Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Oct 2008

Inside the Numbers: Eagles at Seahawks

This week's Seattle Times Seahawks preview deals with the differenes between a team's current record and how good they actually may be -- sometimes, teams aren't what we think they are. Unfortunately for Seattle, it's the Eagles who are better than their record indicates -- the Seahawks' on-field performance, their FO numbers, and their 2-5 record, match up pretty well. Also, a guest shot from Mike Tanier, detailing three Eagles players who are under the radar but well worth watching.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 31 Oct 2008

4 comments, Last at 01 Nov 2008, 2:21pm by Doug Farrar


by coltrane23 :: Fri, 10/31/2008 - 5:46pm

You know, it's hard to pinpoint exactly when the Seahawks' season went to hell in a handbasket. I really thought that, based on last year's performance, this team had a legit shot at 11-5 and (possibly) a first round bye. Never thought about HFA throughout, but #2 seemed reasonable.

Injuries seems like such a pat answer, and I'm not sure I buy it. I think this team fell apart before the first preseason game, but I didn't see it until they started playing the games for real.

Yeah, I was concerned about the WR corps being thin heading into the season. I mean, I never liked the idea of pinning hopes on Deion Branch for this year because the guy tore his ACL just last January. Hard to expect him to be productive so soon after that. Bobby Engram has hit the wall in his career after recovering from his shoulder. Burleson is nice as a WR who pleasantly surprises with a nice catch after a disappointing drop, but when he went down the offense was toast (never thought I'd see Burleson as critical to the offense's success).

But the running game really does seem to have improved, not that such a feat would be difficult to accomplish with the Tiptoe Burglar plying his trade in another town. Julius Jones started running well in Week 2, I thought, and I don't know for sure why he's not getting more carries other than Holmgren being absent-minded. Or Jones is in his doghouse.

I do think the OL has improved over last year, although it's still not as good as it was when Hutch was in town. Still, it's not a liability like it had been recently.

So apart from receivers running all over the place and dropping passes . . . OK, that probably had a lot to do with it, which would go back to the thin WR corps. But that goes back to the front office as much as it does injuries, right?

And then there's the defense . . .

Last year I was nervous about Brian Russell as a starter, but he seemed to hold up OK. Yeah, he blows chunks, but he's one guy and he's not part of the LB corps that's getting smoked by misdirection plays. The DEs can't seem to get to the QB, no one on the team can tackle, the DBs seem unable to cover the WRs, etc.

How many defensive coaches cycled out of Seattle this year? And don't the Seahawks have a new WR coach? I know there's a new OL coach, but I don't really have complaints there. I'd like to believe that the era of Mora the younger will reinvigorate this team, which looks like it's been mailing it in since the bye week, but this is the same guy currently in charge of a secondary which gets lit up like a Christmas tree each week.

And I'm starting to question Ruskell's abilities as well, since he seems to have improved the defense at the expense of the offense. He had a great offseason prior to the '05 season, but it's been a steady degradation of the offensive personnel since then. That'd be fine if the defense could hold up its end of the bargain, but a light, quick defense won't work if the offense can't stay on the field.

I guess this is my requiem for the end of the Holmgren era and my preparation for a few years of wandering in the proverbial desert. I hope I'm wrong about that last part. It's much more fun when your team is winning.

by Doug Farrar :: Fri, 10/31/2008 - 6:37pm

Well, I think it's safe to say that the bloom is off the rose with Ruskell. We know his faults, and we're stuck with them. I don't expect that this team will have a truly great receiver until he's gone, because ... wow, what a blind spot he's got there. And the drafts have been pretty average aside from 2005.

I anticipate that the Mora era will look quite a bit like what we had in Seattle with Dennis Erickson -- a few flashes of brilliance surrounded by a great deal more infuriating inconsistency, and a playoff drought brought about by front office hubris and a key lack of coaching leadership. This will be Ruskell's team starting in 2009, and I wish I felt better about that.

by coltrane23 :: Sat, 11/01/2008 - 12:53am

That's what is so frustrating to me about the WR corps--Ruskell doesn't need to find an A#1, blue chip player a la Moss. Holmgren's offense would work fine with a bunch of B+ players who will simply catch the ball on a regular basis and pick up some YAC, but Ruskell hasn't even been able to find that caliber of player.

I don't even know what to expect from this offense when Mora takes over, because it's WCO personnel all the way. I know importing the WCO didn't work out well for Mora in ATL, but I'm thinking that had at least as much to do with Vick as it did with any coaching deficiencies. I expect the defense to improve, since that's his background and he seemed to get his players fired up in ATL (at least for games I saw).

But yeah, I think you're right about the inconsistent play and the consistent mediocrity. I never really drank the Holmgren Kool-Aid because I thought he had some glaring flaws he never corrected, but I think we'll find it tastes so much better than what we're going to be served beginning next year.

At least maybe I'll be able to score some good seats at face value again.

by Doug Farrar :: Sat, 11/01/2008 - 2:21pm

If the John Clayton scuttlebutt is true, and Greg Knapp is the likely successor to the Holmgren/Haskell team, it might look like the Mariucci-era 49ers -- only there's no T.O. or Rice, and every receiver is about as productive as Tai Streets. You can win that way, but you have to have a much, much better defense than this team puts on the field.

This much I know -- if Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson can't make serious waves with Kerney out for extended time, that's a major indictment of the Ruskell draft philosophy. Above all, he was supposed to have been a master architect of front sevens.