The Seahawks/Redskins game left me with a number of observations, mostly positive. However, there are a few scenarios that simply left me baffled with the Redskins ball club. Let’s start with those…
I’m really puzzled at who is actually in charge in DC because it certainly doesn’t appear to be Shanahan. In his post-game interview, RG3 made 2 telling statements regarding who is really in charge on the Redskin team.
- “I’m the quarterback of this team,” Griffin said. “My job is to be out there if I can play. … I don’t feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. I’m the best option for this team, and that’s why I’m the starter.”
- He was then asked what would his reaction have been had Shanahan pulled him against his will for Kirk Cousins. His answer? “I probably would have been right back out there on the field,” he said. “You respect authority and I respect Coach Shanahan, but at the same time you have to step up and be a man sometimes, and there was no way I was coming out of that game.”
Either Robert Griffin the Third believed all the hype and praise heaped on him throughout the regular season made him the expert or Shanahan never utilized his authority at any time since drafting him. You don’t get this far into the post season race with this being the first indicator that the coach doesn’t have his hand on the wheel. Imagine Russell Wilson making a statement like this… yeah, I can’t either. One of the hallmark components of a champion is humility, something RG3 seems to lack and something RW3 has in abundance.
Secondly, who’s asleep at the switch with the field condition? I watched the Mike Robinson cell phone video of the field during the Seahawk walk through and found it appalling, not only the dirt, but the divots and holes in the field. And this isn’t an observation about the Seahawks, but about the field in general. Why would you ask your own players to play on that nonsense? Why would you spend all that money on RG3 and then give him that crap surface to play on? And he wasn’t the only Redskin player that had leg issues… A quick check of the Redskins 1/4/13 injury report, showed 11 of 15 players had foot, ankle or knee injuries. Coincidence?
Perhaps because of this field? This picture was seen on the internet post game showing the comparison between the Redskins and Ravens field just a few miles apart. (Redskins on the right, Ravens on the left) I submit that if owner, Dan Snyder, was concerned enough to travel to Florida with his star QB to get the scoop on his knee, perhaps he should have been concerned enough not to send him out to play in an eroded cow pasture to begin with!
Enough about the Redskins. Now Seahawks!!
So proud of our team for winning yet another road game! So proud of our Hawks for coming back from 14-0 and shutting down the Redskins for the next 3 quarters! There are too many players to mention and I think that’s a great sign that the Hawks are not one dimensional or overly reliant on one player! Lots of weapons, lots of energy!
I think the single most important component to this game is one that we’ve seen all year. I asked Pete Carroll about it midseason and you can read his answers here. I’m referring to the ability of the Seahawks to make adjustments. It hasn’t been that long ago that we had a Hawks team that seemed to script the entire game and either couldn’t implement adjustments or made them too late in the game to win. The fact that this team can make them throughout the game, not just at halftime, is a testament to the coaching staff and bodes well for their plans to continue through the playoffs.
Just a quick note to acknowledge the contributions of Chris Clemons and Steven Hauschka this season. Both were injured in the cow pasture at Fed Ex field and moved to the Injured Reserve list. Additional thanks to Jon Ryan for stepping up to do kick offs. Our special teams squad has been amazing this year!
Off to Atlanta!
At some point in the next 24 hours, the results of the 2012 FansidedNFL awards are going to begin being released. With that in mind, I wanted to reveal my ballots and explain the reasons for why I voted the way I did.
There’s only 3 real candidates for offensive rookie of the year, and they’re the obvious ones. Luck, Wilson and Griffin are all deserving. With the year that each of them had, any of the 3 could have won this award in any other year in the past decade. They’ve been that good.
The first thing I did was eliminate Luck. I know he had the most yards, but he also had 20 turnovers. That’s more than the other 2 players had combined. So Luck got my 3rd place vote.
The other 2 players were much closer. Griffin was consistently good all year, in a way that was really impressive. Wilson started out the looking like playing him was a mistake, but got better and better each and every week. Over the last 8 weeks of the season, was playing at a much higher level Griffin.
This left me with a dilemma. Which is more important here, the consistently good play or the really high level play in the 2nd half of the year. Did Wilson’s great 2nd half make up for his poor first month?
Ultimately, I decided to let touchdowns decide it. Wilson had 30 total TDs, which is the new rookie record. He also tied Peyton Manning’s rookie passing TD mark at 26. Griffin wasn’t far behind. He had 20 passing TDs and 7 rushing TDs, leaving him 3 total touchdowns behind Wilson. For that reason alone, I decided to give Wilson the edge.
