Seahawks stats round-up: Pete Carroll is once again getting the better of 'analytics'
The Seahawks remarkable turnaround and Geno Smith's MVP campaign highlight a four-game winning streak
It’s been a slow year for people who thought that 2022 would finally be their opportunity to unleash all of that deep-seated resentment and anger that they’ve been saving up for Pete Carroll in the last few years without a playoff run. For the crime of… “He don’t run a football team like I’d done do if I was runnin’ them football teams.”
For the 11th time in the last 12 years, the Seattle Seahawks appear to be too good to make fun of or to heavily criticize, so I hope the anti-Petes got out all of their Nelson Muntz “Hahas” while they still had their chances in September and early October. It’s not only that Pete is once again winning games through his brand of offensive football and thanks to his decisions on personnel in free agency and the draft, but perhaps the most unexpected unit on the Seahawks this side of Geno Smith is the two faces of this Seattle defense.
TouchdownWire’s Doug Farrar wrote about the Seahawks’ midseason defensive turnaround on Friday morning. There’s a lot of meat on that bone, so I’d suggest reading the whole article, but here’s an excerpt:
The Seahawks have been a zone-based coverage defense this season, and they’ve gotten a lot better at that of late, as well. In Weeks 1-5, they played zone on 59% of their snaps, and ranked 21st in opponent Positive Play Rate. Over the last four weeks, they’ve played zone on 67% of their snaps (second-highest in the NFL), and they rank second in opponent PPR.
Knowing your identify, and matching it to your personnel, is important. On the 100 attempts Cover-2, Cover-3, Cover-4, and Cover-6 since Week 6, the Seahawks have allowed 61 completions for 617 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and an opponent passer rating of 73.6. They’ve been a bit more vulnerable in man coverage over that time, allowing 18 completions on 32 attempts for 196 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, and an opponent passer rating of 84.9, which is about the middle of the NFL pack.
Farrar highlights individual efforts by Uchenna Nwosu, Shelby Harris, Ryan Neal, Jordyn Brooks, and how Clint Hurtt’s defense took a few games to start gelling. Here’s what he wrote about Harris in recent weeks as Seattle’s second-best pass rusher behind Nwosu:
Shelby Harris, acquired in the Russell Wilson trade, has been Seattle’s second-most effective pass rusher in the last four weeks, with two sacks, five hurries, five hits, and a knockdown. The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Harris was an underrated factor mostly on the inside of Denver’s defensive line, but in Hurtt’s fronts, he’s become a full-blown force. Harris has great speed for his size, good power, and active hands. Against the Cardinals last week, he picked up his second sack of the season by just rolling through Arizona’s offensive line until he found the open space.
The results of Pete and Hurtt’s efforts have been remarkable:
And let’s be clear about opponents here in the last four weeks: Kyler Murray twice, Justin Herbert, and Daniel Jones. It’s fair to say that Herbert hasn’t had the full complement of weapons that he deserves and that Murray isn’t the player that the Cardinals think that he is and that Jones is still Jones… but this is still a much tougher group than the Jared Goff/Andy Dalton/Marcus Mariota phase of Seattle’s schedule when the defense played much worse.
By DVOA, the Seahawks have had the second-best defense in the NFL since Week 5. That’s more than half of the season.
It’s so interesting to reminisce on how long Pete Carroll was praised by the same “analytics-minded” folks who now treat him like the most out of date coach in the NFL. Who could have been more popular and respected than Carroll from 2012-2015, as the Seahawks ranked first in overall DVOA and first in defensive DVOA for four straight seasons?
And offensively, if Twitter was as loud back in 2012 as it is today, who among “analytics” wouldn’t have pointed out that only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady had a better QBR than rookie third round pick Russell Wilson that season?
Similarly, why wouldn’t “analytics” want to anoint Pete as anything other than a strategical genius, given that career backup Geno Smith is now fourth in QBR, fifth in DYAR, and first in a number of PFF grades, if that’s your thing? Because their egos won’t allow them to go back on strict criticisms that they’ve been making of Pete over the last few years of Seattle’s struggles.
And by the way, the Seahawks “struggle” by going 12-4 and getting knocked out of the wild card round. Other teams struggle themselves into picking first in the draft. Critics expected the Seahawks to intentionally lose their way up to landing Bryce Young next year. Pete Carroll had other plans.
Doug Farrar is on board with Pete’s coaching and philosophies.
“Who’da thunk that at the start of the season? Pete Carroll’s Seahawks are the NFL’s kings of surprise at the halfway point.”
Will analytics ever catch up to the rest of us?
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The rest of this morning’s advanced stats article is a bonus post for Regular Joes but I want to point something out if this is where you hit the paywall: Do you see ESPN Insider or The Athletic or other Substacks give you this much article before cutting you off?
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All just fun facts.
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But that doesn’t mean that I need to completely waste your time by sending free subscribers an e-mail that immediately cuts off because you didn’t pay me for it. I want to make sure everyone gets something out of this morning’s article and if you want to jump behind the paywall to help support this lil’ business, that’s cool too.
I’m not saying I won’t ever have articles with early paywalls. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum though because I know you are more than just a number and I appreciate you reading this far!
Now onto more specifics about Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker III, Tyler Lockett, and the Seahawks defense.