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Seahawks advanced stats update: Seattle still listed as top team in NFC

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Did the entire landscape change on a single play, or is it better to look at the big picture?

Otto Greule Jr

Your record is not who you are, your record is only who you have become.

The Seahawks lost to the Cowboys on Sunday, and everything other than a couple of turnovers and a blocked punt says that Dallas kicked their asses. Seattle could have come away with a win, and they nearly did, but it wouldn't have changed the fact that it was their second poor performance this season. The Cowboys could have come away with a loss, despite their excellent play, but didn't because they made an unlikely conversion of 3rd-and-20 in the toughest road stadium in the NFL.

Are these teams as good or as vulnerable as something as simple as "W"'s and "L"'s, the shallowest element of a sporting event? Does the "final score" always trump what happened from coin flip to quad-zeroes?

Are the Seahawks as good as 20-point win over the Packers?

Are the Packers as bad as that?

Are the Cowboys as bad as an 11-point loss to the 49ers?

Are the 49ers as bad as an 9-point loss to the Cardinals?

Are the Cardinals the same team with Drew Stanton as they are with Carson Palmer?

Allow yourself to challenge conventional notions and think bigger than a reactionary panic that stems as close to the tide of January as the Titanic does to the Atlantic seaboard. I will not concede that Dallas is better than Seattle but I also will not deny that it is possible. Perhaps it even lies somewhere between the possible and the probable but I would like to believe that with each passing day another NFL fan knows better than to think that the entire game, every entity that plays into an outcome, is only as important as the outcome itself.

Otherwise, why did you even watch?

We learned a lot of new things about Russell Wilson and his ability to struggle, as did the rest of the league. The reactionary beacon known as "Twitter" abuzzes my feed specifically any time he does make a mistake, and it only saddens the soul further that anyone can liken a certain AFC quarterback's performance against the Jaguars and Titans to that of the toughest schedule in the league. On that issue again we live somewhere in the bubble of "I'm open-minded about it, bro" but I'd like to use the largest sample size possible in these determinations if it's alright with you.

We further learned that Percy Harvin is a pinball. When unleashed, he will zip, bip, bop, and bap towards a new high score and set off the "woo woo!" in the house because he's a sometimes-uncontrollable maniac when you let him bounce off helpless defenders and guide him towards the goal. But much like a pinball, sometimes he can just sit there and do nothing. Through five games this year, we are on full tilt with Harvin. His six yards per reception on 22 catches is something I didn't know was possible this side of the New York Jets passing game.

We affirmed that the defense has come back to Earth after their historic 2013 season. The Seahawks are now 14th in points allowed, 16th in net yards per attempt allowed, 19th in passing yards and 25th in interceptions. The rush defense, as impenetrable as an entrance guarded by Tyrion Lannister, was penetrated (again, a Tyrion thing to do) by DeMarco Murray for 115 yards. It's fitting that he's the first player to rush for 100 yards against Seattle this year given that he hasn't not rushed for 100 yards in any game thus far in 2014.

And we learned that the Cowboys are good. It's probably not a fluke. Overall their offense, with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Tyron Smith, Tony Romo, and Murray, is more talented than Seattle's. Their defense, especially their pass defense, is above average. The phrase that pays this week was "Team to beat" but goodness gracious, could anything be more short-sighted? Yes, Dallas is 5-1. They also needed overtime to beat the Texans just a week earlier. They also needed a furious rally to beat the Rams. They also beat the Titans. They also lost to the 49ers. They also beat the Saints at a time when people thought that that meant a lot too.

The Cowboys could be the best team in the NFL ... as of October 13, 2014. They don't play the Super Bowl in October, and if anyone knows when the playoffs start, it's Romo's performance it's history. The New York Giants were 6-2 in 2012 and everyone was calling them the best team in the NFC back then too. They didn't even make the playoffs.

Concede possibilities, allow a margin of error in your statements unless there is none, admit what's true and false, but stand up for what you believe.

I believe the Seahawks are a better team than the Cowboys, but I don't know what either will become.

Let's go to the advanced stats, where DVOA kinda backs me up on this one. (Spoiler alert: Dallas is 10th)

Seahawks vs Cowboys Win Probability Chart (via Pro-Football-Reference)

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A lot of games are described as a "rollercoaster ride" but this really does fit the mold: Up, down, slow climb up, big finale and then your stomach is coming out your mouth. The punt block touchdown had the Seahawks at near-80 percent favorites to win the game midway through the first quarter, but for every "four out of five times" there's always that fifth.

By the time the Cowboys had worn out Seattle to a 17-10 lead in the third quarter, they had flipped the tables and then they were 80-percent but the muff by Dwayne Harris and the fumble by Romo delivered a "Fresh Prince special" and flipped turned upside down once again.

The Seahawks best odds to win the game -- near 85-percent -- came with under five minutes left to play. But two bigs chunks of yardage -- 23 to Williams and 25 for Murray -- chopped down the cherry tree and Dallas was able to snuff Wilson and the offense out for good.

Play of the Game

Romo's 23-yard pass to Williams to convert on 3rd-and-20 certainly felt like an "oh, this is really happening" moment. Even though Seattle got the turnovers they had been missing in the first four games, they were outplayed and out-manning in the battle of "offense versus defense" all day. This conversion was pretty much what tipped the scales in the war of "mistakes" versus "strategy and execution" because turnovers can be the great equalizer but it was just not enough on Sunday.

