Seahawks Insider

Offseason rewind: The money down

Post by Eric Williams on June 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm with 29 Comments »
June 28, 2011 10:31 pm
San Francisco 49ers tight end Delanie Walker (46) and Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas (29) in action during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

I thought we’d take a look at third down percentages from 2010 on both offense and defense to get a better understanding of how the Seattle Seahawks can improve in those situations in the upcoming season.

Seattle finished 24th overall in the league defensively in getting off the field on third down, at 39.5 percent.

Offensively, the Seahawks were not much better, converting 35.5 percent of third down opportunities to continue drives, good enough for 22nd overall.

Let’s take a look at the issues on defense first.

The first six weeks of 2010 Seattle’s defense performed pretty well. The Seahawks ranked No. 2 overall in rushing defense heading into the Oakland game, and Seattle’s ability to stop the run in early downs resulted in its opponents having longer down and distance situations on third down, which led to a better third down percentage.

The Seahawks actually ranked in the top 10 on offense (8th overall) and defense (10th) in third down percentage in Week 6 heading into Chicago. Of course, that all changed after Oakland throttled them two weeks later, 33-3.

Seattle’s opponents had an easier time running on them with defensive linemen Colin Cole and Red Bryant out with injuries, leading to more manageable third downs.

And because of the shorter down and distances, along with an inconsistent offense that struggled to move the ball, the Seahawks did not take as many chances on defense, blitzing less.

As this chart by ESPN’s Mike Sando points out, the Seahawks were 22nd overall in all-out blitzes of six defenders or more, with 2.3 per game. New Orleans led the league with 8.1 a contest.

The Seahawks defensively gave up an average of 5.84 yards on first down, ranked 26th overall in the league.

However, Seattle might be looking to take more chances on third down this year after drafting players like linebackers K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith, corners Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell and safety Mark LeGree, in addition to Kam Chancellor, Walter Thurmond and Roy Lewis – all fast, explosive players who can tackle and cover.

Specifically, the Seahawks will look to free up safety Earl Thomas more and allow him to use his play-making ability, as they did against St. Louis in the final game of the year.

“Once we realized what Earl could do, then we started to tailor stuff and give him more opportunities to cover guys in critical situations and pressure, and then we free him up at times to use his anticipation and savvy,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said about Thomas.

Offensively, the Seahawks were last in the league in rushing yards on first down, with 628 yards. It’s no surprise that the Kansas City Chiefs were first in this category with 1,428 yards. But guess who’s second? The Oakland Raiders with 1,337 – so it’s no surprise that Tom Cable is leading the charge with the offensive line, trying to bring that same mentality to Seattle.

The most important thing that affects third down percentage is getting enough yards on first down to make third downs more manageable. That’s why Carroll puts so much emphasis on running the football – effectively running the ball on first down when the defense knows you’re going to run it leads to a more manageable situation on third down, which helps keeps the chains moving and increases time of possession, keeping your defense rested and off the field.

“We were very spotty,” Carroll said about his team’s performance on third down last year. “We were up and down, so we need to find consistency at a better rate.”

Carroll went on to cite creating more continuity and cutting down on mistakes on both sides of the ball, and using his players’ unique abilities in specific roles as ways for Seattle to improve on third down situations.

Leave a comment Comments → 29
  1. I’m not surprised that we were the worst rushing offense on 1st down last year (given our horrific offensive line). The worst part to me, was watching our team in 3rd and short yardage situations and thinking two things:

    1. If we try to run, there is a (seemingly) greater probability that we’ll lose a yard, rather than gaining it.

    2. Wondering if Bates was going to pass (fine with me, given or horrible run blocking OL) and throw some low percentage fade or weird stuff again?

    I’m so thankful comPete realizes that having a good offensive line is a good thing. I love our 3-headed RB situation, but even they are going to suck behind the clowns we’ve been putting out there year after year.

  2. Our third Down woes on Defense have been going on for YEARS!!!! In our section it’s a joke that we would rather have a 3rd and 1 since we are more likely to hold that than a 3rd and long (in our terms 6 or more) We seem to always give that up

    in ’08 it seemed like everyone was blaming the offense that the def. wore down late in games but early in games the D couldn’t get themselves off the field. That happened a lot this year as well ( most specifically in games against Denver and Oakland – before they became ugly)

  3. Dukeshire says:

    I’m one that’s said the offense not controlling the clock and it’s inability to sustain drives has skewed the defensive stats for the past 3 seasons. And while I stand by that as an overall principle regarding defense in general, Seattle has given up numerous first possession points and 1st quarter points in ’09 and ’10. Without having the numbers in front of me I’d guess they are among the league’s worst, if not the worst, in this category. The defense on their own, has not been able to get off the field consistently on third. If we’re assigning blame for that I’d list the secondary first, pass rush second, (3rd down) scheme third, but in fact, all three are connected and directly effect the success of the other.

