Much of the vitriol and hand-wringing about the Seahawks’ secondary this season has been directed at Tre Flowers, a player who has somehow earned 40 career starts despite his penchant for social distancing.
Note: I would feel bad about making what could be perceived as a COVID-19 joke were it not for the fact that Tre Flowers was known for his social distancing long before the phrase was part of the global lexicon.
Yet somehow, the rest of the secondary seems to fly under the radar from a condemnation standpoint. I mean, sure, Jamal Adams gets the occasional mention because of his contract and acquisition cost, but the way Tre Flowers is targeted by fans and media types, I sometimes wonder if they think they’re an opposing quarterback.
Admittedly, I feel a little bad taking shots at Flowers, especially early in the
game article. History has shown that it’s a winning strategy though.
Especially on third and long.
Or not nearly enough?
Regardless of your answer, it’s time to move on because this article is about ALL of Seattle’s defensive backs, not just Tre Flowers.
Besides, the Tre Flowers criticism and all of the shots will be easier to justify once you’ve seen some numbers. Unfortunately, Flowers might not be the only DB on the receiving end of things.
Defensive snaps - and where the DBs take them
So that we’re all on the same page, let’s start with the positional snap counts (courtesy of PFF) for each of Seattle’s DBs through the first 3 weeks. That way there’s no confusion about who the outside corners are, who the slot corners are, and who the safeties are (or aren’t).
Season to date
Note 1: The number don’t always “add up” because DBs aren’t the only ones who take snaps at the corner positions (or the safety positions). As an example, Jordyn Brooks has 18 snaps as the slot corner through 3 games, including 13 in Week 1.
Note 2: PFF doesn’t differentiate between LCB and RCB or between FS and SS. To them, all safeties are free and it doesn’t matter which side a corner lines up on - at least in terms of snap counts.
Now let’s look at the statistical breakdowns (targets, receptions allowed, yards allowed, etc.) for the individual DBs and for the unit as a whole.
Note: All of these numbers come from PFF. However, other than the PFF Cover Grade in the gray line at the bottom of each table, the numbers should align with the numbers you would find on other sites.
Season to date
Observations (and related wonderings)
Now that you’ve seen the numbers, it’s time to make some observations, to draw your attention to some of the numbers, and to provide additional context that isn’t found in the data I’ve shared.
First things first though ...
Proprietary stats are weird. Yes, I am mostly referring to PFF’s “grades,” but also passer rating. On the one hand, I sort of “get them”, but on the other hand I most certainly don’t.
Want a couple of examples? Take a look at Quandre Diggs’ passer rating allowed (158.3) and Marquise Blair’s PFF Cover Grade (39.3). Neither one makes any damn sense. Except that I’m sure they do. To someone. Maybe.
That, however, is a soapbox for a different day - unless I drag it out a little bit lower down ... which I might. For now though, let’s start with the player that I singled out in the intro: Mr. Tre Flowers.
As a group, through 3 games, Seattle’s DBs have zero interceptions and only one pass break-up.
Did you happen to notice who that PBU belongs to?
Yep! Tre Flowers.
Lest you think that I’m here to defend Mr. Flowers ...
239 defensive snaps, 136 of them coverage snaps, and 208 receiving yards allowed. That seems a bit excessive, no?
Short answer: Yes, it’s excessive.
Longer answer: Even for Tre Flowers, It is excessive ... as the next 200 or so words will show.
239, 136, and 208 give Flowers an average of 0.87 yards allowed per defensive snap and 1.53 yards allowed per coverage snap.
For his career, Flowers’ averages are 0.74 and 1.15, respectively.
Remember Cary Williams? His career averages were 0.72 and 1.18 - pretty similar to Flowers, right? The one year (10 games) that he played for Seattle, his numbers were 0.60 and 0.99. Tre Flowers only dreams about numbers like those.
How about last year’s starters? How do they compare?
- Shaquill Griffin: Career averages of 0.64 and 1.01; 2020 averages of 0.65 and 0.98
- Quinton Dunbar: 0.78 and 1.22 (career); 0.96 and 1.42 (his one year in Seattle)
What about this year’s starters (excluding Flowers)?
- D.J. Reed: 0.54 and 0.87 (career); 0.66 and 1.01 in 2020; 0.42 and 0.74 this year
- Ugo Amadi: 0.81 and 1.06 (career); 0.72 and 0.95 in 2020; 0.85 and 1.18 this season
Last, but not least ...
Are there any Richard Sherman fans in the house?
The free agent corner with the Hall of Fame credentials has career averages of 0.45 and 0.72 (!!). His worst season was his rookie year (0.65 and 1.03). His worst season since leaving Seattle was 0.44 and 0.69 (in 2018).
And for those that say he’s no longer the player he was ... last season was his best season EVER (in this regard) with averages of 0.26 and 0.41 (!!!!!).
Did I mention that he’s still a free agent?
Despite having a rough(er than usual) game against the Vikings, in part because a foolish 3rd down penalty away from the play kept a Minnesota drive alive, Ugo Amadi is having a good season so far.
Marquise Blair was inactive last weekend because of “a knee thing,” but he is having a good season as well.
Between them, the Seahawks appear to be in capable hands at the slot corner position.
Remember all the complaints about how the Seahawks used Jamal Adams last year - especially early in the season?
Here is where Adams stood through 3 games last season:
- Snaps on the D-Line: 26
- Snaps in the Box: 78
- Pass Rush Snaps (per PFF): 35
- Snaps on the D-Line: 25
- Snaps in the Box: 92
- Pass Rush Snaps (per PFF): 15
My guess is that the fact Adams has 20 fewer pass rush snaps through 3 games this year (15 vs. 35) makes a fair number of 12s very, very happy.
I, on the other hand, am pretty torqued by it.
Last year, through 3 games, Jamal Adams had 9 total pressures, including 2 sacks and 4 quarterback hits. This year? NADA. No sacks, no hits, no hurries.
Sort of seems like a “Careful what you wish for” scenario to me.
At least through the first 3 games.
Of course, to be fair, Seattle only had 5 sacks total at this point last year (2 of them courtesy of Jamal Adams) and they have 7 sacks this year (none of them by Adams). Still ... our overall record might be better than 1-2 if Adams were rushing more and/or getting home when he goes huntin’ for QBs.
The flipside of the disappointment about Adams not hunting quarterbacks on a regular basis is that he’s doing much better in coverage.
Last year, through 3 games, he had played 203 defensive snaps with 110 of those being coverage snaps. He had allowed 8 receptions on 11 targets for 137 yards and a TD. His passer rating allowed was 144.9.
This year, he has played 239 defensive snaps through 3 games, including 121 coverage snaps. He has allowed 6 receptions on 7 targets for 51 yards and opposing QBs have a passer rating of only 97.0 when looking his direction.
Seattle DBs have given up 4 touchdowns in 3 games.
One was given up by Tre Flowers - who has taken more than enough abuse today.
One was surrendered by Quandre Diggs (vs. the Colts).
Diggs gets a pass from me today though because he flew to Minnesota with a passer rating of 158.3 over the first 2 games yet somehow convinced Kirk Cousins to not throw his direction a single time.
Besides I want to talk about this touchdown:
And this touchdown:
Allowing 3 receptions on 6 targets for a mere 29 yards would, in most circumstances, be a good day at the office.
Not when 2 of the 3 receptions are for touchdowns though.
And not when those 2 touchdowns come in a game you lose by 13 points.
And absolutely most certainly not when you’re the cornerback that is playing opposite Tre Flowers and Flowers is matching your ineptitude by allowing 7 receptions on 7 targets.
I know the 12s “love” D.J. Reed.
And I know that one bad game isn’t going to change that.
Dude ain’t cutting it on the left side.
Not last Sunday, and not through the first 3 weeks.
Note: I saved this for the end because it’s not entirely DB-related.
Through 3 games, the Seahawks have allowed 856 yards passing (after subtracting sacks). That’s an average of 285.3 yards per game which ranks 26th in the league.
Lest we forget, last year, through 3 games, Seattle had allowed 1,292 passing yards (an average of 430.7 per game).
That’s a decrease of 145.4 yards per game (!!!).
In that context, I can honestly say that 26th never looked so good (!!).
Hollow victories and joking aside ...
The pass defense needs to improve ASAP - and it’s not just the DBs that need to be looking in the mirror and honestly evaluating their performance in pass coverage through the first 3 weeks of this young season.
To elaborate on that last statement ...
While it is certainly true that Seattle’s DBs are responsible for a sizeable chunk of those 856 passing yards, it’s not as big of a chunk as you might expect. Well, not unless “roughly 2/3rds” was what you expected.
Here’s the math:
Per the data I’ve shared in this article, we know that Seattle’s DBs have allowed 43 receptions on 57 targets and surrendered 537 yards in the process.
856 minus 537 leaves 319 yards unaccounted for.
I know where to find them though.
Technically, LBs aren’t DBs ... even if the Seahawks (and other teams) use them that way ... even if they use them that way A LOT.
FunFact: Through 3 games, more than half of our Linebackers’ defensive snaps have been in coverage: 124 of 239 for Bobby; 99 of 190 for Jordyn; 20 of 44 for Cody; 243 of 473 overall (excluding Darrell Taylor who only has 2 coverage snaps all year).
Through 3 games, Bobby, Jordyn, and Cody have allowed a combined passer rating of 110.4 on 39 targets which resulted in 33 receptions for 329 yards with 1 touchdown.