How the Seahawks Measure Up: Week 6 Edition

There were no surprises in the game versus New England.  The Patriots are the top-ranked offense in the NFL, and they were able to move the chains against the Seahawks’ defense.  But despite all the yardage they gained, they had difficulty finishing off drives with touchdowns.  Through their first five games, New England averaged 33 points a game.  Seattle held them to 23 – that is a major accomplishment.

The Patriots also have one of the best run defenses in the league, and they did an outstanding job of containing Marshawn Lynch.  The team’s Achilles heel is its weak secondary, but rookie defensive end Chandler Jones helps make up for that by getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. 

In short, this matchup put tremendous pressure on Russell Wilson to win this game through the air, something most other run-heavy offenses like the Ravens, Jets, and Chiefs have traditionally been unable to pull off when their rushing attack falters.  Thankfully, Wilson was able to succeed where game managers like Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, and Matt Cassel have failed so very often over the last few seasons. 

In earlier games, Wilson had a habit of trusting in his legs over his arm and would take off on scrambles for little to no gain on too many occasions.  When he was flushed from the pocket this time around, however, he kept his eyes downfield and was able to make some phenomenally accurate deep throws.  Even more impressively, he pulled off those long bombs with little to no time to set up or step in to his throws.  The kid’s got a hell of an arm.

Still, the rookie QB wouldn’t have been able to do much of anything had his receivers not been as solid as they were in the game.  Doug Baldwin rebounded from an off performance versus Carolina to pull in two key passes for 74 yards and a TD.  Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, who both consistently got separation from defenders all night long, played like the talented game-changers we all hoped they could be for Seattle’s offense.  Zach Miller, Braylon Edwards, and Robert Turbin also made big contributions in the passing game.  When you spread the ball around to that many receivers for significant gains (all six averaged more than 10 yards per reception), a defense can’t focus in on any one player to shut down your passing attack.

For that matter, who knew Rice could sling the ball like that?

Anyway, on to the stats: 

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(Note: For explanations of some of the stats included in this piece, please see the first article in the series.)

Rushing Averages

Game Yds/Att Yds/G Yds/Att
Allowed
Yds/G
Allowed
1 (ARI) 3.48 115 2.15 43
2 (DAL) 4.44 182 3.06 49
3 (GB) 4.38 127 4 84
4 (STL) 5.26 179 2.78 75
5 (CAR) 2.8 98 4.32 82
6 (NE) 3.27 85 3.35 87
Total 3.97
(17th)
131
(7th)
3.26
(3rd)
70
(2nd)

This was one of those games where the workhorse running backs struggle while the change-of-pace guys flourish.  For Seattle, Lynch only averaged 2.7 yds/att on his 15 carries and converted just two first downs (not that he was necessarily at fault with that last stat, since 11 of his carries were on 1st and 2nd downs with 5+ yards to go), while Robert Turbin picked up 5.4 yds/att on five carries and Wilson managed to gain 3.4 yds/att on five scrambles.  New England’s Stevan Ridley was held to 2.1 yds/att by the Seahawks’ defense, but Brandon Bolden and Danny Woodhead were able to gain 4.7 yds/att on 6 carries and 6.25 yds/att on 4 carries, respectively.

(To continue reading, please click on “Read More” below.)

Passing Averages

Offense
Game Yds/
Att
Yds/
Cmp
Net
Yds/G
Cmp
%
TD % Int %
1 (ARI) 4.5 8.5 139 52.94% 2.94% 2.94%
2 (DAL) 7.55 10.07 133 75% 5% 0%
3 (GB) 6.19 13 111 47.62% 9.52% 0%
4 (STL) 6.4 9.41 140 68% 0% 12%
5 (CAR) 8.84 11.63 212 76% 4% 8%
6 (NE) 10.85 18.31 283 59.26 11.11% 0%
Total 7.29
(19th)
11.66
(19th)
169.67
(31st)
62.5%
(16th)
5.26%
(8th)
3.95%
(25th)
Defense
1 (ARI) 5.97 10.75 210 55.56% 2.78% 2.78%
2 (DAL) 6.28 10.91 247 57.5% 2.5% 2.5%
3 (GB) 5.72 8.58 184 66.67% 0% 0%
4 (STL) 7.19 13.12 211 54.84% 3.23% 3.23%
5 (CAR) 6.02 11.75 131 41.38% 0% 0%
6 (NE) 6.81 10.97 388 62.07% 3.45% 3.45%
Total 6.21
(2nd)
10.81
(6th)
224.67
(13th)
57.51%
(6th)
2.15%
(4th)
2.15%
(21st)

