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Jason Wood

2014 Player/Team Spotlight -- Seattle Seahawks

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2014 Team & Player Spotlight Series

One of Footballguys best assets is our message board community. The Shark Pool is, in our view, the best place on the internet to discuss, debate and analyze all things fantasy football. In what's become an annual tradition, the Player Spotlight series is a key part of the preseason efforts. We are trying something different this year. We will still publish more than 100 PLAYER SPOTLIGHT articles on the main site. But we are going to solicit discussion on them in these TEAM threads.

Why the change?

NFL success is contingent on the sum of a team's parts. To think that a wide receiver succeeds simply because of himself would be foolhardy. What if a team has three excellent fantasy WR options (e.g., Denver with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders)? Is a person's enthusiasm for a given player being properly offset against lesser expectations for one of their teammates?

Frankly, there was a lot of redundancy in former Spotlight threads. Asking you all to discuss the Giants new OC Ben McAdoo in threads for Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham and Rashad Jennings seems inefficient. Now, in this new format, you can factor McAdoo (or any other team change) and it's impact on ALL the relevant skill players.

Thread Topic: Seattle Seahawks

The NEW Rules

In order for this thread to provide maximum value, we ask that you follow a few simple guidelines:

  • Focus commentary on the fantasy relevant players in question, and your expectations for said players
  • Back up your expectations in whatever manner you deem appropriate; avoid posts that simply say "I hate him" or "He's the best"
  • Avoid redundancies or things like "good posting" ... this should be about incremental analysis or debate

While not a requirement, we strongly encourage you to provide your own projections for the relevant players on each team. We would note that it's important that your statistics makes sense. For example, projecting two running backs on the same team with 2,000 yards is an obvious gaffe. You might have three WR/TEs projected for 1,000+ yards, but that would be aggressive and a historical rarity. Back it up.

Projections should include:

  • For QBs: Attempts, Completions, Passing Yards, Passing TDs, Ints, Rush Attempts, Rush Yards, Rush TDs
  • For RBs: Rushes, Rushing Yards, Rush TDs, Receptions, Receiving Yards, Receiving TDs
  • For WRs & TEs: Receptions, Receiving Yards, Receiving TDs

Recommended Players to Discuss:

  • QB Russell Wilson
  • RB Marshawn Lynch
  • RB Christine Michael
  • WR Percy Harvin
  • WR Doug Baldwin
  • TE Zach Miller

Each PLAYER SPOTLIGHT article will include:

  • Detailed viewpoint from a Footballguys staff member
  • Links to thoughtful viewpoints from around the Web, including intriguing pull quotes from this thread
  • FBG Projections

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Hmmm, no projections for the Seahawks? I'll give it a shot.

If it ain't broke don't fix it. As long as the defense continues to be elite, and the running game continues being effective, don't expect Pete Carroll to make significant changes to the teams strategy. I heard some fantasy analysis saying that this is the year that the Seahawks passing game explodes, and I just don't see it. The defense had some losses, but it is still extremely talented and deep, especially in the backfield. Don't get me wrong, there will be some big passes and the schedule is a bit tougher this year, which will make for more competitive games. Even considering that, the offense uses the run to set up big plays in the pass game so the volume won't be there. The best 3 players on offense are great at creating big gains with their feet (Lynch, Harvin and Wilson), and you tailor the offense to the attributes of the players. So don't expect the 45% pass - 55% run play ratio to change significantly.

Still there is value to be had in this offense. Wilson continues to be underrated, and Harvin's injury history makes people hesitant. You can take advantage of that opportunity if you are prepared.

Overrated Players:

Christine Michael (in redraft): Don't see the opportunity unless Lynch gets injured. Lynch has proven to be extremely durable, and the coaches trust Turbin for some reason. Wait one more year for his breakout.

Underrated Players:

Russell Wilson: He finished QB 11 and QB 9 in his first two years and yet is going QB 13 in redraft. Having a healthy Percy Harvin plus healthier O-Line should be conducive to a small bump in effectiveness.

