It is the season to be thankful!
Last weekend I went home to the Seattle area for the first time in over two years. I saw family, new friends, and attended a Seahawks game for the first time in a long time. It was a truly eye-opening experience for many reasons and that's why I have not yet written a game recap this week. I haven't had enough time to reflect the meaningful experiences I had that tie together the time spent with family with the time spent at my home away from home: With the Hawks.
But I'll get there.
Even without reflecting, I know that I am thankful for many things this year. I'm thankful that my father has survived cancer for over five years now. I'm thankful that my mother has come through healthy after several foot surgeries. I'm thankful that my niece and nephew can remind me what it's like to be a kid again. And like every year, I'm thankful knowing that Cory and Topanga will never split.
That's my personal life, but in my persfessional life known as "The Seattle Seahawks" this is the most thankful we've ever had a chance to be in November. The Seahawks have the best record in the entire NFL, they're only about six weeks away from the most anticipated playoffs in franchise history, and we've got one heck of a QB.
There isn't a game before the Thanksgiving weekend, so let's hit 'em early with this shoutout to "Thanks!"
Seahawks vs Thanksvikings Win Probability Chart (via Pro-Football-Reference)
I'm thankful that even PFR makes mistakes sometimes. I don't recall a time at the turn of the second quarter when the Seahawks essentially lost the game but I spend so much time on Pro-Football-Reference that I end up becoming "that annoying guy that points out another small error" every week. Hey, when you've compiled as much information as the Reference sites, you're bound to have a few mistakes!
Seattle was bound to none on Sunday and the Vikings were bound to many.
PFR says the Seahawks came in as better-than-eighty-percent favorites to win this thing and that number never truly went down very far. Seattle had three straight touchdown drives to end the first half and Minnesota had three straight drives end in an interception in the second half, dontchaknow.
(I'm thankful for when my late grandmother's Minnesota accent would come through and that my family moved to Seattle when my mom was 12 so that many years later I could root for Russell Wilson and not Christian Ponder.)
In a game like this when no big swings happen, it's a great reminder that the biggest play of all came through the mind and actions of one John Schneider when he made the move to draft Russell Wilson with the 75th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. I am still so thankful for that.
"Cool" and "Fool" of the Week (via Advanced NFL Stats)
I can't even begin to express how much thanks I have for a team with this many cools and so few fools. In fact, who is the biggest overall "fool" on the present Seahawks? Breno Giacomini? Paul McQuistan? Kellen Davis? (Remember how O'Brien Schofield is on the team?)
If those are your biggest "holes," a right tackle, backup utility lineman, and a third-string tight end, then you're a pretty damn good football team. I've seen more holes in the movie Holes with Shia LaBeouf, in which there were many holes both literal and, if we're including the plot, figurative.
I guess I can begin to express thanks...
Last season, Bobby Wagner was garnering talk of Defensive Rookie of the Year, when he averaged 8.68 total tackles per game and had two sacks, three interceptions, and four pass deflections.
This season, it seems like we are saying that Wagner has taken a step back. He's averaging 7.66 total tackles per game and has 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, and four pass deflections in nine games. Against the Vikings he had nine tackles, a sack and a pick. He is one of nine players with at least 40 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions. He is the only one of those players to play in less than 10 games.
Clinton McDonald is on a one-year deal for a non-guaranteed $630,000. He is in his fourth season and he came into this year as a rotational DT that was a former seventh round pick by the Bengals and acquired for "We don't want Kelly Jennings any more." His Wikipedia page is basically blank and back in 2011, Thomas Beekers posted the news that received 220 comments here on FieldGulls, most of which was for Jennings.
Jennings has not played since 2011.
Ironically, the first comment is green and says "Mike Brown is the worst owner in the NFL." While I wouldn't argue the point in regards to the Jennings-McDonald trade (quite the opposite, obviously) the Bengals are 26-17 since then and will probably make their third-straight playoff appearance. That will be their first three-peat playoff appearance in franchise history.
But what if they had just kept McDonald? It seems like one of their only missteps since 2011. McDonald had three tackles and an interception against the Vikings. He now has 22 tackles and 3.5 sacks on the season. It would appear that McDonald could become a "Dannell Ellerbe free agent" of 2014, parlaying a successful season for a successful team into a major deal on the open market. Ellerbe had only played sparingly in his first three years, had 4.5 sacks with the Super Bowl champion Ravens, and is now making $7 million per year with the Dolphins.
I'm thankful that we're paying McDonald $630,000 right now and that he's not Kelly Jennings.
McDonald now has just one fewer career interception than Jennings.
It doesn't have to be a holiday for me to be thankful for the "Coolest of them All" but how about we exclude the man for now and instead reward the newest cool dude on the block.
