The Seahawks have a chance in this lost season to revolutionize the NFL. The Seahawks can’t convert on 3rd down.
They are dead last in the league. So they should just start going for it on 4th down.
All the time.
Some elite High school programs have done this to a degree. The implication there has always been that these are elite teams anyway and they are just pressing their superior advantage against inferior competition.
Statistically there are a lot of scenarios where the past precedent math says going for it has been the more successful option. There is of course inherent bias in that because teams are only choosing to go for it on 4th down when they feel they do have an advantage that puts the odds in their favor to begin with.
So the Hawks absolutely implode on 3rd and long. All Pro, super bowl winning Franchise Icon, Russell Wilson has been stupefyingly inaccurate on 3rd down this season, and no one can seem to pin point exactly why. But most of the best educated guesses have to do with him being indecisive, and then pressing, trying to do too much, forcing plays instead of reading and taking what is there. But all that can be alleviated somewhat if he knows they will go for it on 4th down anyway. Then that frees him up to take the play that is there and not force things which seems to be why they are sucking at 3rd down anyway. This also allows the Seahawks to be more true to themselves. If Pete Carrol wants to run the football more, well going for it on 4th down allows them to do that without having to change any of Shane Waldron’s philosophy on 1st and 2nd down. If you are going for it on 4th down you can run the ball on 3rd and 7, pick up 5 or 6 yards but we’ll short of a first down, and then run again on 4th and short. Just taking an extra offensive play is probably beneficial as the hawks suck at time of possession and even if a punt has technically been counted in their play numbers, it hasn’t been an offensive play. They just need more attempts at making forward progress, period. And right now the whole NFL has to be thinking “if we can just hold them on first and 2nd down they will fold in 3rd down.” Now you flip the script and make those defenses sweat knowing they will have to prepare to defend on 4th down every series. Also the defense has actually been decent keeping teams out of the end zone. They play better with a short field anyway. It’s the 12 play 80 yard 10 minute long drives that are killing the Seahawks defense. If those drives are only 30 yard 5 play drives taking 3 minutes, that saves the defense. Just having less field to cover is a boon to this defense. And if they lose spectacularly as a result, then at least we are blaming the “4th down experiment” and not lamenting the same old excruciating deficiencies week after week.
The only down side might be depriving all world punter Michael Dickerson from being Team MVP this year. As if he or anyone else wants to immortalize this season thus far. But all that could change despite the fact the Hawks are outside the playoff hunt with 6 games to play.
Intentionally Challenging the conventional conservative 4th down philosophy of 75 years of Pro Football could turn this team, the worst Seahawks team in a decade, into one of the most important and influential teams of all time. If the Seahawks have any degree of success with going for it on 4th down it could revolutionize quickly in a copy cat league. Maybe that is a long shot. But frankly the odds of them ushering in a new era of football are vastly better than their odds of competing for a championship this year. They don’t even have a 1st round pick to tank for. Testing a new 4th down philosophy over the course of the rest of their season in what will be meaningful NFL games gives the entire team, it’s fan base, all the other NFL teams, and even the casual football fan across the nation a reason to care down the stretch of what is otherwise a lost season. Imagine the excitement and intrigue if the 4th down experiment pays off and suddenly the Seahawks find themselves leading 21-20 with under 2 minutes left in a game against the Rams or Cardinals and suddenly it is 4th and 5 from their own 30. What do they do? Do they abandon the 4th down strategy that has served them so far this game for conventional wisdom? Do they double down on their 4th down conviction even though it basically means this is the final play of the game? Do they fake a punt? Do they line up and run a pitch to a running back who secretly is a pretty decent punter. That’s the kind of play that would never work in the conventional NFL, but the Seahawks would be opening up a whole new football world. Imagine what Chris Collinsworth might say in the moment about that. Imagine what Stephen A Smith will say about that the next morning. Think of the human drama of Pete Carrol in that moment. Will he be seen as an old senile coach whom the game has from ball passed by, or the cement of his football genius and another step towards Canton as a coach, all as a result of this one play. Think of Russell Wilson. Think of what the “go for it” philosophy would be paired with the “why not me” man. Wilson has made his reputation from overcoming mistakes, blown protection, spinning out of a sure sack, scrambling, crawling, clawing at any scrap of opportunity until he finally busts through with a big play. He lives for those frantic moments. And now you hand him 4th down: Roughly 10 more opportunities a game for DangeRUSS to do what he seems born to do.
From the sound of the rumblings it is possible either or both of Carrol and Wilson may be gone by the Draft.
As it stands, if the Seahawks maintain corse and play respectable football, the reality is they are an average football team. They are better than their current records but a .500 team is a .500 team. So it’s likely if they play as they are they win half of their 6 remaining games, they will finish 6 and 11. That isn’t going to save either of them if the wind really is blowing against them. Even if they some how won out and looked like a quality contender in the last 6 weeks, then the verdict would likely be “how did you 2 screw up the team so badly in the first places lol? Honestly not embracing some kind of radical change at this point is career suicide for both.
What is the down side to this?