After a much-needed late-season bye, the Seattle Seahawks get back to work this week on the road against the Miami Dolphins. It was well noted that Seattle took a long, hard look at its third-down defense and its road struggles during the bye.
Currently, Pete Carroll's club is an underwhelming 1-4 on the road and an impressive 5-0 at home. I think a lot of it has to do with the psyche of the ballclub and the play of rookie Russell Wilson away from CLink.
There's no question league wide it's harder to win away from home, but certain teams embrace playing on the road. For example, the New York Giants in 2007 were considered the road warriors on their way to the Super Bowl. I'm not saying the 'Hawks have to win every game on the road to make a late-season push, but they do need to win at least one or two.
Let's take a look at the good, the bad and everything in between as the Seahawks head to the sunshine state in Week 12.
Trying to decide which area of the team is at its best 10 games through the season wasn't an easy decision. One could easily make a case for the run game, the pass rush has also been strong and the lockdown coverage in the secondary wouldn't be a bad choice either.
However, it wouldn't be fair to pick all three, so I went with the pass rush being the strongest area of the team heading into Week 12. According to Pro Football Focus, Seattle has 12 defensive players with a positive pass-rushing grade.
Most notably, Chris Clemons with a plus-17.4 grade, Jason Jones with a plus-8.8 grade and Bruce Irvin with a plus-8.1 grade. Between those three players the Seahawks have accumulated 19 quarterback sacks, 16 quarterback hits and 44 quarterback hurries.
Seventy-nine total pressures from three players is unheard of at this point during the season. Moreover, Pro Football Focus has the 'Hawks as the most potent pass-rushing team in the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles come in a close second with a plus-32 grade, but Gus Bradley's unit edges them out with an overall pass-rushing grade of plus-34.6.
Hard to argue with the results as a whole. As a team, they've managed 31 quarterback sacks, 30 quarterback hits and 94 hurries. The most impressive part about those numbers is that they continue to climb despite Clemons being stonewalled the last four games.
He hasn't recorded a sack since Week 6, and he has only managed a measly eight pressures during that same time frame. Compare that four-week stretch to his one game against the Green Bay Packers and you almost have the same result.
Against Green Bay he registered seven pressures. While Clemons has been slumping, Irvin has been picking up the slack. He piled up two sacks against the New York Jets in Week 10 and two others in that same four-week stretch.
Everyone knocked the Irvin picked when it happened, yet I know of 31 other teams who would love to have him as a situational rusher.
Just as it was hard to make a decision about the best area of the Seahawks, it is equally hard to decide which area needs the most work through 10 games. As a whole, this team is very sound in so many different areas, yet at times they struggle with run blocking upfront and the penalties associated with the offensive line.
Before you all say, look at Marshawn Lynch's stats, it runs deeper than that. Lynch creates a ton of his yards after contact. There are only two players in the NFL who have managed to pile up more yards after contact than No. 24.
Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson both lead "beast mode" by less than 150 yards. Over the course of the season, Lynch has manged to force 37 missed tackles on 212 carries. On average that is one forced missed tackle every 5.7 attempts. Again only Martin and Peterson lead him in that category.
Don't get me wrong, Max Unger and Russell Okung have really stuck out as run blockers. Shoot, Unger is probably the best run-blocking center in the NFL. Unfortunately, guys like Breno Giacomini, John Moffitt, Anthony McCoy and Michael Robinson bring the unit down.
Moffitt's sample size is low considering he has only started in four games this season—plus he has had some pretty tough matchups. Although, Robinson's poor play has really surprised. What I've seen on film this year echoes the sentiments of PFF. They have him as the third-worst run-blocking player on the Seahawks—just barely ahead of McCoy.
Robinson is coming off of the first Pro Bowl appearance of his career in 2011, which makes the drop-off even more surprising. And in terms of McCoy, his poor play like Robinson's isn't typical either. He was more stout at the point of attack last year than he is this year.
I often wonder if the increase in snaps in the run game has hurt the second-year player out of USC.
Regardless, the run game is still one of the tops in the league. Just imagine how much more potent it could be if Giacomini and Moffitt could be a tad more effective. Hopefully, the return of James Carpenter will help things going forward.
Stock Watch (Week-By-Week Evaluation)
Rising: Russell Wilson
Heading into Week 12 it's hard not to like where Wilson is going as a passer. Over the last five games he has averaged 204.4 yards passing, two touchdown passes and less than an interception a game. Three of the Seahawks last six games are at home, so expect his play to continuously improve.
Falling: Breno Giacomini
As I mentioned above, Giacomini is one of the Seahawks' weakest links on the offensive line. There's no question Seattle will try to replace him next year. He is the most penalized right tackle in the NFL, and there's not a whole lot to like about his game. He has given up four sacks and 24 hurries so far this season.
Rising: Bobby Wagner
What a knockout pick Bobby Wagner has been for the Seahawks defense this year. It's impressive that he plays at such a high level for a rookie. Coach Carroll and John Schneider knew he would be the perfect fit for this team back in April. He has piled up 81 total tackles, 38 defensive stops and plays the run better than any other Seahawk defender.
Falling: Red Bryant
With everyone else having a knockout-type year, Red Bryant has regressed. His run defense has been average at best and his pass-rushing abilities have gone in the tank. Last year he didn't provide a whole lot of pressure, yet this year he has been invisible. Hence the reason they drafted Irvin, and to be fair, he doesn't have a lot of opportunities. Which is definitely a good thing.
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