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Playoff lessons: Are we really sure the Seahawks need more defense?

Atlanta Falcons v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks are at home, or Texas, or wherever they go to watch the rest of the playoffs unfold. The four teams remaining are, unsurprisingly, four of the best five teams this season according to a number of statistics.

However, why are the Seattle Seahawks at home? Inferior quarterback play? Offensive line? Defense? That time Pete Carroll refused to pass the ball and used terrible timeouts?

The narrative around fixing this team has been “defensive line or bust,” but it might not be so simple. Again, let’s look at the remaining four teams.

Notably, Football Outsiders DVOA is among the best places to start.


There they stand, in all their red and orange glory, with the Buffalo Bills, who apparently should not live in a snowy location, as the odd man out this time.

These are indeed good teams and they beat up all the less good teams.

But let’s not forget the true nature of the NFL, as here’s their rankings on offensive efficiency:

Meanwhile, sneak a peek at their defenses:

Surprised? In fact, it goes 49ers at #1, Eagles at 6, Bengals 11, and Chiefs 17. The Seahawks were not good, obviously, but at 22nd, it’s not like you have to a top-five defense to make the Super Bowl; in fact one of teams won’t be.

One of the things that has been the focal point of Philadelphia in the postseason commentary is their ridiculous sack numbers. Frank Clark also gained notoriety this week for encroaching on the all-time postseason sack title. So I was curious: is that a factor for the playoff teams?

You might not like this.

Eagles #1, Chiefs 3, okay. The mighty 49ers were 13th, and the Bengals 29th, at 1.8 sacks per game.


10th best in the NFL at sacking the quarterback this year. Over the final three games of the season they were tied for fourth.

It’s still a league where truly elite offenses can overcome subpar defensive play. We wouldn’t know, because that’s never been the case in this city under Pete Carroll or John Schneider. But it apparently happens in other states, and seems kinda fun.

Perhaps the team, which at one point seemed perfectly happy to score 28 points a game and allow 25, might focus instead on two to three offensive pieces to get over the hump and into that range where they can keep pace with whatever comes at them.

Anybody still remember the game against the Detroit Lions? 50 points per side is what all the rules and penalties are geared towards, anyway.

I am, of course, being more than a little disingenuous. Numbers do lie, but you eventually can’t fool them all. The Seahawks allowed 152 rush yards per game, better than only the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans, two teams who did not, in fact, try.

Seattle did try, and unfortunately they are in the defensive pickle people have indicated because it’s not as simple as drafting a big sexy tackle. Many of the biggest runs from opponents came on blown assignments outside, from players that should be doing something other than this:

The glaring weakness for Seattle some seem to be consistent with the opposing run game, largely up the middle, and if one change were to be made, defensive tackle may ultimately make the most difference.

But the Hawks showed they’re closer to competing on offense, with a sneaky ability to make some plays on defense. If they end up deciding to prioritize some center that can actually block! offensive firepower in either draft or free agency, they just might know what they’re doing.