Back at you with another week of Signature Stats and other notables from Pro Football Focus, via our friend Jim Seki. Big thanks to Seki as always for working closely with us to put together some interesting looks at trends and patterns for the Seahawks.
Pro Football Focus thought that Russell Wilson played a really nice game, giving him a +2.1 grade despite two bad interceptions. The Niners blitzed him on 10 of his 32 drop-backs, higher than their average 24.0-percent blitz rate this year, which is not really a surprise considering Seattle's haplessness in pass pro. It was also not too surprising that the Niners felt they needed to blitz more in this game, considering going into it they had one of the worst pass-rushing front line in the league.
Blitzing Wilson will continue to be "the book" on beating the Seahawks, until they can prove otherwise. Per Sheil Kapadia, "When opponents send more than four rushers, Wilson has been sacked 18.6 percent of the time. He's averaging just 5.01 yards per drop-back against the blitz, which ranks 27th."
All in all though, the PFF grade matches the eye test for me, and continues a trend where Russell Wilson has done well this year despite being pressured over half of his snaps. Wilson's now at a 97.0 rating with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
And, as Kapadia put it this week, "There's no denying that Wilson has improved as a pocket passer. He's completing 69.6 percent of his passes and averaging 8.18 yards per attempt. In the past five seasons, only two quarterbacks (Tony Romo in 2014 and Drew Brees in 2011) have reached those numbers in a complete season."
As for Marshawn Lynch, PFF also graded him highly (+2.9), noting he had five missed tackles forced, which brought his total to 18 on the year. A lot of that had to do with Will Tukuafu (+1.8 run blocking) and Russell Okung, who matched the highest grade of his career (+5.5) and didn't allow a hurry in pass pro. The rest of the offensive line did not fare as well, though. Justin Britt, J.R. Sweezy, and Garry Gilliam each allowed four QB hurries per PFF, and while Britt salvaged his grade with some good run blocking, Sweezy did not. It didn't help that Sweezy got a leg kick penalty on the team's opening drive of the third quarter, then completely whiffed on a block on the next play.
All of these grades seemed to match what I saw on tape.
Not surprisingly, PFF loved the games from Michael Bennett (+4.0) and Cliff Avril (+3.5), who combined for 5 sacks and a forced fumble. "Cliff Avril is having a ridiculous year," says Seki, to which I would agree -- and take it even further -- he's still one of the most underrated players in the NFL to me.
One interesting tidbit from Seki: "In the RW/Kaepernick era, the most targeted corner by Kaep has interestingly been Sherman. However on Thursday night ... Sherman was not targeted a single time."
Also per Seki, the Niners only ran 48 plays, and all three starting linebackers (Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright), Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman played every single snap. Cary Williams only missed one when he got dinged. Avril played 85.4-percent of the defense's snaps, which is really high for a defensive lineman. He hit the 80.0-percent snaps played mark only three times last year — he's at five already this season.
I think this speaks to a loss of depth on the line (plus injuries to linebacker and defensive tackle), the slow play by the Seahawks in getting Frank Clark more involved, and might point to game flow as well, as the Seahawks have been down late in games a little more frequently than last season. It also just points to the fact that Avril is playing too well to take him off the field. Hopefully as the year goes on they can spell him a little more, though.
The Seahawks really are lucky (read: smart) when it comes to their kicker. There are currently eleven kickers who have a perfect field goal percentage. Hausch-money has made the most of any of them. When you look around the league and see such a high percentage of missed extra points and field goals, it makes you appreciate the way that Hauschka has kicked the ball.
Seki: "Not a good sign that Wilson was under pressure on 56.3% of his dropbacks, higher than his average this year. And against what's been a non-existent pass rush, this is very concerning."
Yeah, going in the wrong direction.
Seki: "Lockett outperformed his 0.91 yards/route run coming into this game, finishing with 2.93."
Making the most of his opportunities for sure. The big touchdown bomb obviously helps pad this stat, but he made four other catches as well.
Seki: "Elusive rating and yards after contact/attempt: Thomas Rawls 83.3 and 3.33; Marshawn Lynch 44.6 and 2.41"
Rawls has consistently looked really good thus far. Obviously, Lynch played great in this game as well.
Opponent Time To Throw
This is something we've talked about every week, and it's good to see that the Seahawks' average opponent time to throw is steadily creeping down towards the mean. Over the first four weeks or so, Seattle's opponents were averaging near the league's slowest in throwing the ball, but as the Seahawks have upped their pressure over the last three weeks, that time to throw has decreased.
Seattle got four sacks at Cincinnati, three against the Panthers, and six against the Niners after starting out the first four games with just eight total sacks.