The Seahawks game against the Buccaneers this past weekend might be the hardest game this season to grade. The Seahawks looked almost awful at times and then in the second half they looked like the dynamic hardnosed football team they are suppose to be. This team continues to make you scratch your head and wonder what team you are going to see play each week; whether the ball is being taken away from Marshawn Lynch inside the 5 yard line or the defense is being sliced and diced by another rookie Running Back. The Seattle Seahawks still sit atop the NFC after 9 weeks of the 2013 NFL season and that is something to be proud of. Although this team must start coming out of the gate stronger once their injured players start coming back or these miraculous victorious will be a thing of the past when power house teams like the 49ers or the Saints come to town (if you forget about the Saints at the Jets game this week).Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Russell Wilson again brought his team back and was able to put points on the board late in the game when the Seahawks needed them most. Wilson and the Seahawks came out of the gate marching down the field until an errant throw ended up in a diving Buccaneer’s hands, Wilson also had threw a pass that was picked off in the end zone that nearly could have ended the game late. Wilson threw for 217 yards on 19 of 26 attempts, 2 Touchdowns passing, and 2 interceptions, this was Wilson’s first multiple interception game of the season and his first interceptions in 4 games. Wilson also rushed the ball 6 times for 36 yards and 1 Touchdown. Wilson as usual came up big when it was most important which was late in the 1st half to get some momentum back and then of course late in the game as the Seahawks had to score 3 times in the 4th quarter and Overtime to get the Win.
Running Backs: A
Marshawn Lynch had his biggest game of the year as he motored the Seahawks down the field on multiple drives plowing through would be tacklers play after play. The play calling has to start coming into question inside the 5 yard line as the ball was again taken out of the hands of the NFL’s premier power back. Marshawn carried the ball 21 times for 125 yards with an impressive 6 yards per carry. Lynch had over 43 yards on the first drive of the game and then only had another 20 yards up until the final drives of the game where he produced another 62 yards. Granted the Seahawks were down big and had to throw the ball but Marshawn was consistently moving the ball at will against the Tampa Bay defense.
Wide Receivers: B-
The Seahawks Receivers had a solid game as they came up big in this game breaking tackles and gaining the extra yards needed after the catch. Doug Baldwin led all Receivers with 6 catches for 75 yards and 1 Touchdown, although he had two drops in arrow on 1 drive. Golden Tate’s presence was felt in multiple aspects but he did haul in 3 passes for 29 yards, one being a huge 19 yard pass play on the sideline. Zach Miller also came up big nearly every time he caught the ball as he was responsible for 3 catches for 49 yards and all led to Seahawks 1st downs.
Offensive Line: B+
The Offensive line finally seemed to start putting things together for the first time since the line was decimated by injury. After the first couple of drives Wilson was finally about to get a little breathing room and was not running for his life as he had been the last month. The line was able to clear massive holes and held on to the edges for Marshawn Lynch. The line did not give up a sack this week, Wilson was under a lot of duress in the 1st quarter, but the hatches buckled down and Tampa Bay was unable to drop Wilson. Michael Bowie went down in the 2nd quarter although he did come back in the 2nd half to help keep Wilson upright. Max Unger also left the game in the 4th quarter with a concussion.
Defensive Line: C+
The Seahawks Defensive Line was able to flush Mike Glennon out of the pocket throughout the game although he was able to scramble away at times and throw on the run which resulted in two 2nd quarter Touchdowns. The Defensive line did sack Glennon 3 times totaling 25 yards lost. Michael Bennett pulled Glennon down for a sack but it wasn’t the pass rush that was so obvious in this game, but the amount of yards that was allowed by the Seahawks Defensive line on the ground as Mike James totaled 158 yards on the ground. The Buccaneers ran the ball for a total of 205 yards against the daunting Seahawks Defense. Seattle’s normally steady run stuffer Red Bryant was unable to fill the holes in this game thus opening running lanes throughout the game.
Bobby Wagner was again one of the stars of the game for the Seahawks defense as he seemed to regularly be around the ball. Wagner had 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks on a blitz play where he was untouched and blindsided Mike Glennon for a monster sack. KJ Wright also had a 11 tackles in this game but he always seemed to be a step behind whether he was taking bad angles or he was out of position, most of his tackles came at least 7 yards down the field as he tried to get back into the play. Bruce Irvin was unable to come up with the huge plays that he came up with last week against the Rams. Irvin only had 4 tackles and was really a non factor in this game as he continues on his first season playing with more responsibility than just pass rushing.
The Seahawks secondary had a solid game only giving up 168 yards passing, and being forced to make a ton of tackles on Buccaneers running backs down the field. The Buccaneers did throw for 3 touchdowns although that stat might seem inflated as one on the touchdowns was a jump pass thrown by Mike James as the goal line and the other two touchdown passes were long broken passes as Mike Glennon found his receiver long after they broke off of their routes and he was scrambling for his life. Earl Thomas had a solid game as he led all Seahawks defenders with 12 tackles. Thomas had what should have been considered the play of the game as he made a toe tapping interception on the sideline that was negated by a ridiculous pass interference call against him. Thomas did have a huge missed tackle when he went for the big hit vice wrapping up and Mike James bounced off of him and continued his run. Richard Sherman continued his solid play as he was every bit of the shut down corner that he has claimed to be.
Special Teams: B+
The Seahawks special teams had a quiet game until late in the game when Golden Tate and Steven Hauschka both came up big when the Seahawks needed them most. Hauschka continued his solid play with no missed field goals on the season (if you don’t count the blocked field goal earlier in the season) as he hit two 2nd half field goals one of which was the game winner in overtime. Golden Tate had a huge 71 yard punt return as he jumped, juked, and bounced around the field setting up one of the Seahawks late touchdowns. Jermaine Kearse had a costly fumble in the 2nd quarter as he coughed the ball up on a would be big kick-off return that was recovered by the Buccaneers kicker.
This was a great comeback for the Seahawks as they came back from 21 points down in the 2nd quarter which was the biggest comeback in team history. Seattle needs to start coming out of the gate stronger and stop relying on big late game heroics. The Seahawks dominated this game from the 3 minute mark of the 2nd quarter on although chances are that if they weren’t playing the 0-7 Buccaneers the results could have been much worse. The play calling in the red zone has to start being questioned as there can only be so many play action passes inside the 5 yard line that go for scores, Marshawn Lynch needs to get his touches deep in the red zone.
The Rams better watch out, I hear there are sharks in them waters.
Happy Blue Friday 12ers, let’s get our Hawk Tawk on.
I got curious today about where the Seahawks sit after seven games versus where they were last year at this point. In my quest for knowledge, I stumbled on some interesting things that I wasn’t quite aware of. I would like you to take a seat before we begin. You see, this week I am going to Tawk about some statistics. I know, I know, I feel guilty already. But, to save face, I didn’t compile these stats. I just read about them and wanted to point them out, because it really made me take pause for a few moments. Here we go, but don’t worry this will not become habitual.
I started comparing the Seahawks stats through week seven of last season and this season. Knowledge is getting ready to drop, wait for it.
Last year, the offense had racked up 2,055 yards from scrimmage at the end of week seven. So far this year they have accounted for 2,580 yards. I have been pretty down on the offensive production thus far. Being the 12er that I am, I want to see the Hawks blow everyone out like that torrid four game stretch last year. But, this really shocked me. I had, prior to today, perceived the Hawks offense to have looked bad so far. Yet, they are actually putting up more yards than they did last year. And they have been doing it with a make shift offensive line, and at times, back up tight ends. Keep in mind that Marshawn isn’t running for 100 plus yards every game either. Food for thought, right?
The defense had given up 2,081 yards at this point last year. This year they have given up 1,975 yards. I know that isn’t a mind blowing improvement, but it is an improvement. The importance of this one isn’t lost on me. I have spent a measurable amount of time cussing at Dan Quinn (through the TV of course) about the Hawks getting burnt in zone coverage and giving up so many big plays. The Indy game was a prime example. What I did know was that the defense was making big plays when they had to for the most part. What I didn’t know was that they were giving up fewer yards than last year, so far. I say so far, because as we know, things can change quickly. Seattle’s run defense was one of the best in the league for most of the first half of the season last year. That changed dramatically over the last half. I learned something today.
The Seahawks are +7 in the turnover column, and that is awesome, except when you realize that they have turned the ball over ten times so far this year. Last year they were at 11 through seven games, but that is not much of an improvement. Take away three or four of those turnovers and the defense would be looking pretty good, right? Well, the defense has 19 takeaways this year, compared to 12 at this point last year. That is an awesome number 12ers, and helps buffer the pain of 10 turnovers. I knew Seattle was doing well in the turnover ratio department, because that is one of three things that the Tawking heads on TV discuss when they are supposed to be giving color commentary. The Seattle Seahawks are second in the NFL with a +7 turnover margin. I want more, don’t you?
