ESPN recently ran their under-the-radar strengths for all 32 teams on offense and defense. As an Insider you can get access to those full lists, but let's talk a little bit about what the Seattle Seahawks did really well last season that perhaps hasn't been discussed much before.
The strength for the Seahawks offense was on non-play action plays: Seattle was first in DVOA (56%) and Y/A (7.6) on passing plays that did not have play action. They were only league-average on play action pass attempts (25.4%) and Russell Wilson's 5.7 Y/A on play action was a full two yards below league-average.
What does that mean for the Seahawks offense moving forward? Well, it's tough to say if it would change things at all in terms of how often they use play action because clearly they're doing something right to be first in non-play action plays. I'm sure overall Wilson and Darrell Bevell would just like to find a way to get things right when they do use play action rather than focus on changing a whole bunch for an offense that was first in DVOA last year.
Of course, the defense was and is pretty good too, finishing first in points allowed for four straight seasons. But what was their under-the-radar strength?
Per ESPN Insider/FootballOutsiders/Aaron Schatz, it's that the Seahawks allowed a league-low 4.4 yards after the catch last season. We hear YAC talked a lot about for individual receivers, but not for defenses, and 4.4 YAC on average sounds pretty outstanding. And I mean, we don't have to rely on how it sounds since ESPN is telling us that it was the best in the NFL. Seattle also allowed 7.4 YAC on passes at or behind the line of scrimmage, which sounds good too.
That would seem to be a point of pride for Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor especially, in terms of tackling in the secondary and giving up as little as possible when catches are made, which is still relatively rare against this defense. How much more room does the secondary have to improve this year with a full season from Chancellor, Jeremy Lane, Brandon Browner, and Tharold Simon, should they remain healthy or stick with the team?
It's impossible to get better than first, but that doesn't mean this defense, offense, or team, can't get better anyway.