12 Numbers That Defined Seahawks 2019 Season
Though the season ended sooner than they hoped, the Seahawks reached 11 regular season wins for the fourth time under coach Pete Carroll and advanced to the NFC Divisional Round for the first time since 2016.
Looking back at another successful albeit bizarre season in the Pacific Northwest, which numbers do the best job of explaining Seattle's 2019 campaign? And what do they tell us about the future of the team moving forward?
5: Game-winning drives orchestrated by quarterback Russell Wilson.
Every single week, the Seahawks competed in tightly-contested matchups, managing to win 10 regular season games and one playoff game by eight or less points. Wilson was the catalyst for such immense success in close games, engineering game-winning drives in nearly half of Seattle's regular season wins. Two of those came in overtime victories over the Buccaneers and 49ers in consecutive weeks.
14.7: Percentage of opposing drives ending with a turnover.
Unlike previous teams under Carroll, this year's Seahawks were anything but dominant on defense. However, if there's one thing the defensive unit excelled at in 2019, it was generating turnovers, especially after safety Quandre Diggs joined the starting lineup in Week 10. During a five-game stretch, they created 16 turnovers, including five in a Week 12 victory over the Eagles. Luck ran out late in the season into the playoffs as Seattle failed to produce a single turnover in its final four games, but the team still finished fourth in the NFL in turnover rate.
1,075: Yards after contact produced by Seattle's running backs.
A physical run game has always been a staple of Carroll-coached teams and 2019 wasn't any different with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny leading the way. Though Seattle's offensive line struggled due to injuries and inconsistent play, the team still finished fourth overall in rushing yardage and yards after contact. Carson led the team with a career-high 1,230 rushing yards and over 50 percent of those yards (734) came after initial contact. Penny also generated nearly half of his 370 rushing yards after contact, averaging 2.8 yards after contact per attempt.
61.5: Percentage of opposing red zone opportunities ending with a touchdown.
The 2019 campaign was a year of regression in many ways for Seattle's defense, starting with increased struggles keeping opponents out of the end zone inside its own 20-yard line. Back in 2018, the Seahawks were the fourth-best in the NFL at limiting opponents to three points or less in the red zone, giving up a touchdown on just 50.9 percent of opportunities. That percentage spiked more than 10 percent in 2019 and these struggles were further evidenced in the final playoff loss at Green Bay, as Seattle allowed the opposition to go a perfect three for three in the red zone scoring touchdowns.
28: Overall ranking for Seattle's offensive line in ESPN Pass Block Win Rate metric.
Entering the season, tackle Duane Brown proclaimed that the Seahawks could have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL in 2019. Unfortunately, Brown himself battled a myriad of injuries and the group never gelled as he envisioned. Protecting Wilson remained problematic and the team finished in the bottom five of ESPN's Pass Block Win Rate metric, which indicates the rate at which linemen maintain blocks for 2.5 seconds or longer. Not a single Seahawk blocker finished in the top 10 at tackle, guard, or center among league leaders in this category, illustrating the lingering need for improvement in pass protection moving forward.
4: Sacks by Seattle's team leader, Rasheem Green.
Rushing the passer remained Seattle's Achilles heel on defense throughout the 2019 season and the situation only worsened when Jadeveon Clowney suffered a core injury in a Week 10 win against San Francisco. Carroll's squad finished with just 28 sacks, tied for second-worst among 32 NFL teams. Green deserves credit for a solid second NFL season after being a relative non-factor as a rookie, but the fact he led the team with only 4.0 sacks paints a bleak picture for the defensive line's ability to pressure quarterbacks.
7: Cumulative point differential for Seahawks at end of regular season.
Point differential can be a token stat heavily weighted by a handful of games, but it is also a strong indicator of how good a team really is. Seattle only won one game by more than eight points, defeating Arizona on the road 27-10 in Week 4. On the flip side, the Seahawks lost three games by 14 or more points to the Ravens, Rams, and Cardinals. As a result, they had the second-lowest point differential for playoff qualifiers behind only the Texans, who somehow won 10 games while allowing seven more points than they scored during the season.
53: Percentage of plays Seattle deployed its 4-3 base defense.
While most of the NFL trends towards running more nickel and dime packages with additional defensive backs on the field to combat opposing passing games, the Seahawks went a different direction in 2019 by using three linebackers on the field more than 50 percent of the time. Comparatively, no other team in the league used their base defense more than 30 percent of the time. Surprisingly, deploying an extra linebacker more often didn't seem to have a positive effect on Seattle's run defense and it put the linebackers in a bit more of a bind in coverage, so Carroll will likely make some significant adjustments personnel-wise going into 2020.
8: Combined wins on the road by the Seahawks.
There wasn't another team in the NFL this past season that enjoyed the same success traveling to other venues as Seattle did. The Seahawks not only won eight games on the road - they also went a perfect 6-0 in the Eastern time zone - quite the accomplishment for a west coast-based team. Setting a new franchise record for road wins, they were stunningly better away from CenturyLink Field this year, posting a plus-31 point differential in other stadiums and a minus-14 point differential in front of home fans.
131: Missed tackles by Seattle's defensive and special teams units.
The Seahawks have long been celebrated as one of the NFL's best tackling teams. In fact, "Hawk Tackling" has trickled down to all levels of football since Carroll arrived in 2010. But for whatever reason, the team struggled to bring down ball carriers this season and the problem only seemed to be magnified in the final month. Per Pro Football Reference, three members of Seattle's defense finished in the top 50 for missed tackles in 2019, including linebacker Mychal Kendricks, whose 19 missed tackles ranked third in the NFL. These issues played a large role in Seattle's defense finishing 26th in run defense DVOA as well as giving up the sixth-most yards after the catch in the league.
51.1: Percentage of plays where the Seahawks were trailing on the scoreboard.
As if we needed more statistics to clarify how little the margin of error was for Seattle on a weekly basis, this one may take the cake. Despite finishing with an 11-5 record, according to Pat Thorman of Establish the Run, the Seahawks were trailing on the scoreboard more than half of their plays from scrimmage this season. It was especially bad in the third quarter, as the 'Hawks were trailing on more than 62 percent of their third quarter plays. Yet, thanks mostly to Wilson, the team somehow overcame deficits regularly to come out on top in the final quarter.
6: Explosive 40-plus yard pass plays surrendered by Seattle's defense.
Philosophically, Carroll's defense is built on three pillars: his teams will stop the run, create turnovers, and limit explosive pass plays. While the run defense was shaky throughout the year, he can put a check mark next to the other two, including eliminating downfield pass plays. Early in the year, much to the dismay of Carroll, the Seahawks allowed a few receivers to sneak behind coverage for long receptions. But once the rangy Diggs arrived, opponents stopped taking vertical shots for the most part and they yielded the third-fewest 40-yard pass plays in the league. While the front office and coaching staff has a lot of work to do shoring up Seattle's defense, this is one area they should be in good shape moving forward.