As we do every week, here are a few notes and tidbits on the Seahawks' recent performance, from Pro Football Focus' Jim Seki. His notes in italics, and my comments follow.
-- Russell Wilson had a 68.5% yards in air rate (YIA) this week, continuing the vertical pass game trend. This brings his 2015 YIA% to 59.0%, up drastically from 46.1% last season.
In other words, there's a lot fewer bubble screens being used.
Despite Russell Wilson's struggles on third down in the fourth quarter and in overtime, overall I still think he played well in the loss to the Bengals, and his play thus far this season has been strong. Every quarterback misses throws, and Wilson has missed a few, but in general I think that Wilson has been better in several areas. First, I do think that he's thrown from the pocket better this year than in previous seasons, and second, the pre-snap phase, it feels like he's been improved in getting in and out of plays and calling audibles (for instance, the Jermaine Kearse touchdown looked like a check to a new play).
The air yards stat is definitely one to monitor for Wilson - and it's encouraging that Wilson, and perhaps the Seahawks' offense as a whole, is getting back to taking more shots downfield and pushing throws vertically rather than horizontally.
-- Seahawks receiving corps had zero drops and on the year their 2.0% drop rate is second-best.
The Seahawks feature a low volume passing offense that asks a few things of their receivers: One, you've got to block a lot. Two, don't screw up in the rare instance the ball gets thrown your way. Seattle still doing a great job in the latter category (and in the first, i think), and have really maximized opportunities thus far.
After the game, I was complaining about a few plays that the Seahawks could have made that would've been huge for Seattle -- i.e. the deep shot downfield to Tyler Lockett and a pass over the middle to Luke Willson -- but neither of these should be listed as true "drops" in the stat book.
-- On the year, Russell Wilson has a -4.4 YPA difference with and without play-action. He's actually averaging 8.8 YPA without play-action and only 4.4 YPA with it. This is the biggest negative difference among quarterbacks. His completion percentage also drops when using play-action, going from 73.8% to 57.1%.
This is a very interesting (and surprising) statistic because play-action is such a huge, integral part of the Seattle offense. It's one of the tenets of the passing scheme, even. I don't have a ton of answers for why Wilson's YPA drops so drastically in these cases -- but perhaps it's because play-action is generally a longer-developing play and Wilson is being forced to make different or worse throws when pressure arrives quickly? Perhaps teams are playing the Seahawks' run-fakes differently this year?
Not sure -- but this is definitely a stat to monitor going forward.
-- Since starting in Week 3, Thomas Rawls is averaging 2.82 yards after contact/attempt, 11th among HBs. His 46.1 breakaway rate over the same span is seventh, buoyed by his five 15+ yard runs.
Explosive runs and tackle breaking. Two things the Seahawks highly value in the run game. Pretty awesome to see.
-- Ahtyba Rubin and Jordan Hill continue their stellar interior run defense. They are fifth and sixth in run stop rate for DTs. No other team has two DTs in the top ten.
It's good to hear that Rubin continues to produce in the area that he was brought in for. It's also a bummer that Jordan Hill can't stay healthy, because he's been really good for Seattle in the trenches.
-- CB yards/coverage snap allowed in Week 5: Williams 1.43, Sherman 1.18, Shead 0.30
Cary Williams obviously had a tough game and this stat would have been much worse if that A.J. Green touchdown bomb had stood. Williams also was the culprit on several pass interference infractions that really cost Seattle in that game. So far this season, I've really liked what I've seen from Williams, but this was a forgettable game for him.
On the other hand, it's great to see DeShawn Shead step up and play so many snaps, and play well in those opportunities.
Opponent time to throw:
We talked about this stat last week in part because the Seahawks had failed to get many sacks this year, and I had wondered if it was because opposing teams were throwing the ball quickly. Turns out, it was the opposite -- opposing quarterbacks are slow to throw (relatively) against the Seattle defense and part of that might be because the Seahawks are good at getting quarterbacks off their spot quickly. At the end of the day, I wasn't and still am not sure why Seattle struggles at times to finish when it comes to sacks, but the Hawks did go out and get four against the Bengals, who had been to that point really good in protecting Andy Dalton.
Nonetheless, here's the updated (through Week 5) table on opposing quarterback time to throw. Seattle is still near the top (slowest).