Percy Harvin: His ADP is WR18, and I think he is extremely underrated. I think 1100+ total yards and 8+ total TDs is a conservative projection for him in this offense. You could even go higher with the TD projection with him if your league counts return TDs for offense. (mine does) Of course this is assuming he can play 14 or more games.

Projections:

2014 Seahawks:

930 plays on offense - 420 pass plays (45%) and 511 run plays (55%)

Passing Stats:

Russell Wilson:

400 attempts, 260 completions (65% completion rate), 3400 yards (13 yard/reception), 27 Pass TD (10% TD rate), 10 int (2.5% int rate), 35 sacks (8.5% sack rate)

(Note: 20 pass plays left for other players)

Rushing Stats:

Marshawn Lynch:
270 attempts, 1161 yards (4.3 ypc), 11 TD (4% TD rate)
Christine Michael:
90 attempts, 423 yards (4.7 ypc), 2 TD
Percy Harvin:
20 rushes, 120 yards (6 ypc), 2 Rush TD, 1 Return TD
Russell Wilson:
90 attempts, 486 yards (5.4 ypc), 2 TD (2.6% TD rate)
Turbin & Others:
41 attempts

Receiving Stats:

Percy Harvin:
115 targets, 78 catches (68% catch rate), 1014 yards (13 yards/rec), 6 Rec TD (8% TD rate),
Marshawn Lynch
45 targets, 33 receptions (73% catch rate), 250 yards (7.58 ypr), 1 rec TD
Zach Miller
60 targets, 38 rec (65% catch rate), 439 yards (11.6 ypr), 3 TD (7% TD rate)
Doug Baldwin:
80 targets, 50 catches (62.5% catch rate), 750 yards (15 ypr), 5 TD (9.2% TD rate)
Christine Michael:
15 targets, 10 catches (70% catch rate), 50 yards (5 ypr), 1 TD
Rice, Kearse, Richardson and others:
105 targets, 11 TD, 1009 yards

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Offensive Philosophy

First, I want to address the notion that the Seattle coaching staff is tied to a specific formula on offense. Many, including many Seahawks fans who post in this forum, believe Carroll has a philosophy of playing conservative offense and relying upon the running game and defense to win. I disagree. His Jets and Patriots teams didn't follow that philosophy. His USC teams didn't follow that philosophy, despite having elite running and defensive talent.

Many flippantly say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But successful NFL coaches don't tend to find one formula and stick to it. They evolve their philosophy and adjust to fit their personnel. And I think Carroll has proven he is a good coach who does exactly that.

When Carroll arrived in 2010, he had 35 year old Hasselbeck at QB and limited receiving talent, but he had Lynch. In 2011, he had Jackson at QB but still had Lynch and had built a strong defense. To start 2012, he was playing a rookie QB, still with Lynch and a strong defense. So throughout that time, it made sense to use the formula that most seem to believe defines his offensive philosophy.

But I don't believe he intended to stick to that formula last season. Having seen how talented Wilson was down the stretch in 2012 when they opened up the offense a bit, I believe they were planning to pass more often. I think the decision to pay a very high price to obtain Harvin prior to last season is evidence of that. I'm not saying I think they were going to become the Denver Broncos. But I think they intended to open up the offense.

Unfortunately, they lost Harvin for nearly the entire season before the season started. Then the OL suffered a string of injuries, with 7 OL playing at least 441 snaps, and an 8th playing 283. Worse, their best OL, Okung, was the guy who played just 441 snaps. Then they lost their #2 WR, Rice, in week 8. I think the OL and WR injuries led them to stay more conservative than they had planned.

