Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Analytics STEM

Did Seahawks Need an Overhaul for 2024 season?

Seattle Seahawks find themselves at a crossroads after the 2023 NFL season. The team faces critical decisions regarding their coaching staff and personnel. Changes came hard and fast to some fans’ surprise, and to some, expectedly if not a little later than expected. Whatever your position is there are arguments for both supporting an overhaul and against it. In this post, I’ll discuss the for vs against reasons, look at the facts scientifically, share some easy-to-grasp visuals, and then share my opinion.

Before we get started let’s get an overview of the 32 teams in NFL and when the teams formed and a little background on Seattle Seahawks.

Seahawks is a relatively young team. Seattle Seahawks were organized in 1976 and played their first game that year. By organization’s age, Seattle is one of the youngest teams. If we rank the earliest organization at 1 (Green Pay Packers), and youngest at 32 (Houston Texans), Seahawks ranks at 27.

If we categorize the entire league into quartiles, we get:
Quartile 0 1919
Quartile 1 1936
Quartile 2 1960
Quartile 3 1966
Quartile 4 2002

Where the second column is the year when team was founded. So, Seahawks fall in the 3rd quartile having been formed in 1976.

Despite its youth, Seattle Seahawks have made it to the Super Bowl three times in their history with their first appearance in 2005 season (SuperBowl XL in 2006).

Super Bowl XL. Game date: February 5, 2006. Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers. Result: Loss > Seahawks 10: 21 Steelers
Super Bowl XLVIII. Game Date: February 2, 2014. Opponent: Denver Broncos. Result: Win > Seahawks 43: 8 Broncos
Super Bowl XLIX. Game Date: February 1, 2015. Opponent: New England Patriots. Result: Loss > Seahawks 24: 28 Patriots

These memorable games showcased thrilling moments, intense competition, and the Seahawks’ journey to football greatness. Their victory in Super Bowl XLVIII remains a cherished memory, showcasing their dominant defense and memorable performances by players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor.
Fast forward to calendar year 2024, we get an overhaul…was it necessary of were we already doing great? Let’s explore both arguments for and against the overhaul.

For an Overhaul:

  1. Stagnation and Mediocrity: The Seahawks have been treading water in recent seasons, failing to make significant playoff strides. Their once-dominant defense has lost its edge, and the offense lacks consistency. An overhaul could inject fresh ideas, reinvigorate the team, and break free from the status quo.
  2. Coaching and Scheme Issues: The coaching staff has faced scrutiny. Pete Carroll’s tenure, while successful, has also seen predictable play-calling and questionable game management. A new head coach could bring innovative schemes, adaptability, and better utilization of talent. Additionally, the defensive struggles demand a revamped approach, especially after losing key coaches like Sean Desai and Aaron Curry.

Against an Overhaul:

  1. Continuity and Familiarity: The Seahawks’ core players—Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and DK Metcalf—have thrived under Carroll’s system. Disrupting this continuity might lead to a rocky transition. A gradual evolution, rather than a complete overhaul, could maintain stability while addressing specific issues.
  2. Risk of Rebuilding: Overhauls come with risks. A new coaching staff might take time to gel, impacting player development and team chemistry. The Seahawks risk losing valuable veterans if they opt for a full-scale rebuild. Balancing change with retaining key contributors is crucial.

In the end, the Seahawks’ decision hinges on finding the delicate balance between rejuvenation and preserving what has worked. The 2023 offseason will be pivotal, and fans eagerly await the team’s direction.

With all this being said, let’s look at some facts. I’ll look at some key performance metrics over the decade: 2013 to 2023 seasons and see how Seahawks have done in past a decade ago and how they’ve been doing of recent, and if there’s any trend. All the data I am using here are based on trusted sources such as:;;

First, let’s take a look at the Seahawks’ overall performance in the regular season and playoffs from 2013 to 2023.

A few things to note…NFL switched to a 17-game regular season starting in 2021. Previously, teams played 16 regular-season games. In the chart above, the Y-axis is number of games played in regular seasons.

The Takeaway

There were there 2 trips to Super Bowl in those 10 years (1 of which was won). Seahawks made playoffs in 2013 to 2016, missed 2017, and then again from 2018 to 2020, missed 2021, made it again in 2022, missed 2023. The key takeaway from this is their lack of consistency.

Let’s look at some key metrics such as: Penalties, Sacks, Interceptions, and Touchdowns over the same period.

In the chart above, Sacks refers to how many times Seahawks defense sacked opponents’ QB. Interceptions column shows number of interceptions by Seahawks defense. Penalties (Yards) refers to yards of penalties against Seahawks.
Penalties against Seahawks are shown in vertical bars and its values are on the right Y-axis in yards.

