The Seattle Seahawks’ bye week came early this season. However, the Seahawks can be forgiven for feeling the bye came at just the right time. It’s only been five games, but it’s already been a wild ride for Seattle.
And yet, the roller coaster found itself aimed upward at the end of every twist and turn.
The Seahawks’ 2020 campaign has already had more drama than a season of Mad Men. Of the Seahawks’ five games, four were decided by a single score, and two came down to what was effectively the game’s final play. But Seattle emerged with five victories, making the Seahawks the only team that was 5-0 through the NFL’s first five weeks.
So at this stopping juncture, here’s a report card on Seattle’s season to date:
Points per game: 33.8 (second in the NFL)
Yards per game: 395.8 (ninth)
Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA): 23.6% (third)
Seattle’s offense has been something to behold. Quarterback Russell Wilson has played MVP-caliber football for three years now, but this season he’s reached heights rarely seen in the NFL, and he came into the weekend ranked first in the league in passer rating (129.8) and touchdown passes (19). Second-year receiver DK Metcalf has reached star status, giving Wilson two receivers (along with Tyler Lockett) who are gamebreakers. Seattle’s run game hasn’t been top-five as it’s typically been during Pete Carroll’s tenure as coach, but that’s more a product of the success of the passing game than anything else. And to top it off, Seattle has been nails when advancing into the red zone, scoring touchdowns 16 of the 18 times it drove inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Points allowed per game: 27.0 (19th)
Yards allowed per game: 471.2 (32nd)
DVOA: 3.4% (19th)
In many ways this has been a disastrous season for Seattle’s defense. Through five weeks the Seahawks gave up by far the most yards per game in the league, with the pass defense in particular being historically porous. The pass rush, which was the team’s biggest area of concern coming into the season, has generated just nine sacks, and it’s telling that the team’s best pass rusher is safety Jamal Adams. But, in typical Carroll fashion, the Seahawks have been better at preventing points than yards, with DVOA aligning more with the points-allowed metric than the yards-allowed one. And Seattle has helped itself by registering 10 takeaways, which was tied for the league lead.
Special Teams: A
DVOA: 5.7% (4th)
Seattle’s special teams have been about as close to perfect as possible. Punter Michael Dickson is an absolute magician, putting 14 of his 22 punts inside the opposition 20, and he’s performing even better than he did as a rookie in 2018 when he was a first-team All-Pro. Kicker Jason Myers hasn’t been called into action often because Seattle has scored so many touchdowns, but he’s 2-for-2 on field goals, including a 55-yarder, and 21-for-21 on extra points. The Seahawks haven’t generated a lot in the return game, but it hasn’t been silent, and they’ve given up absolutely nothing to opposing returners (5.9 yards per punt return, 17.6 yards per kick return). Seattle even snuffed out the one attempted fake punt it faced.
There are things about Seattle’s coaching that can be nitpicked, whether it’s the way the Seahawks have approached things defensively when playing with a lead, or whether it’s allowing inferior competition to stay in contact. But the defining coaching aspect of Seattle’s season is the decision to “let Russ cook” by taking the shackles off Wilson in the first halves of games and on early downs, and it’s been a smashing success. The other huge coaching accomplishment is that in this time of COVID-19, the Seahawks have not had a single player or staff member test positive. Given the outbreaks that have occurred on other teams, forcing the cancellation of games, that is a gargantuan achievement.
If we were grading based on entertainment value, the Seahawks would earn an A+ as all their games have been compelling, high-scoring affairs that kept one glued to his or her seat until the final whistle. This defense is no Legion of Boom, and it’s fair to feel some concern about Seattle’s inability to blow anyone out, especially considering last season’s 11-5 record was built almost entirely on wins by one-score and that teams couldn’t make it past the divisional round of the playoffs. But in the end it’s hard to argue with 5-0, and Football Outsiders has Seattle with a 92.9% chance of making the playoffs, despite still having 11 games to play, including six against an NFC West that many consider to be the strongest division in the NFL.