As we do every week, here are a few notes and tidbits on the Seahawks' recent performance (a win over the Steelers!), from our friend over at Pro Football Focus, Jim Seki. His notes in italics, and my comments follow.
-- Russell Wilson completed 10 of 11 passes traveling more than ten yards in the air for 260 yards (and all five of his TDs).
This is obviously great, and it's worth pointing out that Wilson is now third in the NFL in yards per attempt (8.4), behind only Carson Palmer and Ben Roethilisberger. Consider the offensive philosophies of those two teams -- both are known as the most prolific deep-ball passing offenses in the league -- and then there's Russell Wilson. It's pretty cool to be getting back to that identity as a run-heavy team that takes a lot of deep shots and generates a lot of explosive plays. The offense is finally starting to feel "familiar" as Marshawn Lynch might say.
-- Doug Baldwin caught six of his eight targets but did have his first two drops of the year. He victimized Will Allen catching all three targets on him (two of which were touchdowns).
Baldwin is quietly balling out over the past three games at a Julio Jones-DeAndre Hopkins-Megatron type level, with 19 catches for 339 yards and four touchdowns. Just for fun, that type of production would extrapolate to 101 catches for 1,808 yards and 21 touchdowns over a full season. With Jimmy Graham now out for the season, Baldwin becomes/remains the top weapon in the passing game.
-- Relatively quiet game for Thomas Rawls, but he still had six missed tackles forced and averaged 2.38 yards after contact/attempt.
Rawls again looked like the real deal to my eyes even though his final statline (21 carries for 81 yards) was relatively unassuming. He fired out of the game hard though and helped the Seahawks establish a good mentality early on, and the six force missed tackles and 2.38 yards per carry after contact confirms the eye test. In this game, it was more about the passing game as Seattle got into a bit of a shootout.
-- Michael Bennett & Cliff Avril both had their worst games of the year, combining for a -5.8 grade. They "only" generated five QB hurries and one sack.
One reason Ben Roethlisberger was able to carve the Seahawks up for 400+ yards passing was that generally he had good protection up front, and Pete Carroll lamented after the game that they kept a tight end or back in to chip on almost every play. I didn't watch the tape for that yet, but assuming that's true, it would certainly make things difficult for defensive ends rushing on the outside. Five quarterback hurries and a sack between the two is still pretty good though.
-- Bright spot on the DL was the starting interior duo of Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin who led the front-7. Both have two good pass rushing games in the past three games.
With Pittsburgh's resources dedicated to stopping the rush on the outside, it's good to see that Mebane and Rubin (3 quarterback hurries each) graded out well for interior pressure. Jordan Hill got 3 quarterback hurries as well.
-- Sherman had another solid week. His 14.9 QB rating allowed is second-best over the same span with only five receptions allowed on 14 targets. He shut down Brown who only had three receptions on nine targets when covered by Sherman.
The Sherman we all know and love is still here, and maybe better than ever. Don't be surprised if he starts getting picks in bunches as the season wraps up.
-- DeShawn Shead didn't grade out well, but he did a decent job on Martavis Bryant, allowing five catches on 11 targets for only 69 yards. All three of Shead's passes defensed where when covering Bryant.
Shead did a good job to my eye, all things considered. He was in position on several deep passes, breaking up a few, and considering there's no one in the NFL outside of maybe Carson Palmer better at deep-ball accuracy than Ben Roethlisberger, Shead did alright keeping things in front of him as he took over as starter for Cary Williams. The important thing is that Seattle held Roethlisberger to just one passing touchdown all day, even with all those yards.
-- Markus Wheaton went off for 201 yards but nearly half of that he got on Wagner, catching all four targets when he was the primary coverage man. It's worth a mention because it's easy pickings with a fast WR vs a LB.
Seattle's zone drops weren't terribly effective in this game. Something to definitely clean up.
-- Coverage targets: Shead 14, Wagner 11, Sherman 10, Lane 7, Wright 5
-- Through eleven weeks, Russell Wilson's average time to throw was 3.08 seconds. On Sunday vs. the Steelers, he got rid of the ball in 2.32 seconds. Of his 33 drop-backs, 25 resulted in a throw that took less than 2.5 seconds, resulting in a league leading 150.5 QB rating on those subsequent throws.
Russell and Pete Carroll both credited the offensive line for the vast improvement in the passing game but I think it was more than that. Wilson was seeing things well, was extremely decisive for the most part (only saw him miss one play that was obviously there for him), and he was very accurate. Brock Huard, when talking to Carroll on Monday, described it well -- "hitch it and rip it" -- the ball was coming out after one hitch or even better, when he hit his back foot. Most important, he was throwing in rhythm. He wasn't hesitating, he wasn't second-guessing. It's more than just good pass pro, it's Wilson really trusting what he's seeing and throwing with authority. Hopefully that gained confidence and swagger can carry forward.
-- Even though he did have two drops, Baldwin still has only a 3.85 drop rate. His 4.38 YPRR (receiving yards per route run) this week ranks second among receivers. His 5.18 YPRR from the slot is tops (and includes all three of his touchdowns).
Not much to add there -- major productivity.
-- Jeremy Lane had a 3.88 yards/coverage snap allowed from the slot which is second-worst this week. Very understandable with such a long layoff and against a high-powered offense. Marcus Burley allowed 1.22 yards/coverage snap on 18 slot coverage snaps.
Yeah, Lane was certainly rusty and that's completely to be expected. He also played way more than the Seahawks had planned due to an injury for Marcus Burley. I think the original goal was to play him sparingly as he gets his game-legs back under him, but the injury forced him to get more time. Pete Carroll said it was essentially his first preseason game back after nine months off. Bound to be some rust.
-- Up until their bye, the Seahawks OL had a 71.5 pass block efficiency rating and ranked last in the league. After the bye, that's ticked up slightly to 73.8, good for 24th.
Going in the right direction, at least.