The Seattle Seahawks went 12-4 in 2014 securing home field advantage in the playoffs. Seattle continued in the playoffs to their second Super Bowl in a row beating Carolina and Green Bay (in glorious come-back fashion). Seattle fans’ hopes were deflated in the Super Bowl on a goal line interception by the Patriots.
Seattle’s record was 7-1 at home and 5-3 on the road in 2014. Seattle beat Green Bay, Denver, Oakland, the New York Football Giants, Arizona, St. Louis and San Francisco at home. Their lone home loss was to Dallas due to a big game by DeMarco Murray. Seattle lost at St. Louis, at Kansas City and at San Diego on the road. Seattle beat Carolina, Philadelphia, Washington, Arizona (with Ryan Lindley) and San Francisco on the road. Gum enthusiast Peter Carroll returns for year 5 with Seattle. The Seahawks keep Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator but lose long time defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to the Falcons’ head coaching spot. Kris Richard was promoted in-house from CB coach to defensive coordinator.
Stats and Upgrades
Seattle was surprisingly 10th in 2014 scoring 24.6 PPG. Seattle had the number 1 ranked rush offense at a whopping 5.3 YPC with the combination of Lynch and Wilson carrying the ball. Seattle turned the ball over only 14 times and was +9 in turnover differential. The offensive line did not protect Wilson as he was sacked 42 times and under pressure a league worst 46% of his drop backs.
Seattle’s defense was very strong again in 2014. They were number 1 in PPG allowed with only 15.9 allowed. Their rush defense was second giving up 3.4 YPC and their passing defense was first with only 186 yards per game allowed. Seattle forced 23 turnovers which was much lower than the 39 turnovers forced in 2013. Seattle sacked the opposing QB 37 times and had average hits and hurries.
Clearly, the Seahawks have the best secondary and LB coverage in the NFL. Richard Sherman is the best corner in the league with +18.2 overall 2014 grade. Earl Thomas (+9.3 coverage) and Kam Chancellor (+3.9 coverage) is the best safety tandem in the league. Second corner Byron Maxwell was just solid with +.8 coverage grade but he bolted for the Eagles in free agency. Maxwell is replaced by former Eagle and Raven Carey Williams. Williams is a solid veteran who should fit in with the Seahawks. Tharold Simon and Marcus Burley played solidly during the regular season in the slot but struggled in the playoffs as did Jeremy Lane.
The LB crew of Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright and Bruce Irvin are all excellent in coverage too. This is an underrated and unnoticed part of the Seahawks’ coverage.
Seattle only gave up 3.4 YPC. All three LBs and DE Michael Bennett are excellent in run defense. Thomas and Chancellor also excel in run defense from the safety spot. Sherman and the slot corners were good in run support. Brandon Mebane is a good run defending DT but got hurt in Week 11 and missed the rest of last season. Former 2nd round pick Jordan Hill was solid with a +1.9 grade. Tony McDaniel struggles at the DT spot against the run. You can’t run on Seattle and you can’t pass on Seattle.
Marshawn Lynch is still in beast mode. Lynch had 280 carries for 1,306 yards (4.7 YPC) and 13 touchdowns rushing. Lynch added 367 yards receiving and 4 more receiving TDs. Seattle should give him a lifetime supply of skittles. Wilson had a high 123 carries at 7.2 YPC with 6 TDs. He is dangerous on the run. Backups Robert Turbin had 4.1 YPC on 74 carries and Christine Michael had 5.1 YPC on 34 carries. The Seahawks are stacked with rushers.
Seattle’s run blocking did not grade out very well. Their best run blocker in center Max Unger (+14) was traded to Seattle as part of the Jimmy Graham deal. JR Sweezy and Justin Britt were solid on the right side. Russel Okung and James Carpenter/Alvin Bailey struggled on the left side. Bailey will replace Carpenter at left guard and French Andy fan favorite Lemuel Jeanpierre will be the new center in Seattle. Lynch gets yards after contact and Wilson is extremely elusive to aid the run game.
Seattle had only 37 sacks, 55 hits and 186 hurries in 2014. This was average especially compared to 2013 pressure by Seattle. Seattle gets pressure from their defensive ends and blitzing LBs on occasion. Bennett had 7 sacks, 13 hits and 53 hurries and Cliff Avril had 5 sacks, 11 hits and 46 hurries. If you stop the DEs, you stop the Seahawks pass rush. Wright, Wagner and Irvin (6.5 sacks) all had solid blitz support with decent pass rush grades. The defensive tackle combination of Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and Jordan Hill all struggle to rush the passer. Frank Clark was added in Round 2 at Defensive End to give the Hawks some depth at DE.
Russell Wilson works magic despite not having weapons or protection. Wilson completed 63.1% of his passes for 20 TDS and 7 interceptions. Wilson only threw 435 times and had 7.7 yards per attempt. Wilson’s throwing is limited due to the Seattle run strength and the fact they can’t protect him. Seattle also lacked weapons for Wilson to throw too in 2014. Wilson still makes it work. Seattle needs to pay him.
The Seahawks have added Jimmy Graham which finally gives Wilson a real dangerous weapon. Graham had only 889 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014 dealing with injuries. Graham had 1,215 yards and 16 TDS in 2013, 982 yards and 9 TDs in 2012 and 1,310 yards and 11 TDs in 2011. Graham was worth Unger and the 1st round pick given up to get him.
The rest of the Seahawks weapons are not very good. Doug Baldwin is a solid receiver but clearly not a number 1 WR. Baldwin had 825 yards and 3 TDs on 98 targets in 2014. Jermaine Kearse had 537 yards and 1 TD on 67 targets. Luke Wilson had 312 yards and 3 TDs on 40 targets. The Hawks hope 2nd round pick Paul Richardson from 2014 and 3rd round pick Tyler Lockett from 2015 develop to give them more firepower. Richardson is a skinny deep threat and Lockett will try to fill the Golden Tate role that was missed by Seattle in 2014.
Seattle is terrible in protection. Wilson was pressured on almost half his drop backs. Left Tackle Russel Okung can pass block (+4.9) but right guard JR Sweezy and rookie RT Justin Britt were terrible on the right side in 2014. Alvin Bailey was average at left guard (and worse than Carpenter) and DePierre is very unproven at center. Expect Wilson to be running for his life again this year. The tough defense and run game will lead them to wins yet again.
Schedule and Outlook
Seattle is a perennial playoff team (3 years in a row) and a Super Bowl caliber team still (2 years in a row). They did lose their defensive coordinator which may affect that great defense. Wilson and Lynch are the lynchpins to the offense and now have Graham to help in the passing game. The defense should be top 5 still even with the loss of Quinn. The offense should be top 10 again if the run game remains strong and Wilson throws well even when under pressure.
Seattle travels to Green Bay Week 2 for a Sunday Night football rematch of the NFC Championship game. Packer fans will be excited to finally play Seattle at Lambeau Field for a change. Seattle hosts Detroit during Week 4 on Monday Night Football. Stafford is 1-0 against Wilson. Seattle hosts the Bears Week 3 and travels to Minnesota Week 13. I think Seattle will sweep the NFC North. Green Bay and Minnesota have the best chance to win as they get Seattle away from CenturyLink Field and the Hawks’ den. If you can stop the Hawks incredible run game and block their defensive ends, they can be beat.