Tis now been three days since the Seattle Seahawks found themselves on the wrong end of a fourth-and-one stop against the St. Louis Rams. The immediate reaction was that of sorrow, worry, and anger. But now that we've had a few days to think it over, I think most Seahawks fans are instead full of dismay, concern, and contempt!
This is our first edition of the 2015 Advanced Stats series, where I take another look at the game from a perspective of stats and whatever else crosses my desk (bed). This is a more abbreviated version, as so many parts are still moving in Week 1. Let's not overreact too much from a single game because you could have simply moved their loss in St. Louis last season to the first week, and what would have really changed?
Pro-Football-Reference's Win Probability chart
As expected, Seattle was favored to win the game from the onset and even as they sort of struggled to get a rhythm going, they still remained favored into the middle of the third quarter. But as they started to fall behind and it got as bad as 24-13 into the fourth quarter, the Rams were as good as 95% to win the game.
Then it was time to play, Whose 95% is it Anyway?
The Seahawks came back and got up 31-24 after 18 unanswered point and nearly got to 100% favorites themselves. However, the breakdown on the touchdown to Lance Kendricks (represented by the 29.7% strike you see above near the end) immediately flipped it back to St. Louis.
Play of the Game
Rather than pick a moment shown on the board above, how about we talk about the one thing every Seattle fan was joking about before the OT coinflip: We have Tarvaris Jackson!
Unfortunately, Jackson blew it this time and the Rams got the ball to start overtime. Were it not for that, we never see the Steven Hauschka whatever-the-shit-that-was kick, and the Seahawks can put their offense on the field first and get a chance to score a touchdown like they did against the Packers in the NFC Championship game.
A local meme/myth hath been destroyed.
One other thing I thought was interesting to look at from PFR was the chart of targets by Russell Wilson this week. Everyone wants to quickly jump on Darrell Bevell when things go wrong (and ignore his existence when they go right) but let's be real: Every pass is a combination of effort from Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell, Wilson, the offensive line, the receivers, and what the defense gives them.
Regardless, at the end of the day, the Seahawks couldn't push the pall past 15 yards. Wilson went just 0-for-1 on deep passes. Meanwhile, Nick Foles went 6-for-8 on deep throws for 154 yards and one touchdown.
I think the most disappointing thing about it all though, was Doug Baldwin getting just 23 yards on five catches to the right, barely more than four yards per catch. On the failing OT drive, Baldwin got just seven yards on two catches, setting up the Marshawn Lynch one-yard loss on fourth-and-one. Whatever they were trying to make Baldwin do on Sunday, just isn't what he's good at doing.
When I look at this group of skill players though, I ask myself, "Which of these players is even supposed to be a guy you target deep?" There's no Sidney Rice. And it's not even what Jimmy Graham's supposed to do either.
That could be a problem.
Week 1 DVOA rankings
Since I started doing these Advanced Stats posts, I basically never had to worry about anything below the top 12, usually never even below the top five. But this week Seattle starts off in a position that they haven't been in for probably four years, currently ranking 24th in DVOA ...
Behind the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I think in this way, DVOA is no less flawed then say, win-loss record, when it comes to evaluating a team after one week. Did this one week signify that the Seahawks really are worse than the Titans? The team currently ranked FIRST in DVOA? And every other 1-0 team, because every team that won is in the top 16, and every team that lost is in the bottom 16.
What you may want to play closer attention to is Total Dave, which doesn't just take Week 1 into account, but also Football Outsiders' preseason projections which are basically the same as our preconceived notions about how good of a team they are after going to the last two Super Bowls. In that category, they still rank second.
If Seattle goes to Green Bay this week and pulls off a win, the team that's fourth in DAVE, then obviously the DVOA will have a quicker change than Bill Murray (a joke for all you pre-1985 kids out there) and things will start to normalize. Start 0-2, and it may just take a bit longer than that.
ProFootballFocus crazy-ass grade of the week
If this is your first introduction to ProFootballFocus, I'll give you the quick intro:
They do something that's amazing -- charting every single play in the NFL every week and gathering all the data of who did what -- and something that's basically the devolution of everything they do: Give unexplained grades to every single player, even when those grades contradict what everyone else is saying, or other numbers would indicate.
Even a simple explanation on the grades would at least help us understand their reasoning, but we haven't gotten that and never will. Because PFF sees more value in the mystery than the explanation and they're probably right.
However, not all grades are necessarily too hard to understand. These examples aren't so much "crazy-ass" in the sense that I don't understand them, but just a wild case of how bad the offensive line was. I still don't know if they're this bad though:
Russell Okung was ranked 58th among tackles, while Garry Gilliam was 64th, which is second-to-last. Justin Britt was 60th for guards, while J.R. Sweezy was 65th, also second-to-last. Drew Nowak was ... 13th! for centers. Though if you ordered it by run blocking grade, he was 27th.
Nowak apparently picked up the slack by ranking third in pass blocking. Tight? That really showed?
Bobby Wagner had the third-worst grade for middle linebackers.
Cary Williams had the 10th-best for corners.
Brandon Mebane, 63rd.
While PFF graded Wilson right in the middle for his Week 1 performance, FootballOutsiders had him 29th in DYAR, just ahead of Brian Hoyer, Teddy Bridgewater, and Peyton Manning.
Week 2 Opponent - Green Bay Packers
As already noted, the Packers are fourth in DAVE and sixth in DVOA after one week. However, their 31-23 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 1 was just ... whatever.
They were favored in the win probability chart for virtually the entire game, but the Bears led 13-10 at half and were down just one point headed into the fourth quarter. The Bears were able to rush for 213 yards against Green Bay and if Chicago had a slightly better quarterback, the outcome may have been a bit different. But like the Seahawks, the Bears were 0-for-4 on deep passes.
Can Seattle do better than that? We'll find out Sunday night. As a matter of fact, I think I'll be waiting all day for a Sunday night. Go figure.