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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
John Carlson and offensive diversity

By Mike Sando

The Seattle Seahawks sought offensive balance when they hired Darell Bevell and Tom Cable after firing coordinator Jeremy Bates.

The decision had more to do with a philosophy played out over a season than what happened during a 35-24 playoff defeat at Chicago.

The chart illustrates how much injuries at tight end played into the Seahawks' offensive approach against the Bears. It shows how many tight ends Seattle used on first- and second-down plays in the first halves of two games against Chicago this season, based on my charting. I singled out early downs and first halves because game situations -- the score and third-down situations in particular -- are less influential then.

Seattle had three tight ends active against the Bears in Week 6. The team had two in the divisional round and one of those, John Carlson, suffered a concussion early and did not return. The only remaining tight end, Cameron Morrah, played through an injury.

The Bears were probably going to win this game anyway, but Matt Hasselbeck's postgame comments about lost flexibility ring true, particularly when we look at the personnel numbers. Carlson caught two touchdown passes against New Orleans in the wild-card round. Without him, Seattle went without a tight end at all far more frequently than normal.