Russell Wilson is awesome. He's mobile, his scrambles are smart and effective, he can make any throw in the book, he makes good decisions with the ball, and his teammates respond well to his leadership. Best of all, he has that rare knack of being able to pull out wins in games where a loss looked a hell of a lot like a foregone conclusion, the game against the Texans being a prime example. I mean, NFL QBs don't typically win games in which they get hit on over fifty percent of their dropbacks, but that's precisely what he did.
The flipside of that, however, is that as good as he is, Wilson is not going to be able to pull off miracles every single week. Against the Colts, the defense couldn't stop Andrew Luck, the receiving corps largely couldn't get separation from defenders, and the offensive line couldn't give Wilson enough time to survey the field properly on every snap. Granted, he still led the Hawks to within a TD of winning the game anyway, but that's beside the point.
Even in defeat there's still plenty to love about what the Seahawks are doing this year, and the overall numbers still very much point to this being a championship caliber team. That said, the numbers also point to some deeply concerning flaws in their performance, and one can only hope that playing this week's game in front of the 12th Man in Seattle will inspire the Hawks to take a file to their rough edges and dominate the Titans in every way instead of in just enough statistical categories to give Wilson another shot at spinning crap protection into gold.
(Note: green highlights denote notably positive stats -- think top ten material, where applicable -- while orange highlights mark notably negative stats)
Yards/Rush Attempt Allowed
|159 (2nd)||4.04 (18th)||109 (19th)|
Wilson has been pulling off a ton of great runs these last two weeks, but that's only part of the reason for the Seahawks' improvement on the ground. After starting the year with an embarrassing 2.53 ypc against the Panthers, Lynch has been picking up steam with every passing week. He averaged a respectable 3.50 ypc versus San Francisco, then improved to 4.06 ypc against Jacksonville, 5.76 ypc against Houston, and 6.0 ypc against Indianapolis. In short, Beast Mode is back.
I wish I could say something equally complimentary of the run defense, but numbers don't lie. Despite the best efforts of RB-eating studs Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant, the Seahawks' vaunted defense has been very much vulnerable on the ground this year. From what I've seen on film, the lion's share of the blame appears to rest squarely with the linebackers. Time and again, KJ Wright, Malcolm Smith/Bruce Irvin, and (to a lesser extent) Bobby Wagner have been caught out of position on stunts or allowed themselves to get pushed out of position by all the milling bodies around the line of scrimmage, which opens big running lanes for opposing ballcarriers to exploit.
Here's hoping the LBs get their act together this week, 'cause against a back as fast as Tennessee's Chris Johnson those sorts of mental errors are a one-way ticket to a loss.
(To continue reading, please click on "Read More" below.)
|Game||Yards/Passing Attempt||Yards/ Pass Completion||
Net Passing Yards/Game
|Completion %||TD %||Int %|
|Total||8.34 (6th)||13.90 (2nd)||207.4 (25th)||60.00% (17th)||6.67% (4th)||2.96% (21st)|
|Game||Yards/Pass Attempt||Yards/ Pass Completion||Net Passing Yards/Game||Completion %||TD %||Int %|
|Total||6.41 (7th)||11.39 (13th)||194.6 (3rd)||52.81% (5th)||2.99% (7th)||4.19% (5th)|
Just as they were in 2012, Wilson's overall passing stats are an exercise in quality over quantity: low overall yardage and passing attempts, but when he does throw he makes sure it counts. At least, that's what he normally does -- against Houston and to a lesser extent Indianapolis, his stats are well below his usual competence threshold. Versus the Texans, that can be easily explained away by the pressure he faced (more on that in a bit), but the Colts game is another matter. Yes, he faced a fair amount of pressure in that one as well, but he also just plain missed several throws (especially deep ones) and a few times failed to notice wide open receivers.