However, even with the injuries and the conservative playcalling, the passing offense was extremely effective. Consider where Seattle ranked in 2013 in various passing efficiency metrics:

- #5 in passer rating
- #9 in completion percentage
- #2 in TD percentage
- #10 in interception percentage
- #3 in yards per completion (YPC)
- #2 in yards per pass attempt (YPA)
- #3 in adjusted yards per pass attempt (AY/A)
- #5 in net yards per pass attempt (NY/A)
- #5 in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A)
- #4 in percentage of pass attempts that achieved first downs
- #5 in drive scoring percentage
- #6 in fewest percentage of drives ending in a turnover
- Tied for #1 with 5 game winning drives and tied for #2 with 4 4th quarter comebacks
- #6 rated passing game by Pro Football Focus
- Wilson was the #5 QB in PFF's version of passer rating
- #4 in Expected Points Added per Pass (EPA/P)
- #8 rated passing game by Football Outsiders

That's a lot of impressive efficiency, especially given the injuries and that they played a difficult schedule.

This year, it seems very likely the OL will be healthier, and Harvin should be healthy. I know many people look at Harvin's history and view him as injury prone. Adam Harstad has posted about this a lot in the Shark Pool and in this year's Harvin Player Spotlight article, and I agree with his perspective on this. The team added two rookie WRs in the draft; in particular, Richardson should add a stronger vertical element to the offense.

I also think it is very possible that the main (RB-based) Seattle running game and/or defense will regress a bit this season. Lynch has carried a heavy workload the past few years and could be due for injury or decline, and the backups, while talented, are unproven at carrying the load. The defense seems to have lost at least a bit of its impressive depth, and the NFL is saying it will crack down on illegal contact and defensive holding this season, which could impact their aggressive pass defense. Regardless, I doubt the Seahawks will lead the NFL in both points allowed and yards allowed again.

So I'm expecting more passing this season.

Offensive Plays

Now, how many offensive plays should we expect? The past two seasons with Wilson have been very consistent: 974 plays in 2012 and 973 plays in 2013. Given that I am expecting more passing this year, I expect that will result in a slight uptick in offensive plays. I'm projecting a nice round number of 1,000 offensive plays, which should still be in the bottom quarter of the league.

Last season, Seahawks QBs dropped back to pass 515 times in the regular season (Wilson 502, Jackson 13). Wilson was sacked 44 times and scrambled 51 times. They passed the other 420 times (Wilson 407, Jackson 13). Not including the scrambles, they ran the ball on designed running plays 443 times, and Wilson kneeled down 15 times. Many people look at the run/pass split without accounting for sacks, scrambles, and kneel downs. But the fact is, the Seahawks ran designed running plays 443 times and designed passing plays 515 times in 2013. That means 53.8% of the designed plays were passing plays. I think most people don't realize this fact.

I don't have any data on kneel downs, and I'm not going to take the time to research it. So I'll assume 15 kneel downs again. That leaves 985 designed plays.

I'm projecting that the percentage of designed passing plays bumps up to 56%. That means 552 designed passing plays and 433 designed running plays. That is only 10 fewer designed running plays, not much of a drop.

Passing Plays

Last season, Wilson scrambled 51 times in 502 dropbacks (10.2%). In 2012, he scrambled 50 times in 477 dropbacks (10.5%). Not much of a difference there. Wilson is a smart player and is obviously effective as a runner. However, he prefers to extend plays to pass whenever possible. Improving his protection and improving the quality of his targets suggest that he will scramble less often. I'm projecting a slight reduction in his scrambling to 9% of dropbacks. On 552 dropbacks, that means 50 scrambles.

Last season, Wilson was sacked 44 times. PFF assigns blame to individual players for 36 of those sacks. Of those 36, 7 were on Wilson himself and 27 were on the OL. The projected starting OL of Okung, Carpenter, Unger, Sweezy, and Bowie allowed just 15 of those 27 sacks. Paul McQuistan led Seattle's OL in sacks (8), QB hits (6), and hurries (23) allowed last season, and he is gone. And Breno Giacomini allowed 4 sacks, 1 QB hit, and 19 hurries in just 552 snaps, and he is also gone.

So there is reason to believe the OL should improve its pass blocking this season. Wilson also has another season of experience and another offseason of film study, so he should also improve in this area as well. Last season, Wilson's sack rate was 9.8%, quite a bit higher than his 7.7% sack rate in 2012, when he was sacked 33 times. I believe the difference was mostly due to the OL issues. I'm projecting a 7.5% sack rate. On 502 dropbacks that don't result in scrambles, that means 38 sacks.