Take a moment to drink in Wilson’s passing numbers from the game.  His completion percentage was down, but if he’s going to gain 18+ yds/cmp and throw a TD on one out of every ten passes, I think I can live with 59.26%.  I know I can live with no longer being last in the NFL in almost every passing category, too. 

The defense posted some of its worst pass coverage stats of the season, but we all knew going in to this one that it was highly unlikely they would be able to completely stop the NFL’s #1 passing offense.  But while Brady was able to throw for a ton of yardage, he needed 58 passing attempts to do it, and the defense was able to derail some promising drives by picking off passes and forcing intentional grounding penalties.

Game Sacks
Allowed
QB Hits
Allowed
Sacks %
Allowed
Sacks +
QB Hit %
Allowed
 Sacks QB Hits Sack % Sacks +
QB Hits % 
 Sack
Diff.
Sack +
QB Hit
Diff. 
1 (ARI) 3 7 8.11% 27.03% 1 5 2.7% 16.22% -2 -4
2 (DAL) 2 4 9.09% 27.27% 1 6 2.44% 17.07% -1 +1
3 (GB) 1 3 4.55% 18.18% 8 12 17.02% 42.55% +7 +16
4 (STL) 2 4 7.41% 22.22% 2 3 6.06% 15.15% 0 -1
5 (CAR) 2 2 7.41% 14.81% 4 6 12.12% 30.3% +2 +6
6 (NE) 2 6 6.9% 27.59 1 5 1.69% 10.17% -1 -2
Total 12 (18th) 26 7.32%
(23rd)
23.17% 17
(7th)
37 6.8%
(13th)
21.6% +5 +16

Despite the elevated sacks/hits allowed percentage for the game, overall the offensive line was stout in this one.  James Carpenter has been a huge upgrade at left guard – if he keeps performing like this, he’ll more than justify that 1st round pick the Seahawks used on him last year.  Basically, Chandler Jones just played a hell of a game for New England.

The defense didn’t get to Brady all that often, but they also spent a lot of the game rushing with a minimal number of players so they could bolster their coverage downfield.  That said, they made the most of the times they did get to the Patriots’ QB.  He was slow to get up from a few of those hits, and at times he looked nervous as hell in the pocket. Quarterbacks don’t usually commit intentional grounding penalties when they feel good about their protection.

I can’t remember if I’ve commented on this before, but Pete Carroll’s coaching pedigree is really showing in the way this defense is performing.  He spent several years as a defensive backs coach for both the Bills (’84) and Vikings (’85-89), then worked as a defensive coordinator for the Jets (’90-’93) and 49ers (’95-’96).  In that time, he had the good fortune to work alongside some of the most respected defensive minds in the game, including Bud Grant (longtime head coach of the Vikings), Monte Kiffin (co-creator of the Tampa-2 defense), Serafino “Foge” Fazio (players would run through a brick wall for him), John Marshall (back in his prime when he was coordinating a top ten defense in San Francisco), and George Seifert (Seattle’s “Leo” end has its origin in Seifert’s “Elephant”). 

Just saying, there’s a lot of history going into what the Seahawks are doing right now.