Last year the Seahawks finished the season with a scoring drive percentage of 39.4 percent. That is, 39.3 percent of their offensive drives resulted in a score. So far this year they are at 42.2 percent. I think we can expect that number to get much healthier as the season progresses and everyone gets healthy. The Seahawks offensive line has been on disability all year, but it won’t stay that way, they are slowly getting healthy. Mad Max is back and as soon as Okung makes his way back, things should start shaping up. Maybe not dramatically, but they will get better. I wish Seattle could find someone as mean and nasty as Giacomini who is actually good. Maybe they can get “American Horror Story” to make a Frankenstein’s Monster for them. A Frank-O-Meanie, if you will. By the way, a fellow that I went to school with (way back in the olden days) and his wife do some of the makeup on that show. He has even been nominated for like five Emmys. Pretty cool, I’m just saying. If I was going to shamelessly drop names I would probably say something like, “Shout out to Mike Mekash!”
In 2012, the Seahawks turned the ball over on 10 percent of their drives for the season, and they are beating the !@#$ out of that number so far this year. They have gotten that number all the way up to 14.5 percent! I’m joking people, settle down. This is one category where a bigger number is not the winner winner chicken dinner. I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is a product of the offense line. I don’t want to Tawk too much about it because it sucks, but the fact is they are losing points because they are turning the ball over much more than last year. Some of that is due to a less conservative playbook for Russell Wilson. Some (most) of it is because the offensive line has been decimated. All of it is inexcusable. This has to get fixed, quickly.
Last year the Seahawks were 4-3 at the end of Week 7. They lost all three of those games by one score or less. They squandered opportunities to win all three. The opportunity was there, but they could not take advantage. They haven’t let those kind of games slip away this year, except one. Even when they look really, really bad, they have fought back and found ways to win. Quality football teams are founded on that truth. If a team can play it’s worst football and still put the “W” on the scoreboard, it speaks volumes about their heart and soul. It speaks even louder about the balance and talent. I don’t know about you, but I am very, very, very excited to see what a healthy Seahawk team can do.
Here is a blast from the past you need to watch if you are interested in where it all began in regards to the Seahawks and Monday Night Football. This Youtube video brings back memories; Seahawks vs Falcons 29 October 1979. Jack Patera was the trick play Guru of his day, and it made Seattle a fun team to watch.
The Seahawks are proud owners of the best record in the History of Monday Night Football with a .692 winning percentage. Other teams have played more and won more, but they also have lost more. Their record of 18-8 is pretty impressive when you note that they have not always been the best team on the block. One thing Seattle has always done well is to kick the Monday blues right in the groin for the 12thman. I can’t wait for Monday, how many of you just repeated that out loud, and realized how weird it is to say?
As of right now the Seahawks are sitting atop some of the NFL power polls, but those don’t matter. They have scored 191 points which is good enough for 5th in the NFL — that does matter. The Hawks have only given up 116 points which is good for 3rd in the NFL, and that very much matters. Did anyone realize that they did that with a make shift offensive line and ailing tight ends. It is going to be an even more exciting season when everyone is healthy. Oh by the way, you do know that Percy is practicing this week right? There is even conjecture that he may play Monday night. I have two trains of thought on that. The first is, “Don’t rush it, no need to, the Seahawks don’t need him to demolish the Rams.” The second is, “Do it! I can’t wait to see what other teams look like when they are trying to defend against Skittles, DangeRuss, and Boo Boo!” I call him Boo Boo, because he gets lots of Boo Boos. And because it is almost Halloween. Also, because he is scary good, like a ghost, Boo.
Bad time to be without a quarterback.
The Rams are really hurting right now. Without Bradford they are going nowhere. I can’t believe they actually called Brett Favre’s agent. They are really desperate, huh? They also have only averaged 70.5 yards per game rushing, and keep in mind that they boosted that number with 143 yards against Gus Bradley’s Jaguars. The Rams however, have only turned the ball over nine times, so I am looking forward to the Hawks giving them a hand in making that number much less respectable.
I am excited for Monday Night Football folks. Thanks for sticking with me this week, I know you don’t Hawk Tawk for stats. 12thman now, 12thman forever, GO HAWKS!
Grading the Seahawks at the Colts:
The Seahawks Hopes of a undefeated season came to an abrupt end in Indianapolis Sunday afternoon as the Seahawks lost to the Colts 34 – 28. The game was one of the most exciting games of the NFL weekend but in the end the Magical comeback that the Seahawks completed against Houston wasn’t to be. Even in the loss there are many bright spots for the Seahawks as well as many downsides. This game proved the importance of capitalizing on momentum as well as the importance of finishing drives off with a Touchdown vice Field Goals.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks Offense was finally able to score on their opening drive of a game, it was a Field Goal but at least the Offense was able to score right off the bat. Wilson had a huge game as he moved the offense with more than just his arm as he rushed for 102 yards on 13 rushes. Wilson was able to avoid pressure as the Colts secondary and Linebackers continued to drop back throughout the game and open up running lanes for Wilson. Wilson’s numbers again didn’t pop off the chart be continuously moved the team down the field as he passed for 210 yards on 15 of 31 passing with 2 Touchdowns and 1Interception which came on the 4th down near the end of the game.
Running Backs: B
Marshawn Lynch finally reached the century mark as he rushed for 102 yards on 17 carries most of which came in the first half. Lynch broke numerous tackles as he assisted Wilson in moving the Seahawks up and down the field at will. Lynch also had a huge one handed catch the Wilson nearly threw away only to have Lynch palm it and pull it in for a 5 yard gain. Marshawn is not normally known for his hands also had a key 3rd down drop that seemed to kill the momentum as Seattle was trying to keep the ball away from the suddenly unstoppable Colts Offense in the 4th Quarter.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Wide Receivers: B-
The Seahawks Receivers only had 15 catches in the game and again struggled to create separation against the pesky Colts secondary. Zach Miller was on the sidelines for this game but his replacement Luke Willson had a solid game as he had 2 catches for 28 yards. The Seahawks Receivers were lead by Doug Baldwin who had 5 catches for 80 yards followed by Golden Tate who caught 5 passes for 61 yards which was mostly yardage gained after the catch. Tate did have a big drop on the sideline as Wilson escaped pressure and hit Tate before he stepped out of bound but Tate bobbled the catch and it was ruled incomplete; Tate was able to find the end zone for the first time this season. Jermaine Kearse again went up over the top of a defender as he pulled in a 28 yard Touchdown strike from Wilson. Sidney Rice still seems to be bothered by his knee as he was clearly limping a few different times and he was unable to create any separation on his routes.
Offensive Line: C+
The Offensive line seemed to play better this week as they only gave up 2 sacks totaling only a loss of 5 yards. Although, Wilson was able to scramble away from pressure on numerous plays, which was evident as he rushed for 102 yards. This piece together Offensive line clearly is much stronger creating holes for the running backs than it is trying to create a pocket for Wilson. Lynch had huge holes to run through in this game, especially in the 1st half.
Defensive Line: B
The Seahawks Defensive Line put a lot of pressure on Andrew Luck in the 1st half as they were able to get 1 sack from Bruce Irvin, who returned from his suspension this week and then they also got a sack from Chris Clemons who also caused a fumble as he struck the ball out of Lucks hands and he hit him.The Defensive Line clearly wore down in the 2nd half as the Colts went to the hurry up Offense and it really worked against the Seahawks strengths. Brandon Mebane lead all of the Defensive Lineman with 5 tackles as he gave solid push up the middle throughout the game.
KJ Wright lead all Linebackers with 9 tackles in the game as he was all over the field trying to tackle the pesky Colts receivers. Bruce Irvin, who is now predominately playing Linebacker had 4 tackles with a sack and a huge tackle for a loss early in the game. I obviously don’t know any of the Defensive play calls but the Linebackers seemed to constantly be a step behind as the middle of the field was open all day for the receivers to snag the passes that Andrew Luck was throwing to them as he ran for his life. Bobby Wagner had an off day according to his standards as he only had 2 tackles and numerous missed tackles throughout the game.
The Seahawks secondary had a rough game this week as is was beat on numerous deep balls. Whether it was the confusion between Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman on the 73 yard Touchdown pass to TY Hilton or when Brandon Browner was just flat out beat to the corner of the endzone by Hilton. Without sounding like a biased fan this game became a game of pink and it became a game of pink not because of the pink shoes or the pink wristbands that the players wore in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, but because of the pink flags that were thrown all over the field. It seemed as though every incomplete pass was just a waiting game for the reaction of the team and the Legion of Boom as they were called for multiple pass interference calls that consistently went against them. The secondary did get pushed around in this game and the Colts seemed to confuse the Seahawks the most when they would go into their bunch formations which lead to multiple 1st down in crucial points of the game.