  4. Before we had the rash of injuries on the defensive line in the Oakland game, I remember teams trying to run the ball on us in any situation (whether 3rd and 1 or 1st and 10) and I laughed because they usually got stuffed.

    I wonder how badly our interior OL got manhandled in comPETEtive practices last year? It’s funny to think about. Or Lock trying to drive block Big Red? I giggle just thinking of those clowns up front trying to block a junior high team, let alone Cole, Mebane, and Big Red.

    I’m still dreaming of Asomugha and his presence even freeing up ET to do more than he’s already going to be doing in ’11. I think his presence and ability to shut down WRs 1-on-1 would do wonders for all aspects of our defense. Dare to dream, right Duke? lol

  5. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Part of the reason that we were so successful at stopping the run last year early in the season was that we hadn’t played the better running teams yet.

    I don’t know how we could have been consistently good at anything last year with all the roster changes and new coaching.

    Considering all things Carroll and co. did a terrific job last year! And the special teams were as special as I have ever remembered them being.

    I can’t wait for free agency !

  6. HawkfaninMT says:

    I hear that dream and I think it would be just as livable with Joseph and at a cheaper price than Aso. I dont mean to say that Joseph > Aso as far as skills for week 1, but he has adequate skills to be a No. 1 CB for any team in the league. In addition he would move Tru over to the No 2 WR where he should effectively lock that wr down. So while they may still have to shade a S over to WR1 side they could forget about the WR2 side.

    Just my 2 cents

  7. My #1 wish list player in free agency is Sidney Rice. Young. Big. Strong. Has enough speed. Unworldly hands. Top 5 WR talent. IMO the biggest difference b/w Favre of ’10 to ’11 was his lack of Sidney Rice for the first months of last year. Granted, Favre definitely made Rice better too, but Rice did some things for Favre in ’09 that most human beings could not do with some of the catches he made. There are other factors too, no doubt, but I think Rice (or lack thereof) was the biggest.

  8. I hope we grab a CB that moves Tru over to the #2 as well. I’m thinkin’ if we can’t get Nnambi or Johnathan, what about Chris Carr, Chris houston or Ike Taylor. The Hawks have to grab a corner once free agency starts. Sidney Rice would also be nice after we re-sign Hass of course. Not sure of the figures, but if we could do those three things and Mebane, I would be very satisfied. Can’t wait for this f’n lockout to be done with. I can’t take any more baseball. F———ck.

  9. I wonder if Trufant will be a Seahawk if he doesn’t restructure his contract? He makes good money for being an average player these days. It will be interesting to see the CB situation shake out.

  10. piperfeltcher says:

    I think Joseph would be a good fit in Carroll’s D he is big and can play press but is also decent off the ball. He always stood out in the Bengals games I watched. I would not be surprised at all if Trufant was cut Carroll has always liked to play press coverage and have big corners. What I really want to see is Curry improve this year a lot of players have taken 3 years to develop so this is a big year for him.

  11. Joseph would be nice but I don’t think he will come all that cheaply.

  12. Dukeshire says:

    My guess is they keep Tru for one more season regardless, for good or ill. I know there’s a youth movement afoot but presuming Jennings is gone, Tru also leaving makes for an incredibly inexperienced secondary. Not an attractive proposition for one of the most difficult positions on the field to learn.

  13. GeorgiaHawk says:

    I would like to see us sign at least 5-6 from this free agent wish list.

    1-Matt Hasselbeck- best chance for us to make playoffs this year.

    2-Nnamdi Asomugha- Shut down corner- arguably the most important position after QB and LT. He would help solidify and lead our young talented secondary.

    3-Brandon Mebane- We can’t afford to let one of our best d-lineman go.

    4-Ray Edwards-We need to upgrade our talent and our depth along the d-line.

    5-Sidney Rice-The best clutch receiver that I saw in 2009. Would make Matt very happy.

    6-Marhal Yonda- Now that we have the tackles fixed, lets continue to add talent and depth to our interior o-line.

    7- Justin Blalock- Another talented experienced dirt bag o-lineman.

    8-Cullen Jenkins- Doubt if Greenbay will resign him. Would be a great addition to our D-line, and take some of the sting away of not getting a good one from the draft this year.

    9-Olindo Mare- Our special teams are special and Olindo is still a big part of it.

  14. Dukeshire says:

    Interesting list, Georgia. I don’t know that they would pay for both ‘Bane and Jenkins because they’ll both be fairly expensive (Jenkins seems like a classic Washington signing). But, I would love to have them both. I presume Jenkins would kick into the 3-tech position here and considering ‘Bane’s recent injury history, he’d be a very attractive addition (if only for a couple years. He is 30.)

    Anyway, that list is a fun conversation piece.

