That's it. We did it. The regular season is over!
I remember first writing this article following Week one as an homage to the great and powerful Russell Wilson. Then Danny asked me if I was interested in expanding it to a full article on what the advanced stats say, and I thought that was a good idea so I stole it. Now here we are 17 weeks later and not only is it a wrap, but it ends up with a Kenneth Arthur mention on Football Outsiders!
Yep, everything's finally comin' up Kenneth. (Please ignore all other factors of my life besides a small mention on an advanced football stats site.)
This week's theme is that sometimes I did a pun randomly, but sometimes it's not even a pun. Let's get it started!
Seahawks vs Rams, Win Probabillybobthornton Chart (via Pro-Football-Reference)
In 2005, the Seahawks won the division by seven games and had won the NFC West by Week 13. This season, despite finishing with the same record as the '05 team, Seattle couldn't afford to lose a single game more than what they did, and they managed to slowly but surely snuff out the Rams.
The Seahawks started out as better-than-80-percent favorites to win at home and then never really relented from that. Even though Malcolm Smith gave them an early lead on an interception return, it was really slow-going for Seattle and they only led 13-3 at one point in the third quarter. Marshawn Lynch's two-yard touchdown with 2:25 left in the quarter made it 20-3 and there was never really any doubt after that.
Not that there was a whole lot of doubt before that, as the Win Expectancy Chart shows, but as a fan I was a lot more comfortable with a 17-point lead at home and only a quarter left to play.
Biggy Bob Play!
Golden Tate's 47-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter had almost zero bearing on the final outcome, but sure fell great and was the perfect exclamation point on the season for the offense. A group that can make you tear your hair out just before they make you jump for joy.
Tate finished the season with 898 yards, the most by a Seattle receiver since T.J. Houshmandzadah had 911 yards in 2009. And who could ever forget that? (Everybody.)
"Fabolous" and "B*A*P*S-ulous" of the Week! (via Advanced NFL BAPS.com)
It's hard to appreciate what Brandon Mebane does from a statistics standpoint, and for that reason he's flown mostly under-the-radar all season long. Despite the fact that ProFootballFocus would have you know that they graded him as the third-best DT in the NFL this year.
It went Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, and then Mebane. And Mebane grades much higher than both of them against the run, finishing only behind Damon Harrison of the Jets in the category. But grades don't tell us much and PFF's grades might say even less.
Instead I'd rather just say that Mebane has done everything asked of him. He's not one of these interior pass-rushers like McCoy or Jason Hatcher or Jurrell Casey. He's more of a lone wolf that eats blockers and provides opportunity for other players and though he's underrated, he's not underappreciated. Mebane is under contract for two more reasonable years.
Smith finished the season with 50 total tackles and two interceptions despite being a part-time player for the majority of the year. He's under contract next season for $645k and how he performs in the playoffs could prove to be very interesting moving forward. One thing seems clear at the moment: Malcolm Smith is not a part-time player.
Neither is Byron Maxwell, the likely starting corner opposite of Richard Sherman next year. By paying potential starters like Maxwell and Smith league minimum salaries, the Seahawks are in a very envious position at the moment. However, how they handle those potential contracts, specifically the players that it appears they can't pay, will be very interesting.
Especially when a guy like Michael Bennett is going to command a 5-year deal in free agency. Also, this guy:
"Fabolous" of the Week - Golden Tate
The rap artist Fabolous released his debut album on September 11, 2001, and the world has never been the same since that day.
Tate finishes the season with nearly 900 yards, which is a pittance for receivers in today's NFL, but you can't sleep on what sort of unique values and traits he brings to the field every week. Golden Tate had 7.9 yards-after-catch per reception this season, the highest such mark of any player in the league, on a minimum of 15 catches.
Tate had 21 missed tackles, more than any other receiver in the NFL.
He had three dropped passes on 93 targets, one of the lowest marks in the league. Just one pass that was intended for Tate ended up being intercepted. By comparison, 12 targets to A.J. Green were picked off, as were 10 to Vincent Jackson in Tampa and 10 to Nate Washington in Tennessee. Though Golden was targeted far less than those guys, the gap between them in this category is still rather large. In fact, we already know that Tate can even turn interceptions into game-winning scores.