Max Unger should be back this week, which will help shore up the pass protection for a bit, but as long as McQuistan is protecting the blindside instead of Okung, Wilson is going to continue to play more skittish than usual. Hopefully this week he'll adjust a bit more to his new circumstances and settle down a bit, but don't be surprised if the overthrows deep continue to occur -- accuracy at times is as much a product of a QB's confidence in his protection as it is a product of his individual skill.
On the other side of the ball, the pass defense has been picked apart by both Matt Schaub and Andrew Luck. There isn't a lot of shame in that, as both QBs are well above average (Schaub's Romo-like ability to throw a bad pass at the worst possible time notwithstanding), but as the saying goes if you want to be the best, you have to be able to beat the best, and so far they haven't been successful in doing that. There were some glaring assignment errors that led to some big plays for the Colts, but as you'll see when we get to the explosive play stats they didn't actually give up that many big plays. Instead, Luck and his receivers were able to methodically chip away with shorter passes, and from what I saw on film the biggest weaknesses these past two weeks have been the linebackers and the backup DBs.
Wagner has improved slightly from his rookie season, but only enough that he's just an occasional liability in coverage, and Wright looks a bit gimpy to me -- he's certainly not playing as fast and instinctually as he usually does -- and I want to spend more time on film study before I make any assertions about the effectiveness of Smith and Irvin. Thurmond's play at nickelback has been somewhat disappointing over the last two weeks, and hopefully he figures things out and reverts to his usual blanket-coverage form. Maxwell has been decidedly uneven; he'll flash some pure lockdown awesomeness on one snap, then get himself way out of position the next. Both corners have the talent to be NFL starters, they just have to figure out how to utilize that ability on a consistent basis.
|Game||Team Passer Rating||Team Passer Rating Allowed||Passer Rating Differential|
|Total||96.71 (8th)||68.23 (3rd)||+28.49 (3rd)|
I'm not a big fan of passer ratings as a metric for gauging a QB's worth, but a recent article by Hawk Blogger reminded me of the awesome predictive power of passer rating differentials, so I've decided to begin including them. Simply put, the difference between the offense's passer rating and the passer rating allowed by the defense is right up there with the toxic differential as one of the most consistently accurate predictors of NFL success there is: of the past 72 championship-winning teams, 69 of them (95.83%) have had passer rating differentials in the top ten.
The differentials for the past two weeks have sucked bigtime, but the Hawks still boast the third best differential in the entire league this season. So yeah, when I say the 2013 Seahawks are a championship caliber team, I'm not just saying that 'cause I like them, I'm saying it because that's what the numbers are telling me. Last I checked, you can't accuse a stat of homerism.
|Game||Sacks Allowed (%)||QB Hits Allowed||Sacks + QB Hits Allowed %||Sacks (%)||QB Hits||Sacks + QB Hits %||Sacks Diff.||Sacks + QB Hit Diff.|
|1 (CAR)||2 (5.71%)||1||8.57%||1 (4.17%)||1||8.33%||-1||-1|
|2 (SF)||4 (17.39%)||6||43.48%||3 (9.68%)||5||25.81%||-1||-2|
|3 (JAX)||2 (6.45%)||6||25.81%||4 (9.52%)||8||28.57%||+1||+2|
|4 (HOU)||5 (17.86%)||10||53.57%||4 (7.55%||12||30.19%||-1||+1|
|5 (IND)||2 (6.06%)||3||15.15%||2 (5.45%)||5||22.58%||0||+2|
|Total||15 (10.00% - 28th)||26||27.33%||13 (7.22% - 15th)||31||24.44%||-2||+3|
The offensive gameplan versus the Colts called for Wilson to get out of the pocket more often, which thankfully succeeded in keeping him from getting hit so often because the Hawks cannot afford to have their star QB beaten up as thoroughly as he was in week four. A 20% hit rate means the QB is getting hit on every fifth dropback on average, and while that isn't ideal, it is tolerable. Bump that rate up to every fourth dropback, and you begin to get concerned for the health of your QB. Versus Houston, he was getting hit on every other dropback; at that point, you contact your QB's attorney to make sure his will is up to date. If Darrell Bevell had best keep scheming new ways to position Wilson out of harm's way, Wilson is going to end the season on IR.
