Seahawks Sackstravaganza II: With Russell Wilson, sacks matter less on offense than defense
As we learned in Sackstravaganza I, sacks matter. At least they did for the 2019 Seahawks’ defense.
Let’s review. This is how the 26 drives that included one or more Seahawks sacks ended:
• One defensive TD
• Six fumble recoveries
• One interception
• One end of game (27-10 win over Arizona, Week 4)
• One turnover on downs
• Two missed field goals
• Seven punts
• Seven field goals
What stands out to me?
As I looked up all of those drives, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of devastation sacks caused on the other side of the ball in 2019. After all, Russell Wilson has been sacked a lot.
So after compiling the information revealed in Sackstravaganza I, the question arose: Were the 54 sacks (48 regular season and 6 postseason) Seattle’s offense endured equally as devastating?
Just as I did with the defense, I looked at the results of drives or possessions in which the Seahawks’ offense sustained at least one sack.
The Bad News
• 29 punts
• Four resulting in end of game, end of half or turnover on downs
• Two interceptions
• One defensive TD
• One missed field goal
The Good News
• Seven TDs
• Five FGs
• Zero Fumbles
What stands out to me? Zero fumbles.
Now let me explain. Russell Wilson had zero fumbles on those 54 sacks. The defensive touchdown the 49ers scored on a sack came when Seahawks offensive lineman Germain Ifedi inexplicably tried to rip the football out of Wilson’s hands. I’m sure he had the best of intentions. I’m sure that he played running back at some point and in his mind was going to return to the glory days of his Pee Wee football team and bail Wilson out. So, credit the fumble to Ifedi.
It’s hard to believe that on 54 sacks, Wilson didn’t fumble at least once.
Perhaps we have a new term – a way of rating quarterback play. Because besides being able to hold on to the ball when sacked, Wilson rarely took sacks when in field-goal position. One example where he did take a sack was in Green Bay during the playoffs. Russell was sacked for minus-4, turning what would have been a 46-yard FG attempt into a 50-yard attempt that went wide left. But kicker Jason Myers was only 55% on kicks over 40 yards last season and it was cold that night.
The vast majority of Wilson’s sacks were at midfield or in Seahawks territory. I understand that you cannot entirely control when or where you are going to get sacked, but it indicates that Wilson does a good job of managing field position.
During Wilson’s eight years in the NFL, he has been sacked 349 times in the regular season and 44 times in his seven postseason appearances. In six of those years, he was one of the top 10 most sacked quarterbacks in the league. Another discouraging fact is that during six of those years, he was in the bottom third of the league in pass attempts, including three years that he was dead last in pass attempts.
However, the Seahawks have won in spite of the high sack totals. Does Wilson try to extend plays in situations that other quarterbacks would simply throw the ball away? Yes. As a matter of fact, I think his athleticism and ability to escape has been a bit of a curse for him. But it’s led to a lot of success, as well.
Let’s not forget, since Russell arrived in Seattle eight seasons ago, the Seahawks have had double-digit win totals and gone to the playoffs in seven of those eight years. He has also tied Tom Brady with the most wins (86) in a player’s first eight seasons.
As stated in Sackstravaganza I, sacks matter.
Unless you’re Russell Wilson. (Insert winky-face-emoji here)
What I discovered in looking up sacks on offense for the Seahawks is that while I understand that Wilson can’t control when he gets sacked every time, he rarely took sacks when in field-goal range. And even when it did, it didn’t make much of a difference. There was one 4-yard sack that he took in Cleveland that would’ve been a 46-yard field-goal attempt had he thrown the ball away, but it was headed into the windy side of the stadium where both kickers missed PATs anyways.
Four times in 2019, Russell took back-to-back sacks and all four possessions ended in punts. You’d think that would rattle a quarterback, but Wilson, as always, just treated them like any other play. He didn’t cough up the ball or throw it up for grabs like a lot of other quarterbacks would in those desperate situations.
The Seahawks’ defense only gave up one touchdown on drives with sacks. And sure, twice the number of sacks occurred on the offensive side, but the Seahawks’ offense still scored seven times as many touchdowns on drives in which a sack occurred.
710 ESPN Seattle’s Dave Wyman is not on Twitter.
Want more conversations like this? Subscribe to the Bob, Dave and Moore podcast by clicking any of the links below: