This season, I'll be working with Jim Seki from Pro Football Focus to bring Field Gulls readers a few "signature stats" for the Seahawks and their opponents each week. I'm a big fan of PFF's Signature Stats -- elusiveness rating, pass rush productivity, accuracy percentage, time in pocket for quarterbacks, yards per pass route run, and a few others in particular are objective stats that really help to paint a picture of a player's productivity or performance -- so I'm looking forward to this little partnership.
Let's take a look at this week's numbers. Seki's notes are in italics, and mine follow.
-- Jimmy Clausen entered the game last week after Jay Cutler was hurt and finished the game having played 44 of 72 offensive snaps. One 23 attempts, his total yards in the air (YIA) was only 42, good for a 34.7 YIA%. The only other QBs with a lower YIA rate last week were Alex Smith and Sam Bradford. Some of that might be further explained by his short time to throw duration. His 2.24 TTT was fifth-fastest for Week 2. On the other hand, Russell Wilson held on to it for 3.15 seconds, fourth-longest.
This low "air yards as percentage of total passing yards" stat points to the fact that Clausen was doing a lot of checking down and/or just quick throws to try to avoid the rush and not throw picks. He's then relying on yards after the catch from his receivers and running backs. This is no surprise. I would guess (with a good amount of certainty) that this will be Chicago's strategy this week again against a Seattle team that defends the deep ball very well, and this means the Seahawks' "four under" defenders (i.e., the four defenders in the mid range, in front of Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Cary Williams, but behind the defensive line) will have to pursue quickly and tackle well. I.e., play Seahawks football.
This is nothing new for Seattle of course. This is pretty much how most teams attack the Seahawks these days. It's hard to throw deep over Earl Thomas unless your name is Aaron Rodgers, and the corners on the outside have done their job for the most part this year. K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, and Kam Chancellor/DeShawn Shead/Marcus Burley will be the players to watch here. Watch them get into their drops, find their landmarks, and then read the quarterback's eyes and the receivers routes to make their plays.
-- Doug Baldwin has the fifth-most targets when aligned in the slot (14). He's caught all but one of them for 122 yards.
Baldwin's bread and butter is running out of the slot. He scored a touchdown last week with a nice seam-post in the redzone. He's just most comfortable and effective inside, where he can use his excellent route running and agility to get open. Look for Russell Wilson to continue to target Baldwin here while teams scheme to take away Jimmy Graham.
-- Bears running back Matt Forte has a better yards after contact average than Marshawn Lynch (2.38 to 2.21). However both are adept receivers out of the backfield and when factoring that in, Lynch's 75.5 elusive rating on the year bests Forte's 39.7.
Lynch has yet to really get going on the ground, so this isn't terribly surprising in terms of the yards after contact stat. Forte isn't chopped liver though -- and we'll see if the Seahawks can finally get Lynch going because of a few reasons: 1) they're finally at home, and 2) the read option starts clicking.
-- Both Steven Hauschka and Robbie Gould are at the bottom of average kickoff distance coming in around 60.0 yards. Robbie Gould and his special teamers also surrender the best average starting position, allowing offenses to start drives on the 30.7 yard line.
I would guess that Hauschka's failed squib kick factors in here, but I hope that he just blasts his kickoffs out of the back of the endzone this week. With Gould's struggles in kickoff distance, look for Tyler Lockett to take a few out of the endzone. Here's to hoping the blocking up front can see some improvement, because much like last year, it's been really disappointing (too many unblocked defenders hitting returners at the ten-yard line).
*Ranking the 0-2 Teams and projecting if they can rebound or if it's time to panic.
*Kam Chancellor ends his holdout and the production that he brings back with him.
*Grade recaps from the Week 2 Seahawks and Bears games.