The Seahawks are practicing right now, and I'll have a practice report up in a couple of hours. But for now we tee up a couple questions from readers in this week’s offering of Answers to your questions.
Tillman asks: Eric, it would be interesting to hear some historical data on the end of year results of teams that have finished Q1 at 1-3. I would imagine a fairly low percentage of even 8-8 final records let alone play-off participants.
Williams: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 22 teams have made the playoffs with 1-3 or worse records since 1990, and one of them, the New England Patriots, one it all in 2001.
In Seahawks franchise history, the team has started its season 1-3 or worse on 10 occasions, and in two of those seasons Seattle has finished with a .500 or better record, in 1979 (9-7) and 1990 (9-7). None of those teams reached the playoffs.
Here’s the full list of teams that have started the season 1-3 or worse and have made the playoffs.
Year Team Start Record Playoffs 1990 Saints 1-3 8-8 L, WC 1990 Eagles 1-3 10-6 L, WC 1991 Jets 1-3 8-8 L, WC 1992 Chargers 0-4 11-5 L, Div. 1993 Packers 1-3 9-7 L, Div. 1993 Oilers 1-4 12-4 L, Div. 1995 Lions 1-3 10-6 L, WC 1995 Eagles 1-3 10-6 L, Div. 1996 Cowboys 1-3 10-6 L, Div. 1996 Jaguars 1-3 9-7 L, WC 1997 Giants 1-3 10-5-1 L, WC 1998 Bills 1-3 10-6 L, WC 2000 Saints 1-3 10-6 L, Div. 2001 Patriots 1-3 11-5 W, SB 2002 Falcons 1-3 9-6-1 L, Div. 2002 Titans 1-3 11-5 L, Div. 2002 Jets 1-3 9-7 L, Div. 2002 Steelers 1-3 10-5-1 L, Div. 2004 Packers 1-3 10-6 L, WC 2005 Bears 1-3 11-5 L, Div. 2007 Chargers 1-3 11-5 L. CC 2008 Vikings 1-3 10-6 L, WC WC: wild-card round; Div: divisional round; CC: conference championship SB: Super Bowl
Dukeshire asks: Eric - In your article you say that the 'Hawks were "bent on disrupting Manning's timing." I saw very little evidence of that. Rather, I saw a defense that was reluctant to blitz (despite showing blitz many, many times then failing to get back into coverage quickly) and seemed content to play in a very soft, medium zone while rushing only 4, the vast majority of the game. Will you please elaborate? Thanks.
Williams: Well, I think that was Seattle’s plan going into the game, but obviously they didn’t execute. First off, I think you have to acknowledge that Peyton Manning is one of the best to ever play the game, and on top of that he’s playing at a high level right now.
Because of his ability to process what he sees in terms of the defense and make quick, good decisions in the passing game, I don’t think it’s ever a good decision to get really aggressive and try and blitz hard and give him one-on-one coverage. Manning, at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, is durable and poised in the pocket. And even if you get a lick on him, he’s going to deliver the ball on time and on target, and the touchdowns that they scored would have just happened a lot quicker.
What Seattle tried to do, and I think it was the correct game plan, was to try and disguise the coverage as best they can, meaning they showed one coverage like Cover 1 with safety help over the top, then backed the off the other safety into Cover-2 late after Manning had called the play to try to get him into a guessing game. Seattle also ran a couple zone blitzes where they had defensive linemen dropping back into coverage to try and anticipate some of those short routes inside.
The problem with disguising and playing seven or eight guys into coverage, is you give Manning a lot of time to read the defense, and the back end has to be disciplined in their drops and reads. You also have to get consistent pressure up front. That didn’t happen on both fronts for Seattle.
I know Seattle didn’t blitz a whole lot so, it seemed they were not trying to disrupt Manning’s timing. But they did use some late shifting and disguise in terms of coverage to try and disrupt Manning’s timing, perhaps forcing him into a couple bad decision in terms of reading the defense. They got one pick late in the game. Other than that, Seattle’s defense was unsuccessful in executing the game plan.
The Seahawks also didn’t get much help from the offense. In order to compete with Manning and Co. the offense has to match them score for score, and the Seahawks did not do that.
T-Bird asks: Eric, I feel like Wallace is not a good long term option at 2nd string QB. He puts up good numbers, but the reality is he doesn't move the team consistently or can't string enough plays together for long sustained drives. Your thoughts on Wallace? Williams: I got this question during Monday Morning QB but wanted another opportunity to answer it more fully, particularly with some of the criticism Wallace has received over the past couple weeks.
If you watch the NFL playbook clip from above, you might rethink some of the criticism of Wallace the last, couple weeks, and in particular the Indy game. Wallace really had little time to set up with both Brandon Frye and Ray Willis getting beat with regularity by two defensive ends that simply outclass them in terms of talent.
Has Wallace made some bad decision in the past couple weeks? Of course, he’s the backup up quarterback for a reason. He probably should have run a couple times during the Indy game, particularly when he was flushed out of the pocket and continued to try and make a play down the field. Sometimes you just have to take the yardage in front of you and live to play another down.
Because of his size, he also has trouble making the throws down the middle of the seams of the defense, both in term of seeing the open man and then delivering an accurate strike over much taller defenders at the line of scrimmage. Seattle's makeshift line has struggled to create passing lanes for Wallace to step up and throw into inside. Looking at Wallace’s stats over the last couple games, and they’re not awful. And yes, I understand they were padded somewhat at the end of the Indianapolis game.
He’s 74 of 112 for 645 yards, with a 66.1 completion percentage, and he has three touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also fumbled twice and been sacked eight times. Wallace has a 82.6 passer rating, which puts him at 19th overall in the NFL.
But also consider this: During 2008, Quarterback A finished 141 of 242 for 1,532 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions, and completing 58.3 percent of his passes for a 87.0 passer rating.
Quarterback B finished 2008 going 109 of 209 for 1,216 yards, throwing five touchdowns and 10 interceptions, completing 52.2 percent of his passes for a 57.8 rating.
Quarterback A of course is Seneca Wallace and Quarterback B is Matt Hasselbeck.
But my point is both quarterbacks have been playing behind make-shift offensive lines for two years, and I think Seattle’s issue offensively has more to do with the lack of cohesiveness with the offensive line up front over the past two seasons then the signal caller making the decisions.