Are the Seahawks tipping plays?

During Seattle’s week 17 matchup against the Niners, renowned Twitterer Jacob Stevens made an interesting observation about Germaine Ifedi.

Curious about this, I fired up Game Pass to see if this held up. The first play I looked at, a pass play, seemed to verify the slight difference in alignment between Britt and Glow and between Britt and Ifedi.

Ifedi alignment 1

Ifedi certainly looks farther from Britt than Glow is, but the difference isn’t huge. So let’s look at another play, this time a run.

Ifedi alignment 2

Hmm. Maybe Ifedi is lined up wider than Glow but it’s very hard to tell. Let’s keep digging.

Ifedi alignment 3

This is another pass play and Ifedi is much wider here, maybe a full yard farther from Britt than Glow is. So that’s two pass plays where Ifedi has lined up wider, and one run play where he hasn’t. Let’s look at another run.

Ifedi alignment 4

Again, Ifedi is probably a bit wider than Britt here but they’re much closer to even than on any of the pass plays.  By now I’m sure you get the idea, so lets rapid fire through a few more examples.


It’s pretty clear that Ifedi’s alignment varies depending on whether a play is a pass or a run. But wait, there’s more!

It’s not just Ifedi that’s tipping passes or runs, the tackles are doing it even more blatantly. Another rapid fire look.


Tackles in a two point stance? It’s a pass. Tackles in a three point stance? It’s a run. To give some credit to the line, the tackles would also line up with a hand on the ground on play action passes. But Seattle is clearly giving away information about it’s play call by how the offensive linemen line up, and this isn’t the first time a Tom Cable line has had this problem. Here’s a comment from Warren Sapp back in 2010:

“Tom Cable don’t even know that the defensive lineman knows his protection when he goes into a ballgame,” Sapp said. “I was standing in front of the man, he tells me to rush his offensive line. I said, ‘Okay, what set are you coming out in?’ He looks at me and says, ‘What? No, I just want you to rush.'”

“I said, ‘Let me understand this. You’re gonna break the huddle, you come out into a formation. It’ll be two receivers, three receivers, whatever you want to do. But there’s some way you have to protect. And I would know that, 90% of the time. He looked at me like I was speaking Chinese.”….

“He’s not qualified to be an offensive line coach in my book,” Sapp said. “Because he doesn’t know I know which way his center’s going 90% of the time. He blew my mind with that one. I said, ‘Son, you think I got all these sacks ’cause I’m guessing which way the center’s going?'”

Warren’s a loudmouth, but it may not be far fetched to say that Cable has a blind spot for how defenders read the stance and alignment of his linemen.

Staff Writer
  1. The beauty of Cable (and Bevell) is continuity. We KNOW none of the other 31 teams will ever offer them a job. Not even the Browns are that masochistic.

  2. Great investigation! With this article, I now notice that Ifedi’s also aligned about 6-10 inches behind Britt, on virtually all plays, run or pass, and so is the RT. Now in pass sets it’s common for the guards to set behind the center, and the tackles the guards, but here, we have the right side consistently behind *more* than the left side.

    So I’m guessing this is by design. The question is, is it good design? The QB’s right handed, but how might this slight off-set help face-side protection more? Or might it be a reflection of less confidence in Ifedi/Gilliam/Sowell than Glowinski & Fant?

    No idea, really. I wonder if looking at these plays according to down & distance would tell us anything. Might it be that for more obvious passing downs they don’t bother to hide? Corollary there would be that it’s more beneficial to set how you want when you can. But if the team is aware of the tells and doesn’t mind, taking a “make them beat you” kind of approach, the Sapp quote aligns with other peripheral stuff I’ve come across that suggests broadcasting your intent too much definitely impedes your ability to always achieve your intent.

    So that’s all to say there may be some rationale behind some of this, but to some extent that really can’t excuse giving so much away in a game were intel matters quite a bit. Well, only way to excuse it would be having a bad-ass OL, but until that happens, this is not good.

  3. The advantages gained by the stance should offset any tipping of run or pass, which is dictated by situation anyway. The deception comes in the scheme and the type of run or pass.

  4. This is baseless without knowing the down and yardage. If it’s third and long, it’s no mystery to the defense whether it’s run or pass. If there’s an empty backfield it’s no mystery. Teams study and analyze each other way more than this.

  5. Very cool Nathan, and despite detractions above I have to think this is a factor especially in the run game. When you see the Niners (who have been notoriously bad vs the run this season) execute a pretty good run defence, you have to wonder how that is happening.

  6. I was a middle linebacker, way back when (1960’s) & I was taught by my coaches to key on the centers initial movement.
    –At the snap, if the center stands upright, squares up and moves back, he’s in pass protection mode 90% of the time, the other 10% may be when he pulls for a running play or on some option plays.
    –At the snap, if the center stands upright, squares up and moves forward or to either side, it’s 99% a running play.

    How the opposing OL lines up is a key to probability of run or pass but nothing is written in stone until the actual snap of the ball and the initial movement of the OL confirms what is coming. So, in the context of a pre-snap read the defense can anticipate pass or run but it’s still more of a likelihood than a certainty. The initial movements of the center can then confirm your suspicions.

  7. Are they tipping plays on purpose? If the offense knows that the defense thinks it knows what the offense is going to do, then the offense has a strategic advantage!

  8. The OL is supposed to accordion in and out, and up and back
    Two problems the Seahawks have are protection based but
    stance is not the problem,
    When you run and play action SOLELY, you invite the blitz,
    A) you don’t threaten YARDAGE with horizontal screens
    B) horizontal screens are HAZARDOUS vs the press coverage
    your conventional offensive scheme invites
    C) since our WR personnel model does not include size AND speed,
    and frequently not a lot of EITHER, our inability to separate rapidly
    frees up the safeties,
    D) we play two many DOUBLES sets, which open up VERY late vs Zone, and with our personnel model, frequently NEVER vs Man,
    E) we do too many naked bootlegs, DE key on the QB, game over
    Stop calling that, we save 2 throwaways, 2 self sacks and 2 1 yd passes /game
    F) if you were to chart passes between the hash 1-10 yds downfield, attempted in the first 2 seconds, you would see a GLARING HOLE in our attempt graph,
    if you give LBs nothing better to do than blitz…. THEY WILL
    see a GLARING weakness
    G) these 6 things will unload the box, and allow Russell to blitz control ala Brady
    but its impossible to manage blitzes you cant see, because you OC blindfolds you
    for the first 3 seconds every play,
    H) my offenses have led the country 4x with 5 diff all American QBs, and Me twice 🙂

    swing by my page if you are curious how Spygate worked
    I solved it for ESPN in 06

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