The Elephant in the Locker Room: An Opinion for Which There is No Defense

be-back-smBy Greg Wright

It’s kind of comical reading Boling and McGrath at the Trib as they cover their tracks after prematurely jumping off the bandwagon a few weeks ago. Now, in the wake of the Seahawks’ literally historic offensive output the last five games, they’re somehow using the “turnaround” as evidence that they were actually right all along.

Boling, for instance, is now singing Darrell Bevell’s praises as if he has always known what Bevell was capable of.

McGrath, almost unbelievably, points to the Pittsburgh game as a turning point for “a team that had no chemistry at all.”

Really? Just because you’d given up on the team you can claim they had “no chemistry at all?” What’s different? Are you suggesting that losing Graham, Lynch, and Rawls has actually been good for team chemistry? If so, provide some evidence.

Do you guys not even pay attention to the quotes you include in your own articles? The players and coaches themselves are all saying the same thing: nothing has really changed. It’s just that they’re now making the plays that they weren’t making before. The schemes are the same. It’s just the outcomes that are different. When you’ve had a lead in the 4th quarter of every game you’ve played, you’ve not been that far away–perhaps just a few more quarters of experience and practice–from blowing open every contest.

So here’s the real Top Story. And don’t get me wrong when I say this; remember when I said just a couple weeks ago that there’s really nothing to complain about with these Seahawks. They may not be as dominating as the Super Bowl Championship team, but this is awfully good football we’re getting to watch.

But if there is an elephant in the locker room, it’s the fact that the defense is really the team’s weakness right now. And in a not-so-insignificant way.

WilsonThink about it: If your own team is putting up 30+ points of offensive output each game, what does that imply about time of possession? How many fewer opportunities will the opposing team get to put up points and yards?

To put it another way, how effective can an overpowering offense be at masking the shortcomings of your defense?

To put it yet another way: If the offense were not controlling the ball as well, how many yards per game might the D actually be giving up?

Well, let’s take a look.

Against Cleveland, Seattle won the time-of-possession battle 34:33 to 25:27. In giving up 230 yards, Seattle’s D yielded 9 yards per minute.

Against Baltimore, Seattle won the time-of-possession battle 35:43 to 24:17. In giving up 302 yards, Seattle’s D yielded 12.4 yards per minute.

Against Minnesota, Seattle won the time-of-possession battle 35:10 to 24:50. In giving up 125 yards, Seattle’s D yielded 5 yards per minute. That was a pretty dominant performance.

Against Pittsburgh, Seattle actually lost the time-of-possession battle 28:00 to 32:00. In giving up 538 yards, Seattle’s D yielded almost 17 yards per minute. That’s terrible!

Against San Francisco, Seattle dominated the time-of-possession battle 37:39 to 22:21. In giving up 306 yards, Seattle’s D yielded 13.7 yards per minute. Against San Francisco.

Put that all together over five weeks, and the Hawks’ D is giving up an average of 11.4 yards per minute. If the O were just a little less productive over that timespan, and the time-of-possession battle evened out, that would extrapolate to an average of 342 yards yielded per game. (And before this offensive tear, the Seahawks were on the losing end of the time-of-possession battle, averaging 29:43.)

That extrapolated yield is good enough to make you a Top 12 D, but it’s not elite. Seattle’s current yards-surrendered-per-game average of 302–which is elite–has been padded by an elite and historic offensive performance, by an output that has lifted Seattle’s average time of possession to 31:19.

To be fair, of course, defensive stats are always aided by an effective offense, and vice versa.

Still, if the Seahawks have a weakness right now, I’d say it’s the D. Let’s pray the wheels don’t come flying off for the O.

Well, the wheels don’t come flying off this week, but they do get a little creaky. St. Louis plays Seattle as well as anybody, and they’re playing about as well right now as they have all season. Expect the Rams’ new offensive coordinator to give our defense fits, and for Jon Ryan to get more work this week than he’s seen in a while.

Seattle 23, St. Louis 19.

After two Super Bowl appearances in a row, everyone’s paying attention… yet even with all the scrutiny, it seems that there’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us on Saturday mornings for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.

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