Well… this seems familiar. Didn’t I have a column with this exact title about a month ago? Hang on, let me go check…
The 2015 Seahawks are truly an enigma that I just can’t figure out. We have a terrible offensive line, but this isn’t a new problem. Seattle has ranked near the bottom of the league in pass protection for quite some time. Granted, this is probably the worst line we’ve had in a while, at least it would appear so.
But what do the numbers say? According to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks rank No. 9 overall in run blocking this season and have a POWER success rate of 71 percent. POWER rushing, as defined by Football Outsiders, is the percentage of carries on third or fourth down with less than 2 yards to go that result in a first down. 71 percent is good for the No. 8 ranking in the NFL. Comparing this to last year (2014), Seattle had a POWER success rate of 78%, giving them the No. 4 ranking.
The drop-off from 2014 to 2015 is negligible, and can’t really factor into the teams struggles this season. Complicating matters, in 2013—the year the Seahawks won the Super Bowl— Seattle had a POWER success rate of 49%, good for dead last in the NFL. Now, this stat only measures a small percentage of the running plays, but it gives an idea of the kind of push the offensive line gets. The better the offensive line, the higher we expect this number to be.
Perhaps the most troubling stat is the number of sacks allowed. As I mentioned earlier, the Seahawks have been horrible at pass protection. They were No. 32 in 2013, No. 24 in 2014, and are No. 32 through nine games this season. However, having poor pass blocking and giving up sacks are two different things. We’ve all seen the things Russell Wilson can do when he’s scrambling around. The problem is that Wilson isn’t doing Russell Wilson things this season.
In 2013, Seattle allowed 44 sacks (2.75/game). In 2014 that number fell to 42 (2.63/game). So far in 2015, they have allowed 33 sacks in just nine games. That is an average of 3.66 (repeating, of course) per game; one more per game than last season. Hmmm, I might have identified a problem here.
A big critique of Wilson this season has been that he holds onto the ball too long. However, the numbers don’t necessarily agree with this. In 2013, Wilson’s average time to throw—that is, the amount of time before he either threw a pass or rushed past the line of scrimmage— was 3.18 seconds. In 2015, that number is down to 3.07 seconds. This means that Wilson is either throwing a pass, or rushing across the line of scrimmage in less time than he was back in 2013, yet he’s taking more sacks.
Just in case you aren’t confused yet, we’re going to throw one more stat out there to make sure. Wilson’s time to sack (the amount of time before he is sacked) is the second highest it’s been in his career, so he’s scrambling around or getting protection for longer than he ever has. So what gives?
The defense has given up their fair share of big plays, and Seattle has held a lead in the fourth quarter in 4 out of 5 losses this season. But for some reason I have a hard time blaming the defense. In my not-so-expert opinion, the offense has not been able to sustain long enough drives in order to give the defense the rest they need. This leads to the defense being exhausted by the fourth quarter, leaving them susceptible to getting beat.
I just don’t get it. The raw talent is there on both offense and defense. We are giving up more sacks, but Wilson seemingly has more time to throw. Are receivers not getting open? Are we getting penalties at the worst opportune times causing our drives to just stall out? Like I said, the Seahawks are an enigma, and are quite possibly the best team-with-a-losing-record in the NFL this season. Hopefully they can put all the pieces together and we can make some noise down the stretch and sneak into the playoffs. Until then, I will continue to watch and being confused. Because this team is an enigma.
A northwest native, AJ is a returning college student finishing his journalism degree. He loves everything Seattle sports, and plans to carry that enthusiasm into the sports section of the Spectator this year.