Special Teams: B
The Seahawks special teams had a solid game again as Steven Hauschka kicked 5 field goals and hit 4 of them. His lone miss was not your normal miss as it was blocked and then returned for a huge game swinging Touchdown. The Seahawks punt block team had a huge block in the 1st quarter that rolled into the endzone and eventually ruled a safety when Jeron Johnson jumped on the ball and it moved around in his grasp as he slid out of bounds. Between the blocked Field Goal which lead to 7 points and the blocked punt which lead to 2 points but a 5 point swing Special Teams played a huge role in the outcome of this game.
This was a tough loss for the Seahawks as the went from being up 12 nothing and seemingly on their way to a blowout win to being down 6 in the final minutes of this eventual loss. The Seahawks were able to move the ball with ease at times but if they still desire to take this team to the next level this will have to stop settling for Field Goals and start turning 12 pts off of Field Goals in 28 points off of Touchdowns. The Seahawks had a solid game with contributions from all over the field but they were beat by the big play all day long and at the end of the day they couldn’t overcome all of the quick points that they spotted the Colts.
The Seahawks won on the road early Sunday against one of the AFC’s most explosive teams. This was not a game that looks pretty on the box score, although after Sunday all that matters is that the Seahawks left Houston with another “W” in the win column. Seattle played this game missing 60% of its starting offensive line and from the first snap it was very evident against a Houston Defensive-line that is anchored by the reigning Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks Offense put the first points of the game on the board with a 1st Quarter field goal. After the first score the Seahawks offense was under constant duress from the Texans pass rush. Wilson only passed for 123 yards on 12 of 23 passing and 1 interception. This week it wasn’t his arm that won this game, it was his legs that he used when he got out of the pocket as he rushed for 77 yards on 10 attempts. Wilson seemed to play better once he was able to escape the pressure inside the pocket. He had a huge scramble for a 1st down on a 4th and 3 situation late in the game. Russell Wilson did not have huge numbers but he again came up clutch late in the game when it mattered the most.
Running Backs: B
Marshawn Lynch started the game off strong, as he had a huge beastmode run for 43 yards from the 2 yard line as he broke tackle after tackle as ran up the field. Lynch finished the game with 98 yards on 17 carries and 1 Touchdown in the 4th Quarter. Lynch also was the Seahawks leading receiver as he caught 3 passes for 45 yards. Robert Turbin had 3 carries for 4 yards and was put in the game to help the Offensive-line pick up the Houston pass rush, although at times he seemed to just be getting run over just like the Offensive-line.
Wide Receivers: B-
The Seahawks Receivers only had 12 catches in the game but none were as important as Doug Baldwin’s tip toe catch on the sidelines in the 4th Quarter on 3rd down. Wilson scrambled out of the pocket and hit Baldwin as he was coming back to help his Quarterback who was under duress. The play was originally called incomplete but it was challenged by Pete Carroll and then overturned for a 1st down. The Receivers seemed to struggle to create separation but with respect to them the Quarterback was under so much pressure that he was going to the ground or getting hit before they seemed to be able to make it out of their breaks.
Offensive Line: D
The Offensive line allowed 5 sacks which resulted in 32 yards lost. I graded the Offensive-line a “D” and it would have been an “F” had it been the starting Offensive-line but with only two actual starters I graded with a bit of leeway. The 1st showed the Offensive-line getting manhandled by JJ Watt and the Houston Defensive-line. Wilson was constantly under pressure and Lynch was being forced to break tackles to gain any yards. In the 4th Quarter the Offensive-line was not suddenly great, but they were able to at least Russell Wilson enough time to move around in the packet so that he could at least create a bit with his legs. So the Line play did progress later in the game, but this was clearly the Seahawks weakest link through-out the game.
Defensive Line: B
For the Seahawks defense this game could be the tale of two halves. In the 1st half of the game the Seahawks Defensive-line struggled to put pressure on Matt Schaub and Arian Foster seemed to be able to run through wide open holes thanks to the play action pass. But, in the 2nd half the Defensive line was consistently putting Schaub under pressure. Clinton McDonald led the Seahawks Defensive-line with 5 tackles and 1 sack, Chris Clemons, Tony Mcdaniel and Cliff Avril each threw in another sack.
Bobby Wagner again led the team with 8 tackles as he flew around the ball the whole game. Malcolm Smith was right behind Wagner in tackles with 7. The Linebackers were constantly around the ball but when it came to coverage they seemed to be out matched covering the Texans tight ends as Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham pulled down 11 catches for 141 yards while primarily being covered by the Linebacking Corps.
The Secondary came up big this week in the 2nd half as Richard Sherman intercepted the ball from Matt Schaub and returned it for a Touchdown with under 3:00 minutes remaining in the game to tie the score up at 20 – 20. Although throughout the game the Texan receivers all seemed to be able to create separation which allowed Schaub to pass for 355 yards with 2 Touchdowns. It is never a good sign when 2nd and 3rd leading tacklers from the game are your safeties as Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor each had 7 tackles in the game. But again the Secondary did come through with 2 interception one of which was inside the redzone by Thomas.
Special Teams: A
The Seahawks special teams again had a solid game, although Jeremy Lane did cough the ball up on a kickoff return but he was able to get through the pile and recover the ball. Steven Hauschka still has not missed a field goal attempt on the season as he hit 3 field goals one of which was the game winner from 48 yards away. Jon Ryan punted he ball 6 times pinning the Jaguars back inside the 20 yard line four times and he also had a long 60 yard punt as well. Golden Tate had a big Punt return when he backed himself into the endzone before bringing it out as he weaved through the coverage to start the game winning drive on the 32 yard line.
This was not the prettiest game of the season for the Seahawks but they did show how much grit they have and belief in themselves as they came back on the road for the win. Again the Seahawks have to stop falling behind by starting off slowly; they still have yet to score a Touchdown on their opening drive. The Seahawks will take this victory and head home as they prepare for next Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts and hopefully they will not have to have nearly as many late heroics.
I talk a lot about metrics and statistical analysis here in 12MR. Whether its its my quest for a better analysis metric for evaluating defenses, or my mathematical power rankings, or just my general evaluation of players, I prefer everything to be grounded in solid data-driven analysis as well as tape study.
This idea has taken off in baseball, and that’s why I got my start as a writer coving MLB. I’m a scientist, and my mathematics and analysis background allowed to me jump right in. The problem was that I’ve always been a football guy. I didn’t belong in baseball, so here and I am, trying to do my analytical thing for a sport that is the still in the dark ages when it comes to developing useable metrics.
Unfortunately, a lot of football doesn’t show up on a stat sheet.
For example, most running plays end with a tackle by a LB. Too bad not all tackles are equal. A tackle made 8 yards downfield isn’t the same as as one made up near the line of scrimmage. If you just look at the number of tackles, you don’t get that information, and unfortunately, that’s all most people have access to.
We call those tackles close to the line of scrimmage “stops.” Bobby Wagner had 69 of them last season, which is a lot compared to his NFL peers. That particular piece of information is out there if you know where to look, but few know it’s importance and even fewer bother to use it.
And what else happened to make that tackle possible? What about the DT who commanded a double team of the C and G and still wasn’t pushed back? That meant the G wasn’t able to peel off and get up to the next level and block the LB who made the tackle. Where’s that on the stat sheet? Or how about the DE who got 2 yards up field and set the edge, making it impossible for the RB to bounce the run to the outside? Where’s the stat for that?
Those things are just as important as the tackle. If they don’t happen, then the stop doesn’t happen either. Football is a team game. Everyone must do their job, and do it well, or the play breaks down.
This is why we have to be careful using stats to evaluate individual players. It is also why I often use Pro Football Focus for quantitative player analysis, and not traditional stats. PFF are the only ones who evaluate the players for doing those not-so little things that make each play work. It’s also why NFL teams pay big money for their data.
For a data-driven guy like me, this is all very frustrating. I’d love to putting together mathematical models that allow us to determine a player’s impact on a game relative to other players at other positions. I could still do that, but I’d have to use PFF’s data to do so, and I don’t think they’d be happy about it.
Unfortunately, this means I’m stuck looking at team-wide data for the most part in order to generate something meaningful.
There is one position though where we can do some statistical work and not have it be meaningless. I’m talking about QB. Currently, we have 2 measures that attempt to evaluate the position: passer rating and Total QBR.
Passer rating is archaic and fairly pointless. The different variables (TD, interceptions, completions, yards, etc.) are combined in a haphazard way that does not have any connection to points scored. It also doesn’t take into account some of the the thing that QBs do, like scrambling and avoiding sacks.
QBR, on the other hand is quite new. ESPN’s staff put it together in an attempt to fix some of the problems that the passer rating stat has. The problem is that they took it too far. Sacks seem to be the biggest factor in determining the rating, which is a bit silly.
