The Seattle Seahawks lost to the Arizona Cardinals 34-31 on Saturday. It was a tough loss for a number of reasons, but the Seahawks are still going to the playoffs and the Cardinals are not — same for all but 12 teams every season. Seattle has not been on the outside-looking-in since 2011, and there’s a lot to appreciate about that.
Another thing to appreciate are some of the individual performances this season, both against Arizona and for the season in total. This is a quick check-in on those stats.
When Russell Wilson has a bad game, as he did against the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, I get all these tweets from fans of opposing teams telling me how funny it was that I said Wilson was one of the best players in the NFL. I don’t hear from those fans after games like Wilson had on Saturday. Funny how that works.
Wilson had four touchdowns against the Cardinals, bringing his season total to 20. Wilson joins Peyton Manning and Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw at least 20 touchdowns in each of their first five seasons. With three touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers in the finale, Wilson will be third all-time, behind Manning and Marino, for most touchdown throws through five years.
For the season, Wilson has 20 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a passer rating of 92.4. Even if it is the worst year of his career en total, it’s not too dissimilar from his overall performances in 2012 and 2014. Without the rushing yards and touchdowns though (255, one score), it’s certainly the least productive season of Wilson’s career. He might also be playing behind the worst offensive line he’s had in the NFL (or college) and that’s saying something.
The 11 interceptions are a career-high, but he’s thrown a career-high 514 attempts. Wilson has grown into the type of QB you build your team around, the one you let run the show almost completely, and not the “careful, game manager” that he was labeled as early on. He actually has more attempts than leading MVP candidate Matt Ryan, though Ryan has done a lot more with his attempts which is why he’s the leading MVP candidate. Wilson’s interception percentage is lower than it was in 2012 and 2013.
It’s not the follow-up we had all hoped for after his historic 2015 campaign, but there’s every reason to think that with more time for the offensive line to gel and grow and gain experience, the potential to have CJ Prosise for a whole season (though there is going to be uncertainty for Tyler Lockett), and hopefully a healthy start to the year for Wilson, that he’ll have a career-year in 2017.
With 64 more passing yards, he’ll break his own franchise record for single season passing yards.
Speaking of franchise records, Jimmy Graham has already broken the Seahawks franchise record for catches and yards by a tight end: 61 and 859. He also has six touchdowns. The franchise record for a tight end is seven, by John Carlson.
Graham has proven to be an extremely effective target when Wilson can find him, but the offensive gameplan has too often been unable to incorporate him into the attack. Though he had monster games against the 49ers, Jets, and Bills, Graham’s either been taken out by the defense or forgotten in the gameplan in recent weeks; over the last seven games, he’s been targeted 34 times, caught 23 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns. That works out to just three catches and 45 yards per game.
He’s catching almost 70% of his targets, he’s turning it into 14.1 yards per catch, but 4.1 catches/game is the lowest average of his career. Seattle needs to find Graham more often if the offense is going to have any success in the playoffs. He’s the x-factor that the Seahawks have, a player that the vast majority of NFL teams do not. They just need to work him in there even more.
Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin is now in the midst of the 22nd 1,000-yard receiving season in Seattle history. Baldwin’s 13 catches and 171 yards against Arizona were both career-highs, and it was the sixth-highest yardage total by a Seahawks receiver. The only players to put up back to back 1,000-yard seasons in franchise history are Baldwin (2015-2016), Steve Largent (1978-1981, 1983-1986) (1982 was a strike year), Brian Blades (1994-1995), Joey Galloway (1997-1998), and Darrell Jackson (2003-2004).
All-time, Baldwin passed Bobby Engram for the fourth-most receiving yards in franchise history. He’s still over 1,500 yards behind Darrell Jackson for third (and not even close to Largent, of course) but Baldwin is in a way, almost quietly etching himself into the Seahawks “ring of honor” or “all-time players” or however you want to phrase it. He’s still just 28 and has been in really good health for almost his entire career.
Cliff Avril’s 11.5 sacks is the 13th-most in a season by a Seattle player, tied with Chris Clemons’ 2012 season. With a .5 sack against San Francisco, he’ll tie for 11th-most (Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair), with one sack, he’ll tie Green for 10th-most, with 1.5 sacks, he’ll tie Green, Sinclair for eighth-most, and if he just gets two sacks, he’ll tie Green and Michael McCrary for sixth-most in a single season.
Frank Clark has nine sacks, the most ever by a Seahawks player 23 or younger. (Clark is 23.) Bobby Wagner is two tackles shy of 700 for his career. Paul Richardson is 24 yards shy of a new career-high, from when he had 271 yards as a rookie in 2014.
Finally, Seattle is one win shy of their fifth straight 10-win season. In the 36 seasons before Russell Wilson arrived, the Seahawks had five 10-win seasons total. We can complain that things “could be better” because this is clearly not the best version of the team we’ve seen recently, but it’s funny how quickly people lose sight of how a team “could be worse.” Like how things were for three decades before Pete Carroll arrived. The team has clinched a division title, they’re going to the playoffs, they’ll be hosting a game — the Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003.
Individuals are looking for some milestones in the last game, but the team still has plenty to fight for. This is how I see the best case scenario:
Seahawks 10-5-1 (beat 49ers)
Falcons 10-6 (lose to Saints)
Lions 10-6 (lose to Cowboys, beat Packers)
Giants 10-6 (lose to Redskins)
That’s doable. But regardless, Seattle plays an 18th game. These guys have played well enough to earn it. Enjoy it.