The 2021 NFL season is already more than half over, with the Seattle Seahawks having dropped a stinker of a performance at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers in a 17-0 Week 10 loss. The NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals are on tap for Week 11 in a game that quarterback Kyler Murray could miss, meaning Colt McCoy could potentially be under center in Seattle for a visiting opponent late in the season for the second straight year.
Whether it’s Murray or McCoy who taking snaps against the Seattle defense, either one could pose problems for a pass rush that is drastically underperforming the expectations of many fans. Through Week 10 the pass rush of the Seahawks ranks near the bottom of the league in several metrics, including:
- Sacks (15, 29th)
- Sack Rate (4.0%, 30th)
- QB Hits (49, T20th)
- Pressure Rate (22.7%, T23rd)
In short, the pass rush has not gotten home. Part of that has, of course, been the fact that the secondary underperformed early in the season, and didn’t give the pass rush time to get home. However, with the multiple personnel changes at outside cornerback since the start of the season, the cornerback play has improved and that could lead to an increase in pass rushing productivity in the coming weeks if the defensive front can get to the quarterback quick enough.
Which brings things to a recent study on pass rushers in the NFL from 538 by Josh Hermsmeyer.
There are fewer player tracking based metrics of true importance than I would have guessed five years ago, but Get Off for edge rushers is one of them. I wrote about why its important, and listed the leagues quickest duos.https://t.co/IHXCASGZdu— Josh No-coin Hermsmeyer (@friscojosh) November 11, 2021
There’s no need to rehash the entire study, as those who are interested enough to learn about it can click on the link in the tweet and read the entirety of the post. That said, the quick and dirty of it is that using four and a half seasons of tracking data Hermsmeyer was able to determine with a high level of accuracy how quickly pass rushers are able to get across the line of scrimmage, or “Get Off”.
From there it was possible to test if Get Off translated to improved performance as a pass rusher. The answer was, undoubtedly, yes, as there is a very real relationship between how quickly a defender makes it across the line of scrimmage and how many Pass Rush Wins, pressures, hits and sacks they generate.
The question for Seahawks fans then becomes, of course, where do the pass rushers the Hawks have on the roster fall relation to the 123 pass rushers who were included in the study? The answer is as follows:
- Benson Mayowa (T32 out of 123)
- Darrell Taylor (T44 out of 123)
- Carlos Dunlap (T51 out of 123)
- Kerry Hyder (T57 out of 123)
- Alton Robinson (T76 out of 123)
- Rasheem Green (T102 out of 123)
In short, none of the Seattle pass rushers have the quickness or explosiveness to finish in the top quartile for in the Get Off metric, which is likely not a surprise for anyone who has watched the Seahawks play this season.
So, the question then becomes how much of an influence improved play in the secondary will have for the Hawks down the stretch, and how much that improved play in the secondary could buy extra time for the pass rush to get home.