552 dropbacks - 50 scrambles - 38 sacks = 464 pass attempts

Passing Projections

Similar to last season, I'm projecting 14 pass attempts for Jackson, leaving a convenient round number of 450 for Wilson. I'm not going to bother projecting Jackson's passing numbers.

In 2012, Wilson had a 64.1% completion percentage, 7.9 YPA, 6.6% TD percentage, and 2.5% interception percentage. Last season, those respective numbers were 63.1%, 8.2 YPA, 6.4%, and 2.2%. With the expected OL and receiver improvements, I think it is reasonable to expect improvements across the board.

For Wilson's passing numbers, I'm projecting 296/450 (65.8%), 3750 passing yards (8.33 YPA), 30 passing TDs (6.7%), 10 interceptions (2.2%), 38 sacks (7.5%).

Receiving Projections

Per FBG, here is how the Seattle targets were distributed last season:

WRs (255 targets = 62.2%):

99 Tate

73 Baldwin

38 Kearse

35 Rice

7 Lockette

2 Williams

1 Harvin

TEs (88 targets = 21.5%):

56 Miller

28 Willson

4 Davis

RBs (67 targets = 16.3%):

44 Lynch

12 Turbin

8 Coleman

3 Robinson

This adds up to 410 targets rather than 420. I assume the discrepancy is on balls thrown away or spiked without a clear target. As with kneel downs, I don't have any data on what to expect in terms of pass attempts not directed at a specific target, so I will assume the same number for 2014, reducing targeted pass attempts to 454.

I think the percentage of targets to WRs could go up slightly, given Harvin's return and increased confidence in Baldwin and Kearse based on their performance last season. I'm projecting 64% to WRs, 21% to TEs, and 15% to RBs. Here is how I project the breakdown:

WRs (64% of 454 attempts = 291 targets):

120 Harvin

90 Baldwin

50 Kearse

22 Richardson

9 Others

TEs (21% of 454 attempts = 95 targets):

50 Miller

42 Willson

3 Others

RBs (15% of 454 attempts = 68 targets):

45 Lynch

12 Turbin

8 Coleman

3 Michael

Harvin's catch rate in his career to date is 291/408 = 71.3% (including postseason). However, in the past 3 seasons, he has caught 150/200 = 75%. I expect Harvin will be used on plenty of short and intermediate routes, which should keep his catch rate high, even though I think his average depth of target should increase a bit in Seattle. I'm projecting 70% as Harvin's catch rate. On 120 targets, that is 84 receptions.

Harvin's career YPR is 11.8, but it was 13.2 in his rookie season with a healthy Favre. I think it will be higher in Seattle, so I will split the difference at 12.5 ypr. On 78 receptions, that is 1050 receiving yards.

Harvin has 20 receiving TDs on 291 career receptions, which is a TD every 14.5 receptions. On 78 receptions, that projects to 5.3 TDs. However, I think that is dragged down a bit by the poor QB play Harvin has had throughout most of his career. Harvin played in 39 games for Minnesota in 2010-2012. During those games, Harvin caught 14 of the team's 38 receiving TDs (36.8%). Given I'm projecting Wilson for 30 TDs, that TD rate projects to 11 TDs. I am going to settle in the middle, but closer to the high end - I'm projecting 9 receiving TDs.

So for Harvin's receiving numbers, I'm projecting 120 targets, 84 receptions (70% CR), 1050 receiving yards (12.5 YPR), 9 receiving TDs.

Baldwin is very underrated. Per PFF, last season he was in the top 10 WRs in the NFL at WR rating (QB rating when targeted), drop rate, and deep passing. Baldwin's catch rate last season was 71.6% (including postseason), his YPR was 15.6, and he caught 6 TDs in 63 receptions. It is very impressive to combine that catch rate with that YPR. I'm projecting his receiving numbers this year with very similar rates: 90 targets, 63 receptions (70% CR), 945 receiving yards (15 YPR), 6 receiving TDs.

