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Seahawks analysis and takeaways from Aaron Schatz’s 2023 Football Almanac

How well did Geno Smith truly play? What about Riq Woolen? Where did the Seahawks defense struggle the most? All those questions answered through the Football Almanac.

Seattle Seahawks v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Aaron Schatz and company just released the 2023 edition of the FTN Football Almanac. Once upon a time this was the Football Outsiders Almanac, but if you’ve kept up with the news you may notice Football Outsiders is pretty much toast these days, and Schatz (among others) is no longer with FO. A sad demise for a great publication.

The almanac nevertheless lives on, complete with the advanced analytics we’ve grown accustomed to using on this site for eons. Having read the Seattle Seahawks chapter (plus supplemental material), I’ve summarized some key points on either side of the ball that may answer some questions/confirm some suspicions about the 2022 team.


Geno Smith’s play did drop off as the season progressed

Even including what was essentially a shutout loss against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, Smith was on fire through the first five games of the season. His Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) was a staggering 33.9%, his Completion Percentage Over Expectation (CPOE) was 9.1%, and his sack rate was just 5.3%. Two magnificent performances against the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions were major reasons the stats were that impressive.

Then Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals happened and things started to taper off to a more modest -1.6% DVOA, a 2.6% CPOE, and an 8.1% sack rate. This doesn’t mean it’s all on Geno—consider the rookie tackles Charles Cross and Abe Lucas, as well as injuries to Rashaad Penny and Marquise Goodwin—but anyone who believes we should still be cautious about Smith entering 2023 has some ground to stand on. Smith’s overall season still produced the 9th-best Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and 12th in DVOA among all QBs, so in totality it was still a successful season, but year-long consistency (of the good kind) will be sought entering 2023.

Oh yes, and both Smith and Russell Wilson were right next to each other in terms of most QB hits absorbed. Wilson had 74 hits to Smith’s 71, but Wilson also missed two games so he would’ve likely surpassed Justin Herbert (75) in that stat with a full 17-game season.

Damien Lewis was the best offensive line performer

After beginning his career at right guard, Lewis moved to left guard in 2021 and then had a really impressive 2022 season. He had the lowest pressure rate out of all Seattle starting linemen (2.2%), and 13 allowed overall.

Austin Blythe’s pressure rate of 3.2% ranked 32nd among 35 centers, which I’m pretty sure is #bad. Here’s to Evan Brown finally being the solution at this position.

Charles Cross had the highest pressure rate at 5.1%, but we should acknowledge that him and Lucas (4.7%) were often left 1-on-1 without any help against elite pass rushers like Nick Bosa and Maxx Crosby.

DK Metcalf’s slot snaps increased

It’s been covered on this site before that Metcalf’s depth of target and yards per reception have dropped in each of the past three seasons, so we don’t need the almanac to confirm what basic counting stats already tell us. However, what was different about DK’s 2022 was his usage in the slot, which increase d from 30% in 2020 and 2021 to 37% last season. Jaxon Smith-Njigba will surely be the main slot option moving forward so DK can be positioned on the outside, where he does his greatest work. Metcalf’s yards after catch per reception was a brutal 2.3, 80th among all wideouts.

A weird road vs. home split

The Seahawks offense ranked 4th in DVOA in road games but just 24th at home. This is something that can vary wildly from year to year, but my theory on this is the fact that the Seahawks played five games in indoor settings where weather is not a factor: 2x SoFi Stadium, Ford Field, Mercedes-Benz SuperDome, and State Farm Stadium. Seattle’s offense scored at least 27 points in all of these games and Geno had five of his seven highest yards per pass attempt in indoor stadiums.

Seattle has four indoor games this year (Arizona, LA Rams, Dallas, Detroit) but the Cowboys boast an elite defense so that may put my theory of the Seahawks offense in indoor environments to the test.

Passin’ Pete Carroll, like I’ve always said

The Seahawks ranked 24th in rushing DVOA on 1st down plays, compared to 3rd when they threw the ball. Dammit, Pete! Why are you running the ball so much on first do——oh wait a minute, it says here the Seahawks ranked 28th in 1st down rushing rate (44%). In fact there’s absolutely zero to indicate they were anything other than a pass-first offense in 2022, running counter (heh heh) to the idea that Carroll would revert to a run-based offense with Russell Wilson out of the way.