The system is also not purely stats based, and it is hardly objective. Plus, the fact that they refuse to divulge the formula used only adds to the problem. I simply refuse to use Total QBR because ESPN refuses to tell us what actually goes into the metric.
That leaves us with almost nothing for a true QB rating system. After a ton of prodding by a few other analysts I’m going aim to fix that.
Over the next year, I’m going to be working with some of the best numbers guys in the business to try and develop a QB rating metric that improves on the archaic passer rating, but doesn’t get into the stupidity that is QBR. It’s likely to be a comically frustrating voyage, so I’m going to share my progress here on 12MR.
At this point, I have no idea what this is going to look like, but i’m sure I’ll have more grey hair when it’s completed.
The Seahawks have finally made their first pick in the 2013 draft. It just took until the final pick of the second round to get here. With that pick, Seattle took Christine (pronounced Chris-TIN) Michael, a running back from Texas A&M. Chances are you’re wondering who the hell that is. Allow me to enlighten you.
According to NFL.com, Michael’s strengths include a “low center of gravity” but with a “thickness throughout his frame to take and give out punishment.” He has more speed than one would think when he is able to break open as well. Overall, Michael is a bruiser that will be a nice compliment to Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Both Lynch and Turbin are hard to bring down, and Lynch will occasionally level a tackler, but Michael has the ability to straight damage some defenders. Michael is also a good blocker that is able to lead the ball into the second level.
According to CBS Sports, Michael started 2012 rated by some as the “top senior running back in the country.” Attitude issues, however, took him out of the starting role, and the spotlight, which is probably a big reason he was relatively unknown and is yet another “what the what” pick by Pete Carroll and John Schneider.
Michael has had injury issues and missed the ends of both his sophomore and junior year. He broke his right leg in 2010 and the following season he tore his ACL. However, in 13 games he ran for 1,530 yards and 12 touchdowns. If he can check his attitude issues at the door and stay healthy, Michael should have an opportunity to contribute greatly in Seattle.
If Seattle starts utilizing a running back by committee approach it could be a very different dynamic on offense and make them harder to prepare for and defend. Diversity is a killer.
Another thing that I just thought of is whether or not Seattle might consider lining up Michael at full back and getting all three backs (Lynch, Turbin, and Michael) on the field at the same time. This could also give Seattle more flexibility when it comes to dealing with Michael Robinson’s contract.
This pick could also have fantasy implications as it might limit carries by Lynch.
No matter what, I think we should all get #inpcjswetrust trending because I expect a lot more unexpected picks out of Seattle for the rest of the draft.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Christine Michael, featured, football, Individual Prospects, John Schneider, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Robinson, News, nfl, NFL Draft, Pete Carroll, Popular, Robert Turbin, Roster Moves, Seahawks
Draft day is here and the NFL hype machine is in full force. Personally, since Seattle ostensibly took Percy Harvin I won’t be watching the draft coverage, but that doesn’t mean the writers here at 12th Man Rising haven’t put together their pre-draft power rankings.
The rankings have been updated as of yesterday so they account for all of the free agency acquisitions and releases that have taken place up to now. You will also see more daylight between teams’ highest and lowest rankings since there aren’t actually any games to help guide us.
The teams that have the biggest differences between their highest and lowest rank are:
- Rams (16) – David 9th, Micah 25th
- Vikings (13) – David 8th, Hanley 21st
- Steelers (12) – Nick 9th, Micah 21st
- Chiefs (12) – David 20th, Nick 32nd
- Falcons (11) – Diane 2nd, David 13th
- Colts (11) – Diane 8th, David 19th
- Giants (10) – Micah 8th, David 18th
- Buccaneers (10) – Hanley 12th, David 22nd
- Cardinals (10) – Hanley 19th, David 29th
As can be expected of a division that includes both San Francisco and Seattle, the NFC West had the highest average ranking in the NFL with 11.5. The NFC North is next with an average ranking of 12.75. The worst division in the NFL is, not surprisingly, the AFC West with an average ranking of 21. The highest ranked team in the AFC West is Denver (3rd overall), with the other three teams 24th or lower.
Obviously, these rankings are very preliminary and will change once the draft happens. Draft day is overall a bad predictor of how good a team will be the next season. There aren’t many teams that are a top five pick away from a Super Bowl or even division dominance. Draft picks are more of an investment in a player’s future potential that, if successful, will explode in a player’s second or third season. Teams like Seattle and San Francisco cut some dead weight, and reloaded for the following season without the need to change much. Other teams like Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oakland, and the New York Jets have further to go.
Until the next rankings are published in August, enjoy these for what their worth – conversation fodder. And if draft day is your gig, enjoy that as well. The first pick that matters to me is the 24th pick of the second round.
The Seattle Seahawks have stolen the stage during the off season after signing; Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and trading for wide receiver Percy Harvin. Seattle added these three players to an all ready lethal squad that includes Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller, and of course Russell Wilson. Seattle finished the 2012-2013 season in a gut wrenching loss to the Atlanta Falcons, losing a slim lead in the last 30-seconds to a Matt Bryant field goal. A lot of hype is headed Seattle’s way after adding the trio, and some are calling them the team to beat for the 2013-2014 NFL Season.
The addition of Percy Harvin has made Seattle even better on offense. Harvin will give Seattle a much needed deep threat at the wide receiver position that they lacked during Pete Carroll’s three first years in Seattle. Harvin also gives Seattle another element to us for the zone-read option. Harvin often lined up as Running back during his time at Florida with Tim Tebow, Minnesota also used Harvin at Running back on third down situations. The addition of Harvin also takes pressure off of Sidney Rice, and Golden Tate and will give Russell Wilson another weapon who will haul in a lot of receptions, and be able to gain yards after the catch, much like Golden Tate was able to last year.
On the defensive side of the ball Seattle has added defensive end Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett who can play tackle and defensive end much like Jason Jones was able to do last year for Seattle. These two combined for 18.5 sacks last year, add that to Seattle’s total of 36 last year that is a total of 54.5 sacks. I find it hard to believe Seattle will be able to rack up that many total sacks, especially with Chris Clemons who led the Seahawks in sacks last year with 11.5 is recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in the playoffs, and may not be ready for the 2013 NFL season. However it is not hard to believe with the growth of rookie Defensive End’s Bruce Irvin, and Greg Scruggs that those two can’t add to their total sack total. Irvin led all rookies with eight-sacks, and fellow rookie defensive end Greg Scruggs totaled just two-sacks in a very limited role, I expect both players to up their sack totals next year. I see no reason Seattle can’t get at least 42 –sacks which would put them in the top half of the league.
The latter part of the 2012-2013 NFL season Seattle arguably played better than any other team in the league, they dominated on offense, and defense and showed little weakness, a slow start in the playoff game to the Falcons led to the ending of the season for Seattle, despite outscoring the Falcons 28 to 10 in the second half.ed to be one of the most complete teams in the NFL, with two deep threats at wide receiver, one of the best running backs in the league and the team is young, they bring back every starter on offense, and nine of eleven starters on defense. It is logical to think this team is only going to be better, some fans are calling this team the “Dream Team”. Is it true? Is this team the best team in the league, and the team everybody in the league does not want to play? Is this team the most talented team in the entire league? My quick answer to all three of these questions would be simply, yes. I am however scared of a team that originally dubbed themselves the “Dream Team” (something no Seattle player has done, which I am very thankful for.)
The team I am speaking of is the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles like the Seahawks brought in big named players to a team that went 10-6 the year before, and had one of the most lethal Quarterbacks in the NFL in Michael Vick. They seem a seasoned coach in Andy Reid.
The eagles decided to add to an all ready potent roster, and brought in All-Pro corner back Nnamdi Asomogha, former pro bowler defensive end Jason Babin and seasoned veteran defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. These three starters along with former first round picks Ronnie Brown, and Vince young mixed with an all ready talented roster formed what was supposed to be the “Dream Team” as Vince Young famously called them during the 2011 off season. So with all these added additions what happened? A 11-5 NFL football team, ended up going 8-8. Poor coaching and management of the team is the simple answer, if you want a specific name it is on Andy Reid, he made the mistake of hiring Juan Castillo who coached the Offensive Line to become his Defensive Coordinator. I failed to see the logic in this, at the time and still do.
Reid also tried to buy himself a championship team, something in football you can’t do. He added a lot of high priced guys who did not fit with his or his staffs coaching. Injuries to Michael Vick also led to the demise of the Eagle’s football season but that should also be blamed on Reid for failing to give his franchise Quarterback Michael Vick a stable offensive line to protect him. I highly doubt this fate will be Seattle’s. They return the entire coaching staff besides defensive coordinator Gus Bradley who went on to become the Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Seattle replaced him with former Florida Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn who also worked under Gus Bradley through 2009-2010 in Seattle as the Defensive Line Coach. As long as Seattle stays with the current defensive system they have ran under Carroll I see no reason why the defense should suffer with the arrivals of Avril, and Bennett, and Dan Quinn.