Special Teams Averages

Game Kick
Yds/Ret
Punt
Yds/Ret
FG % Punt
Avg
Net Punt
Avg
Kick Yds/Ret
Allowed
Punts Yds/Ret
Allowed
1 (ARI) 44.3 12.5 75% 46.25 37 22 9.3
2 (DAL) 20 7 100% 53.75 53.25 21.8 1
3 (GB) 21 5 - 51.5 49.5 23 4
4 (STL) 69 0.5 100% 49 44.5 12 18
5 (CAR) 16 7.8 100% 40.67 36.33 20.25 13
6 (NE) 20 14.5 100% 60 43 21.5 17
Total 29.33 (3rd) 8.19 (19th) 91.67%
(17th)
50.68
(3rd)
44.68 20.71 (5th) 10 (18th)

Leon Washington did his thing again, this time in the punt return game.  I take back everything I said this offseason about the new kickoff rules making his high salary unjustified.

After his fumbled snap, Jon Ryan punted angry the rest of the game.  That led to him having an inordinately high yards per punt average, but he also consistently outkicked his coverage, which led to the Patriots’ high average on punt returns.  Thankfully, Brian Schneider’s coverage unit played strong, disciplined football.  Had they panicked and gotten out of position, they would have given up a much lower net average or even allowed a few returns for TDs.

Run-Pass & Turnover Differential

Game R-P TO Result
1 (ARI) +11 0 Loss
2 (DAL) +17 +2 Win
3 (GB) -8 0 Win
4 (STL) +7 -2 L
5 (CAR) +23 -1 W
6 (NE) -20 0 W

A negative run-pass, even turnover game is a pretty low percentage win.  Last year, teams that finished similarly won just 27.3% of the time.  That said, this is now the Seahawks’ third win this year when the odds were in favor of them losing.  One or two wins like that can be discounted as anomalies, but three raises the possibility that there might be a contrarian pattern beginning to emerge here.

Toxic Differential

Games Expl. Plays Expl. Plays
Allowed
Expl. Play
Differential
TA TO TO
Diff.
Toxic
Diff.
1 (ARI) 2 6 -4 2 2 0 -4
2 (DAL) 6 6 0 2 0 +2 +2
3 (GB) 4 3 +1 0 0 0 +1
4 (STL) 6 5 +1 1 3 -2 -1
5 (CAR) 5 6 -1 2 3 -1 -2
6 (NE) 6 7 -1 2 2 -1
Total 29 33 -4 7 8 -1 -5

According to this differential, the Seahawks’ chances of making the playoffs are getting worse, and yet they still continue to find ways to win.  (Also, all six of Seattle’s explosive plays in this game were passes, which is one more tally mark in Wilson’s favor.)

You know, I’m starting to think that normal human statistics don’t even apply to this team.

First Down Efficiency

Game 4+ Plays <4 Plays 4+ Plays
Allowed
<4 Plays
Allowed
1 (ARI) 10 (34.48% 19 (65.52%) 7 (26.92%) 19 (73.08%)
2 (DAL) 9 (36.0%) 16 (64.0%) 9 (37.5%) 15 (62.5%)
3 (GB) 14 (70%) 6 (30%) 13 (48.15%) 14 (51.85%)
4 (STL) 19 (67.86%) 9 (32.14%) 11 (44%) 14 (56%)
5 (CAR) 13 (48.15% 14 (51.85%) 10 (43.48%) 13 (56.52%)
6 (NE) 16 (66.67%) 8 (33.33%) 20 (55.56%) 16 (44.44%)
Total 81 (52.94%) 72 (47.06%) 70 (43.48%) 91 (56.52%)

The offense continued its stellar performance on 1st down.  Being able to gain 4+ yards on two-thirds of your firsts is a hell of an advantage. The defense, on the other hand, had its worst performance of the year, but as I said before that was to be expected in this one.  I’d be concerned if they had allowed a college JV-level offense like the Jaguars’ to put up those kinds of numbers, but this was the number one offense in the NFL.  There is absolutely nothing to worry about here.

Game 1st & 2nd
Conv.
3rd & 4th
Conv.
1st & 2nd
Conv.
Allowed
3rd & 4th
Conv. Allowed
1 (ARI) 9 (45.0%) 11 (55.0%) 12 (66.67%) 6 (33.33%)
2 (DAL) 10 (52.63%) 9 (47.37%) 10 (58.82%) 7 (41.18%)
3 (GB) 7 (63.64%) 4 (36.36%) 10 (47.62%) 11 (52.38%)
4 (STL) 16 (85%) 4 (15%) 7 (41.18%) 10 (56.25%)
5 (CAR) 9 (50%) 9 (50%) 9 (69.23%) 4 (30.77%)
6 (NE) 10 (62.5%) 6 (37.5%) 17 (58.62%) 12 (41.38%)
Total 43 (61.43%) 27 (38.57%) 65 (56.52%) 50 (43.48%)

The percentages for the offense are a bit off (65-75% of your conversions should be on 1sst & 2nd down), but the problem here isn’t the ratio of conversions, but the quantity.  Granted, scoring TDs on deep passes can also lead to a drop in conversions, and 16 is still an improvement from the paltry 11 downs they converted against the Packers, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement here.

Likewise, the percentages for the defense are excellent, as that means they’re forcing teams to move the chains the hard way, but allowing 29 first down conversions is not so great.  The strength of the offense they faced is a mitigating factor here, and Wes Welker is one of the top slot receivers in the game, but that’s still far too many conversions given up.

Third Down Efficiency

(Note: I included these next few explanatory paragraphs in the week 5 stat breakdown article, but that one was published so late in the week that I figured I should go ahead and add them in again here.)

A bit of explanation is in order here.  When most folks talk about third down conversions, they break things down into three categories: third and short, third and medium, and third and long.  That’s fine for third and short, since that only encompasses plays designed to convert on distances of a yard or less, but the other two categories are actually an amalgamation of four different groups of playcalls.

Third and medium lumps together the 3rd and 2-3 and 3rd and 4-6 packages, with the distinction between the two being that a rushing attempt is far more likely to convert from 2-3 yards out than it is from 4-6.  Likewise, third and long is a combination of a team’s 3rd and 7-10 and 3rd and 11+ packages, although the difference here is more one of probability of success than of playcall – as Billick explains it in Developing an Offensive Game Plan, 3rd and 11+ are usually just 3rd and 7-10 plays with the routes deepened to adjust for the increased distance to the first down marker.  At any rate, here are the average conversion percentages he provides in the book for each package:

3rd Down
Distance
Conversion %

≤1

70%
2-3 59%
4-6 47%
7-10 28%
11+ 18%
Total 41%

The percentages above are derived from just the Vikings’ stats for the 1992-95 seasons, but that’s enough to give us at least an idea of the rough percentages we want to see from the Seahawks.  Here’s the Hawks’ 3rd down conversion rates:

Offense
Game

3rd &
≤1

3rd &
2-3
3rd &
4-6
3rd &
7-10
3rd &
11+
3rd
Total
1 (ARI) 1/1 (100%) 1/2 (50%) 2/7 (28.57%) 2/4 (50%) 1/2 (50%) 7/16 (43.75%)
2 (DAL) 2/2 (100%) 2/4 (50%) 4/5 (80%) 0/2 (0%) 0/3 (0%) 8/16 (50%)
3 (GB) 0/1 (0%) - 2/6 (33.33%) 0/3 (0%) 0/1 (0%) 2/11 (18.18%)
4 (STL) 2/3 (66.67%) 0/3 (0%) 0/1 (0%) 0/2 (0%) - 2/9 (22.22%)
5 (CAR) 1/1 (100%) - 3/6 (50%) 3/6 (50%) 0/1 (0%) 7/14 (50%)
6 (NE) 2/3 (66.67%) 0/2 (0%) 1/3 (33.33%) 1/2 (50%) 0/2 (0%) 4/12 (33.33%)
Total 8/11 (72.73%) 3/11 (27.27%) 12/28 (42.86%) 6/19 (31.58%) 1/9 (11.11%) 30/78 (38.46%)
Defense
1 (ARI) 1/2 (50%) 1/2 (50%) 0/1 (0%) 2/5 (40%) 0/1 (0%) 4/11 (36.36%)
2 (DAL) 1/1 (100%) 0/2 (0%) 0/1 (0%) 3/4 (75%) 1/3 (33.33%) 5/11 (45.45%)
3 (GB) 1/2 (50%) 2/3 (66.67%) 5/7 (71.43%) 0/3 (0%) 0/3 (0%) 10/18 (55.56%)
4 (STL) 0/1 (0%) 0/2 (0%) 1/3 (33.33%) 2/3 (66.67%) 3/5 (60%) 6/14 (42.86%)
5 (CAR) - - 2/5 (40%) 1/6 (16.67%) 0/1 (0%) 3/12 (25%)
6 (NE) 2/2 (100%) 1/2 (50%) 2/2 (100%) 3/7 (42.86%) 1/3 (33.33%) 9/16 (56.25%)
Total 5/8 (62.5%) 4/11 (36.36%) 10/19 (52.63%) 11/28 (39.29%) 5/16 (31.25%) 37/82 (45.12%)

So, remember how much better the Seahawks’ offense did on third down against the Panthers?  Well, it looks like that improvement was good for one week only.  There’s a hell of a lot of work to be done here for Wilson and company, and I have no idea why they’ve been having so much trouble on 3rd & 2-3.  There’s likely some small sample bias at work here, but there are so few games in an NFL season that small sample sizes are pretty much unavoidable.

As we’ve already seen in several previous categories, the defensive stats here are worse than usual, but not out of the ordinary considering the strength of the offense they were up against.  Giving up conversions in long yardage situations is still a concern, but the stats they allow against the 49ers should give us an indication of whether or not progress is being made on that front.

Red Zone Efficiency

Game RZ Trip
w/ Score
RZ Trip
w/o Score
Total
RZ Trips
RZ Trip
w/ Score
Allowed
RZ Trip
w/o Score
Allowed
Total
RZ Trips
Allowed
1 (ARI) 3 (75%) 1 (25%) 4 4 (100%) 0 (0%) 4
2 (DAL) 3 (100%) 0 (0%) 3 0 (0%) 1 (100%) 1
3 (GB) 0 (0%) 1 (100%) 1 2 (100%) 0 (0%) 2
4 (STL) 2 (100%) 0 (0%) 2 2 (100%) 0 (0%) 2
5 (CAR) 3 (100%) 0 (0%) 2 1 (50%) 1 (50%) 2
6 (NE) 3 (100%) 0 (0%) 3 4 (66.67%) 2 (33.33%) 6
Total 14 (87.5%) 2 (12.5%) 12 13 (76.47%) 4 (23.53%) 17

As I said in last week’s article, red zone stats are not looking all that terribly useful.  I’m intrigued by some things I’ve been reading about using an expanded red zone instead (starting at the 35 instead of the 20), but I need to play with it a bit more before I try it out here.

Penalties

Game Off.
Pen.
Def.
Pen.
ST
Pen.
Total
Penalties
1 (ARI) 7 5 1 13
2 (DAL) 5 0 0 5
3 (GB) 7 6 1 14
4 (STL) 3 2 0 5
5 (CAR) 5 2 0 7
6 (NE) 2 1 1 4
Total 29 16 3 48 (27th)

Finally, we get to end on some good news, as the Seahawks only committed four penalties in this one.  Every ref’s favorite offensive lineman Breno Giacomini was flagged once for holding, but for once committing the penalty was the right decision.  Wilson put him in an impossible situation by leaving the pocket and standing in arm’s reach of the defender Giacomini was blocking, and given the angle involved the only way to avoid a sack was to grab on to the guy’s jersey.  Either way they were going to lose a fair number of yards, but the holding penalty put the offense in a 3rd & 20 situation instead of a 4th & 17 or thereabouts.

In case you’re wondering who took Seattle’s place at the bottom of the penalty barrel, the answer is Dallas.

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