O’Neil: Is the Seahawks offense closer to average than we think?
The Seahawks have a bye this week, which offers an opportunity to ponder the deeper meaning of life and debate the merits of the semi-colon.
Or we could just try to figure out some more stuff about this professional football team, which sounds a whole lot more fulfilling. So here’s a list of things we’re still trying to figure out:
Three things we’re still trying to figure out
1. Are the Seahawks closer to an average offense than we think?
The statistics say that’s the case. Seattle ranks 15th in the league in rushing yards per game (109.2), 18th in passing yards (241.8) and 14th in scoring (22 points). That seems awfully high when you consider that this offense has been largely inert for 14 of the 20 quarters of the Seahawks have played so far this season. The totals from Seattle’s runaway victory over Indianapolis have skewed things, but the fact Seattle’s rushing average is up 10 yards a game over last season is reason to stop and at least wonder if the declarations of overall putridity have been slightly exaggerated. After all, this is a team known for getting better over the course of a season.
2. How in the world is Earl Thomas better after breaking his leg last year?
Everyone wondered how he would come back. Even Earl. But Thomas isn’t just back to being his old self on the football, he’s actually looking better with how decisive and explosive he is in the secondary, and the man is like a ninja at the goal line the way he’s now knocked the ball loose to prevent a touchdown twice in four seasons. I love watching him play. I love listening to him talk. And I really, really love it when he gets the ball in his hands. His interception in the fourth quarter was a reminder of just how fun that is. It’s like the “Flight of the Bumblebee” the way he’s always moving, but never in a straight line.
3. Can the Seahawks stay this resilient in the red zone?
Seattle ranks fifth in points allowed in large part because of how good they’ve been at keeping opponents out of the end zone. So far this season, Seattle’s opponents are scoring a touchdown only 23 percent of the time when they get the ball inside the Seahawks 20-yard line. That’s astounding. It’s also not sustainable. In the previous seven seasons under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have allowed a touchdown on fewer than 40 percent of the opponents’ red-zone chances only once. That was 2013 and they gave up a touchdown 36 percent of the time the opponent had the ball inside the Seattle 20. In Los Angeles on Sunday, the Rams scored a total of three points on the four drives in which they had the ball inside the Seattle 20 and that doesn’t even count the last possession where the Rams reached the Seattle 20, but didn’t technically get inside the red zone. And for as much talk as there is about those bend-but-don’t-break defenses, there’s very little statistical evidence to support the idea that this is a verifiable and repeatable trend. Seattle’s offense is going to have to start pulling its weight because the defense can’t be expected to remain this stingy when opponents get close.