The 2007 New England Patriots also took the route of free agency to improve an all ready talented team who went 12-4 the year before. The result turned into a 16-0 regular season finish, and a loss in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
The Patriots first move of the 2007 off season was trading for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Wes Welker giving up a 2nd and 7th round draft pick, to acquire the veteran pass catcher. The Patriots then looked to further boost a wide receiving group that lacked explosiveness and signed free agent wide receiver Donte Stallworth. New England then went a step further to acquire one more wide receiver to help out Tom Brady and traded for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss. The end result was a 16-0 season and both Brady and Moss shattered the touchdown record for their respected positions on the football field. Moss was the biggest risk as many felt he played lazy and uninspired football during his stint with Oakland. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was able to keep the talented wide receiver happy. All three wide receivers contributed greatly to the season. Moss finished the season with 98 receptions, 1493 yards, and 23 touchdowns. Welker had 112 receptions, 1175 yards, and 8 touchdowns, and Donte Stallworth finished his season with 46 receptions, 697 yards, and three touchdowns. The result of spending in free agency can work if you have a good coach, stability at the quarterback position and the franchise. Patriots clearly had that, Eagles well they are still looking.
So will the Seahawk’s season end in dismay like the Eagle’s, or will it end in record breaking success like the patriots. I feel somewhere in between, I do not believe Russell Wilson will throw for 50 touchdowns, and that Harvin will haul in 21 touchdown receptions, or haul in 112 receptions the team is too balanced for that to happen, nor do I believe they will go 16-0 at the moment. I do believe however they can achieve something the 2007 New England Patriots were not able to achieve and that is a Super Bowl. I do believe this Seattle team is the Dream Team and team to beat for the 2013 NFL season.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Andy Reid, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, Dream Team, featured, football, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, Michael Vick, News, nfl, Percy Harvin, Philadelphia Eagles, Popular, Previews, Randy Moss, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Seattle, Seattle Seahawks, Tom Brady
There are a lot of Seahawk fans that remember (and probably a certain Cowboys player that doesn’t) one of the best NFL blocks of the season, delivered by Golden Tate. The Dallas player that took the hit was linebacker Sean Lee, who ended up hurt on the play. There was some debate in the commentary booth at the time on whether or not the block was legal, especially considering a flag went down around that time of the play.
It was correctly ruled a legal hit (as you can see the hit by Tate was directly to the chest of Lee and perfectly squared) and the flag was a separate issue, but there were several other types of hits like this that were a point of contention throughout the last several seasons. A rule has been added on “peel back” blocks to try and protect defenders that don’t see the hit coming. There were two rule changes passed to improve player safety yesterday, so here’s the excerpt from NFL.com:
Teams will no longer be allowed to have more than six players on either side of the snapper at the snap of a point after or field goal attempt. This “overloading” one side strategy was deemed to be unsafe and unnecessary. You can no longer hit an offensive lineman low, and the snapper now is considered a defenseless player.
This was a fairly simple fix. A slightly more complicated rule passed Tuesday banning “peel-back blocks,” making those low-blocks illegal even if they occur in the tackle box. This likely will be known as “The Brian Cushing rule” after the Houston Texans linebacker suffered a serious injury on a peel-back block in 2012.
Of course we’re focusing right here on the second rule and again, it’s a rule that I totally agree with. Another huge point to the rule that isn’t mentioned is that you cannot reverse field, (coming back to your own goal-line) to make a block below the waist outside the tackle box. Previously that was allowed and we all saw some really ugly looking plays that at the very least really put a defender in jeopardy of losing a knee cap last season. Going back to a previous rule in place, it is also not allowed to hit a player in this instance above the shoulders, just like a safety can not hit a receiver above the shoulders.
So would Golden Tate’s block now be flagged under the new rule provisions?
The answer is a resounding “NO”, it is still a legal hit. You can still throw a “peel back” or “crack back” block outside (or inside) of the tackle box, if the hit is square to the shoulder or chest of the defender, meaning you will still see big hits but they won’t often result in a potential season or even career threatening injury. Another move that is good for the game but still allows for football plays.
Imagine yourself at a Seahawks home game, early in the season. The Seahawks are driving for a go-ahead score with minutes left in the game. The hand off goes to Marshawn Lynch at the opponent’s 40 yard line. He tries the middle, bounces to the outside, and breaks loose in the defensive backfield. He’s at the 30, the 20…cuts back inside….he’s at the 10 yard line. Finally, a linebacker, a safety and a corner converge on him at the 8 yard line. But Lynch smells the end zone and gives it that “Marshawn Lean” to try and knock that safety out of his path. Marshawn puts his head down, destroys the safety and rolls into the end zone carrying 2 guys on his back. “TOUCHDOWN SEAHAWKS!!!”, shouts Steve Raible at the top of his lungs. The crowd jumps to it’s collective feet cheering wildly! Then Raible says; “Hold on a minute, there’s a flag down on the field at the 10 yard line…Oh boy…it looks like this one is coming back…”.
This could be a common occurrence with the Seahawks this season, maybe more so than with other teams, if NFL owners vote in a new “head lowering” penalty for running backs . Pete Carroll has already said the Seahawks are going to remain a “run first” offense. He may want to change his mind on that one after the first few games if things go the way I’m thinking they could go with this new running back “head lowering” rule. If you haven’t heard, Roger Goodell proposed a new rule in which running backs will be flagged if they lower their head to use the crown of the helmet like a battering ram. This essentially means running backs will have to take on hits standing up or risk a penalty.
I was listening to the “Mike & Mike” show this morning on the way in to work, and they had former Dallas Cowboys Great Emmett Smith on the show to give his “NFL Hall of Fame running back” perspective on the new rule. He brashly said it will make it impossible to play the position of running back. He claimed there is no way a runner who sees he’s about to have a collision is NOT going to instinctively lower his helmet and his whole body to protect himself. Smith added, when you are punished for hitting tacklers with your helmet the end result is you’re going to see a lot of guys just step out of bounds rather than try to get more yards. He thinks it will eventually turn the NFL in to something that resembles “touch football”. Will this still be “football”? I say “no”. Running backs will more resemble quarterbacks at the end of a play, taking a slide to avoid a stand-up hit or meekly squirting out of bounds before the big hits we all know and love.
Now, to be fair, an NFL team of experts, coaches, & former players looked at all the film from last year and only found five instances of this helmet lowering that would have been called under the new rule. So, while there might be a lot of latitude a referee can give backs on this rule, or there might not be. The panel admitted it could be very difficult for a referee to fairly call this kind of thing in the heat of a game. This rule is made for inconsistency in how it’s called, and could be affected by the referee’s angle to the play, his view of the play through other players, the weather, how the other player reacts, and a million other variables. If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decides to push this rule hard, it could really put a crimp on the running styles of the hard-nosed, punishing running backs like Lynch. A quick review of some “Beast Mode” highlights reveals Lynch does often use his helmet and shoulders and a healthy forward lean to blast people out of his way. Is this going to make him a magnate for yellow flags? How could it not? You could even say Lynch is the kind of runner this rule is designed to punish…errrr…protect. If there is one rule they could have come up with (other than making the QB scramble illegal) that could put the brakes on a potential Seahawks championship season, this is it!
For other teams with finesse style runners this probably wouldn’t be an issue. Teams with backs that run in a style more like Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, or Barry Sanders will get a break because that style runner very rarely takes on a defensive back. Teams with backs like Earl Campbell, Jerome Bettis, and yes, Marshawn Lynch could potentially lose some important plays, first downs, or critical scores. Remember the Seahawks were a HALF GAME away from winning the NFC West title. One bad call can make that difference. This WILL affect coaching strategies. Worse case; I think it’s possible that coaches will get tired of all the laundry thrown at their running backs and probably will move away from the running game as an important force in their offenses. The NFL will evolve into something like the Canadian Football League, where passing becomes the dominant type of play. That will be too bad. I think it will wreck the game as it has come to be known and loved. The diversity of schemes that combine running and passing is what makes the NFL interesting to watch.
The next question is; will the fans revolt? Will the NFL be on a path to a slow death because fans will slowly find other things to do than watch a league full of guys running around trying to avoid getting hit? Will the game become something so foreign to our senses that it becomes a laughing stock? A quick look at the controversy created by the “defenseless receiver” rule should give guidance here. There were a lot of cases where a legitimate hit was flagged and great defensive plays called penalties. The hit Cam Chancellor put on 49ers tight end Vernon Davis comes to mind… That was a great, legal (as it turns out) hit that should have been called an incompletion and brought on the 49ers punting team if memory serve me. The penalty turned it into a 1st and 10 for San Fran. The Hawks ended up losing that game by a touchdown. If victories are seen as not legitimately won, the loss of fan interest could put a serious dent in the NFL’s credibility and viewership. But then the NFL has survived and thrived amid controversial calls for decades, so maybe it’s nothing to worry about.
