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Looking at third and manageable for the Seahawks in 2018

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Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Since the Seattle Seahawks lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card game of the NFC Playoffs, there has been a lot of discussion about play calling and scheme. This included Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer stating that the issue was that the team was unable to convert on third down in the loss to the Cowboys. Much of the past week has seen a debate rage about why the Seahawks were unable to convert on third down, but that’s a debate that has been ongoing for the past week and is likely to continue for much of the offseason.

Thus, let’s take a moment and look at some raw third down data, courtesy of Bik Nizzar (@bik650) and the Pro-Football-Reference.com play index.

Let’s get to third down data to compare the Seahawks to the four teams that are left remaining in the postseason.

And then he dove into the average distance to go on third down.

Including specifically looking at third and 1 compared to other teams.

So, even in those situations where the offense created a 3rd & 1, which is as manageable as a third down can be, the Hawks were exactly league average at getting a first down when they needed only a single yard on third down.

However, at this point taking a step back from the data seems warranted. Basically, the argument for the running game is that it is safer and that it is likely to result in third and manageable. Except, what both of those last two tweets have shown is that the Seahawks average distance to go was exactly league average and the team converted the easiest to convert third downs at exactly league average. If the Seahawks running game is so potent, powerful and efficient at creating third and manageable, shouldn’t it have generated efficiencies in these categories that are well above league average?

If that is the goal of the run game, why were the Seahawks no better than middle of the pack at both getting to third and manageable? Why were they no better than league average at converting 3rd and 1?

So, in short, the run/pass debate is going to continue to rage, and the analytical side is going to continue to argue its position while former players and coaches argue their side.

As with everything, in time this debate is likely to be solved on the field, and so in the meantime it’s a whole lot of people yelling back and forth at each other in both real life, as well as in the void that is the internet.