"Cool" of the Week - Percy Harvin
After months of anticipation, Harvin finally came back just in time for the holidays. As expected for a guy that hasn't played in an NFL game in over a year, he wasn't utilized much. Harvin was in on a handful of offensive snaps but caught one target for 17 yards. But beyond that, Harvin had probably the biggest play of the game.
After cutting the lead to 17-13 on a Blair Walsh field goal just before the half, Walsh kicked it off to Harvin who returned it 58 yards, setting the Seahawks up at the Vikings 46 with :40 second remaining. Had it been a return of even 38 yards instead, Seattle might not even score.
But they do.
Hitting Doug Baldwin for a 19-yard touchdown with only seconds remaining in the half, the Seahawks take a 24-13 lead and get the ball back to start the third quarter. As you'll see in a moment, Seattle's overall DVOA could be helped tremendously by a player like Harvin and it didn't even take him two quarters to show why.
When Harvin joins your team just before Thanksgiving, you know that Christmas is here early. Everything he brings to the table right now for a 10-1 team is just gravy.
(And in reality, "just" gravy? Don't serve me no turkey dinner without a separate giant cup of gravy, Mom!)
"Fool" of the Week - Golden Turkey Tate
Every player is prone to bad games but receivers are even more prone to them because of how dependent they are on so many different variables. As Tate becomes a bigger name in the NFL he will draw more attention and just because we are singing his praises one week and perhaps calling him a "turkey" today, it doesn't mean that he's not just as outstanding as he was a week ago.
He's great but he had an unproductive game.
The Golden Bird was targeted four times and caught just one of those, but it went for 26 yards. He had three punt returns for a total of 17 yards. It's not a big deal, someone just had to put on the dunce cap this week.
I put it on Marshawn Lynch four weeks ago and in the last three games he has rushed for 324 yards and scored four times. I'm thankful that our "Fools" are actually pretty "Cools."
Put My Heart In a Blender: Inside-Outsiders DVOA Update
Last week I pointed out how far the Seahawks had come to close the gap on Denver to 3.3-percent in DVOA and now you can see that's now down to 0.6-percent and one-percent in Weighted DVOA. Perhaps more surprising is that Seattle now becomes the number one special teams unit in DVOA, something that seemed a stretch not long ago with a below-average kick return unit.
And then Harvin happened.
Not that it really matters, but just a fun fact that the number one special teams unit in 2012 was the Baltimore Ravens. (And this shit is so variable: The Ravens were 30th on special teams in 2011.)
The Seahawks are close to leading the NFL in two units, with the second-ranked defense at -17.3-percent, just a hair behind the Arizona Cardinals -17.6-percent. The Cardinals are now 14th in DVOA and 12th in Weighted DVOA but ranked in the bottom third of the league on offense and special teams.
The offense isn't at all far behind the sixth-ranked Bears, but well-behind the fifth-ranked Eagles.
Considering what we thought about the offense a year ago, I'm thankful that we're "only" seventh in DVOA.
I'm thankful that it's not even Thanksgiving yet and we're going to make the playoffs. The Seahawks are 99.9% to get some sort of berth and 98.7-percent to win the NFC West. How ridiculous would you have sounded if you had said that the division was nearly popped and locked before December, you ridiculous, ridiculous man or woman?
Not only are the Niners basically out of that race, but they're tied with the Cardinals. The Arizona Cardinals! Which says a lot about Arizona also but I still can't believe that one. Everybody wants to
rule the world* get the number one seed, and Seattle is now better than 85-percent to do that.
*Fairly certain we all want to rule the world too. Man, how have I not done a Tears for Fears-themed post yet? I'm thankful that we feared our tears all through the 1980s.
The 49ers and Panthers both clear just over 50-percent to win a wild card spot, while Arizona checks in with 22.7-percent now.
San Francisco's playoff chances went down by more than 12-percent after their loss this weekend and for that I want to thank you for everythin-nah nah nah nah nah nah nah.
Stat of the Week
10. I'm thankful for a win total that requires .0005 more seconds to type out. The Seahawks have guaranteed their seventh double-digit win total in franchise history. With two more wins, they'll have more wins in a two-season span than they ever have before.
3. I'm thankful for rankings that require .0005 fewer seconds to type. Seattle currently ranks second in total defense, which would be their best finish in that category in franchise history. They are third in scoring defense and can only tie their first-place finish in that category a year ago.
15.59. I'm thankful for Earl Thomas. The Seahawks finished 25th in scoring defense in 2008. They went one season under Jim Mora and then began the rebuild the next year, beginning on defense with Thomas. They have allowed 15.59 points per game since the start of 2012.
5. I don't really care about recognition, but it's not like I hate it either. Seattle has five players leading their position in the Pro Bowl voting, which is as many as they have had start the game total over the last five years. I'm thankful that they won't be eligible this year.