1st: Russell Wilson, 2nd: Robert Griffin, 3rd: Andrew Luck
That was an excellent win. I can’t lie and said I felt good about it the whole time, though. During the first quarter, make that first three quarters, my tension levels were through the roof. Seattle goes down 14-0. Then blows some red zone opportunities and goes into half-time 14-13. Yes, they caught up. But place kicker Steven Hauschka was hurt and Seattle seemed inconsistent on offense. For some reason the zone-read was used intermittently for whatever reason and Russell Wilson missed a few wide open receivers downfield. Fortunately, Seattle’s defense must have smelled some coffee and decided to wake up and Washington wasn’t able to score for the rest of the game.
Michael Robinson and Zach Miller decided to have amazing games and show why they are both integral parts of the Seahawks team. In my opinion the game ball would have to go to one of those two guys. Russell Wilson did well but there were a few plays where he held onto the ball to long and scrambled for a sack instead of just throwing the ball away. I had to force images of Tarvaris Jackson out my head in those instances.
Marshawn Lynch also had a good game rushing for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he also fumbled to ball on the one yard line but at least partially made up for it with his one-handed fumble recovery and 18 yard rush after Wilson lost the ball. He must have just seen a giant Skittle bouncing around and wasn’t going to let it get away. It was so smooth it was kind of ridiculous to watch. Lynch didn’t even break stride.
I also loved watching Big Red Bryant chase after Robert Griffin. Griffin managed to scramble for a gain of a yard, but the effort put out by a man the size of Bryant to chase after Griffin was impressive. Not a fair fight but you have to love the determination.
This was Seattle’s first playoff game on the road since before I was born. That is very surprising at first because I am starting to think of myself as old and second because I am used to Seattle teams that are always at least somewhat dangerous. Then I remember that there was a long stretch in there (1988-1999) where Seattle didn’t make the playoffs at all and being a Seahawks fan was more depressing than mania inducing. That weakness on the road appears to be a thing of the past now, though.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend some time pissing on the legacy of one, Daniel Snyder. (Don’t worry Dan, it’s just rain.) Dan Snyder provided the worst possible playing surface he could and when Robert Griffin decided to audition for a stunt-double role in “Thiesmann: A Football Life”, it didn’t turn out so well. Griffin ended the game throwing for just 99 yards and should have been taken out at half-time. At least Griffin can look forward to a bright future of selling yet another wiener-pill.
Chris Clemons tore his ACL. Kory Lichtensteiger re-aggravated his ankle sprain. Steven Hauschka sprained his calf. Saying that the field was anything less than complete crap would be an overstatement. I guess Snyder likes his field to match his personality. The NFL and Roger Goodell have once again demonstrated that “player safety” is on par with the NCAA’s “student athlete.” (Seriously, who doesn’t laugh during March Madness when the announcers forcibly use “student athlete” to the point that it’s insulting to your own intelligence?)
Apparently “player safety” is a way for owners and the “shield” (another garbage term turned into NFL propaganda) to regulate player-on-player infractions. Owners like Daniel Snyder, on the other hand, can’t be forced to stop counting their billions and provide the same kind of surface – FieldTurf – that is now common at many high schools. Forcing owners to provide ideal conditions for their athletes isn’t worth regulating aggressively, apparently. Sure there are “rules” but they are token at best. And after players get hurt what difference does it make? I’d love to see a report showing how many injuries occur at each field.
Soldier Field in Chicago is also a terrible field but in a different way. It’s soft, lumpy, and a borderline mud pit. FedEx field is crap-grass growing out of hard dirt with some extra dirt thrown on top for aesthetics. A cleat planted in soft lumpy dirt will give a little when the player’s foot and leg twist. A cleat planted in hard-packed dirt won’t give at all. That’s how we get to see disgusting things like knees bending 90 degrees the wrong way. The warning sign should be that players have to wear ridiculously long cleats to play on a certain field. Give me a freaking break. Hopefully Dan Snyder is taking a long walk off of a short pier right now and the waters below are filled with sharks that have laser beams attached to their heads and the Sharks are all pissed off Cowboy’s fans. I almost forgot to mention that Snyder pumps artificial noise into his stadium.
I really hope Chris Clemons’ injury is better than they are currently thinking. I feel bad that a guy who has busted his ass all year gets done in by the greed and negligence of another team’s owner in the first game of the playoffs. Never mind the fact that it hurts Seattle’s defensive line. He needs to get better because Seattle is lucky enough to play in Snyder’s joke of a stadium again next season!
