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A Tough Schedule to Sack

A while back, I mentioned that Seattle should intercept more passes this season because they face a run of quarterbacks that are more interception prone. This is an interesting twist and perhaps even a leap of logic, but the Pro Football Reference blog tracked what stats stay most consistent when a quarterback changes teams, and the most consistent stat was sack percentage (the least consistent stat: interception percentage). The insinuation is probably that quarterbacks are more responsible for sacks while the entire team, including the defense should it allow the team to fall behind, probably more responsible for interceptions.

Here's another crack at the idea of improved perceived performance through weakened competition.

Seattle had 28 sacks total last season. Quite bad. If we look at the quarterbacks Seattle faced, we can create a baseline for expected sacks. It's not precise and it doesn't factor in game situation, but it does give us a frame of reference for how Seattle performed compared to average.

Average sack total: 33.5 sacks

Actual: 28

I removed the 18 attempts by Tarvaris Jackson, Luke McCown, Matt Flynn, Morgan Spurlock and Matt Leinart, because screw those guys. None of their attempts resulted in a sack.

Assuming Seattle faces nothing but starters, which won't happen, but nevertheless, how many sacks should Seattle expect in 2010?

Average sack total: 30

It's actually a tougher schedule this season.

We will have to look back at this total once we know how many attempts we can assign each quarterback. We also need some sense as to how those quarterbacks and the offense on the whole perform this season, but on paper Seattle is facing another run of quarterbacks that are stingy at allowing sacks. The average sack percentage for all quarterbacks in 2009 was 6.1%. The average 2009 sack percentage of the quarterbacks Seattle will face in 2010 was 5.2%.

Last season, Seattle faced five quarterbacks with below average sack percentages, Shaun Hill, David Garrard, Kyle Boller, Josh Freeman and Aaron Rodgers. This season, Seattle faces Freeman again, Jason Campbell, Matt Cassel, and, averaging the sack percentage of last year's first round rookie starters, Sam Bradford twice. Only Cassel is a sack magnet though, with an 8.2% sack percentage. Campbell, Freeman and projected Bradford are all about average (6.2%, 6.5% and 6.4% respectively). Seattle faced three quarterbacks last season that were sacked more often than Cassel: Hill (10.4%), Boller (8.8%) and Rodgers (8.5%). Garrard (7.5%) was sacked more often than anyone but Cassel. Those four accounted for 13 of Seattle's 28 sacks.

So, nothing on the face exciting to report, but we can take some comfort that if Seattle doesn't light the world on fire with its pass rush (as measured by sacks), part of it may be because of the quality of competition rather than an inherent weakness. More than 30, and I'm a happy camper.