A lot of things went awry in the Seattle Seahawks loss to the New Orleans Saints, but the offense wasn’t one of them. Sure, the 3rd down conversion rate needs to be better than 1 for 9, but that is a relatively minor gripe with a team that has scored 80 points over the last two weeks and was absolutely in a position to win that game on Sunday, in spite of another historically awful defensive performance. Apparently, Football Outsiders agrees with this sentiment, or at least their data set agrees.
The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, led by QB Geno Smith, currently have the NFL's No. 1 offense (per @fboutsiders' DVOA metric).— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) October 10, 2022
That is not a typo
Yes, that is correct. Their offense is 1st overall in weighted DVOA (Defense-adjusted value Over Average). Not only this, but they rank 9th in weighted overall DVOA. As you may recall, the Hawks used to be perennially at or near the top of Football Outsiders’ proprietary metric, as they spent four consecutive years (2012-2015) as the 1st overall team in weighted DVOA. Of course, during this time, they had a defense that ranked 8th, 1st, 1st, and 2nd, respectively. Still, their offense was pulling its weight, ranking 2nd, 9th, 5th, and 1st during that same time span. But more on that later.
Getting back to the matter at hand, Geno Smith seems to have gelled pretty perfectly with Shane Waldron’s offense. He is able to stand tall in the pocket and deliver accurate passes anywhere on the field, and he very much appears to demonstrate confidence and poise in his decision making. And the raw stats support this as well: according to ESPN, Geno Smith leads the league with a passer rating of 113.1, and is 4th in QBR at 74.8. In the latter metric, he ranks behind only Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen. Furthermore, his league-leading completion percentage of 75.2% is jaw-dropping. Not only this, but the Seahawks as a team rank 7th in points per game (25.4). So how can this team perform so well in certain metrics while still sitting at 2-3? Well, the defense may not literally be 100% to blame, but it is a pretty good place to start. And where does the defense rank in all of this? 31st. One spot ahead of the Detroit Lions. I bring this up, because it makes their ranking of 9th overall in total DVOA even more impressive.
The Seahawks and DVOA through the years
Since 2015, the two sides of the roster have diverged significantly; after a couple down years (which more or less led to the dismissal of Darrell Bevell), the team once again returned to the top 10 in offensive DVOA, never ranking below 9th between 2018-2021. The defense, on the other hand, hasn’t cracked the top 10 since 2016 (when the defense finished 7th), and has ranked 20th or worse in 3 seasons (2018, 2019, and 2021). Below is the full breakdown in weighted DVOA for every (completed) season since 2012, all data courtesy of Football Outsiders.
- ‘21: 9th offense / 20th defense / 9th overall
- ‘20: 6th offense / 11th defense / 5th overall
- ‘19: 6th offense / 22nd defense / 9th overall
- ‘18: 9th offense / 21st defense / 15th overall
- ‘17: 14th offense / 12th defense / 14th overall
- ‘16: 17th offense / 7th defense / 15th overall
- ‘15: 1st offense / 2nd defense / 1st overall
- ‘14: 5th offense / 1st defense / 1st overall
- ‘13: 9th offense / 1st defense / 1st overall
- ‘12: 2nd offense / 8th defense / 1st overall
I find it difficult to celebrate this offense right now given the heart wrenching injury suffered by Rashaad Penny last weekend, but the point stands that this team is not only outperforming expectations on that side of the ball, they are literally outperforming most of the NFL. Even when you strip away the analytics, they are simply doing a lot of things right when it comes to moving the ball and putting points on the board. This is encouraging for so many reasons right now, and not just for 2022. Shane Waldron had a rocky first year as an offensive coordinator, but he very much looks to be getting his squad on the right track. And even in his turbulent first season, the team still ended up being a top-10 group in DVOA, as seen above. Beyond all this, the offense is simply fun to watch right now; let’s hope they keep it up, because there is still a lot of football left to be played in 2022, and the Hawks are in a three-way tie for 2nd in their division.