Last but not least, will this rule, if passed, affect how Pete Carroll and John Schneider evaluate running backs in the upcoming draft? Might they hedge their bets that sending Marshawn Lynch to ballet school won’t turn him into a finesse runner and go after one in the draft? It seems advisable to have a “change-up” back anyway, but maybe this puts a little more urgency into that kind of pick. I’m thinking a running back with lots of speed and not a lot of brawn, and the ability to avoid pursuit may be high on more than a few teams draft boards.
In the end it looks like the NFL is changing so as not to appear unconcerned, and to avoid the avalanche of lawsuits that will surely materialize if they don’t “do something” now that they know there is a serious problem. Here are some things about this rule to consider moving forward: Will it change the game so much that they destroy the game? If they do nothing can the game survive anyway? Will the running back become extinct? Will they have to make more changes to keep the game interesting? Who knows? Finding the answers to these questions may become more interesting to watch than the actual games. One other thing Emmett Smith said is that people who haven’t played running back at a professional level have no idea what they’re talking about. Sorry Emmett, but THAT’S WHAT WE DO HERE!
Seattle Seahawks General Manger John Schneider went on the John Clayton Show, which airs on 710 ESPN Seattle every Saturday morning, and talked about the role Cliff Avril would play for Seattle. A link can be found at the bottom of the article to the interview.
Schneider mentioned in the interview that Seattle plans to have Avril play the LEO position that Clemons played before his injury and WILL Linebacker that K.J. Wright currently fills.
The comment about Avril playing the WILL Linebacker position got me to thinking; How a 6’4, 260 pound defensive end play linebacker in a 4-3 defensive system? The answer and player that comes in mind is former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson.
Julian Peterson came to Seattle after the 2005 season after spending six years with the San Francisco 49ers. After signing a seven-year deal worth 54 Million. Peterson was not your typical 4-3 linebacker. His job was to get in the backfield and sack the opposing quarterback as many times as possible. Peterson filled this role nicely with Seattle in three-years he managed to collect 24.5 sacks. Keep in mind that Peterson was not put in a position of defensive end; he played strictly the SAM/OLB position. While Avril would be coming from the opposite side that Peterson filled and taking over for K.J. Wright it could allow Wright to slide over to the other side of the field.
Seattle I believe will put Avril in this role in specific passing downs. I do not believe he will be a three down linebacker as Peterson was. He struggled against the run in Detroit. Avril stands at 6’3, 260 pounds and ran a 4.59 so the explosiveness to come off the edge exists. Avril playing OLB also gives other pass rushers such as Bennett, Clemons, and Irvin the opportunity to all play at the same time.
If you put the numbers in perspective Avril has been a far more productive player than Peterson was, however keep in mind that Avril has had a great supporting cast around while playing with Detroit. Avril has played a total of 73 games during a five-year career while collecting 39.5 sacks (.54 sacks per game). Peterson during an 11 year career played 158 games and collected 51.5 sacks. (.32 sacks per game). Peterson’s play did take a deep decline after leaving Seattle via trade to Detroit, which affected his sack numbers deeply. However if you put the Sack numbers for Clemons and average it out per year that is at least eight-sacks per year and I believe playing for one of the league’s best defenses he can increase those numbers in Seattle.
No one can guess how Avril will truly be used and if the WILL linebacker position will work out but I’m certain Carroll will find a spot for him to cause pure mayhem on opposing Quarterbacks.
After dominating the latter part of the 2012 NFL season, and going 11-5 it was fair to expect the Seattle Seahawks to stay mostly still during the 2013 free agency period and let the market sort out before signing any free agents outside of their own.
Many expected them to sign a pass rusher after only recording two sacks in two playoff games. Starting DE/OLB Chris Clemons tore his ACL during a playoff game against the Washington Redskins leaving rookie Bruce Irvin as the only pass rushing defensive lineman on the roster. This change resulted in no pressure against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Their season ended at the Georgia Dome after the Falcons marched downfield with less than a minute left to kick a game winning field goal.
Seattle has answered the pass rushing problem very aggressively in free agency by signing former Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril and Tampa Bay DE/DT Michael Bennett. Together they combined for 18.5 sacks. Both Free agents expected to get big deals in the market but a tight salary cap for NFL has led to a slower market. Avril signed a two year deal worth
15 million. Bennett took a one year deal worth just five million.
Seattle now has a full arsenal of defensive linemen who can rush the passer. The only question is where can they all play? Many have looked at the New York Giants NASCAR package which uses four defensive ends on the line of scrimmage. I believe Pete Carroll and the staff will take this approach with the Seahawks’ defense on passing downs. The NASCAR package requires two who are fast and strong enough to play inside and create pressure up the middle, while the smaller defensive ends create a rush from the outside.
Seattle has the player personnel to do so. The player personnel for Seattle during the NASCAR package would be (Left to Right); Irvin, Clemons, Bennett and Avril. When this group of four potential threats is on the field together, their height and weight average out at 6’4” 259 pounds. The Giants NASCAR package which included; Jason Pierre-Paule, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka average out to 6’5” 267 pounds. While there may be a size difference in the Giants NASCAR package, the Seahawks have the advantage of youth and speed on their team.
It will be difficult to know for sure the package Seattle will send out on passing situations when the season starts, but it is intriguing to think about.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, featured, football, Jason Pierre-Paule, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Michael Bennett, New York Giants, News, nfl, Osi Umenyiora, Popular, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks
In the wake of the fairly surprising Clint Avril signing, the Percy Harvin addition may seem like old news. If you’ll indulge me, I wanted to revisit the Harvin acquisition anyway.
First off I’d like to say that I am a big fan of the move because I think Percy Harvin is a unique talent who makes this offence 12.8%* more dangerous. His YAC ability, blazing speed and versatility make him enormously valuable and at 24 he is at a juncture in his career where his production is likely to ascend over the next couple of years. Pre- prime players who are already stars don’t often make their way to the trade market. When they do, the cost is bound to be high. That’s what I will discuss today.
No NFL transaction exists in a vacuum, if I were to ask any Seahawks fan a week ago, “Hey, would you like to have Percy Harvin on the Seahawks?” the overwhelming majority of them would have said, “Yes please.” However, a small minority of alert fans/cynics would ask, “What is it going to cost me?” Harvin is a great player but regardless of his greatness there is a price that would be too high for his services.
Minnesota couldn’t have simply asked for three 1st round picks and Russell Wilson. When analyzing the price of Harvin there are two components. The first one being the draft picks the Seahawks sent to Minnesota. The second one being Harvin’s lucrative contract extension.
The Cost of Percy Harvin Part One: Draft Picks
When the trade was all said and done the Seahawks had given Minnesota the 25th overall pick, and a 7th round pick in the 2013 draft, and a 3rd round pick in the 2014 draft. The real question to the value of these picks is what kind of players one can expect to acquire if they were to be used by Seattle. The centerpiece of the deal is the 25th overall pick this year so forgive me if I spend approximately 647† times more effort determining its value. In ascending order of value:
2013 7th round pick: The Seahawks have the 8th, 14th and 25th picks in the 7th round and I was unable to determine which one went to Minnesota but ultimately it doesn’t make a ton of difference. A 7th round pick is a virtual lottery ticket in terms of acquiring an NFL caliber special teams player, let alone a starter or difference maker of any kid. Do not let the loss of this pick trouble you.
2014 3rd round pick: This pick is actually significant. Third round picks tend to play some kind of role in the NFL and finding a starter here is far from unheard of. Stars like NaVarro Bowman, Eric Decker, and of course Russell Wilson were all 3rd round picks, as well as the newest Seahawk, Clint Avril. A 3rd round pick is far from a sure thing but if you choose wisely you can find a very cost effective starter. If I knew exactly which pick this would be I’d give some examples of previous examples of players chosen at that spot but alas I don’t feel comfortable slotting Seattle in for the 32nd spot just yet. It should be considered that Seattle is fairly certain to be picking in the bottom section of the round, making this worse than most 3rd round picks but far from an insignificant asset.
2013 1st round pick (25th overall): The is is the biggest asset that the Seahawks will be relinquishing and by a fairly heavy margin. I’ve provided a list of recent 25th pick selections with a brief career summary to give you an idea of the kind of players available.
2000: Chris Hovan DT- Vikings
Hovan was an undersized penetrating DT who had a 10 year career concluding in 2009. He was very durable playing in 156 of a possible 160 games, including 149 starts. The peak of his career came in 2001-2002 when he had 11.5 sacks and was 2nd team All-Pro. It was a good pick that got a good player who was great at times.
