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We Were Wrong: Things we thought we knew about the Seahawks vs Dolphins & Rams

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In which we look behind, and ahead, at how the mischievous game of American Football scrambles our puny expectations

Miami Dolphins v Seattle Seahawks
one of Russell Wilson’s receivers from Sunday
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

This season, we will be wrong. It’s been just one week, and already we’ve been wrong! Significantly. On multiple levels. And we will continue to err. You, me, announcers, Kenneth, analysts, pundits, players. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Incorrect. The opposite of right.

Exactly how we were, are, and will be wrong is what this space will investigate between games. It’ll run midweek, so both a fresh look back and a peek forward will be possible. For example, today you’ll find discussion of three reasonable opinions that got dismantled in Week 1 — along with a request for material to use in Week 2.

You’d think we’d be accustomed to being proven wrong by now, watching this team defy convention, upend league customs, and carve its own path through bold roster moves. Well, if you’re not already there, here’s your chance to embrace football incorrectness.

Week 1: Seahawks 12 (but kinda 14 or 15), Dolphins 10ish

“If we’re going to lose, it’s prob’ly because of turnovers”

Wrong. Actually PC-RW teams don’t need to win the turnover battle. Not as badly as other teams. It helps to take the ball away. But these Hawks have proven over the last 65 regular-season games that other factors matter far more.

NFL teams lose, generally, when they lose the turnover battle. It’s one of the single greatest predictors of victory or defeat. Open the box score, skip to turnovers, check the plus-minus, and you probably found your winner, on the plus side.

NFL teams are .786 when they win the turnover battle. Flip that upside down, for the mirror reality that in a recent five-year compilation of games, teams that lost the turnover battle went 220-810-2.

More? Glutton. You’re convinced already, and you know it, but I will indulge you anyway with one dessert item. Here: Teams in the top ten in turnover differential finished with a .652 winning percentage in all games played in another recent five-year period. Teams in the bottom ten “enjoyed” a .359 winning percentage.

The Carroll-Wilson Hawks are known for their adept ball protection. They are built to maximize efficiency, limit turnovers, and trust that their defense will hold. They don’t take chances and they ballhawk. (That’s a pun, which I am now ruining.)

But the Hawks don’t need to win the turnover battle! They won despite falling short again in that category on Sunday, 2-0 (3-1 if you count turnover on downs [some people do (whatever [you do what you want])]). Seattle bucked the unbuckable trend. This team is annoying like that. To other people.

Oh, it’s a pattern.

  • 2012 breakdown

Team was 11-5 overall, 2-2 when losing the turnover battle. Not so bad.

  • 2013 breakdown

Team was 13-3 overall, 1-0 when losing the turnover battle. Damn, they were exceptional.

  • 2014 breakdown

Team was 12-4 overall, 2-1 when losing the turnover battle. Not so bad again.

  • 2015 and 2016 breakdown

Team is/was 11-6 overall, 4-2 when losing the turnover battle. What a weird phase of Seahawks football it’s been since the SB years.

Add it all up and the shocking truth emerges. Russell Wilson’s Seahawks are 9-5 when they commit more turnovers than the opposition. Which isn’t how the league functions.

Reminder: NFL teams, in general, over multiple recent seasons, post a .214 winning percentage when they cough it up more than they take it away. Over a 14-game stretch, that’s like going 3-11 and setting yourself up for a top 5 draft pick. Seattle’s 9-5 and eyeing the playoffs instead.

In other words: if our Hawks somehow lost the turnover battle every week, they’d still be in line for 10 or 11 wins. Still in the hunt for a wild card. Other teams need to protect the ball. Ironically, our team, one purportedly built on ball control and limiting turnovers while taking safe deep shots down the field — it doesn’t actually need to be squeaky clean to win. The Hawks going to win, independent of the turnover story. Most days.

“Flags, shmags, those things don’t faze us”

You’ve heard me, yourself, others say it. The Hawks were the most penalized team in the league in both of their Super Bowl years, but also the winningest, so the flags won’t be an issue, especially at home.

Mmm. Mmm hmm, wrong.

Painful penalties kept Seattle’s offense way off schedule at a moment when the game could’ve easily turned — the middle quarters. Sorry Pete, it’s not always how you finish. Key moments happen all the time throughout the game.

(Quick aside: This isn’t a complaint about officials. They made their usual amount of mistakes and their usual amount of proper judgment calls. It’s hard to say that one single call turned the game. Even had the afternoon’s final flag stood, it was for defensive holding anyway and was agreed to have been misthrown.

It’s a complaint instead about how the Hawks put themselves in position, drive after drive in the second and third quarters, where they had to overcome long odds to just get another first down, let alone score.)

Three particular penalties were especially harmful, because it was at that time that the Seattle defense was performing at its very highest level. Miami ran 26 plays in the second and third quarters and gained a total of 35 yards. That’s 1.3 yards per play. That’s 70 yards over a complete game. The Dolphins only scored three points during that time because of a RW pick on his own side of the field.

That should’ve been the moment — or moments — that Seattle pulled away with a couple of scoring drives. But instead, a special teams flag pinned them deep once, a holding call brought up 2nd and 17 another time, and a different instance of offensive holding replaced 2nd and 2 with 1st and 12 deep in their own territory. (They also fumbled to begin the fourth quarter.)

Drives are too hard when you don’t stay on schedule, when you dig yourself too big a hole. As a result, an exceptional half of defense ended up as a 3-3 draw, setting up the too-close finish.

“Don’t count on anything from Jimmy ‘The Patella’ Graham”

(oh dear i’ve created a mobster)

Pete Carroll is notorious, deserved or not, for pooh-poohing his players’ injuries, declaring his confidence in their ability to suit up and play, then holding them out. If any one player recently fits the mold of “give it another week,” it’s the guy who had knee surgery in December of last year, right? It’s the guy who was thought for a long time to be headed for the PUP list to start the year, right?

Yesh, well, wrong-o to me and all my like-minded friends.

Not only did Graham play, he was on the field during the game-deciding drive late in the fourth. Not only was he on the field, he collected a pass of some importance: an 11-yard catch on 2nd and 6, inside the two minute-warning, deep in Dolphins territory.

Behold the proof! Look at the uniforms! Jimmy Graham played 17 snaps. After career-threatening surgery, it took him nine months to return to the field and play a role in a close victory.

Back in the offseason, that would’ve sounded not just wrong, but slightly crazy.

Week 2 beckons: Help me be wrong

Oy, the Rams.

Yes, that is an entire paragraph. It’s never a good time to see them on the schedule. They’ve beaten PC-RW more than any other team.

Record vs. Hawks since 2012, regular season:

  • Rams 4-4
  • Cards 3-5
  • Niners 2-6
  • Everyone else in the league has one or zero wins.

Here’s when we arrive at the interactive section. We need your input to make this column work. We need you to volunteer reasonable opinions about the upcoming game, and we need several of you to be dead wrong. The righter-sounding but ultimately wronger, the better. What looks to be a key match-up, a crucial stat, an essential part of the game plan? Do we need to control TOP like in Week 1? Do we need to contain Aaron Donald or keep the ball out of Tavon Austin’s hands? What about Todd Gurley? What about special teams?

It is the fucking Rams, after all.

(That’s like nine more paragraphs right there.)

So offer up your wise words. As a sacrifice. For the greater good. Just try and be wrong. That shouldn’t be so hard.