There have been various reports around the NFL that the Seattle Seahawks have been struggling in the fourth quarter of games. Which ... I don't even know where these reports are coming from?
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I mean, look -- have they held fourth quarter leads in all four of their losses? Well, yeah sure, but they also held fourth quarter leads in both of their wins.
Have they been outscored 48-9 in the fourth quarter over the last five games? Well, yeah no duh, but they also outscored the Rams 18-7 in the fourth quarter in a Week 1 loss in which they blew a lead in the fourth quarter.
Have they failed to score a touchdown in five of six fourth quarters this season? I mean, yeah, when you put it like that it makes it sound bad, but how about the fact that they're also scoreless in two overtimes? Don't discriminate and blame it all on one quarter.
In fact, let's just say that the Seahawks have sucked in numerous ways in a number of periods. In all of the periods!
Well, that's not entirely true. Actually, Seattle has done some really, really good things in various quarters and in various formations and situations. Let's unravel this mysterious 2-4 record a little bit and take a closer look at some of the splits by four of the most important players on offense thus far. A lot of fans would like to have that fourth quarter back, so let's start with the quarter...back.
Russell Wilson -- 31-of-47, 66%, 324 yards, 1 TD/1 INT, 84 passer rating, 15 rushes for 54 yards in the fourth quarter
On the surface, Wilson's fourth quarter numbers look underwhelming but not devastating. Just one interception in six quarters of football. But it is his worst quarter of the four (and OT), by a significant margin.
Wilson's passer rating in the third quarter is 118.7 and his Y/A dips from 9.2 in the third to 6.9 in the fourth. He has a passer rating of 94.2 in the first and 96.6 in the second. It also appears the Seahawks want to "establish" the run in the first, as Wilson has just 31 first quarter pass attempts, the fewest of any quarter by a good margin.
You could argue that the first quarter is Wilson's worst quarter (if only for the sake of rhyme scheme) but I think we'd really prefer to see him step up his game as it goes on. He has a better overall passer rating in the second half, but that's only because of his huge third quarter numbers. If he was able to gain more first downs in the final period, Seattle would have a much better record.
Also, he averages 7.9 YPC in the second, 7.3 in the third, and 3.6 in the fourth.
Bonus fact about Wilson: He's posted a passer rating of at least 90 in every game this season. Only 11 other QBs have ever done that in the first six games of the season, including Andy Dalton this year. (Peyton Manning is the only QB to do it more than once, and he's done it three times.) Of course, all of the other QBs to do it were 4-2 or better, many of them 6-0. It's unfortunate to see the Seahawks record be what it is this year, but I think this is further proof that they are not a bad team, but a good team that has run into an unfathomable number of bad situations.
Marshawn Lynch -- 10 carries for 67 yards, four first downs, zero touchdowns, four catches for 13 yards in the fourth quarter
Well, this is interesting ...
Lynch is averaging 2.4 YPC in the first, 2.9 in the second, 2.6 in the third, and 6.7 in the fourth.
His attempts by quarter are: 15, 17, 10, 10
Another interesting split is that Lynch is averaging 4.5 YPC when Wilson is in shotgun formation (32 attempts), compared to 1.6 YPC when Wilson is under center (22 attempts). It appears as though there is absolutely nothing going on when Seattle is running it in a more "traditional" formation. That being said, you probably can't only do zone read and draw plays.
Thomas Rawls -- 15 carries for 75 yards in shotgun, 44 carries for 259 yards under center
The Seahawks have had no problem with Rawls whether Wilson is in shotgun or under center, and he's averaging 5.9 YPC in the latter formation. There are many different factors that could go into this and give Rawls an advantage, like strength of opponent, health, youthful exuberance, but no matter the case, it seems like this is something worth exploring more often.
And yet Rawls had one carry against the Panthers. (For eight yards)
By quarter, Rawls is averaging 4.2 YPC in the first, 3.4 in the second, 9.2 in the third, and 4.4 in the fourth.
Yes, in the third quarter this season, Rawls has 18 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown. Overall he has 38 carries for 253 yards in the second half.
However, there has still been a problem when Seattle is trying to hold a lead. When leading with under four minutes to go, Rawls has seven carries for 21 yards, and zero first downs.
So when do they go to their big target the most?
Jimmy Graham -- 10 targets in the first quarter, seven in the second, 10 in the third, 13 in the fourth quarter
The Seahawks are actually going to Graham more in the second half than in the first, and especially in the fourth quarter. Those 13 targets have resulted in 11 catches for 124 yards, one touchdown, and seven first downs. Not that it has helped them win games.
Overall, Graham has been a much bigger factor in the second half: 18 catches for 220 yards after halftime compared to 11 for 124 before it.
Perhaps if they found a way to get their best offensive weapon the ball more in the first half though, they wouldn't need to do all of their heavy lifting in the third quarter. The Seahawks have had opportunities to build big leads -- leads so big that maybe teams wouldn't mount unbelievable comebacks week after week -- but settled for Steven Hauschka to bail them out too many times.
One thing that's obvious: Graham has quickly fallen in love with the best home stadium in the NFL.
Graham has caught 19 of 25 targets for 252 yards at home.
Graham has caught 10 of 15 targets for 92 yards on the road.
Why hasn't the team been able to get him more involved in games on the road? Well, it mostly has to do with the fact that he was fairly absent from the game in Green Bay and then crushed it in the game against Carolina. Those are offsetting the numbers. But still, those games exist for a reason. The next two games are on the road, so it'll be interesting to see how much Graham is used in San Francisco and Dallas.
These were the only splits I care to look at, right now. We know what we know: The Seahawks suck in the fourth quarter. This is really a #teameffort more than any one individual screwing up. However, it's obvious that for whatever reason, whether it's coaching, execution, or just plain getting out-played, doing what's necessary to get first downs and stop first downs hasn't been happening.
There are a lot of good things here once you unbox the numbers and look at them from a piece-by-piece perspective, but also a fair number of bad things. Maybe now is the time that Seattle can start to fix them based on what the numbers say.
Hopefully those numbers say something along the lines of ... "Where the fuck is Thomas Rawls?"