It's just that they like undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin quite a bit more.
Coach Pete Carroll and staff haven't come out and said this, of course, but snap counts can tell us plenty. The chart, based on data provided by ESPN Stats & Information, shows snap counts by week for the Seahawks' skill players.
A few thoughts on what the numbers say:
Baldwin, whose 55-yard scoring reception in the opener helped Seattle rally against San Francisco, is taking snaps at the expense of Tate. He's becoming the third receiver, basically. Sidney Rice's debut accounts for the drop in Ben Obomanu's playing time. Baldwin appears ideally suited for the slot. Tate, less so.
Leon Washington isn't getting enough snaps, in my view. He and Justin Forsett fill similar roles, but Washington appears quicker and more explosive. He returned impressively last season after suffering a career-threatening leg injury. The lockout bought extra down time for him. Washington has said the extra rest helped him. Instead of waiting for the offense to sustain drives well enough for Washington to find additional snaps, why not work him into a more prominent role?
There was no easing Rice into the offense upon his return from a shoulder injury. Rice immediately played more snaps than any wide receiver. The Seahawks also played fewer snaps with two tight ends, costing snaps for Anthony McCoy.
2011 Seahawks Snap Counts
I've been going over similar information for all NFC West teams and look forward to getting a better feel for how teams utilize their personnel. My flight will be landing in Arizona soon. Until next time ...