  15. Soggybuc says:

    No Nnamdi please! let Daniels Snyder spend the kind of money it will take to land him and the Hawks then spend their extra money on fixing our depth problems at all the other positions.
    They have invested 6 draft picks and several UDFA slots on the secondary so highly doubtfull they would even consider it anyway.
    If they could get Rice for a decent price i would be all for it but they need depth at the D-line, better depth options on the O-line at least 1 FB to back up Robinson (hello Chicago game) a starter at LG ad oh lets not forget if not Hass at least 2 more QB’s.
    All of which could be had in some matter for the price Nnamdi will cost.

    Look if Nnamdi was the one thing we were missing to get us to a Super Bowl win then i’d E-Bay everything I own to help land him but he’s not so lets go fix everything else instead.

  16. Dukeshire says:

    Soggy – I hear you and would be surprised if they did make a play for him. Carroll doesn’t have a history of “high profile” corners, either in NY, NE or USC. The emphasis for his defense is relegated to other positions (and in the secondary, safety, not corner). Signing Asomugha would seem to be out of character no matter how good he is, at least to me.

  17. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Soggyboc- I am all for adding depth, however you got to have talent in front of the depth.
    It would not bother me if they passed on Nnamdi,( so long as they take care of the other needs), however I would be happy to have him so long as his character checks out. I’m sure Cable would know one way or another. Never mind, perhaps that wouldn’t be such a good idea.

  18. To throw another perspective out there, I can see him signing Asomugha…

    1. He is a shut down CB. Even though he’s a high profile CB, I’m sure comPete would like to have a shut down type of guy.
    2. If he did, any DC would be able to adjust their style of play on defense (especially if they didn’t have a dominant type of pass rush – which we don’t).
    3. Just b/c Mr. Happy didn’t have high profile CBs with the Jets, Pats, or at USC, doesn’t mean he didn’t want good ones (although the trading of Wilson can be a red flag of not knowing what to do with the hand you’re dealt – even though Wilson certainly wasn’t a “shut down” type of CB). I highly doubt he purposely didn’t recruit shut down type of guys at SC b/c they didn’t fit his system.
    4. Think Schneider – Charles Woodson.

    As I said, this is a different perspective and not an attack on any opinion out there. I realize that our signing of him is not very good, but I do think we may go after him (I’ve been wrong before and I know I’ll be wrong again).

    Georgia – I do not like Ray Edwards. Once he gets paid, he won’t be the same, IMO.

    To me, we either resign Matt and go for comPeteing in ’11 (with some aggressiveness in free agency). Or we don’t resign Matt and try to save as much as the new CBA will allow and we get Lucky in the ’12 draft. You either do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda (my favorite actor ever)

  19. In free agency, I think character passing the test is a must! Especially now days. With Asomugha, one reason I like him is that he’s a guy you can give money to AND trust to earn it. Part of the reason I like him even more.

  20. GeorgiaHawk says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to the players that worked so hard to win the NFC west and take out the defending superbowl champs to not sign Hasselbeck , or be aggressive in free agency.
    There most certainly will be some teams that will lay down and tank it at the end of the season to get a shot at Luck, however I would be very suprised and some what disappointed If Caroll and the Hawks were one of those teams.

    Now if the S.O.T.A.F.C. hits us again with injuries then Luck would be a welcome consolation prize!

    S.O.T.A.F.C

  21. Soggybuc says:

    Woodson was a huge part of the Pack for the past 5 seasons, but his numbers where actually down this past season. he signed with them and waited patiently for them to put the pieces of the puzzle in place. BAM!! ring time.
    point being he was a big signing that plugged a hole while they used the draft to build a complete team.

    Thats what I want the Hawks to do and thats what they are doing. they have already stocked the secondary cupboard well in the first 2 years so any FA signing need to be any where else but the secondary. such as left Guard to compliment and mentor the young studs we have invested in already and D-line depth.

  22. Soggybuc says:

    Ok i give Georgia what is SOTAFC?

  23. Woodson may have had his numbers down in year #5… but don’t forget that he was the NFL defensive MVP in year #4 in Green Bay… that’s not too shabby…

  24. GeorgiaHawk says:

    State of the art facility curse. Or Sotaf curse.

  25. Kinda tempted to see them get UFA R.Incognito to play LG. He’s versatile, mean, and was among the league leaders in both pass and run blocking last season according to ProFootballFocus.

  26. I’m all for psycho crazies on the football field, but Incognito lets his emotions get the best of him too often to the detriment of the TEAM. I don’t dislike many former Nebraska players, but he’s one guy I have no time for and wouldn’t ever want to go into battle with. The talent is there, the brain is not.

  27. Well, he IS a dirtbag. . .

  28. Maybe it’s like Incognito is so hard he’s brittle?

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