I can’t say that I’m all that wild and crazy about the defense this year. How about you?
We’ve played Green Bay, at San Diego, Denver, and at Washington. By my accounts, that’s two great teams, one good team, and one bad team. To those teams, we’ve given up 20.75 points per game. That’s up from 14.44 points per game last year, when we led the league. So, what gives?
Maybe it’s nothing. After all, with last year’s team, it wasn’t all 43-8 beatdowns. There were a lot of tense moments! The Houston, Tampa, and St. Louis games come immediately to mind. This last one against the Redskins reminds me almost exactly of last year’s home game against the Titans. Probably should’ve been a huge blowout, but Seahawks mistakes kept it close and made more than a few people uncomfortable.
So, what can we look at? Well, for starters, let’s look at 4th quarter scoring. We’re giving up, on average, 8 points per game in the 4th quarter. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s usually the difference between a comfortable blowout and a closer, 1-score game.
Let’s also look at third down conversions. The Seahawks are allowing teams to convert 25/57, or around 44% of the time. You probably want that percentage somewhere in the mid-30s. That’ll help explain a lot of these longer drives. The more plays run, the more time they burn, the more time our defense is on the field, the more opportunities for mistakes.
Now, look at turnovers. We’ve got a total of three. Two interceptions (Maxwell & Chancellor) and one fumble recovery (Wright). How do we explain this? Well, the Seahawks have been unlucky in the fact that there have been 5 other fumbles that we DIDN’T recover. But, what about the interceptions? Where has the L.O.B. been in all of this?
Surely, teams aren’t testing Richard Sherman as much as they did last year (which in and of itself was a mystery to me). I’m sure they’re being somewhat more cautious, knowing what we all know about the studs in our secondary. You could argue that the pass rush has been down compared to last year. We’ve only got 6 sacks in 4 games. We’ve got 18 hits on the quarterback, which makes it look a LITTLE better. I don’t know what the count is on hurries, but it doesn’t feel to me like we’ve taken a huge step back in this department.
If you want my opinion, I think teams have just gotten smarter. I think they watched all the tape on us that they could from last year, they figured out what our defense does well and where it struggles. I think they’re throwing a lot of quicker passes to avoid the pass rush, and I think they’re taking smart chances down the field when they have their opportunities. Don’t throw a fade to Richard Sherman’s side. At best, he’ll just tip the ball away for an incompletion (at worst, we’re taking it back to the house). Instead, work some double-moves. Force our DBs to switch and make decisions on the fly. Yes, we have the most intelligent and well-studied secondary in football, but they’re not going to be perfect. Every once in a while, they’ll take a bad angle, or leave someone uncovered. And, if you’ve got a Desean Jackson running the route, or a Peyton Manning throwing the ball, you’re going to get beat once in a while.
Part of it is, yeah, shit happens. It IS a small, 4-game sample size. The Seahawks ARE 3-1, so let’s not start jumping off of buildings. We’ve still got plenty of games against teams that match up well against us. The Raiders, Giants, and Cowboys should all be pushovers. If we really ratchet up the firestorm in these next few weeks, all of these numbers will normalize. We’ll get our turnovers back up to par, we’ll hold teams down at the end of games, and we’ll get off the field on third down more regularly.
But, the other part of it is: we’ve got to adjust. The rest of the league has – I don’t want to say “figured us out”, but they’ve certainly changed their schemes against us. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily working, but it’s a lot better than what they managed against us last year. So, we’ve got to counter. We’ve got to figure out what they’re doing that’s working and shut that down.
While, at the same time, keeping what works for us. Namely, the run defense. If this thing is real, then we’ve got a real ace up our sleeves. All Dallas does now is run the ball! The Panthers, Giants, and Chiefs are all in the run-first mold. We can take advantage of all of these teams if we’re able to shut down their running games; none of those quarterbacks should put the fear of God into you. And, as for all the NFC West teams? Well, I’m going to withhold judgment on the Rams until I see more out of Austin Davis, but the 49ers and Cardinals can’t get out of their own way at the quarterback position. If we shut their running games down, they’re powerless against us!