The defense's pressure fell off a bit versus the Colts, but that's more due to Luck's ability to work the pocket to his advantage and get rid of the ball quickly than anything the Seahawks' front seven did wrong. That said, there are enough strong pass rushers on this team that anything below a 25% hit rate has to be considered underperforming.
Special Teams Averages
|Game||Kick Yards/Return||Punt Yards/Return||Kick Yards/Return Allowed||Punt Yards/Return Allowed|
|Total||20.38 (26th)||12.40 (5th)||26.50 (28th)||1.33 (1st)|
Another week, another exercise in the wide variance between the competence of the punt unit and the kickoff unit. The low kick return numbers are to be expected now that the team is without the services of Leon Washington, but the high kickoff return stats are most likely a strong indicator that the extradistance Hauschka is getting on his kickoffs this year is thanks at least partially to a lower trajectory. That results in a shorter hang time, which in turn means the coverage unit has less time to run down the field before the return man starts headed their way.
|Game||Field Goals (%)||Kickoffs to End Zone (%)||Kickoff Touchbacks (%)||Yards/ Punt||Net Yards/ Punt||Punt+ (%)|
|1 (CAR)||2 of 2 (100%)||4 of 4 (100%)||4 (100%)||49.50||47.00||3 of 4 (75.00%)|
|2 (SF)||2 of 2 (100%)||6 of 6 (100%)||4 (66.67%)||34.00||34.00||4 of 5 (80.00%)|
|3 (JAX)||1 of 1 (100%)||7 of 8 (87.50%)||6 (75.00%)||35.00||35.75||3 of 4 (75.00%)|
|4 (HOU)||3 of 3 (100%)||6 of 6 (100%)||4 (66.67%)||46.33||42.83||4 of 6 (66.67%)|
|5 (IND)||4 of 5 (80%)||7 of 7 (100^)||3 (42.86%)||38.50||38.50||2 of 2 (100%)|
|Total||92.31% (10th)||30 of 31 (96.77%)||21 (67.74%)||41.10 (30th)||38.56 (27th)||16 of 21 (76.19%)|
(Note: Punt+ is a stat that I introduced last year as another way of gauging whether a punt play resulted in a favorable outcome for the Seahawks. To find the punt+ total, I tallied all the punts that ended in 1) a fair catch, 2) the opponent being forced to start their next drive inside their own 20 yard line, 3) a return for zero yards, or 4) was intentionally kicked out of bounds (as opposed to one that was shanked).)
This is the sort of thing I was hoping to see when I started tracking punt+ stats last year. The better the offense gets, the less field Ryan generally has to work with when he heads out to punt the ball, which negatively affects his averages. As you can see, a very high percentage of his punts are resulting in poor field positions and/or no return yardage for opponents, which means he's doing his job effectively even though the punt stats most people look at make him appear to be bottom of the barrel.
Meanwhile, Hauschka's touchback percentages are dwindling each week, which is not a good sign (for kickoffs, anyway), but his field goal percentages are still fantastic -- his only miss this year was a blocked kick.
Run-Pass & Turnover Differential
|Game||Run-Pass Differential||Turnover Differential||Result|
(Note: For an explanation of this stat, check out this article here.)
When the two differentials differ as they did against Houston, it's important to note that the turnover differential tends to be more strongly predictive than the run-pass differential. The percentage is still lower (I don't have the stats on hand at the moment, but the win percentage is somewhere around 60%), but it isn't the kiss of death you might think it is.