The Takeaway

Seahawks suffered the LEAST penalties of all NFL teams in 2013 season…when they won the Super Bowl! Since then, they’re one of the highest penalized teams (in offense and defense).

Next, let’s look at: Turnovers For, Turnovers Against, and Turnover Differential (difference between For and Against).

In the chart above, the taller in the positive Y-axis the TO Diff bar (gray bar) is the more favorable for Seahawks. That’s the Turnover Differential.

The Takeaway

The Turnover differential does not tell the whole story as this was not the largest reason for stagnation or declining peformance.
Some reasons for not making the playoffs since 2019 include (among others):
The Offensive Line (OL) has been inconsistent, affecting their ability to protect The QB and establish a consistent running game.
Lack of Run Defense. This allowed opponents to control the clock and sustain drives.
Penalties and Discipline. Combined with the above, the costly penalties (as seen in a previous chart) both on offense and defense cost the team some critical games.

Next, let’s look at Third-down and Fourth-down conversions in terms of conversion rates (as percentage) over the decade.

The Takeaway

We see a noticable drop in 3rd-down conversions after 2015. They fell and stayed below 40% after 2020 with their lowest percentage of the decade in 2023.

We see a declining trend of 4th-down conversions and generally being very inconsistent alternating between a high percentage one season and a low percentage the next. Even the best conversions since 2018 have been 57%.

Next, I want to look at how many times Seahawks quarterback (QB) got sacked by the opposing defense over the decade.

The Takeaway

The sacks continue to be a chronic problem under the same management and coaching staff. It’s worth noting some key events during this time period: Russell Wilson leaves Seahawks for Broncos after being sacked 42 times in 2021 season (highest in the decade).
The sack count trending upward season after season over the decade.

Let’s take a look at some offensive performance metrics such as rushing and passing yards.

The Takeaway

2019 was the best year in a decade for rushing yards. Russell Wilson (QB) added a new threat to rushing in addition to Chris Carson. However, this came as a cost to Seahawks as well as to Carson’s career forcing him to retire with a persistent neck injury since; he announced his retirement in July 2022.
Seahawks haven’t been that good since in rushing.

The Takeaway

The passing yards obviously has a lot to do with the QB, and Seahawks experienced some major churn in that department. Russell Wilson (QB) was traded after 2021 season. Geno Smith becomes the starting QB in 2022 season. This showed some promise (and surprised many doubters about Smith’s ability)! In fact, Geno did better than Russell’s last two years with the team. Drew Lock and Geno Smith both played as QBs in 2023 season with Lock filling in after Smith’s injury with mixed results.

The elephant in the room of course so far is the enormous coaching staff change including the Head Coach Pete Carroll, followed by some continuing starter personnel changes after hiring the new no-nonsense Head Coach. And just like that, with a stroke of a pen, Seahawks shifted from the oldest coach to the youngest Head Coach in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks and Pete Carroll (age 72 in 2023) have amicably agreed to change his role from head coach to an advisor role after his 14-year run as the Seahawks’ head coach. The decision came after the Seahawks finished the 2023 season with a 9-8 record, missing the final wild-card spot in the NFC.

Carroll’s legacy includes a Super Bowl win, two Super Bowl appearances, 10 playoff appearances, and 11 winning seasons. In my observation, about 50% of the fans are sad to see him go and think of Carroll as the best coach ever who should have been retained. However, the other half of the fanbase, seems to think that his heydeys have passed and the Seahawks have been stuck in mediocracy for the past several years while our division rivals are constantly improving with better recruiting, younger coaches, and more creative strategies.

Known as the player’s coach, and a fervent gum-chewing-cheerleader of the team, Carroll has also been a darling coach among the media and various social activists and groups as he was an outspoken supporter of various social causes. Various media stats subtly counter the firing of Carroll with the fact that Seahawks have been dominant in the NFC for over past 10 years. However, that is not true. In fact, Seahawks were indeed dominant in only parts of the era but only if you include the best stats of the heydeys from 2013 to 2016 (best performance in that timeline being 2013, 2014 seasons). If we trim it to the last 5 years instead of 10, the picture looks quite different…a picture emerges of a mediocre team that had become comfortable in justifying its mediocracy while missing playoffs after playoffs and delivering empty promises every season to the ever-hungry rabid 12s.

Therefore, the argument against changing the Head Coach can be easily rephrased as: Seahawks have been in downfall since 2016 season, stuck in mediocracy, and continues to underperform! This is clearly evident when we look at the actual performance in recent years and compare with the prime years and see the lack of performance, and the divisional archrivals improving (49ers, RAMs).

Therefore, my firm opinion is that a change was certainly required, and realistically overdue…6 years overdue! The change has finally come after 2023 season ended for the Seahawks before the playoffs began. Here’s to a brighter future and a resurgence in the coming years!

For more sports analytics, feel free to explore these blogs. Cheers!

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