Well, this is kind of familiar but awkward.
After 12 weeks of using terms like "regression," "injuries," and "the rule of three in comedy is imperative," the Seattle Seahawks defense is back to where they were last season. Kind of.
Following their 19-3 win over the Cardinals on Sunday, allowing only 204 total yards -- the fewest Arizona has ever had under Bruce Arians -- Seattle has now allowed fewer yards than any team in the NFL. And that's even more important now that it's Week 12 and every team has played 11 games and had their bye week. Of course there are four teams that have yet to play this week -- Jets, Bills, Saints, and Ravens -- but New York or Buffalo would have to allow like less than 50 yards to keep ahead of the Seahawks.
(Yes, pause for a moment and consider if a Michael Vick or Kyle Orton offense could post negative yards tonight. Pause for several moments.)
In all of the likelihood that resides in logic, Seattle is going to be "the number one defense" heading into their Thursday night matchup against the 49ers. Now, "total defense" is an archaic way to measure a defense -- I believe the Texans had the number one defense for awhile last season on their way to 2-14 -- but it doesn't mean that it can't be an indicator that your defense is really good, possibly great.
Is the Seahawks defense "great" again? Let's weigh the positives and negatives:
Poz - Number one total defense
It's what I've been talking about for literally this entire article so far. How did you get to this point without seeing that? What're ya, some kinda post-jumper that thinks you can jump into the middle of a post?!
Seattle hasn't played a creampuff schedule of offenses either: Packers, Chargers, Broncos, Cowboys are the big ones, but the Giants and Chiefs have some talented players on offense as well. It's entirely possible for a defense to go a whole year without facing elite offenses, but the Seahawks have gone against three of the top six scoring teams in the league and not backed down.
Neh - But then again: Drew Stanton
I won't say that Seattle hasn't caught a few breaks, as well. The Cards had no Carson Palmer and no Larry Fitzgerald. They're also a terrible running team averaging an NFL-worst 3.1 yards per carry. The Seahawks also had the homefield advantage of playing on their home field.
It continued a run of six straight games not allowing more than 350 total yards to the opposing team. Those quarterbacks faced are: Austin Davis, Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, and Stanton. They have QB ratings ranging from 76.7 on the low end (Carr) to 92.7 on the high end (Smith) and another that got benched for Shaun Hill.
Depending on your opinion of Colin Kaepernick, Seattle doesn't really get challenged again for the rest of the year: Kap, Sanchez, Kap, Stanton, Hill.
The Seahawks could finish with the number one passing defense (currently third) but that won't matter if they make the playoffs and go from facing Drew Stanton to... Drew Stanton -- actually this is working out perfectly.
Poz - We know the players are good
I care about talent a whole hell of a lot more than I care about stats and I absolutely fucking love stats, so you know I'm serious.
Seattle has Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Kam Chancellor. There are a lot of good players on this defense, but those are three of the best players in the NFL at any position. Chancellor missed games against the Raiders and Giants but is right back in the swing of things: He has 15 tackles in the last two weeks, second-most among NFL safeties over that period of time.
Thomas and Sherman's tackling skills have also been on display this season in a way I can't recall ever seeing from there before. "Total tackles" is a misleading stat but just watching them play, you know that these are legit, masculine, manly, I'll-never-get-a-wife-because-she-watches-richard-sherman-and-knows-im-not-a-man kind of tackles.
Thomas won't win Defensive Player of the Year because JJ Watt exists and because QBs will never give him an opportunity to get the 8 or 9 interceptions he needs to get noticed around the NFL more but he could still be the most valuable player on any defense. And Sherman ain't no slouch, so don't make the mistake of assuming I don't think Sherman may also be the defensive MVP.
Those are only three players on a defense that includes Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Byron Maxwell, and Tharold Simon.
Yes, it's still very, very talented. Maybe the most talented in the league even after the loss of Brandon Mebane.
Neh - DVOA says "Nay"
Well, to be fair, DVOA (Football Outsiders' advanced stat measuring efficiency on a play-to-play basis) says it's just "Okay." Compared to last season though, it's a significant dropoff from first in the NFL by a wide margin to ninth going into yesterday's game.
Including 18th against the pass.
I don't know how much that's going to improve after shutting down one of the league's worst passing offenses, especially when you consider the personnel they were using. Stanton, Michael Floyd, John Brown, JARON Brown, Andre Ellington, John Carlson, and Stepfan Taylor doesn't have the same ring to it as "Peyton Manning, et al." (Possibly improper usage of 'et al' but idgaf.)
They did do very well against Manning and Aaron Rodgers earlier in the season, but there haven't been many tests lately as to just how good this secondary really is and the DVOA people clearly don't like them that much.
Poz - Who really gives a fuck what anyone things anyway? This is clearly a good defense
You can only play the schedule you're given, so how can we necessarily hold that against them? Now, here's the rebuttal I can already see coming:
- This is the same kinda bullshit excuse we used against teams like the Chiefs and Broncos and Colts last year when it comes to "schedule" and "weak opponents" but let me clarify and say that the Seahawks defense has mostly-dominated their weak opponents and fairly-dominated the good ones. My point is that we don't have a definitive answer to whether or not they're great, like we did in 2013, now we're kind of left with a "Bitch, I might be" answer.
With the exception of Philip Rivers and Tony Romo, Seattle has done pretty much what we expected them to do going into the year. Are they still great?
"Bitch, I might be."
The Seahawks are one of three teams to not allow more than 300 total passing yards in a game. They are one of three teams to not allow more than 30 points in a game. They have forced 10 turnovers in the last five games. They are allowing 5.0 yards per play, tied with San Francisco for fourth-lowest in the NFL. They are allowing a passer rating of 89.9, which would fall between Joe Flacco and Eli Manning if it belonged to a different overpaid quarterback.
The stats don't quite jump out at you like they did a year ago. They've dropped some interceptions, missed the right bounce on a few fumbles. It's not like, "Damn!" But then again, two years ago it took a phenomenal run by the Seahawks to go from 6-5 in November to 11-5 following a December to remember.
There's still a chance for them to keep forcing turnovers and maybe all of a sudden, "Holy shit these guys are good" will jump on us out of nowhere, just like them being the number one total defense did today. Even if the schedule is pretty damn difficult, the offenses they are facing aren't quite that impressive. The number one defense?
They just might be. Bitch.
Writers note: Now realizing that maybe not everyone has seen the "Bitch, I might be" reference. It's what Gucci Mane told a judge once in regards to his guilt.