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Is Woolen ‘the Riq link’ in the Seahawks’ secondary?

Statistically, Woolen is the “worst” of Seattle’s top 4 corners through the first 8 weeks of the season (not that that’s a bad thing)

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Cleveland Browns v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the Seattle Seahawks’ defense got off to a bit of a rough start this season, with over 1,200 yards of total offense allowed in the first three games.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Week 1: Allowed 426 yards of offense to the Los Angeles Rams, including 334 through the air, in an embarrassing defeat.
  • Week 2: Allowed 418 yards of offense to the Detroit Lions, including 323 through the air, in an overtime win.
  • Week 3: Allowed Andy Dalton to throw for 361 yards.

Focusing on just the passing . . .

Through 3 games, Seattle had allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 86 of 131 passes (65.6%) for 1,018 yards with 5 touchdowns and only 1 interception.

That works out to a passer rating of 98.71.

Not good.

Since then, things have been better.

Across the four games between Week 4 (at New York Giants) and Week 8 (vs Cleveland Browns), Seattle’s defense has limited opposing quarterbacks to 86 completions on 134 attempts (64.2%) which is nearly identical to what they had allowed over one less game to start the season.

The yardage from Weeks 4 to 8 is an entirely different story with Seattle’s four opponents combining for only 791 passing yards.

And INTs outnumbered TDs allowed, 5-to-3.

Passer rating?

From Week 4 to Week 8, it was 72.08.

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That’s the high level view; now, let’s get a bit more granular.

Keeping in mind that feelings about Pro Football Focus’s grading system vary, here’s where each of Seattle’s top four cornerbacks rank after 8 weeks:

Note: I excluded CBs who’ve had less than 150 defensive snaps when pulling these numbers, which means players like Jalen Ramsey (49 snaps) and former-Seahawk Ugo Amadi (18 snaps) don’t push Seattle’s corners down the list.

Coverage Grade:

  • No. 7 = Tre Brown (80.6), 235 defensive snaps
  • No. 12 (tie) = Devon Witherspoon (79.1), 416 snaps
  • No. 27 = Michael Jackson (71.3), 158 snaps
  • No. 52 = Riq Woolen (63.9), 361 snaps

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Tackling Grade:

  • No. 20 = Michael Jackson (73.4)
  • No. 31 = Tre Brown (68.8)
  • No. 33 = Devon Witherspoon (68.0)
  • No. 59 = Riq Woolen (59.7)

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Overall Grade:

  • No. 3 = Devon Witherspoon (84.4)
  • No. 20 = Tre Brown (74.7)
  • No. 23 = Michael Jackson (71.6)
  • No. 60 = Riq Woolen (61.9)

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I won’t speak for all of the 12s, but if someone told me before the season started that Seattle would have four cornerbacks ranked in (basically) the top half of the league - - Woolen was No. 60 out of 113 “qualifying” cornerbacks in Overall grade . . .

I would have been pretty happy.

Especially if I had also been told that last year’s co-leader for INTs and 3rd-place finisher in the 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year vote would be the “worst” of the four as we near the halfway point of the season.

. . .

Rankings are only part of the equation though. Let’s look at the raw stats for each of these four cornerbacks through Week 8:

Tre Brown:

  • 10 receptions on 17 targets (58.8%) for 171 yards (17.1 per catch)
  • 1 touchdown allowed
  • 2 interceptions and 4 Pass Break-Ups (PBUs)
  • 4 penalties (1 declined)
  • Passer rating against = 73.0

Michael Jackson:

  • 9 receptions on 12 targets (75%) for 100 yards (11.1 per catch)
  • 0 TDs allowed
  • 0 INTs and 1 PBU
  • 0 penalties
  • Passer rating against = 99.3

Devon Witherspoon:

  • 15 receptions on 35 targets (42.9%) for 149 yards (9.9 per catch)
  • 1 TD allowed
  • 1 INT and 5 PBUs
  • 3 penalties
  • Passer rating against = 53.2

Riq Woolen:

  • 18 receptions on 27 targets (66.7%) for 170 yards (9.4 per catch)
  • 2 TDs allowed
  • 1 INT and 3 PBUs
  • 4 penalties (1 declined)
  • Passer rating against = 93.1

Combined:

  • 52 receptions on 91 targets (57.1%) for 590 yards (11.3 per catch)
  • 4 TDs allowed
  • 4 INTs and 13 PBUs
  • 11 penalties (2 declined)
  • Passer rating against = 73.05

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For grins, here are the stat lines for Seattle’s cornerbacks versus Cleveland:

  • Brown: 24 coverage snaps, 3 targets, 2 completions (66.7%), 18 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 PBU, 0 penalties, and a passer rating against of 82.6
  • Jackson: 1 coverage snap, no targets
  • Witherspoon: 38 coverage snaps, 6 targets, 1 completion (16.7%), 21 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 0 PBUs, 1 penalty, and a passer rating against of 41.7
  • Woolen: 39 coverage snaps, 5 targets, 2 completions (40%), 25 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 2 penalties, and a passer rating against of 16.7
  • Combined: 102 coverage snaps, 14 targets, 5 completions (35.7%), 64 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 2 PBUs, 3 penalties, and a passer rating against of 21.13

That’s a good day at the office.

Go Hawks!