It's also important to note that these differentials get increasingly more predictive as the numbers get bigger. The +22 run-pass differential versus the 49ers, for example, is a strong result, while the +4 they posted versus the Colts isn't much different from a +0 (+0 results don't happen often, for one -- games in which both teams have the exact same totals for rush attempts and pass completions are fairly rare). In other words, the positive result may give the appearance of a slight advantage in the Seahawks' favor, but I would suggest reading it as a virtual dead heat, which coupled with the +0 in turnovers gives both teams a 50% win probability.
|Game||Explosive Plays (Run/Pass)||
Explosive Plays Allowed (Run/Pass)
|Explosive Play Differential||Take- aways||Turn- overs||Turn- over Diff.||Toxic Diff.|
|1 (CAR)||8 (2/6)||2 (1/1)||+6||2||1||+1||+7|
|2 (SF)||7 (4/3)||6 (4/2)||+1||5||1||+4||+5|
|3 (JAX)||11 (2/9)||4 (0/4)||+7||3||2||+1||+8|
|4 (HOU)||6 (4/2)||13 (4/9)||-7||3||2||+1||-6|
|5 (IND)||11 (6/5)||5 (1/4)||+6||2||2||0||+6|
|Total||43 (18/25)||30 (10/20)||+13||15 (2nd)||8 (19th)||+7||+20|
(Note: Explosive plays are defined here using Brian Billick’s criteria of 12+ yards for runs and 16+ for passes.)
These past two weeks are sort of an exercise in exceptions: the Seahawks won versus the Texans despite posting a -6 toxic differential, then went and lost to the Colts despite having a +6 differential. Granted, this stat is more about predicting who will or won't make the postseason than winners and losers in individual games, but you'd generally expect a team with a high positive differential to be the victor in most games.
As you can see, the Texans were able to beat the crap out of the Seahawks in terms of explosive plays. I know it's trendy to bag on Matt Schaub right now, but the dude is better than people are making him out to be -- Andre Johnson or no, it takes some real throwing skill to rack up 9 gains of 16+ yards against the Hawks' secondary. Unfortunately for Houston, all those flashy plays weren't enough to stop Seattle from rallying late, nor were they enough to overcome committing three turnovers to the Hawks' one.
Versus the Colts, the Seahawks were not only able to pull off plenty of explosive plays, they did them in a satisfyingly balanced fashion with 6 explosive runs and 5 explosive passes. However, all that yardage means little if you keep settling for field goals instead of touchdowns -- eventually, all those four point chunks you left on the field tend to add up to a big fat L.
|1st Down Efficiency|
|Game||4+ Yds||<4 Yds||4+ Yds Allowed||<4 Yds Allowed|
|1 (CAR)||12 (46.15%)||14 (53.85%)||13 (59.09%)||9 (40.91%)|
|2 (SF)||7 (25.00%)||21 (75.00%)||9 (40.91%)||13 (59.09%)|
|3 (JAX)||23 (65.71%)||12 (34.29%)||8 (28.57%)||20 (71.43%)|
|4 (HOU)||12 (46.15%)||14 (53.85%)||18 (43.90%)||23 (56.10%)|
|5 (IND)||11 (36.67%)||19 (63.33%)||14 (51.85%)||13 (48.15%)|
|Total||65 (44.83%)||80 (55.17%)||62 (44.29%)||78 (55.71%)|
First down is important. Not only does gaining solid yardage on first down get your offense on track to a manageable third down, on average 40-45% of a team's total offensive play calls in every gamehappen on first down. If you can gain four or more yards on 40-50% of your first down plays, your offense is doing fine.
On both offense and defense, the Seahawks are right in the middle of that 40-50% window for the season That's a good sign for the offense, but a pretty lukewarm mark for the defense. Against the Colts, the Hawks failed on both sides of the ball, gaining 4+ on less than 40% of their offensive plays and allowing 4+ on more than 50% of their defensive snaps -- here's hoping we see that change versus the Titans.