I like our odds against Atlanta. Currently the Falcons are favored by about 2.5 points, but that might close to 1.5. Atlanta has yet to win a playoff game under Matt Ryan and Seattle has one under their belt already with Wilson. Hopefully Browner is better than he was yesterday because we’ll need him and Sherman to shut down Roddy White and Julio Jones. Anyway, those are topics for an article later this week.
Tags: Chris Clemons, dan snyder, featured, football, gut reaction, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Robinson, News, nfl, Popular, Recaps, Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Zach Miller
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.
In the coming days, I’m sure we’re going to read online, and see on TV, a number of comparisons of Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Washington’s Robert Griffin. It’s a natural comparison, especially since the two rookies face off this Sunday in the playoffs.
Both QBs are dual threats; equally dangerous with their legs as well as their arms. They both are accurate, and are high velocity passers. They also both take care of the football, leading to very few turnovers.
The similarities really do end there.
Their running styles are both extremely effective, but they are very different. Russell Wilson is fast, but he’s downright slow compared to Griffin. Griffin has elite straight line speed that is among the best in the NFL at any position. The only Seahawk who’s in the same league as Griffin in terms of pure speed is Earl Thomas.
On the other hand, Griffin (and the rest of the NFL for that matter) just doesn’t have Wilson’s ability to stop, restart, change directions, and juke defenders out of their shoes the way that Wilson does.
The difference can be seen when they drop back to pass as well. For all his improvement, Wilson is still only an average QB inside the pocket. It’s once he gets outside the pocket, whether a designed rollout or when he’s just extending the play, that Wilson becomes an elite passer.
At this point in their development, Griffin is better inside the pocket, and definitely looks more comfortable when asked to asked to take a traditional 5 or 7 step drop. When forced outside the pocket though, he tends not to try and extend the play, but instead pulls the ball down and takes off as a runner more often than not.
The QBs also tend to prefer different passes. Wilson throws the ball deep on 16.3% of his passes, which is the 2nd highest in the NFL. Griffin on the other hand threw deep on just 9.5% of his passes, which was the 2nd lowest in the league.
Another way to look at it is that much of Griffin’s passing yards come from yards after the catch (YAC). According to football outsiders: “27% of [RG3's] completions failed to gain meaningful yardage towards a new set of downs.” So over a quarter of Griffin’s completions were for minimal gain. Or if you prefer to think of it in another way, According to ProFootballFocus, 61.4% (5th highest) of Wilson’s passing yards come while the ball is in the air, which just 53.2% (21st in the league) of Griffin’s passing yards come while the ball is in the air.
That isn’t meant to be a knock on Griffin, and shouldn’t be taken as one. Griffin actually has a league best yards per passing attempt (8.14) this season, while Wilson was 4th with 7.96 yards per attempt. So while Griffin’s targets aren’t as far downfield, the plays are actually designed in way to try and get the receivers in space where they can run after catching the ball.
So there you have it. While these two QBs might seem similar on a superficial level, they are actually very different when you begin to dig a little deeper into the stats and break down the tape. Then again, there is one more thing that they have in common: both are very very good.
On Tuesday, Pete Carroll held a nearly 50 minute end of the season press conference, which I found pretty interesting and fairly telling of the direction of the team. He discussed the obvious- QB situation, team strengths and weaknesses, etc; but also shed light onto free agency, the Green Bay draft model, and the 49ers. It’s absolutely worth a watch, if not for your own enlightenment, then to discuss with us! Here’s what I took away from it:
The (always popular) QB Topic + the Offensive Philosophy
Pete had good things to say about Tarvaris, expectedly. And why not? The guy is straight up tough. He was and is the best option for the team. Carroll praised him for his ability to rebound from injury, survive the first half of the season behind a new and young line, and touched on his potential as a long term option.
When I listen to a coach, I try to take away the subtle hints he gives, and the nuances of how he says what he does. I finished the conference with the impression that, as we fans have been saying, Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer long-term (23:40 is telling, among others). He’ll be around to compete, and he’ll play if he’s the best available option (as was the case this year), but I don’t think Carroll wants to bank the team’s future on him.
Now that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees to lead an aerial assault on opposing secondaries (though, I doubt he’d complain). Quite contrary; Carroll repeatedly stressed offensive balance and putting as little responsibility on the QB as possible (both of which he’s previously emphasized, and I’m sure you already know). What was telling, to me at least, was Pete’s bit about young QB’s being able to transition smoothly from college to the NFL; how, because they’ve taken so many snaps from middle school through college, this repetition has allowed guys like Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan to play successful rookie seasons and, thus far, have successful careers.