We have lamented the struggles of the Seattle Seahawks offense and defense throughout the season, but one of the surprising developments of the 2021 season is how ruinous the special teams has been.
PFF’s Arjun Menon compiled the data on special teams play based on expected points added (EPA), and while the usual suspects like the perennially inept Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings are there, the Seahawks are also among the worst units by EPA.
After another stunning special teams display last night (including a punt getting blocked and 31.5 yards per return allowed), the Chargers crash to the bottom 3 in terms of EPA. Is there any surprise that the Chargers and Vikings are 2 of the 3 worst teams @ArifHasanNFL? pic.twitter.com/1cc3QHhWoS— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) November 22, 2021
I am going to assume that Matt Prater’s off-day actually dropped the Cardinals below the Seahawks, otherwise Seattle would’ve been 28th entering last weekend before improving to a lowly 27th.
The most obvious culprit for this unit’s collapse is Jason Myers, who was perfect last year on field goal attempts but is just 9/13 this year. Three of his misses have been inside of 50 yards and his 35-yarder against the Los Angeles Rams was probably one of the most damaging non-injury plays of the Seahawks’ season.
Another special teams issue has been the borderline non-existent punt return game. Freddie Swain has only racked up 104 yards on 12 returns, and he’s certainly fair caught a few when he shouldn’t have. Him, David Moore, and Bryan Walters might be Seattle’s triumvirate of least threatening special teams returners.
Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric has the Seahawks at a much more generous 11th, but you may notice that the worst parts of the team are Myers kicking for points and Swain. Seattle’s best quality on ST has been their kick return coverage, otherwise they’re middling to terrible everywhere else.
But rest assured that Michael Dickson isn’t part of the problem. He’s Michael Dickson.
So on a surface level, the Seahawks have a bad offense (22nd in EPA/play), bad defense (21st in EPA/play even with the supposed improved play), and bad special teams (27th in EPA/play). But other than that, this team is fine.