|Down Conversion Efficiency|
|Game||1st & 2nd Down Conversions||3rd & 4th Down Conversions||1st & 2nd Down Conversions Allowed||3rd & 4th Down Conversions Allowed|
|1 (CAR)||11 (57.89%)||8 (42.11%)||8 (53.33%)||7 (46.67%)|
|2 (SF)||11 (55.00%)||9 (45.00%)||8 (66.67%)||4 (33.33%)|
|3 (JAX)||22 (78.57%)||6 (21.43%)||10 (62.50%)||6 (37.50%)|
|4 (HOU)||9 (56.25%)||7 (43.75%)||21 (58.33%)||15 (41.67%)|
|5 (IND)||18 (72.00%)||7 (28.00%)||10 (47.62%)||11 (52.38%)|
|Total||71 (65.74%)||37 (34.26%)||57 (57.00%)||43 (43.00%)|
My down conversion numbers are going to be quite a bit different from everyone else's because I include all scoring plays (i.e. if you score a TD on second down or a field goal on fourth, I count those as equivalent to a down conversion) as well as all first downs awarded by penalties.
You generally want your offense to generate 65-75% of its down conversions on either first or second down, as that should mean you're limiting how many potentially drive-killing third down situations you face. I say "should" because a high ratio of first and second down conversions to third and fourth down conversions can also mean that you have a very poor conversion rate on third down. Really, you need to use the third down efficiency table to help you interpret the results here to see which of three categories your team falls into:
1) If the offense has a good ratio here as well as good conversion numbers on third down, then things are going just fine.
2) If the offense has a good ratio on one table but does poorly on the other,, then you have a few reasons to worry.
3) If the offense does poorly on both tables (or if you have an unusually small number of total conversions), then you have some major causes for concern.
The Seahawks offense falls into that second category: they've managed to keep themselves just above the 65% threshold, but their third down conversion rate is atrocious. I think, however, that the biggest reason for that inefficiency has been the health of the offensive line.
Of course, what's bad for an offense is great for a defense, and in all but the game versus the 49ers the defense has kept teams below 65%. Unfortunately, that success has been marred by their poor showing on third and short and third and medium situations, plus they allowed Houston to convert double the number of downs they allowed any of their first three opponents.
|3rd Down Efficiency|
|Game||3rd & ≤1||3rd & 2-3||3rd & 4-6||3rd & 7-10||3rd & 11+||3rd Total|
|1 (CAR)||-||3 of 3 (100%)||1 of 2 (50.00%)||2 of 4 (50.00%)||0 of 4 (0.00%)||6 of 13 (46.15%)|
|2 (SF)||1 of 2 (50.00%)||-||2 of 4 (50.00%)||1 of 4 (25.00%)||2 of 6 (33.33%)||7 of 20 (35.00%)|
|3 (JAX)||1 of 2 (50.00%)||0 of 1 (0.00%)||2 of 4 (50.00%)||1 of 3 (33.33%)||1 of 1 (100%)||5 of 11 (45.45%)|
|4 (HOU)||0 of 2 (0.00%)||0 of 2 (0.00%)||0 of 1 (0.00%)||2 of 5 (40.00%)||1 of 4 (25.00%)||3 of 14 (21.43%)|
|5 (IND)||0 of 2 (0.00%)||0 of 3 (0.00%)||1 of 2 (50.00%)||1 of 5 (20.00%)||0 of 2 (0.00%)||2 of 12 (16.67%)|
|Total||2 of 6 (33.33%)||3 of 9 (33.33%)||6 of 13 (46.15%)||7 of 21 (33.33%)||4 of 17 (23.53%)||23 of 70 (32.86%)|
|Game||3rd & ≤1||3rd & 2-3||3rd & 4-6||3rd & 7-10||3rd & 11+||3rd Total|
|1 (CAR)||2 of 1 (50.00%)||1 of 2 (50.00%)||3 of 3 (100%)||2 of 3 (66.67%)||0 of 2 (0.00%)||7 of 12 (58.33%)|
|2 (SF)||1 of 1 (100%)||0 of 1 (0.00%)||2 of 4 (50.00%)||1 of 3 (33.33%)||0 of 3 (0.00%)||3 of 12 (25.00%)|
|3 (JAX)||1 of 1 (100%)||1 of 1 (100%)||1 of 3 (33.33%)||1 of 6 (16.67%)||0 of 3 (0.00%)||4 of 14 (28.57%)|
