Seahawks Insider Blog

Suddenly, Seahawks are stonewalling teams on third down; snap counts from Eagles game

Here's another statistical reason the Seahawks have won three in a row to revive their playoff push:

Seattle spent the first half of the season beset by injuries and among the worst in the league on third down, allowing opponents to convert 50 percent of them. The problem peaked in September's loss at San Diego and again in October in the loss to Dallas. The Chargers and Cowboys were each 10 for 17 converting third downs, and the Seahawks ran just 40 and 48 plays on offense in those losses.

But Seattle's last three foes are just nine of 34 (26.5 percent) making good on third downs. The Eagles were 2 for 11 on Sunday. That -- and their no-huddle ways -- are why their time of possession of 18:04 was the lowest ever for a Seahawks opponent -- and why Seattle ran a whopping 85 plays to Philadelphia's mere 45.

Afterward, Eagles coach Chip Kelly cited his team being in too many third and longs. That is because Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor are healthy now and flying around making plays for the Seahawks on first and second downs -- plays that Seattle's defense wasn't making so close to the line of scrimmage earlier in the season when they were hurting.

And now that it's been third and 7 or 9 or longer instead of third and 2, the Seahawks are blitzing more knowing teams have to pass. Even part-time cornerback Marcus Burley got a sack on one of his three defensive snaps Sunday in Philadelphia.

As few more notes on the how historic a run of three games this has been for the Seahawks' defense:

Entering Sunday’s home game against free-falling San Francisco (7-6), Seattle has allowed a total of 20 points and 507 yards in the last 16 days. That’s a mere 169 yards per game in the 19-3 wins over Arizona and at San Francisco in a span of five days, and Sunday’s plundering of Philadelphia in which they gave up just 139 yards.

As I wrote yesterday, you have to go back 10 years, to the first three games of the 2004 season, to find a Seahawks team that’s allowed so few points over three games. Chike Okeafor, Cedric Woodard, Rashad Moore and Grant Wistrom were the defensive line and Orlando Huff was the middle linebacker for Mike Holmgren’s ’04 Seahawks that won in September 21-7 at New Orleans, 10-6 at Tampa Bay and 34-0 over the 49ers.

You -- or I -- could argue this is the best three-game stretch of defense the Seahawks have ever produced.

Those three foes the Seahawks shut down in 2004 weren’t nearly the quality of this season’s Cardinals, (albeit wobbling) 49ers and Eagles. Those three have a combined record of 26-13 and include two division leaders. Those ’04 opponents Seattle stymied were awful, finishing a combined 15-33. San Francisco was 2-14 that year.

The current 49ers suddenly look almost as inept. They will arrive in Seattle this weekend 7-6 and seemingly in complete disarray, from coach Jim Harbaugh’s future through Colin Kaepernick’s quarterback play after losing 24-13 to the previously one-win Raiders on Sunday.

“This,” coach Pete Carroll said Sunday night, “is the way we want to play.”

 --TNT columnist Dave Boling wrote in today's paper on the difference a month's worth of wins make. The same Seahawks locker room that national reports said was the home of infighting and pro-Russell Wilson, con-Russell Wilson factions is having a blast.
I still say Mrs. Michael Bennett may be wondering what her husband meant postgame in Philadelphia.
--Looks like Colin Kaepernick isn't the most popular guy in the Bay Area right now, eh?
--San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion writes today how "the biggest loser in this 49ers mess" is the 49ers' quarterback.
--By ever-popular demand, snap counts from the Eagles game: