2013 Season Midpoint: The Seahawks Aren’t Invulnerable, But That’s Okay

(Note: Baby wrangling still continues to devour almost all my time this season, which unfortunately has led to a marked absence of content around here.  I apologize for that, and at the very least I plan to continue publishing the How the Seahawks Measure Up series of stats articles on a semiregular basis.  This week, however, I thought it would be more useful to focus more closely on just a couple of key stats.)

The game in St. Louis might have been a narrow escape for the Seahawks, but aside from showing us that Robert Quinn has the ability to become a freakish game-changing wrecking ball, it didn't teach us anything about this team that we didn't already know.  With LT Russell Okung and RT Breno Giacomini sidelined by injuries, the offensive line has become the achilles heel of this team, and the Rams exploited that weakness early and often.

But again, that's nothing new; the Rams aren't the first team to hit the Seahawks where it hurts, they just happened to be the ones who hit them the hardest to date:

 

Week Opponent Hit/Sack %
1 Carolina Panthers 8.57%
2 San Francisco 49ers 43.48%
3 Jacksonville Jaguars 25.81%
4 Houston Texans 53.57%
5 Indianapolis Colts 15.15%
6 Tennessee Titans 18.18%
7 Arizona Cardinals 37.50%
8 St. Louis Rams 68.00%
Season Average - 31.67%
2012 Season Average - 22.37%

 

My rule of thumb is that a hit/sack rate of 20% (i.e. the QB was hit on one out of every five dropbacks) is on the higher end of acceptable, 25% is a moderate concern, and anything significantly beyond that means you should tell your quarterback to put his affairs in order.  By that standard, the ~40% hit/sack rate Arizona and San Francisco racked up is troubling, the over 50% rate by Houston is deeply troubling, and St. Louis' 68% is so impossibly far past the red line that I'm having a hard time believing that a stat line like that can exist outside of Madden.  If getting your quarterback knocked around on nearly seven out of every ten dropbacks isn't a reason to worry, I don't know what is.

Thankfully, the sky isn't falling every week.  Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie bookended the o-line versus the Colts and Titans too, and as you can see from the chart Wilson stayed largely clean and upright throughout both those games.  And more importantly, with everything that went wrong against the Rams the Seahawks were still able to kick ass and take names in one very important statistical category, passer rating differential:

For those of you who still aren't familiar with it, passer rating differential (PRD) is simply the difference between a given team's offensive passer rating and their defensive passer rating.  The more I've played around with this particular stat, the more I've come to appreciate what the guys over at Cold Hard Football Facts have done to raise awareness about its usefulness.  The article in that link does a great job of extolling the virtues of PRD, but here are two highlights:

  • In about 80% of all NFL games the team that has a positive PRD is the winning team — and that win rate has stayed incredibly consistent throughout NFL history.
  • Since 1940, 73 teams have won NFL championships, and 69 of those teams (94.52%) were in the top ten in PRD for that season.

So yeah, it's good stuff.  And the Seahawks didn't just edge out the Rams in that category, they beat them almost as badly as they did the Jaguars:

Week Opponent Passer Rating Differential Result
1 Carolina Panthers +18.53 W
2 San Francisco 49ers +43.84 W
3 Jacksonville Jaguars +89.81 W
4 Houston Texans -31.86 W
5 Indianapolis Colts -25.25 L
6 Tennessee Titans +51.69 W
7 Arizona Cardinals +51.64 W
8 St. Louis Rams +80.83 W

 

More importantly, take a look at where the Seahawks rank in total PRD this season:

 

Rank Team Passer Rating Differential
1 Seattle Seahawks +39.47
2 Denver Broncos +36.72
3 New Orleans Saints +32.91
4 Cincinnati Bengals +19.77
5 Carolina Panthers* +19.11
6 Dallas Cowboys +13.79
7 Indianapolis Colts +13.20
8 San Francisco 49ers +12.56
9 Kansas City Chiefs +12.16
10 Green Bay Packers +11.93
11 Detroit Lions +9.77
12 San Diego Chargers +8.97
13 Pittsburgh Steelers +8.52
14 New England Patriots +4.24
15 Chicago Bears +2.68
16 Tennessee Titans +1.99
17 Miami Dolphins* -1.43
18 Philadelphia Eagles -4.88
19 Cleveland Browns -6.33
20 Arizona Cardinals -7.11
21 Buffalo Bills -10.01
22 Houston Texans -11.16
23 Atlanta Falcons -11.45
24 Oakland Raiders -13.11
25 Baltimore Ravens -15.17
26 New York Giants -16.68
27 St. Louis Rams -19.84
28 New York Jets -21.97
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -22.91
30 Washington Redskins -24.81
31 Minnesota Vikings -28.18
32 Jacksonville Jaguars -41.77

 

Here's that same table data in bubble chart form:

 

(Note: These stats don't include the results from the Thursday Night game this week between the Dolphins and Panthers.)

Feels good, doesn't it?  Well, it gets even better.  The 2013 Seahawks aren't just tops in the NFL so far this season, they're on track to post the best passer rating differential in franchise history.  Yes, you read that correctly: not just the best PRD in Pete Carroll's tenure or the best PRD in the last ten years, we're talking best ever.  Including this year, here are the Seahawks' top ten seasons in this category:

 

Year Head Coach Passer Rating Differential
2013 Pete Carroll +39.47
2012 Pete Carroll +28.78
1984 Chuck Knox +26.48
2005 Mike Holmgren +19.38
2007 Mike Holmgren +18.77
1999 MIke Holmgren +15.66
1986 Chuck Knox +13.09
1982 Jack Patera/Mike McCormack +8.99
2002 Mike Holmgren +7.36
1987 Chuck Knox +7.09

Not bad Pete, not bad at all.  And just in case you're curious, here's the worst ten PRD seasons in franchise history:

Year Head Coach Passer Rating Differential
1976 Jack Patera -41.89
2008 Mike Holmgren -23.53
1992 Tom Flores -20.19
1989 Chuck Knox -18.00
2010 Pete Carroll -17.63
1996 Dennis Erickson -17.43
2009 Jim Mora -16.69
1977 Jack Patera -15.72
2000 Mike Holmgren -15.24
1995 Dennis Erickson -12.56

 

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