Kearse's catch rate last season was 59.2% (including postseason), his YPR was 16.6, and he caught 6 TDs in 29 receptions. That is an impressive TD rate, which illustrates his ability to beat his matchup as the #3/#4 WR. I don't expect him to sustain that rate, but I still think he will have a high ratio of TDs to catches. I'm projecting his receiving numbers this year with very similar rates to last season: 50 targets, 30 receptions (60% CR), 480 receiving yards (16 YPR), 4 receiving TDs.

I think Richardson will draw 22 targets, primarily as a deep threat. Wilson is a great deep passer - PFF ranked him #3 last in its deep passing metric, in which they showed him completing 48.3% of his deep passes. So I'm going to project Richardson as follows: 22 targets, 10 receptions (45% CR), 180 receiving yards (18.0 YPR), and 2 receiving TDs.

Miller's catch rate last season was 66.7% (including postseason), his YPR was 11.4, and he caught 5 TDs in 38 receptions. Projecting similar rates against 50 targets, I'm projecting: 50 targets, 33 receptions (66% CR), 376 receiving yards (11.4 YPR), and 4 receiving TDs.

Willson's catch rate last season was 73.3% (including postseason), his YPR was 13.1, and he caught 1 TD in 22 receptions. I suspect that the Seahawks didn't use him on many snaps in the red zone, which contributed to his single TD. But I also think that will probably continue this season, as the Seahawks will prefer the veteran experience of Miller in that area of the field. However, I am impressed with Willson's athleticism, and we know that TEs usually improve, sometimes significantly, in their second seasons. I'm projecting 42 targets, 27 receptions (64.3% CR), 354 receiving yards (13.1 YPR), and 2 receiving TDs.

Lynch is an underrated receiver. Last season, he caught 37 of 46 targets (80.4%, including postseason) for 319 yards (8.6 YPR) and 2 TDs. He averaged 7.8 YAC/reception. Assuming he stays healthy, he should remain a useful checkdown option in Seattle's passing game. I'm projecting 45 targets, 36 receptions (80% CR), 310 receiving yards (8.6 YPR), and 1 receiving TD.

To summarize, here are my receiving projections:

Harvin: 120 targets, 84 receptions (70% CR), 1050 receiving yards (12.5 YPR), 9 receiving TDs

Baldwin: 90 targets, 63 receptions (70% CR), 945 receiving yards (15 YPR), 6 receiving TDs

Kearse: 50 targets, 30 receptions (60% CR), 480 receiving yards (16 YPR), 4 receiving TDs

Richardson: 22 targets, 10 receptions (45% CR), 180 receiving yards (18 YPR), 2 receiving TDs

Other WRs: 9 targets, 4 receptions (44% CR), 80 receiving yards (8.9 YPR), 1 receiving TD

Miller: 50 targets, 33 receptions (66% CR), 376 receiving yards (11.4 YPR), 4 receiving TDs

Willson: 42 targets, 27 receptions (64.3% CR), 354 receiving yards (13.1 YPR), and 2 receiving TDs

Other TEs: 3 targets, 2 receptions (66.7% CR), 20 receiving yards (10.0 YPR), 0 receiving TDs

Lynch: 45 targets, 36 receptions (80% CR), 310 receiving yards (8.6 YPR), and 1 receiving TD

Turbin: 12 targets, 9 receptions (75% CR), 69 receiving yards (7.7 YPR), and 0 receiving TDs

Coleman: 8 targets, 7 receptions (87.5% CR), 55 receiving yards (7.8 YPR), and 1 receiving TD

Michael: 3 targets, 1 reception (33.3% CR), 6 receiving yards (6.0 YPR), and 0 receiving TDs

Rushing Projections

Last season, Wilson had 28 designed runs for 123 yards and 1 TD. Given Harvin's addition to the offense, I'm going to bump this number down slightly to 23 designed runs. I already projected 50 scrambles and 15 kneel downs above. In total, that means I'm projecting 88 rushing attempts for Wilson. He averaged 5.6 YPC last season and 5.2 YPC in 2012. I'll go with 5.5. He ran for 4 TDs in 2012 and 1 TD last season. Middle ground makes sense, and I'm projecting 2 rushing TDs.