Should you give the franchise tag to Tate, that'll cost you about $10.5 million of cap next season. That doesn't seem like a very smart thing to do. Should you give him the same contract as Victor Cruz, a comparison made by Davis Hsu, and you'd be locked in for six years but never with a cap number above $9.9 million. It's a tough decision to make, because Tate doesn't put up the "typical numbers" you'd expect from your top receiver, but it's similar to the argument being made by tight ends like Jimmy Graham in terms of "adjusted expectations of value."
What we know for certain was that Tate was the entire passing offense on Sunday, and we can be very tateful to have him on our side for now.
"B*A*P*S-ulous" of the Week - Doug Baldwin and the other receivers
BAPS is a 1997 film about "two tacky homegirls that move to L.A. to become dancers"starring Halle Berry. Despite the fact that the film is literally about the two female leads, the top-billed stars on the DVD box cover are Berry and... Martin Landau! That's gotta Land-ouch! hurt for Natalie Desselle, the other tacky homegirl.
Speaking of "the other one," Baldwin has had a very impressive three-year career so far, but it's especially impressive when you consider how far he's come from being an undrafted free agent. We've seen him put the team on his back (2011) when we needed him and seen him make unbelievable catches that have saved us from losing (at Texans) but what does the bigger picture hold for Baldwin in Seattle?
Over the last two weeks, Baldwin has made one catch for eight yards. He was targeted just once against St. Louis, and whether that's coincidence, because he was covered well, or part of the great design, we don't know, but we do know that the Seahawks need another receiver. They could be getting one of those in the form of Percy Harvin, but Harvin-Diesel hardly fits the mold of a "number one receiver" as we know it.
That's why a lot of people will speculate that Seattle adds a receiver in the draft or free agency or trade that will be expected to be a large part of the passing offense, if not the largest part besides Russell Wilson.
Baldwin started the season with seven catches for 91 yards against the Carolina Panthers, and that turned out to be his most productive game of the year. He averaged 45.8 yards per game over the final 15 games, and had one or zero catches in six games.
The Seahawks could place a first round tender on Baldwin this year that pays him $2.8 million (per OvertheCap.com) but what are the chances he's a long-term player for Seattle?
Baldwin is the type of player that could go out and be the team's playoffs MVP but it still seems like Pete and John's long search for a number one receiver (from Golden Tate to Harvin) continues. (Harvin and Rice combined to catch 16 passes for 248 yards.)
Put My Corey Hart (singer) in a Blender: Insider-Outsiders DVOA Finish (via FootballOutsiders.com)
Please note this quote pulled from the final DVOA rankings article on Football Outsiders this week:
Seattle is the first team since 2000 to lead the league in defensive DVOA and win a No. 1 playoff seed. (Thanks for reader Kenneth Arthur for pointing this out on Twitter.) The other teams that did so: 1994 Pittsburgh, 1996 Green Bay, 1997 San Francisco, and 2000 Tennessee. On Twitter, I also listed the 2002 Buccanneers, but that team actually lost the tiebreaker to Philadelphia and was a No. 2 seed. It is much more common for the team that leads the league in offensive DVOA to win a No. 1 playoff seed. Teams that have done this in just the last few years include the 2011 Packers, the 2010 Patriots, the 2007 Patriots, and the 2005 Seahawks.
Hey, that could be me! ('tis)
The Hawks finished first in DVOA for the second year in a row, improving from a 38.7% finish last year to 40.1% this year. Their Weighted DVOA actually went down from last season (47.1%) but the important difference between last year and this year is that this year's team has a number one seed instead of back-to-back(to-back if they had won) road games.
The Seahawks are the first team since the '96-'97 Packers to finish first in DVOA for two years in a row. Green Bay won the Super Bowl in 1996, lost it in 1997.