15. I'm always thankful for Wilson. With his best career passer rating on Sunday against the Vikings, Wilson had his 15th career game of at least a 100.0 passer rating. That is tied with Dan Marino and Andy Dalton for most ever through a player's first two seasons. He has five more games to untie himself, and I'm thankful the ride isn't over yet as he continues to break new ground.
Biggest Week 12 Games
Without a Week 12 opponent to talk about, let's take a brief look at the games that matter most to the Seahawks:
Thursday Night, Saints at Falcons -
It might seem like a gimme based on the fact that one team is really good and the other team is really bad, but I don't see this as any different than Seattle going to St. Louis to face the Rams. At no point should we expect a game between New Orleans and Atlanta to be anything other than close.
Playing on Thursday night only helps matters, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm thankful they're still going with that disaster idea, I guess. If the Saints lose and fall to 9-3, it should nearly guarantee the Seahawks the number one seed in the NFC.
Monday Night, 49ers at Redskins -
This seems a little different because Washington is terrible and you'd have to go back 20-plus years to find any sort of rivalry here. There's very, very little chance that San Francisco places any kind of threat on Seattle for the West but it's not like we wouldn't want to put that nonsense to bed as soon as possible.
If the 49ers do lose on Monday night, they'll be four games back with five games left.
Colts at Cardinals -
If Arizona wins and improves to 7-4, they'll be three games back with five games left and a game left against Seattle, just like San Francisco if they win. The biggest difference is that the Cardinals rematch is in Seattle, so it's a bit more farfetched that they'll close the gap.
I'm thankful that both scenarios in which the Seahawks don't win the NFC West are ridiculous.
Panthers at Dolphins -
I'm thankful that the only other longshot to threaten Seattle's playoff seeding is the 7-3 Panthers that we already beat.
Russell Wilson Stats Update
Wilson in Week 11 - 13-of-18, 230 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, 151.4 passer rating, two rushes for 14 yards, 12.78 Y/A, 15.00 AY/A
Is THIS now the greatest game in the history of Russell Wilson? The pantheon is getting stupid.
In the Pantheon of Russell Wilson -
It was the highest passer rating in any game for Russell. It is the fourth time in the last five games that he's had a rating of at least 100.0. Since playing the Cardinals (who you may remember earlier as the top defense in the NFL by DVOA) Wilson has completed 79-of-117 passes, 67.5%, 221.6 yards per game, 9.47 Y/A, 11 touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 122.02.
When I'm reminded of Wilson, I'm thankful that birds sing and that brooks babble. Just to have things in nature that put into perspective how beautiful the world around us is, when combined with the face of Wilson. If I didn't have other beautiful things with which to compare thee, how would I know how to define your beauty.
Like, "damn" am I right, son?!
The yards-per-attempt figure was the second-best of his career and the adjusted yards-per-attempt of 15.00 was the greatest he's had so far.
Wilson on the season - 176-of-275, 64%, 2,362 yards, 19 touchdowns, six interceptions, 8.6 Y/A, 9.0 AY/A, 105.1 passer rating, 64.25 QBR, 409 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per carry, one touchdown.
Wilson is eighth in the NFL in completion percentage, sixth in touchdowns, third in touchdown percentage, 14th in interception percentage (but just two in his last six games), fourth in Y/A, fourth in AY/A, fifth in passer rating, eighth in QBR, seven in net yards per pass attempt. He is second among quarterbacks in rushing yards.
Depending on how many games Nick Foles plays in and what you want to count as "qualified" (currently sporting a passer rating of 128.0), Wilson has a chance to put up the highest passer rating of any official second-year quarterback. Dan Marino posted a rating of 108.9 in 1984 (48 touchdowns but 17 interceptions), Otto Graham had a passer rating of 109.2 in 1947, but that was several years after he was drafted.
I'm thankful that Wilson doesn't have to worry about World War II, but I'm sure he thinks about it from time-to-time.
Kurt Warner was officially a second-year player in 1999, and he posted a passer rating of 109.2.
At Wilson's current rate, getting over 110.0 sounds very reasonable. Thank Russness he's ours.
And Thank You!
Thanks for continuously coming to Field Gulls, reading, participating, sharing and most of all, caring. Thanks for your kind words and even the critical words that remind me how fallible I am. Thanks Danny for the opportunity to be a part of Field Gulls, I think he's done an incredible job in taking over for the previous regime.
Rooting for the Seahawks when they're good, especially this good, is an amazing feeling and I'm very thankful for that. But the only constant in Seattle fandom is the fans. That's one thing that never changes and it's nice to console each other when we're bad (which is most of the time) and cheer together when we're good.