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Let's Talk About Sacks, Maybe

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Pressure / pushing down on me / pressing down on you / where have you gone

nope, not a sack
nope, not a sack
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

It's Week 8, Game 7, and the Seahawks aren't getting any.

Sacks, that is.

Stat One: Pressure

One could say they're not getting lucky, not getting home, not reaching the promised land. However one chooses to phrase it, the Hawks need to start gettin some. The sooner, the better.

Look at the last three years.

2012 2013 2014
Hawks' sacks 36 44 7 (projects to 18)
NFL rank 19 8 27

It is known that traditional metrics are shallow and devoid of true meaning. It is known. Surely the more advanced metrics, then, will appease us by offering a different opinion. Um, shit, no. Football Outsiders laughs in our direction: 28th in adjusted sack rate at 3.8 percent. Only NO, OAK, DAL, STL are worse.

Well, fine, sacks are not the end-all of pressure, we know that. But they are highly disruptive to a team's offensive schedule, and as such, borderline explosive plays for the defense. Lacking them is only okay if the pass rushers supply hurries. Hurries lead to bad decisions, so if the sacks are absent, let's just pile up the hurries and --

Elaborating:

2013 2014
4th quarter sacks 12 1
4th quarter hurries 21 1

(source because numbers are slightly different: Wall Street Journal)

That's all right, s'all right. We still have a deep, deep defensive line, like last year, with a heavy, heavy rotation, like last year. So if the coaches just rotate in some of the more historically productive veterans, everything will surely --

2013 snaps % of team snaps 2014 snaps % of team snaps Notes
Cliff Avril 551 52.8 286 66.3 Projects out to 654 snaps in '14
Michael Bennett 600 57.5 322 81.5! 57.5 percent led team last year

Well, fart.

Stat Two, I Guess

The pressure-related underachieving of the defensive line connects us nicely -- nicely and stupidly -- with Stat Two: Overall pass defense.

"Supported" by an unfortunate, unproductive pass rushing effort, it follows that the Legion of Boom is finding itself on the wrong side of the explosions far too often these days.

Don't smile, here comes the saddest chart. (Sources: advancedfootballanalytics.com for the first three, then profootballfocus.com, nfl.com and footballoutsiders.com.)

Metric Hawks' 2013 NFL rank Hawks' 2014 NFL rank Places dropped
Pass EPA 7th 22nd 15
Pass WPA 15th 25th 10
Pass success rate % 13th 22nd 9
PFF Pass coverage 1st 15th 14
PFF Penalty rate 29th 28th same poor result
Scoring defense 1st 21st 20
Receiving TD allowed 2nd 25th 23
Y/C against 1st 2nd 1... solid.
3rd down conv. against 10th 29th 19
FO Pass Defense 1st 22nd 21

I'm including stats such as scoring defense, third down percentage against and penalty rate, as those are also affected by mediocre pass defense.

Time for some bright side. The Hawks have faced, in the space of six games, four of the game's premier QBs: Rodgers, Rivers, Manning, Romo. Footballoutsiders.com ranks the Seattle schedule as hardest in the league.

No surprise there. Forehead & The Three R's are the top four NFL performers in three crucial stats: ANY/A, TD percentage, and passer rating. Those are literally the first three stats I look at when evaluating quarterbacks numerically. And there's our foursome, right on top, each time.

Did I mention a bright side? You can be pretty sure the opposition's quarterbacking won't be getting any better. Still, the flipside to that bright side is that the Seattle defense is not having an ill effect on any of their opponents' passer ratings.(The Hawks have seen Rodgers, Rivers, Manning, Cousins, Romo and Davis thus far, in that order.)

Those 6 vs. the league, 2014 Those 6 vs. Seattle, 2014
Comp-Att, Pct. 713-1074, 66.4 142-208, 68.3
Yards 9038 1461
TD / INT 75 / 24 12 / 2
QB rating 106.4 103.4

Admittedly, quarterbacks are somewhat respecting the Legion of Little Boom; that much still shows up in a better stat than QB rating: Yards/Attempt.

QB Y/A vs. others Y/A vs. Seattle Notes
Rodgers 8.3 5.7 That game seems like two seasons ago
Rivers 8.7 7.7 Gates of Hell now a fading memory
Manning 9.2 6.2 9.2 would lead the NFL most years; 6.2 would not
Cousins 8.6 7.9 7.9 to Kirk Cousins? Really?
Romo 8.5 7.8 Still coulda won this one with one more big stop
Davis 7.4 7.2 Not a single guy raised his Y/A vs. Hawks

That's the entirety of the bright side. Only Rodgers thus far has failed to throw more TD's than picks against Seattle. Since Week 1, the Hawks have conceded 12 passing touchdowns while producing one lonely interception, in Week 3, when Peyton found Kam wide open in the middle of the field. As is their tradition.

Screw that though. I don't even want to talk about interceptions this time around. Bring them up in the comments, sure, but I'm ready for the vaunted Seattle pass defense to show its face again. And for that face to start gobbling up some errant throws. Sunday's good for me if it's good for you.