Denver and Seattle finish 1-2 in DVOA (first time since 1999 that top two teams are both number one seeds, first time in DVOA history (1989) that same teams have finished 1-2 in consecutive seasons) and are both 11/4 odds to win the Super Bowl. What about Football Outsider's Super Bowl odds?
Su-perd-Hapley Bowl Odds
"I'm Perd Hapley, and these are the numbers that represent the chances of winning the Super Bowl, which I'm told... is a good thing."
Not that they necessarily held any before today, but right now "Super Bowl odds" seem devoid of any meaning. The Seahawks have the best chances of winning the Super Bowl, by any common sense way that you slice it.
The Chargers were 3-percent to make the playoffs as recently as like a week ago. The Steelers were .3-percent, and they were a blown call away from going instead of San Diego.
There's nothing common sense about the playoffs, so hopefully this next month is the best of our lives.
Stat of the W-eek the Cat - The War at Home Sweet Home Away From Home on the Range
The Seahawks went 7-1 at home this season, which is a disappointment to many. And it's usually a good thing when 7-1 is considered disappointing. However, there are still few teams as hard to beat as Seattle in Seattle.
The Seahawks defense gave up 10 total touchdowns at home in eight games. In seven of their eight home games, they allowed zero rushing touchdowns, with the only exceptions being Maurice Jones-Drew (on a two-yard drive) and Jordan Todman of the Jaguars scoring on the ground in Week 3.
Two teams -- the 49ers and the Titans -- scored zero offensive touchdowns against the Seahawks in Seattle.
Jarius Wright of the Vikings has scored more touchdowns (2) in Seattle than Colin Kaepernick (1, in garbage time last year) has in his career.
The Seahawks allowed 33 points and three touchdowns over their final three home games.
Since the beginning of last season, Wilson is 15-1 at home with a passer rating of 112.8, the third-highest home mark in the NFL behind Drew Brees (114.8) and Manning (113.7.) The wins are the most in the league. His 8.75 Y/A at home is also the highest mark in the NFL, as is his 9.60 Adjusted Yards per Attempt.
Wilson has thrown 31 touchdowns in 16 home games, compared to 13 passing touchdowns by Kaepernick in 15 home games. The 31 touchdowns is tied for fourth-most in the NFL with Tom Brady and Tony Romo. Wilson has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 15 of 16 home games, the lone exception being this year's game against Tennessee.
This guy's pretty good at home. But overall, he's still pretty great.
Russell Wilson-in-Law Stats Update
Russell Week 17 - 15-of-23, 172 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, 102.1 rating, 7.48 Y/A, 8.35 AY/A, five rushes for -1 yard, 24 DYAR
(Son-in-Law featuring Hollywood actor Pauly Shore is what I was going for there.)
The Jury (Duty) is not still out on Wilson, because by now we should all know how great he is.
Wilson had a touchdown called back on penalty and a big drop from Luke Willson. (The oddest thing about the drop was that in replay I expected Willson to take his eyes off the ball before he dropped it, but nope, he watched that thing go right into and out of his hands.)
In the pantheon of Russell -
Whether playing at home or in a (Bio)-Dome, we know that Wilson is awesome.
It ends up being a pretty nondescript game for Wilson, other than rushing. It's the first time in his career that he hasn't had at least two rushing yards, even though he had five carries. ProFootballFocus credits Wilson with 51 "scrambles" this year, the most of any quarterback in the league.
Wilson finished December with 7.54 Y/A, the lowest for any month he's had in the league so far since his first, September of 2012 (5.94 Y/A when he was still getting his feet wet.) Overall, we've come to expect more from Russell, and that's a good thing because he was still pretty good in December.
Russell Season Two - 257-of-407, 63.14%, 3,357 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 8.25 Y/A, 8.53 AY/A, 101.2 passer rating, 96 carries for 539 yards, 5.61 Y/C, one touchdown, 779 DYAR (ninth), 16% DVOA (eighth), 53.9 QBR (13th), 10 fumbles
Wilson's second season comes very close to what he did as a rookie (still, slightly better) and is that a bad thing? Perception may point to someone like Andrew Luck and say "But look, he raised his passer rating 10.5 points and threw nine fewer interceptions!" but that would ignore that Luck's numbers are still a ways off from Wilson's at this juncture.