Sea-Not and Sea-Not (chart via AdvancedFootballAnalytics)

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It's hard to give out an award for positivity after a game like this. Richard Sherman was solid in the passing game and the run defense, allowing three catches for 39 yards on six targets with seven tackles. At the end of the day, Dez had just four catches for 64 yards, which isn't much for a guy that some were saying could be the best overall receiver in football.

That's all I really have. The special teams unit didn't blow their opportunities, I guess.

Sea-Noticles

- Marcus Burley played 62 snaps following the injury to Byron Maxwell and was targeted four times. All four targets were completed, going for 94 yards.

- Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas have combined for 14 missed tackles in five games. Last season they combined for 22 in 16 games.

- Percy Harvin had three catches for zero yards and three rushes for negative one. I can understand why you'd try things that are different or unconventional with such an unconventional player but how about we stop "trying" whatever this is. I do think that Seattle plays the long con, "Oh every team has seen us do this all season so they won't be expecting this other thing that looks similar to that thing," but last night it yielded negative one yard on six plays.

That's not a long con, that's just a con by a pro.

- Luke Willson isn't much of a tight end at this point.

- The offensive line should get an award for sportsmanship because they can't bully anyone on the field.

- KJ Wright continues to be a liability in pass defense.

- Harvin, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse have combined for 488 yards in five games. They have fewer yards together than eight individual players this season, including Golden Tate. It's not unusual to have expected Tate to have more yards than anyone on the Seahawks after he went to Detroit, but it's a bit surprising that he has more yards than everyone on the Seahawks.

They all have moments when they look like they are good players but overall this has been an abysmal season by the receivers. Now we have a better idea of why they drafted two in the first four rounds; those two have combined for one catch and seven yards.

- Did I mention that Seattle's top pick from each of the last two years -- Richardson and Christine Michael -- don't do shit for this team?

Outsiders the Line DVOA Update (via Football Outsiders)

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Believe it or not, Seattle remains a top 10 unit in all three phases of the game. That's what happens when you evaluate a team based on an entire season, including strength of schedule, and not one game. Will they continue to slide? Maybe. Will they make up the ground that they lost? Possibly. Should we base our feelings about a team's chances over 16 games based solely on the performance in one?

Probably not. And you just saw how negative the reaction I had was to this one game and how many players failed.

The Seahawks remain just ahead of the Packers -- a team they beat easily -- for the highest ranking in the NFC, with the Eagles, Lions, and then Cowboys, coming in next. The other three NFC West teams are ranked 15th (SFO), 19th (AZ), and 27th (STL.)

Seattle has not played a division game yet, so they still pretty much control their own destiny. They don't even play the Cardinals until November 23rd and the 49ers until Thanksgiving, November 27. That's a hell of a five-day stretch for determining the outcome of this season and a much better opportunity for panic to set in if they blow it.

As of now, they have a great opportunity to make themselves look a lot better.

Week 7 opponent - St. Louis Rams

DVOA: 27th overall, 25th on offense, 25th on defense, 24th on special teams

What a balanced team and I mean that as an insult because they'd be better if they were imbalanced in some way. Instead, they have sucked at everything.

Not that it ever seems to matter against the Seahawks.

The Rams are 1-4 following a 31-17 Monday night loss to the 49ers in which they led 14-0 to open the game. St. Louis has gotten an interesting and uneven performance from quarterback Austin Davis (273 y/g, 7 TD/4 INT, 7.4 Y/A, 89.6 rating) but he's thrown it at least 42 times in each of their last three games, all losses, with increasingly worse results.

The interesting thing is that the Rams go on hot streaks and cold streaks within each game. They led 14-0 this past week, led the Cowboys 21-0, and closed a gap on the Eagles by scoring 21 unanswered in the second half. This isn't a team incapable of putting up a lot of points quickly, they're just a team incapable of doing it for long or stopping anyone from eventually outscoring them. It wouldn't be unusual to see St. Louis take a big lead in this game and tease the panic button for all Seattle fans but as of now, it would be pretty odd to see them actually hold onto it.

But the best stat of the season so far for my money, hands down, is "One."

The Rams have played five games, were bandied about by people as having an elite defensive line featuring Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers, and Aaron Donald and they have just one sack. Maybe the Seahawks offensive line will do what they can to quadruple that but I really hope Wilson escapes enough to keep it at one.

Russell Wilson stats update

In Week 6: 14-of-28, 126 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, 4.5 Y/A, 47.6 rating, two rushes for 12 yards and one touchdown

I don't know that it's the worst game of Wilson's career (he was under a 50 QB rating twice last season) but it's certainly worse than most of us were expecting at this point. Every player has bad games but he was coming off of four pretty damn good games so we can't all of a sudden chalk this up to "the norm" or him being "figured out."

Wilson has had some struggles against the Rams in his career but it will be interesting to see how he bounces back, or if he does at all.

On the season: 92-of-139, 978 yards, eight touchdowns, two interceptions, 99.7 rating, 7.0 Y/A, 54.97 QBR, 221 rushing yards, two touchdowns, 7.1 yards per carry

His overall season numbers are dipping down to numbers I don't like, such as a rating now under 100 and a Y/A that's dangerously close to the sixes.

But all of this could change and look much different with just a single great performance in St. Louis this week, which is why we don't judge everything we know based off single great performances.