2001: Freddie Mitchell WR- Eagles
Although Freddie Mitchell was an interesting character who had some memorable moments in his career, he will likely be remembered as a disappointment and a bust. Mitchell lasted 4 years in the NFL where he was only able to total 1263 yards and 5 touchdowns despite catching balls from a then-elite Donavan McNabb. Hardly a Ryan Leaf caliber bust, but not a good player and not even really a starter. He only started 17 games over four years despite dressing for 63.
2002: Charles Grant DE- Saints
Grant was a stout DE at 6-3 282 who was known for a well-rounded game. His best years were in 2003 and 2004 when he put up 10 and 10.5 sacks respectively. In his later years Grant was less of a pure pass rusher but remained a valuable starter. Grant would end his career at age 31 with 47 career sacks. He spent all 8 years of his career with the Saints, starting 106 games for them. Another pick used to grab a good long-term starter.
2003: William Joseph DT- Giants
Joseph had a quiet 6 year career (four with the Giants) in which he totaled 17 starts and 7 sacks. He started 10 games in 2005 but was never able to crack the starting lineup with any regularity otherwise. Joseph had the kind of career that thousands of NFL hopefuls would die for but not one expected from a 1st round pick.
2004: Ahmad Carroll CB- Packers
Carroll is a player that I recall being poorly thought of by Packers fans when he started for them in 2004 and 2005. That makes sense considering he was a special teams player for the rest of his career which ended in 2009. Much like William Joseph, the 5 year career that Carroll had, including 28 starts, is the envy of many players but it isn’t exactly what a team would want from its first round pick. On the plus side, Carroll had some success in the CFL where he won the Grey Cup last year with the Toronto Argonauts and promptly retired. So in a way he sailed off into the sunset, sort of.
2005: Jason Campbell QB- Redskins
Campbell was a QB that I always kind of liked but he wasn’t a franchise quarterback. In the end, when your 1st round quarterback isn’t a franchise quarterback, he will be considered a disappointment. The conservative Campbell has only thrown for 20 TD’s once and has a disappointing 6.7 career yards per attempt. Campbell is the kind of guy who is probably in the top 32 best quarterbacks around at any given time but you know that if he’s starting for your team you are in need of a different solution. It is hard to evaluate a player like this who is good, but not good enough, and has been a starter, but shouldn’t have been. To be fair to Campbell, he never had a ton to work with in either Washington or Oakland.
2006: Santonio Holmes WR- Steelers
Probably the first player we’ve dealt with so far who many would consider to be an elite talent. The 2008 Super Bowl MVP has had an excellent career with 5,507 yards and 35 TD’s, along with 59.9 yards receiving per game, so far. His numbers have declined since going to the Jets, due in large part to poor QB play. Currently he seems to be spending his prime languishing on an awful team with an awful passing offense. He’s making enough money that I don’t feel too sorry for him, though. Overall, Holmes is an excellent player and an excellent pick.
2007: Jon Beason MLB- Panthers
Beason is an absolute stud. Or rather, he was. It’s hard to say exactly. In Beason’s first four years in the league he was a Pro Bowler thrice and a first team All-Pro once. He was a tackling machine who was a major asset to a relatively inept Carolina defense in both the rushing and passing games. Unfortunately, Beason has only played 5 games in the last two years due to injury and it’s pretty difficult to project what his career might look like from here. Even so, most teams would take 64 excellent starts and 3 Pro Bowl appearances from their 1st round picks.
2008: Mike Jenkins CB- Cowboys
Jenkins is currently a free agent and I haven’t heard of any team expressing interest yet. Not to say that his NFL career is done but that should give some indication of where Mike Jenkins is at. Jenkins made the Pro Bowl in 2009 after hauling in 5 interceptions and deflecting 19 passes but has never been able to repeat that impressiveness. In his five years in the league he has amassed only 8 interceptions and he lost his starting gig with Dallas last year. Jenkins was a starter for 3 years, one of them good and that in itself has some value but the perception of him suffers because he never lived up to the promise he showed in his second season.
2009: Vontae Davis CB- Dolphins
The fact the Vontae Davis is already on his second team is somewhat alarming, but the Colts corner has been a solid starter over the last four years who may not have reached his potential yet. At 24 it seems a bit early to render judgment on the athletic Davis other than to say that he is already an established starter in the NFL and that bodes well for him. He is probably a better player than at least half of the players listed above him.
2010: Tim Tebow QB- Broncos
There are a million things that could be said about Tim Tebow. This article is about Percy Harvin so I will refrain from a tempting tangent. I will say that, in my humble opinion, Tim Tebow is not a good quarterback. He may well be an adequate football player in a different capacity. Even so, he should be thought of as a disappointment in the context of being a 1st round pick.
2011: James Carpenter OT- Seahawks
There are reasons to be disappointed with this pick. They include injury concerns and the fact that Carpenter lacks the feet to play right tackle, a positon of need on the Seahawks. The fact is, however, Carpenter looks capable of becoming a quality starter at guard. If you can get a quality starter it’s hard to complain especially when you are picking late enough in the first round that the truly elite talents are unlikely to be available. This looks like a fine pick if Carpenter can stay healthy.
2012: Don’t’a Hightower- ILB Patriots
Hightower started 13 games as a rookie and was productive with 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown. He looks like a keeper but it’s really far too early to say if this was a wise pick for the patriots.
That’s the list. There are some good players but there are very few elite players. Beason is undoubtedly one, providing 3 of the 4 collective Pro Bowl appearances among these 13 players. You could probably argue that Santonio Holmes was an elite player with Pittsburgh and he is a Superbowl MVP so that’s 2 elite players (15%). Elite can be subjective so let’s talk about starters.
If we generously call James Carpenter and Don’t’a Hightower starters we have 10 starters (although Carroll and Campbell could be viewed as disappointments in the role). I suspect that’s an unusually high number for this area of the draft and given the small sample I imagine it’s not very predictive. I would guess that if you included picks 23 through 27 you would find a higher bust rate. This list of 25th picks is more descriptive of the type of player you are likely to find in that spot than predictive of the future in any way.
This history suggests that at the 25th pick you are likely to find a solid starter for your team who is not a Pro Bowler. Hovan, Grant, Jenkins and Davis fall into this category with Carpenter and Hightower probable to. On the surface it seems very unlikely that you will find a Harvin-quality player. However, the Vikings don’t necessarily need to find a Harvin quality player to come away from this trade ok. The beauty of a late first round pick is that not only are you likely to get a starter, you are likely to get one at an incredibly low price. Last year Don’t’a’ Hightower got a 4 year contract worth 7.7 million from the Patriots out of the draft, which is absolute peanuts when you consider what a 22 year old starting caliber linebacker could fetch on a hypothetical open market.
The 25th pick is immensely valuable because the Vikings are not only likely to restock their talent but at an incredibly discount. When you add that to the 7th round lottery ticket and the substantial but somewhat mysterious 2014 3rd round pick you are looking at quite the haul for Minnesota and a heavy price paid for Seattle. Now let’s look more briefly (I promise) at the contract.
The Cost of Percy Harvin Part Two: Harvin’s Extension
I realize the journey to determine what the Seahawks gave up in draft picks was a long one so I’ll try and be a bit shorter here. (The reality is that if brevity is truly the soul of wit than I am a truly witless man.) Sometimes numbers speak louder than words so I’m going to throw up a career stats and contract comparison of Percy Harvin to Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe, the big WR’s who signed as free agents this year.
Of the three, Harvin is the youngest, cheapest (on a yearly basis), and most productive, on a per game basis. The Seahawks are paying the market price for a receiver of Harvin’s skill level. That means that Harvin’s surplus value comes from extraordinary production, not a team friendly contract, but that’s ok. Harvin is capable of providing elite production and has done so in the past with regularity. His youth also makes the contract more sensible as the Chiefs will be paying a premium for some of Dwayne Bowe’s decline years, and while the Dolphins get years 26-31 with Wallace, which should be productive, I’m more confident in Harvin’s 24-30 years as they make up the heart of his prime. There is no doubt that this is an expensive contract but it is a fair contract and the Seahawks are paying a premium price for a premium player.
Overall I hope this gives you a sense of what it costs to get a 24 year old star like Percy Harvin. The Seahawks relinquished a draft pick that is likely to provide value, both in terms of talent and a cap friendly salary, and two others, as well as giving Harvin a contract that he must continue to produce in order to justify. The cost is high. We cannot pretend the Seahawks did not pay dearly for Percy Harvin.
People are often naturally risk-averse and this is a risk. I think that this is a risk Seattle won’t regret because Harvin is the rare player who can produce enough to justify his salary. It is my belief this move makes this team better in the short and long term but Minnesota got their’s too (especially when you consider the cap room they save by not extending Harvin). It was far from the steal, though. This deal is high risk, high reward and high stakes. Sounds like an awful lot of fun to me. Also sounds an awful lot like Pete Carroll.