So, I’ll be interested to see how the Seahawks do over the next month. Will the defense be an ongoing concern? I sure hope not. I think we all sort of planned on the offense being improved (and maybe picking up some slack), but I enjoy this team much more when we’re stomping other teams into the ground on defense.
- Seattle Seahawks (3-1) – Never a doubt.
- Denver Broncos (3-1) – Ditto.
- San Diego Chargers (4-1) – The Chargers are for real. If that defense proves it’s worthy of a top 10 ranking, watch out.
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) – They were doomed from the start. A pissed off Patriots team at home, during primetime for the second straight week? That had rout written all over it.
- Detroit Lions (3-2) – Now that they’ve got a kicker, prepare for a nice run on wins.
- Indianapolis Colts (3-2) – Must be nice playing in the worst division in football three years running.
- San Francisco 49ers (3-2) – Not the easiest next two games leading into their BYE as they go to St. Louis on Monday night, followed by going to Denver on Sunday night. Prepare yourself to watch A LOT of 49ers football the next two weeks. Probably more 49ers football than you ever cared to see.
- Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) – They better figure out how to get Shady McCoy going if they ever want to seriously contend this year.
- New Orleans Saints (2-3) – It took overtime at home to beat the Bucs? I don’t know what I’m doing keeping this team in the top 10.
- Green Bay Packers (3-2) – Are you smelling an upset this week down in Miami? Because, I kinda sorta am. These Packers are going DOWN!
- Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) – Good, not great.
- Dallas Cowboys (4-1) – Ditto.
- Baltimore Ravens (3-2) – Look, I was flying back from Anaheim on Sunday, so I didn’t see a lot of football, all right? Justin Forsett got me some solid points in Fantasy while Lamar Miller was on BYE though, so that’s cool.
- New England Patriots (3-2) – Imagine that: you take the bubble wrap off of Gronk and your offense is actually able to move the football. WEIRD!
- Arizona Cardinals (3-1) – Perfect no more, and now they’ve lost their best defender for at least a few weeks.
- New York Giants (3-2) – With a bullet!
- Atlanta Falcons (2-3) – Good GOD is this team shitty on the road! They catch the Bears at home, though, so bank on them being 3-3 this time next week.
- Chicago Bears (2-3) – You heard me.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) – It’s like, every week the Steelers find a new way to troll football fans!
- Carolina Panthers (3-2) – Starting to really regret not drafting their tight end this year.
- Houston Texans (3-2) – How about that J.J. Watt, huh? He’s like a million times better than that J.J. Watt commercial, I’ll tell you that much.
- Miami Dolphins (2-2) – This is the week where the Dolphins get you to believe they’re worthy of being in the playoffs. It won’t last long.
- Cleveland Browns (2-2) – I like this Browns team! Mostly because Hoyer is keeping Johnny Football on the sidelines.
- Washington Redskins (2-3) – That’s some great defense you got there in D.C.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4) – This team is going to start stealing wins it shouldn’t have. Mark it this week, my upset special: Tampa over Baltimore.
- Buffalo Bills (3-2) – What is it with the Bills and beating NFC North teams on the road this year?
- New York Jets (1-4) – The Chargers’ defense got me a shutout last week in a losing effort in fantasy. Thank you, Jets!
- Minnesota Vikings (2-3) – Well, if you can’t figure out how to get Cordarrelle Patterson the football, then I’m afraid he’s not long for my fantasy team.
- St. Louis Rams (1-3) – Wouldn’t it be nice if they went out and beat up on the 49ers this week? I promise if you do, I’ll put you in the Top 25!
- Tennessee Titans (1-4) – Is Jake Locker the next Marques Tuiasosopo? The guy who might be great, but we’ll never know because he’s always injured? Hey guys, welcome to Steve Emtman’s world.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) – I’m beginning to think this isn’t the fringe-playoff team I’d once predicted them to be.
- Oakland Raiders (0-4) – Not only do they lose a home game to playing in fucking London, but they gotta spend their BYE week getting over jetlag.