What's the difference between us? Eminem once opined that any comparison should begin at the penis, but I'd beg to differ. Please Eminem, no Eminem.
Instead of looking at the differences between Player A and Player B, why not compare Player A1 to Player A2? That is, how has each player improved or decline year-over-year? Specifically, looking at the players who played significantly in 2012 and/or 2013, and measuring the differences in some key statistical categories. Hopefully it gives us some insight into their production last year and possibly next.
I have omitted certain players by my own discretion. Golden Tate is no longer a member of the franchise, so I don't really care to look back anymore. As Batman once said, "I'm gonna put Golden Tate in my rearview." (This was when Batman was an actor in a movie called The Town. I don't have a good answer as to why he was talking about Tate.)
We don't always consider everything in context. We tend to focus on one season at a time and leave it at that. But it's important to use context to get a better understanding of what each season really means in the grand scheme of things. Here's a closer look at a few players on offense and what their increase or decrease was in certain categories last year as compared to 2012. I'll leave defense for another day, so please don't do your own in the comments.
Or I'll get Eminem to come over there and compare swords.
Rushing Yards: +50
Rushing Touchdowns: -3
Yards per Carry: +0.4
Batted Passes: -1
Wilson's "volume" of work in his second season wasn't much different than what he did as a rookie, and when you consider the fates of players like Robert Griffin, that ain't a bad proposition at all. The most worrisome aspect of his sophomore season was definitely the fact that he doubled his fumbles total, but if you consider that he took on an additional 11 sacks, it's less surprising.
The most encouraging sign year-over-year is simply that his stats remained steady, and Wilson was excellent in his first year.
Pete Carroll remains adamant that the Seahawks will continue to run the football as much as any team in the league. They also want to do everything they can to protect Wilson, and likely wouldn't have him go much more than 100 carries per season. If his receivers stay healthy, it's a pretty talented unit that would likely take pressure off of Wilson to scramble and make it work on his own. The best case scenario is that the offensive line does a better job of protecting Wilson, see his sack totals go down, and most likely everything else will continue to remain around 400-430 pass attempts, 90-100 carries, and hopefully an increase in touchdowns both in the air and on the ground. If he's protected better, we'd also like to see his fumbles decrease as well.
Yards per Carry: -0.8
Receiving Yards: +120
Receiving Touchdowns: +1
Lynch is still one of the best players on this team and one of the elite running backs in the NFL, but he's not exactly negotiating on a high point. Given another season with 300+ carries, Lynch saw his overall production decrease significantly and he had less of an impact per play than he did the year before when he posted career-highs of 1,590 yards and 5.0 yards per carry. That being said, both Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders still have him as a top-five back.
He's carried the ball 901 times over the past three seasons. It's worth noting that Frank Gore has only had 300 carries in a season once in his career, and has averaged 258 attempts per season.
Lynch is now 28. When Gore turned 28 three years ago, he averaged 18.68 touches per game, a decrease of four touches per game from the year prior. When he was 29, he averaged 17.87 touches per game. When he was 30, he averaged 18.25 touches per game. Lynch has averaged 21 touches per game over the last three seasons, but could see that decrease to 17-18 touches per game if he continues to be a Seattle Seahawk next year.
They don't only want to keep him fresh, they want to include Christine Michael in their plans more often and prepare him to be the starting running back of the future. Lynch could see a decrease in touches while still being the featured player on offense. Lynch could become more of a "1stQ/4thQ" type of player that gets you off on the right foot and then closes the door, while perhaps a younger player will be the "Are you ready for this 2Q/3Q" running back that bursts out unexpected speed and agility to widen the gap between Seattle and their opponents.
Beast Mode could be even more dangerous if it's Less Is More Mode.
Touchdowns: Even (0)
Yards per Carry: -1.0
Receiving Yards: -121
Receiving Touchdowns: Even (0)
Not exactly a great time for Turbin to be averaging 3.4 yards per carry. He also now has his first career fumble before he has scored his first career touchdown. Turbin was given an opportunity to carry it nine times against the Denver Broncos in a game that was long-since-decided, and he had just 25 yards to show for it.
