The 31-13 blandfest revealed what many observers have figured out in the past four weeks - namely, Seattle’s 5-2 start this season was about as fraudulent as it gets.
A number of factors play into this, revealed by advanced metrics, regular metrics, kindergarten-level metrics, the metric system, you name it.
There are some obvious candidates that show the Seahawks not to be who we thought they were.
We could look at a winning record with a negative-20 point differential.
We could look at what was once a league-leading run defense, having played nobody in the same talent bracket as Lamar Jackson or Christian McCaffrey.
We could look at a team that’s 3rd in field goals per game but 21st in touchdowns scored per game.
We could take a look at total DVOA - which remains in the top third of the league, deceptively boosted by the ability to move the ball well until things get real, resulting in a kick or a non-score.
#Seahawks finished with 220 total yards on offense. It's the third time this season Seattle was held under 225 total yards and seventh time in the past three seasons.— Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) November 24, 2023
But it runs even deeper, unfortunately. And it’s a systemic problem that’s impossible to pinpoint how it all came to be like this.
My main point is this: The Seahawks are really good at some stuff that doesn’t matter, terrible at some things that matter more, and the combination is how they squeaked a 5-2 record but get stonewalled by the truly formidable teams.
Two well-known players serve as perfect snapshots of how the Seahawks bamboozled the NFL for nearly two months. These players are famous enough that my wife knows their names, and their examples are from the loss to the Niners and the season as a whole.
Geno Smith has led four game-winning drives this season. Only three of them resulted in a win because Jason Myers missed the kick against the Rams, but Smith got them the touchdown or field goal range in each game.
Every single drive was highlighted by an explosive play to DK Metcalf up the middle. Working from most recent back to the Detroit Lions walk-off, Metcalf contributed to following on the final drive of the game:
LAR - 21 yards on 3rd-and-8.
WAS - 17 yards on 3rd-and-4, followed by 27 yards on 2nd-and-10.
CLE - 9 yards into Cleveland territory on 2nd-and 3. (So this one’s not quite as explosive)
DET - 16 yards on 3rd-and-6.
If you just take final drives, Metcalf is in the upper echelon of NFL receivers. Not just good, but truly clutch.
However, his total stats tell a completely different story. Metcalf’s Receptions to Targets since Week 6 are as follows:
- 4 of 9
- 5 of 14
- 1 of 4
- 7 of 12
- 5 of 9
- 3 of 9
For 90% of the game, Metcalf is a non-factor. He then turns in close to one deep bomb per game, coupled with half a season of exceptional final drives. So which version is real?
Again this article is not to blame DK; this is a microcosm of what’s gone wrong with the Seahawks this season.
The whole cursed team is selectively successful. It’s kept them in some games, it even generates some wins, while we’ve now seen two humiliating examples of when a complete team shows up, and Seattle’s little gimmicks can’t compete.
Metcalf was the offensive prototype, there’s also a defensive counterpart. Additionally, DK stands on one side of the spectrum with the next player on the other. In general, the Seahawks are good at a number of mundane things but bad when the stakes are raised. See third downs, all the complaining from earlier, etc. Metcalf is the opposite. He’s been mostly bad or average and then becomes incredible for two minutes.
Problem is, two minutes just isn’t enough. On the football field and...other places.
For another picture, we turn to future Hall of Famer.
So happy for Bobby to be back, to get possibly 170 tackles this year (not actually happy), and that he’s still strong and smart as ever. But if Metcalf’s line is fraudulent, Wagner has done the biggest bamboozle of them all.
Like I’m pretty sure Wagner might be the best run defender and worst pass defender
ever in the league.
Bobby Wagner: best run defender in the NFL this season - 92.0 pic.twitter.com/dzLnsmMBxI— PFF SEA Seahawks (@PFF_Seahawks) November 23, 2023
Against the pass:
11.7 yards per completion, career worst. 111.6 passer rating, career worst. 339 yards allowed, with six games to go.
Against San Francisco, it was as obvious as it gets. Run somewhere, throw at Wagner. Over the past three games, it seems opposing coordinators have gone full send at picking on the linebackers in coverage. Wagner’s got tackles for days - and Jordyn Brooks did too until recently, and they’re not even empty calories, a popular recent argument. Instead, they’re false indicators in the sense that the linebackers play really well against the less important part of the game (run) and horrendous at the more important part of the game (pass).
Seattle has been lying to you.
It’s hard to see the path to fixing it midseason.