’s pair of season-ending injuries the past two years. However, that trend will almost assuredly change, at least to some degree, in 2020.
That’s because the Seahawks four best skill players (excluding running backs) are DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Greg Olsen, and Will Dissly. When all four are healthy, it would be silly for Seattle to not get them on the field at the same time as much as possible.
“What makes 12 good is when you can have interchangeable parts,” Brian Schottenheimer said on Tuesday. “I think we have those pieces, which is great.”
With Olsen and Dissly, you can split either of them into the slot or keep both tight to the formation. Both players simultaneously give you a threat in the passing game (short, intermediate, seam-stretching, and red zone included) as well as bolster your ability to block the run or pass.
That’s a level of versatility you don’t get out of most No. 3 receivers.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast with host Joe Fann and special guest Evan Silva].
“Tight ends are asked to do a lot,” Schottenheimer said. “They’ve got a lot to do in the running game, a lot to do in the passing game and they’re involved in pass protection. Those guys have done a nice job picking that up, really from front to back on the depth chart.”
And it’s not even just about dictating the tempo and making the defense react to you. That can be part of it, sure, but the Seahawks will be able to create mismatches out of 12 personnel regardless of how an opposing defense reacts to it.
“Do they want to play your base? Do they want to play your sub? And then whatever they do, we’ve got answers for that,” Schottenheimer said. “If they want to play us sub vs. 12, we feel great about our running game and still (about) our matchups on the outside. If they want to play base, we still feel great about our running game and our ability to push the ball deep down the field, but also to get the ball out quick looking for matchups.”
Olsen didn’t peel back the curtain as to how much he expects his new team to utilize 12 personnel, but he did have some fun letting everyone know that tight ends would be heavily involved.
“Whether that’s 12 or 11, or 21 or… we just don’t talk about 10. We don’t talk about no tight ends on the field. We pretend that doesn’t exist,” Olsen joked.
There’s no need for Olsen to pretend. He can rest assured that won’t happen in Seattle this season.