Turbin flashed moments of "this guy might actually be a starter" early in his career, rushing for 108 yards against the Cardinals in 2012, but those kinds of moments are far enough away that we've mostly forgotten them. The drafting of Michael in 2013 is looking better every day.
Still, Turbin is only 24 and it would be tough to see him go play anywhere else. It's also hard to see where he fits if Lynch stays and Michael improves.
Yards per Catch: +5.2
Yards per Target: +3.33
While Turbin dropped the ball, Baldwin picked it up at just the right time. He may not have gotten as much money in an extension as he wanted (or maybe he did, I don't know), Baldwin was halfway out the door following his dreadful 2012 season. But he popped back in like Mr. Roper (some jokes gotta be for the over-40 crowd) last year and is here to stay for a couple more.
It helped tremendously that Percy Harvin was hurt, Sidney Rice was bad and hurt, and that Baldwin took advantage early with 91 yards in Week 1 and a heroic catch against the Texans in Week 4. The 91 yards was a career-high until he posted 106 against the 49ers in the NFC championship game.
Hopefully his guarantee will give Baldwin peace of mind to focus on becoming the regular number two receiver on the offense next season. Potentially even the number one.
The last time that Baldwin was given expectations to be the guy was 2012 and that didn't go so well. Maybe he needs to stay angry and feel slighted. That's hard to do when he's playing so well, but I'll try.
Hey Doug, you stink!
If healthy, Rice will be a 28-year-old receiver that was once considered to be potentially one of the top five at his position in the game. He just hasn't been healthy very often, and last year he also wasn't at the top of his game. He's the wild card that's either going to be a really easy decision to cut, or make it very tough on players like Kearse and rookie Kevin Norwood.
A healthy Sidney Rice should be starting on this team, giving Seattle a 1-2-3 of Rice, Harvin, Baldwin. The next three up are Paul Richardson, Norwood, and Kearse.
The injured Rice that we've come to know and affectionately take pity on would mean that Kearse is probably first man up to get an increase in targets.
The void left by Golden Tate is going to be 75-100 additional targets to spread around. The vast majority of which should go to Harvin. If Harvin and Baldwin and Zach Miller are healthy, it'll be hard to just find a place for a player like Kearse or Richardson to gain 500 yards next season, assuming that Wilson won't be throwing a ton more.
Kearse and Rice are two of the bigger question marks next season. Not because they can't play or don't belong, but because factoring their production next season does rely on several unknowns, like health and playing time availability. It would be hard to imagine Kearse beating out someone to be a starter next season, though he could potentially find himself making a few spots starts for injury reasons, or gaining another 10-15 targets from the slot or four-receiver sets.
Rice, it just matters how that knee heals up.
Yards per Catch: +1.3
Miller saw his catches and yards go down slightly last season, even though he was targeted five additional times. That being said, he's become more valuable in each successive season since signing with Seattle three years ago.
He took a paycut to remain with the team (and to be paid what he's been worth since signing, to be honest), but here's another somewhat surprising age revelation: Miller won't turn 29 until December.
There was that playoff loss to Atlanta in which Miller looked like an elite tight end as a blocker and receiver, but honestly we have rarely seen him put together complete games like that over the last three seasons. In the playoffs this year, he had five catches for 46 yards total.
Anthony McCoy had three touchdowns on only 18 catches in 2012, with 16.2 yards per catch. His return should make the Seahawks tight end group more of a cerberus moving forward, with Miller as more of a leader, and McCoy and Luke Willson perhaps providing more of an explosive dynamic in the receiving game.
I don't see Miller's production in the receiving game going up, though it could remain static. The trio together could be extremely valuable though and fun to watch work together, hopefully providing more of a serious red zone threat than they have in the past.