|4 (HOU)||1 of 1 (100%)||2 of 2 (100%)||4 of 9 (44.44%)||1 of 4 (25.00%)||0 of 3 (0.00%)||8 of 19 (42.11%)|
|5 (IND)||1 of 1 (100%)||0 of 1 (0.00%)||4 of 5 (80.00%)||3 of 6 (50.00%)||1 of 2 (50.00%)||9 of 15 (60.00%)|
|Total||5 of 6 (83.33%)||4 of 7 (57.14%)||14 of 24 (58.33%)||8 of 22 (36.36%)||1 of 13 (7.69%)||31 of 72 (43.06%)|
When most folks talk about third and long, they split things up into three categories: third and short (1 yard or less to go), third and medium (2-6 yards to go), and third and long (7+yards to go). However, NFL teams don't do it like that. Third and medium to them is actually two different groups of play calls, third and 2-3 & third and 4-6, and the same goes for third and long (third and 7-10 yards & third and 11+ yards). As the distance to go increases, the play calls that will gain the needed yardage decrease, and consequently the conversion percentages for each play call grouping also decreases:
|3rd Down Distance||Conversion %|
The Seahawks' offense has been terrible on third down, especially in the shorter distance situations (that last bit is almost certainly a product of the patchwork offensive line). However, they've been unusually good at converting longer third downs, so things haven't been all bad.
The defense has been average on third down this season, with their only real strength being their ability to clamp down in third and 11+ situations. For a defense that's supposed to be elite, that's a serious problem. In short, all that frustration you've been feeling every time the Seahawks allow another third down conversion is completely justified.
Expanded Red Zone Efficiency
|Game||Total ERZ Trips||ERZ Trips w/ score||ERZ Trips w/o score||Total ERZ Trips Allowed||ERZ Trips w/ score allowed||ERZ Trips w/o score allowed|
|1 (CAR)||4||2 (50.00%)||2 (50.00%)||2||1 (50.00%)||1 (50.00%)|
|2 (SF)||6||4 (66.67%)||2 (33.33%)||3||1 (33.33%)||2 (66.67%)|
|3 (JAX)||9||7 (77.78%)||2 (22.22%)||5||3 (60.00%)||2 (40.00%)|
|4 (HOU)||4||4 (100%)||0 (0.00%)||5||4 (80.00%)||1 (20.00%)|
|5 (IND)||7||6 (85.71%)||1 (14.29%)||4||4 (100%)||0 (0.00$)|
|Total||30||23 (76.67%)||7 (23.33%)||19||13 (68.42%)||6 (31.58%)|
(Note: Because NFL kickers have improved so much over the years, it makes more sense to chart a team's scoring efficiency on drives inside their opponent's 35 yard line rather than waiting for them to get to the 20. Some analysts call this the "orange zone," but that name sounds dumb. Until something better comes along, I'm going to stick to calling it the "expanded red zone," or ERZ for short.)
There isn't much to say about the offense, as they're still scoring on a reasonably high percentage of their ERZ trips (remember, the numbers for the first three games are a bit skewed because in each one the Hawks took their final kneeldowns inside their opponent's 35 yard line). On defense, however, the games against the Texans and Colts have to be considered steps backwards. In their first three games, opposing offenses only scored on 5 of 10 ERZ trips (50%); in these last two, they've allowed points on 8 of 9 (88.89%). Hopefully they can get back to being their usual drive-stifling selves this week.
|Game||Offense Penalized||Defense Penalized||Special Teams Penalized||Penalties/Game|
Between the issues on the offensive line (and at the third tight end spot -- what is Kellen Davis' problem, exactly?) and the innate aggressiveness of the defense, committing just seven penalties against the Colts has to be considered at least a minor success. And yes, that's the most positive thing I can think of to say about these numbers.