*If you remember this asterisk from the beginning of the article congratulations. I just wanted you to note that I made that number up based on absolutely nothing (but it sounds vaguely plausible right?). It’s important to be transparent.
† Apparently I was in the making up number mood today…
Zach Miller had what was probably his most important game as a Seahawk Sunday. After a withering offensive display by RGIII and his offense resulted in two touchdown drives, Seattle’s defense looked like it was running at half-speed and the offense looked like they had left their Mojo of the last five games on the tarmac in Seattle. There was absolutely no sign of the high octane offense we had seen in recent weeks, and the vaunted Seattle defense was putting up little resistance to the Washington running attack.
Down 14 – 0 midway through the first quarter Seattle needed to get something going ASAP or risk having the game get out of control by the end of the first quarter. Enter Tight End Zach Miller who gave the Seahawks just what the doctor ordered to get them out of their funk late in the first quarter. On a third and long from his own 18 Russell Wilson hit Miller short of the marker, but Miller twisted and fought his way to a critical first down, Seattle’s first of the game. That was the first sign of life from the Seahawks offense. That drive ended in a field goal but put Seattle on the scoreboard and broke the Redskins momentum.
The next drive had some excitement from a Wilson to Lynch fumbled handoff which Lynch miraculously scooped up and carried to another key first down. That drive resulted in a Michael Robinson TD reception, and the Hawks had 10 on the board. After an Earl Thomas interception of a floated RG III pass the Seahawks added 3 more before the half. Hawks fans breathed a sigh of relief with the team being just one point down at the half.
The second half started with a lot of Beast mode and Wilson runs — getting the team down to the one yard line before Lynch fumbled the ball away. The Hawks held the Skins to a 3 and out and got the ball back with good field position, but had to punt the ball away after a near miss to Baldwin in the end zone. Even though the Hawks were moving the ball they were not able to add any points in the third quarter, reminiscent of some of the Hawks early season games. Still it didn’t seem like the Seahawks were in too much trouble, but they needed a play to break the near deadlock. Now in the 4th quarter the Hawks were on their own 46 at 3rd and long when Wilson again hit Zach Miller sneaking out of protection for a huge gain down to the Skins 32. Three plays later Lynch took the ball into the end zone from the 27 yard line with an assist block from Wilson at the goal line. And on the 2 point conversion Wilson again hit Zach Miller as he crossed the goal line on a quick slant. Miller would lead all receivers with 4 catches for the game.
With a touchdown lead the Hawks were ahead but not out of the woods yet. They needed a game sealing score with time running down. When the Redskins and RG III got the ball back Bruce Irvin nailed RG III for a sack. On the next play the right knee of RG III grotesquely gave way as he chased a bad snap and the Hawks recovered on the 5 yard line. After three unsuccessful shots to the end zone, a Hauschka field goal made it a 2 score game and pretty much put the game out of reach for the Redskins.
There were a lot of great plays made by a lot of Seahawks in this game. Rice and Tate made some incredible sideline hugging receptions of pinpoint Russell Wilson throws. Marshawn Lynch made some huge runs and had that crazy scoop of the fumbled hand off. But the key plays that got the Seahawks out of the doldrums and on their way to this win came from Mr. Zach Miller. So here’s a big “Well Done!” for Zach Miller, Seattle’s unsung hero and the spark that got the Seahawk machine going. Go Hawks!
I’d first like to start off by saying that I’m not a fan of awards that aren’t based on metrics such as rookie of the year, comeback player of the year, etc. It’s like asking me what my favorite movie is. Depending on the time and my mood I will give you a different answer. Instead, I can give you a grouping of my top movies in no particular order. This is how I view the rookie of the year selection. Clearly there are a few offensive rookies that should be considered. In my opinion they are Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin, and Alfred Morris. Sorry Andrew Luck, but if you lead the league in interceptions, you can’t be considered.
On defense the group is Bobby Wagner, Casey Hayward, and Chandler Jones. Sorry Janoris Jenkins, you have lots of talent but aren’t very disciplined at this point and need to improve.
Being the quantitative geek that I am, I have decided to compare Wilson and Griffin using some sort of quantifiable metrics. (Don’t worry, there will be lots of graphs, too.) Since I personally don’t really care who wins this award I came into this analysis without a dog in the hunt.
Let’s start by looking a quick set of basic metrics.
As you can see, Griffin edges out Wilson is every category except for touchdowns. That being said, Wilson’s TD/INT ratio is only 2.6 while Griffin’s is 4. Don’t get me wrong, they are ridiculously close but objectively Griffin has the edge in these basic stats. They also both threw 393 times and Griffin has only 82 more yards than Wilson. Wilson also attempted a higher percentage of deep throws than Griffin.
While those baseline stats are nice, they don’t really add much color. For instance, Seattle played a harder schedule than Washington. Seattle’s opponent’s winning percentage was .505 while Washington’s was only .494.
There is also the fact that both quarterbacks are not qualitatively all that similar. Keith wrote an article illustrating just that point. Given that, I thought it would add more clarity to break out the separate aspects of their games — passing, rushing, and total against the quality of the opposing defenses in those same categories. Let’s first look at rushing.
First, I include the game that Griffin did not play in because I believe that if a player gets statistical credit for playing a certain way and thereby accepting the risk of playing in such a way, then the costs of those risks should also be factored in. In this case, it’s the game that Griffin sat out. (In all fairness, Wilson also sat out about 2.5 quarters of the season.)
Some quick data information. The defensive averages are the average of a certain type of yard in games up to that game not counting yards from a Washington or Seattle game. So, in essence, a quarterback’s numbers won’t be used against himself. It’s his performance compared to the defenses performance against every other opponent, rushing and passing.
The quarterbacks’ cumulative average is the average of all games played up to the end of each week. I prefer this average because it shows trends rather than a flat line over the entire season.
You can see above that Griffin generally ran for more yards per game than did Wilson. This is both a stylistic difference in the players and a difference in play calling. Griffin was provided with an offensive scheme much more catered to his abilities as a mobile quarterback while Wilson was basically forced to stay in the pocked for the first half of the season. Wilson clearly began running more in the last third of the season and that moved his average up a bit, while Griffin was up and down all season. Griffin’s best rushing games came against Minnesota, New York, and Philadelphia. Wilson’s came against Chicago, Buffalo, and St. Louis.
Now let’s look at the two quarterbacks’ aerial statistics.
The passing data and charts show a different story. Wilson’s passing average increased by nearly 50 yards per game over the season while Griffin’s dropped by almost 100 yards per game. Even if you don’t count the Cleveland game his average still drops by over 100 yards a game over the season. Both Wilson and Griffin ended the season averaging nearly the same however, 195 and 200 yards per game respectively. I do think the upward trend of Wilson though speaks more to his actual development while Griffin trended down most of the season and became prone to injury toward the end. I would prefer to have a steady-as-she-goes upward trending quarterback like Wilson than someone who is a spectacular player when they’re healthy, but is unable to play a complete season. (Paging Michael Vick! Who, ironically, also had the best selling jersey in the NFL, before he decided he’d rather kill dogs for sport.)
The final set of charts shows the quarterbacks’ QBRs in each game overlayed their QBR rank and their opponent’s defensive rank for each game. I highlighted in green the games in which the quarterback was ranked first in QBR for the week. The ranks are at the top of each column.
Russell Wilson had three weeks where he was the best performing quarterback in the NFL. Those games came against Miami, Buffalo, and San Francisco. Seattle also played an average ranked defense of 13th. Washington’s opponents averaged19th. That’s a substantial difference in quality of defensive opponent. Griffin finished the season with a 71.4 QBR while Wilson had a 69.6 QBR.
In the end, I would probably vote for Wilson because I’m a Seahawks fan. I don’t see enough discernible differences between the two players to make an overwhelming case one way or the other. A vote for either man is completely defensible. In the end, I’d put money on Griffin to win, largely because of media bias and ignorance that is generally displayed week to week by too many of the people that get to vote in this popularity contest. I doubt many of the voters have done even the level of analysis I’ve done here. I’d value the award if there was some sort of objectivity inserted into it. Right now it’s more subjective than Olympic figure skating and gymnastics.
There are a lot of other conclusions and analyses that can be drawn from these charts and the underlying data but I already feel like my head is so far up my own butt in doing this that I should probably stop. If you want the data to go down the rabbit hole with me, let me know. I was unable to find any sort of massive database available from the NFL or ESPN that could be downloaded so if you want the individually and painfully collected data to do something else with it, I’ve got it.
*I refuse to use the pretentious and obnoxious III moniker. As far as I know there isn’t a Robert Griffin I or II in the NFL. Same goes for all the idiots putting “JR” and “SR” on their jerseys for no reason. This is more a statement to the ridiculous trend of players to get creative on their jerseys than a stab at just one player. I’m getting off my soapbox now.