Key Seahawks Statistic of the Week: Power Rushing

I'm going to continue to talk about rushing stats this week because of all of the consternation people felt during the draft weekend watching the Seahawks use their first two picks on offensive linemen. While I think most people sort of have an idea how bad our rushing attack was, I'm not sure people really KNOW.. just how bad it was. To help with this, I've consulted NFL.com's statistical page and picked out one key metric that I will undoubtedly harp on in the coming weeks and months. 

The metric NFL.com provides is called Rush Power. The RUSHPWR number comes out as a integer, and they describe it as the "percentage of rushes on 3rd or 4th down with 2 or fewer yards to go that achieved a first down or TD. Also includes rushes on 1st-and-goal and 2nd-and-goal from the opponent's 2-yard line or closer."

In other words, it's a measurement meant to give you an idea of how badass your offensive line is. Can they punch the defense in the mouth? Can they get push on the snap? Can they manhandle their opponent when they know what's coming? I don't need to tell you how important being effective in short yardage situations is. It helps you move the chains. It helps you maintain possession, it helps you demoralize the opponent, and it helps you get into the endzone. 

It helps you not have to resort to throwing fade routes on 4th and 1.

They've split it out into Rush Left, Rush Center, and Rush Right. Here is how the Seahawks stacked up in short yardage and goal line situations:

Rushing Left:

Rank

Team

1st Down

Negative Yardage

10+ Yards

PWR

31

Seahawks

23

21

15

35

 

Rushing Up the Gut:

Rank

Team

1st Down

Negative Yardage

10+ Yards

PWR

29

Seahawks

29

8

10

54

 

Rushing Right:

Rank

Team

1st Down

Negative Yardage

10+ Yards

PWR

20

Seahawks

29

20

15

57

 

So as you can see, rushing left is not the Seahawks' forte, their effectiveness there came in 31st in the NFL. The PWR of 35 means that the Seahawks only succeed in short yardage situations 35% of the time when rushing to the left. Unacceptable. While Russell Okung made great strides this season in his pass blocking, he will have to help improve this number in 2011. He only played in 10 games though so our swing tackles - Tyler Polumbus, Ray Willis, if they return -- will have to pick up the slack as well in injury situitions. Obviously a lot of the blame will have to fall on the left guard, and it didn't help that probably 8 or 9 different players started there during the season. Continuity will be a key next season, as will be the man playing that spot - a spot that is still vacant at the moment. 

The Hawks didn't fail as miserably rushing up the middle and to the right, having success just over half of the time. But, as you can see, they are still ranked near the bottom of the league up the middle, and in the bottom half of the league to the right.

This inability to pick up a first down on 2nd and short, 3rd and short, and especially on 4th and short and in goal line situations is something that irks me to to no end. It's why I was initially glad they drafted linemen with their first two picks and why I'm beginning to appreciate the selections that much more as time goes on. Are there other holes on the team? Yes, for sure. But the the offensive line an important hole to fix and I'm glad we're trying to do that with high-quality players and not surfing the waiver wire in hopes we find a guy that will suffice. If we can improve in these situations it will open up the entire offense and keep the defense off the field. 

Most importantly, we'll be able to pick up first downs in 3rd and short and 4th and short on the ground and not through the air with low percentage, lazily conceived or desperately audibled pass plays. I can handle a trick play on 4th down. Throwing a ball up and hoping Golden Tate can come down with it 15 or 20 yards downfield is not tricky. 

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