Despite being sacked 11 more times than he was last year, behind a worse offensive line, against a brutal schedule of defenses (especially in the second half), Wilson was... still great.
Among quarterbacks officially in their second season, Wilson's 26 touchdown passes is tied with Peyton Manning and Aaron Brooks for 10th-most in NFL history.
His 101.2 passer rating is the fifth-best in league history, behind Nick Foles (sigh), Kurt Warner, Otto Graham and Dan Marino.
His 8.25 Y/A is 12th-highest, his AY/A is sixth. He joins Manning and Marino as second-year quarterbacks to win at least 13 games as a starter in his second season.
Russell Career - 509-of-800, 63.6%, 6,475 yards, 52 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 8.1 Y/A, 8.3 AY/A, 100.6 passer rating, 190 carries for 1,028 yards and five touchdowns, 16 fumbles
Wilson ties Peyton with 52 touchdowns over their first two seasons, second all-time behind the 68 of Marino. Manning threw 43 interceptions over that time, however.
Wilson's passer rating of 100.6 is fifth-best all-time, on a minimum of 400 attempts, behind Graham, Warner, Marino and Foles (sigh.)
His 24 wins as a starter is two more than anyone else has ever had in their first two years, ahead of Ben Roethlisberger (22-3) and Luck (22-10.)
Wilson has been sacked 77 times, 10th-most over the first two years for a QB. Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 93 times and only Jake Plummer (101) has been sacked more over the first two years of a career. (Plummer didn't even play in the final six games of his rookie season. Wow.)
(Encino) Man, this guy is good.
Around the League
- The Seahawks and Broncos finished as the top two teams in the NFL, and both allowed exactly 1,626 rushing yards. They both allowed 3.9 yards per carry (Seattle faced 422 carries compared to 420 by Denver -- lol, Denver, 420, legal marijuana, Seattle legal marijuana ... GUYS DO YOU GET IT? DO YOU GET THE WEED JOKE?!) and they finished 8th and 9th respectively in run defense DVOA.
Both teams go into the playoffs without their top OLB, though Von Miller is a bigger loss than KJ Wright. ProFootballFocus rated him as the top 4-3 OLB against the run and it wasn't even close. He played in about half of the amount of snaps as he would have if he was healthy and not suspended, but even last season, he was so far ahead of the field in run defense that it wasn't even a race.
Considering that Denver was 21st in DVOA against the pass (compared to numero uno by Seattle) it will be interesting to watch how the Broncos do in the playoffs without Miller.
When you look at the slate of quarterbacks that faced off against the Broncos this year, it starts to get interesting when considering if Denver will be upset in the postseason. They lost to Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.
They beat: Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Terrelle Pryor (twice), Michael Vick, Tony Romo (who had 500 yards and five touchdowns), Chad Henne, Robert Griffin, Rivers, Alex Smith (twice), Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Schaub.
In the next round they'll face either Rivers, Smith or Luck.
Then they'll face either Brady, Andy Dalton, or one of those other guys besides Rivers.
The Broncos are almost certain to face a team that's already beaten them once, or they'll have to beat the Chiefs for the third time, if they're going to make the Super Bowl.
- Worst playoff teams, by DVOA: Packers are 21st, Colts are 13th, Chargers are 12th. Indianapolis is 21st in Weighted DVOA.
- Gus Bradley will be coaching the Senior Bowl this year. They grow up so fast!
- There's probably plenty left to talk about, but we've got another week+ to do so before the next game and you've made this far, so thanks and congratulations on a great season. Maybe it wasn't my perfect seasonne, but it's been plenty awesome and there's still a lot of great stuff that could hap-pun.
- The Seahawks' short & intermediate passing game returns to the fold
- Seahawk Draft Encyclopedia
- Number one stunnas: Why top seeds haven't been as successful as expected
- Percy Harvin injury: Pete Carroll says Percy will practice this week, hope to play in Playoffs
- Seahawks Advanced Stats: Season Finale McBeal Edition