Taking a look into some numbers that reveal why the Seahawks are struggling as they enter the final week of the regular season.
It’s time for one more in-season review of some of the Seahawks’ key statistical numbers before they play their final regular season game Sunday at San Francisco. And with most stats now unlikely to change much, many stand out in revealing why the Seahawks have had some uncommon struggles in recent weeks.
2016 —355.9, 15th.
2015 — 378.6, 4th.
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Comment: The Seahawks appear set to have a not-insignificant dropoff in total offense this season from the past two years — Seattle averaged 375 yards in 2014. Seattle was as low as 26th in week nine before gaining 420 yards in the win at New England. Seattle has gained 391 yards or more in four of seven games since then.
YARDS PER PLAY
2016 —5.6, 13th.
2015 — 5.85, 5th.
Comment: Seattle prides itself on explosive offensive plays. But as the YPP stat shows, the Seahawks have also been a little less successful at that this year than in the past two seasons. The Seahawks have averaged 5.2 yards per play or less in each of the last three games after having averaged 6.4 or better in five of the previous six.
2016— 100.3, 22nd (tie).
2015 — 141.8, 3rd.
Comment: Seattle is on pace for the worst rushing season since Carroll’s first year in 2010 when the Seahawks averaged just 89 yards per game. That was the year the Seahawks acquired Marshawn Lynch in October and the Seahawks averaged better than 110 yards per game rushing in the last five games of that season, heralding the rushing breakthrough to come the following season. And making the fact that Seattle has yet to find a consistent post-Lynch running game all the more ominous.
RUSHING YARDS PER PLAY
2016 — 4.0, 21st.
2015 — 4.5, 7th.
Comment: The dropoff is drastic in this category, too, and after an uptick from mid-November to early-December Seattle has averaged just 2.4 and 2.9 yards per carry the last two weeks. Christine Michael averaged exactly the team average during his stint with the Seahawks — 469 yards on 117 carries. But Thomas Rawls (3.3), Russell Wilson (3.6) and Alex Collins (2.9) have brought the number down.
2016 —255.7, 12th.
2015 — 236.9, 20th.
Comment:With less of a rushing game, Seattle has had to go to the air more this year to compensate and Seattle is on pace to break the franchise record in passing yards of 254.9 yards per game set in 2002.
YARDS PER PASS
2016 — 7.8, 7th.
2015 — 8.3, 3rd.
Comment: This stat shows, though, that the passing game hasn’t necessarily been better — Seattle has just had to do more of it (Seattle’s 529 attempts this year have already shattered the 489 of last season and Seattle will likely surpass the high of the Carroll of 544 set in 2010).
2016 — 21.9 (points per game), 20th.
2015 — 26.4, tied for 4th.
Comment: As I noted a few weeks ago, what remains a big difference this year is the lack of return touchdowns — Seattle remains with just one, the fumble return by Earl Thomas against the Saints. Seattle had five, three, four and six return touchdowns the last four seasons. Seattle has 35 touchdowns this season after scoring 43 or more each of the past four years.
2016 — 323.1, 7th.
2015 — 291.8, 2nd.
Comment: Seattle is on track to allow what would be the most yards in a season since 2011, when the Seahawks gave up 332.2 yards per game. But as the yards per play stat below shows, it’s in part a function of offenses staying on the field longer — opponents have already run more plays against Seattle this year, 962, than all of last season 947.
YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED
2016 —5.0, 4th.
2015 —4.9, 2nd.
Comment: While this number is not much different from a year ago, it has crept up quite a bit from the dominant Super Bowl year, when Seattle allowed just 4.4 yards per play. That grew to 4.6 in 2014, 4.9 last year and now hovering at 5.0, though with a chance to bring that down against one of the worst teams in the NFL this week.
RUSHING YARDS ALLOWED
2016— 95.0, 8th.
2015 — 81.5, 1st.
Comment: Opponents have really tried to stay committed to the run against Seattle this season — teams have rushed the ball 410 times against the Seahawks this season compared to 362 last season and 380 in 2014. This will be the first season when teams run the ball more against Seattle than Seattle has against them, as the Seahawks have just 378 rushing attempts (consider that last year Seattle ran it 501 times compared to the 362 of opponents). You can debate the value of a running game, but it’s hard to argue looking at the numbers through the Carroll era that Seattle has been more successful when it has been able to run it.
YARDS ALLOWED PER RUSH
2016 — 3.5, 1st.
2015 — 3.6, tied for 3rd.
Comment: Here’s the stat that shows it’s more about opponents’ willingness to stick to the run this year leading to higher rushing totals more than it is Seattle’s inability to stop the run. Seattle hasn’t allowed more than 4.4 yards per carry in any game this season.
PASSING YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME
2016 — 228.1, 8th.
2015 — 210.3, 2nd.
Comment: Passing is where the real dropoff is in Seattle’s defense this season, both in terms of overall yards allowed, and as shown below in yards allowed per attempt.
PASSING YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED
2016 —7.1, 16th.
2015 — 6.6, 5th.
Comment: This is also another stat that has real crept up since the 2013 Super Bowl season. That year, Seattle allowed an average of just 5.82 yards per attempt. But that rose to 6.32 in 2014 and then 6.6 last year. The upshot is that teams are allowing 1.3 yards allowed per passing attempt, which to me is the biggest number that stands out along with the rushing yards on offense. The Seahawks allowed a whopping 9.9 yards per attempt against Arizona, which comes two weeks after Green Bay averaged 9.1 yards per attempt. Those are the two highest totals against Seattle this year, and come in two of the first three games the team has had to play without Earl Thomas at free safety. The yards per pass allowed Saturday was the most since at least 2012 — the high in that time before Saturday came when the Rams averaged 9.5 yards per attempt in the season opener in 2015, a game Kam Chancellor missed as part of his holdout.
POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME
2016 —17.9, 2nd.
2015 — 17.3, 1st.
Comment: All of the above defensive numbers have helped contribute to the Seahawks likely losing a chance to lead the NFL in fewest points allowed for a fifth straight season. Seattle has allowed 269 heading into the final game, second in the NFL but 33 behind the 236 of the New England Patriots, who have allowed just a lone field goal each of the last two weeks. Seattle, meanwhile, has allowed 75 points in the three games it has played without Thomas.