Carlson less involved on third down

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Rookie tight end John Carlson leads the Seahawks in receptions this season.

One more reception will give Carlson the single-season franchise record for receptions by a tight end, set by Itula Mili (46 in 2003).

I was surprised to see Carlson come off the field six times in nine plays of third-and-2 or longer against the Patriots.

The chart shows the Seahawks' third-down plays. The top three were third-and-1 plays. Plays shaded yellow represent plays without a tight end on the field. The Seahawks converted two of these six opportunities. They converted 1 of 2 remaining plays of third-and-2 or longer, including when Seneca Wallace found Carlson for a 7-yard gain on third-and-3.

I had charted 83 Seattle plays of third-and-2 or longer this season. The Seahawks had used a tight end on 64 of those plays. They had used their "E" personnel group -- two running backs and three wide receivers -- five times in those plays. They used it four times on third down against the Patriots, converting one time.

The Seahawks' full personnel-use report, expanded to include more situational breakdowns, is available for download. Seattle ran three times for zero yards from its familiar I-formation looks. The team averaged 5.8 yards per carry on 10 rushes with one running back, three receivers and one tight end. Forcing a defense to account for Carlson would seem to help.