The Seahawks were as bad as you thought they were on short passes

We already knew the Seahawks were brutal at defending yards after catch (31st), but they were also dead-last by DVOA in defending passes at or behind the line of scrimmage. This pretty much implies screen passes are a major part of that but not every throw at or behind the LOS is a screen. Semi-related: Seattle’s pass defense was near the bottom against TEs and Rbs.

Seattle’s defense with pressures vs. no pressures was glaring

Believe it or not, defenses fare better against offenses when they pressure the quarterback. Crazy, I know. In Seattle’s case, there was a giant gulf in performance when they got pressure versus when they didn’t.

DVOA with pressure: -88.4% (10th)
DVOA without pressure: 39.5% (24th)
DVOA pressure vs. no pressure difference: -127.9% (27th)

Now it’s worth nothing that the differential needs to be contextualized. The Philadelphia Eagles also had a huge gap in pressure vs. no pressure DVOA, but their DVOA with pressure was 2nd and DVOA with no pressure was 15th. The New Orleans Saints were 5th in DVOA with pressure and 2nd (!!) without pressure, but the percentage difference is -118.1% and ranks 24th. Then you have the Las Vegas Raiders, who had the smallest difference in DVOA percentages but they were 32nd in DVOA with pressure and 21st without pressure, aka they were bad both ways.

The Seahawks defense basically could not properly function without pressure. This year’s almanac encompasses sacks, hurries, and QB knockdowns as pressures, and we know from other metrics that the Seahawks got a lot of sacks but few total pressures, so you can figure out the rest from there.

Seattle also got ripped to shreds when they blitzed. The Seahawks allowed 7.9 yards per play on blitzes, and posted a league-worst DVOA of 46.6%.

Seattle played a lot more man coverage compared to 2021

In Ken Norton Jr’s final season as Seahawks defensive coordinator, the team only played man coverage 15% of the time, 32nd in the league. That rate skyrocketed to a sixth-highest 47% under Clint Hurtt. The Riq Woolen effect? Perhaps so.

The Seahawks defense’s best DVOA and yards allowed per play (excluding goal line packages) came in dime formation, and their dime usage just about doubled from 9% to 17%. Base personnel usage clocked in at just 26%, well down from 38% in the previous year, but it should be noted that league-wide based defense was just 24.8%, and nickel is the top personnel group.

Quarterbacks picked on Coby Bryant the most

While Riq Woolen and Mike Jackson Sr commanded the outside corner positions, Coby Bryant’s task as a rookie was to move inside to the slot. Despite playing 300+ fewer snaps than both Woolen and Jackson, Bryant was targeted 60 times for a team-high rate of 20.4%. Seattle ranked 2nd in DVOA against receivers lined up outside, compared to 12th in the slot.

Bryant also had the worst success rate among Seahawks cornerbacks at just 40% (compared to 46% on Jackson and 51% on Woolen), so while it’s understandable that there was a bit of a “throw him to the wolves” situation with someone who was an outside CB opposite Sauce Gardner in college, I think there’s a reason why Bryant risks losing snaps to Devon Witherspoon and potentially moving to safety.

(“Success Rate” Definition: The percentage plays of targeting this player on which the offense did not have a successful play. This means not only incomplete passes and interceptions, but also short completions which do not meet our baselines for success - 45% of needed yards on first down, 60% on second down, 100% on third or fourth down.)

Uchenna Nwosu was fantastic

Beyond Nwosu’s 9.5 sacks in his first season in Seattle, he had a team-high 46 charted pressures (18 more than Darrell Taylor) and his tackles on run plays averaged just 1.6 yards, good for 4th-best among defensive linemen/edge rushers.

Nwosu was credited with 57 stops, defined as “the total number of plays which prevent a ‘success’ by the offense.” He also played the most snaps by far among Seattle’s edge rushers, which is to say he really was the only consistently reliable player at the position for the Seahawks both against the run and pass.

If you have any more questions you can ask me in the comments section! I’ll probably have more articles based on the findings outside of the main points here. Alternatively you can buy the FTN Football Almanac yourself.