The passer rating of opposing quarterbacks went up when safety Earl Thomas was not on the field. This could mean trouble in the playoffs.
As the Seattle Seahawks prepare to take on the Detroit Lions Saturday night, here are five numbers that matter.
99.5: That was the passer rating of opposing quarterbacks during the regular season when safety Earl Thomas was not on the field for the Seahawks. As a point of reference, only two defenses (the Cleveland Browns and Lions) allowed a higher rating overall during the entire regular season. When the Seahawks had Thomas, they allowed a passer rating of 77.8, which would have been third-best on the season.
The bottom line is that this is not the same old Legion of Boom. Instead, it’s a vulnerable pass defense that has struggled. The Seahawks’ defense ranked 13th against the pass after having finished in the top three the previous four seasons.
Seattle has plenty of obstacles to overcome if it’s going to make a run. But none is bigger than playing defense without Thomas.
10: The number of games this season in which the Seahawks failed to rush for at least 100 yards. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Seattle had nine such games from 2012 to 2015.
In the last three games of the season, the offense averaged 2.89 yards per carry (31st). And Thomas Rawls has gained a total of 56 yards on his last 37 rushes (1.51 ypc).
“I don’t think it’s going to be like that going forward,” Pete Carroll said. “I think there were some numbers in there, he didn’t carry the ball very much. Every running back needs to get out there and stay on the field and keep playing. He hasn’t gotten a lot of carries because he got nicked here or what happened last week. I don’t think that’s really a factor to be concerned about on our end of it. We’re going to just keep feeding it to him.”
It’s tough to imagine the Seahawks making any kind of postseason run without getting more from their ground game.
7.1: The percentage of opponents’ dropbacks that resulted in a sack for the Seahawks during the regular season. The Seahawks’ defense produced sacks at the second-best rate in the NFL. The only Carroll-coached Seahawks team that posted a higher number was the 2013 group.
The strength of this defense is the front seven. Cliff Avril and Frank Clark combined for 21.5 sacks. Michael Bennett missed five games because of injury but has looked like his usual self the past two weeks with two sacks, five tackles for loss and six quarterback hits.
The Seahawks have the potential to dominate games up front, and that will be necessary to slow down some of the high-powered offenses in the NFC.
95.6: Russell Wilson’s QBR when targeting Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham this season. Wilson completed 73.5 percent of his passes and averaged 9.49 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions when targeting those two players.
Baldwin tied a franchise record with 94 receptions and set a career-high with 1,128 yards. Graham finished the regular season with 923 receiving yards, third among tight ends.
With Tyler Lockett and C.J. Prosise out, Baldwin and Graham are the two players who can consistently win their one-on-one matchups. Given that the Lions allow opponents to complete an NFL-worst 72.7 percent of their passes, look for the Seahawks to rely heavily on their quick, efficient passing game Saturday.
That means targeting Baldwin and Graham early and often.
17.1: The percentage of extra points the Seahawks missed during the regular season (six total). Only the Minnesota Vikings were worse.
It might seem like a little thing, but it could be the difference between a win and a loss in a tight game. The Seahawks will be without their usual long-snapper, Nolan Frese (ankle), on Saturday. Seattle signed Tyler Ott to replace him.
The return game is a question mark as well after Lockett went down in Week 16. The Seahawks are signing Devin Hester, but he didn’t show much with the Baltimore Ravens this season.
The Lions ranked sixth on special teams during the regular season and have a clear edge here.