So for Wilson's rushing numbers, I am projecting the following: 88 rushing attempts, 484 rushing yards (5.5 ypc), 2 rushing TDs

Lynch has had more carries than any NFL RB over the past 3 seasons. I think that could take a toll on him this season, and will lead to the Seahawks reducing his workload. Last season, he carried the ball 366 times, including postseason, an average of 19.3 carries per game. I think it will scale back to 17 per game this season. Assuming 16 games, that is 272 rushing attempts. Lynch averaged 4.2 ypc last season. In 2012, he averaged 5.0 ypc. Some of the difference is likely due to the OL injuries last season, but some is also likely due to Lynch himself, as his age and cumulative carries take a toll on him. I am projecting 4.3 ypc this season. Lynch has 29 rushing TDs in 717 carries the past two seasons, an average of 1 TD per 24.7 carries. That rate projects to 11 rushing TDs, which seems about right.

So for Lynch's rushing numbers, I am projecting the following: 272 rushing attempts, 1170 rushing yards (4.3 ypc), 11 rushing TDs

With Wilson projected as having 23 designed runs and 15 kneel downs, and Lynch projected at 272 rushing attempts, that is 310 designed rushing attempts. That leaves 123 remaining. Last year, the FBs had 6 carries, and I'll project the same number this season. That leaves 117 carries remaining.

Harvin has averaged roughly 2 carries per game in his career. In the playoffs last season, in just 48 snaps, he had 3 carries. And they were all big plays, totaling 54 rushing yards. IMO it is conservative to project him for 35 rushing attempts. He has averaged 6.4 ypc in his career, and it seems reasonable, if not conservative, to project him to maintain that. Harvin has 4 rushing TDs on 104 career carries. Given the projection of 35 carries, it seems reasonable to project him with 1 rushing TD.

That leaves 82 carries. I think the team knows what it has in Turbin but wants to see what it has in Michael. So I am projecting 50 carries for Michael and 32 for Turbin. Turbin averaged 3.4 ypc last season but 3.9 for his career. I'll project 4.0. Michael averaged 4.4 ypc last season, and I'll project the same. Neither of them rushed for a TD last season. I'll project Michael with 1 breakaway TD, but I'll stick with zero for Turbin.

To summarize, here are my rushing projections:

Lynch: 272 rushing attempts, 1170 rushing yards (4.3 ypc), 11 rushing TDs

Wilson: 88 rushing attempts, 484 rushing yards (5.5 ypc), 2 rushing TDs

Michael: 50 rushing attempts, 220 rushing yards (4.4 ypc), 1 rushing TD

Turbin: 32 rushing attempts, 128 rushing yards (4.0 ypc), 0 rushing TDs

Harvin: 35 rushing attempts, 224 rushing yards (6.4 ypc), 1 rushing TD

Summary

Wilson: 296/450 (65.8%), 3750 passing yards (8.33 YPA), 30 passing TDs (6.7%), 10 interceptions (2.2%), 38 sacks (7.5%); 88 rushing attempts, 484 rushing yards (5.5 ypc), 2 rushing TDs

Lynch: 272 rushing attempts, 1170 rushing yards (4.3 ypc), 11 rushing TDs; 45 targets, 36 receptions (80% CR), 310 receiving yards (8.6 YPR), and 1 receiving TD

Michael: 50 rushing attempts, 220 rushing yards (4.4 ypc), 1 rushing TD; 3 targets, 1 reception (33.3% CR), 6 receiving yards (6.0 YPR), and 0 receiving TDs

Turbin: 32 rushing attempts, 128 rushing yards (4.0 ypc), 0 rushing TDs; 12 targets, 9 receptions (75% CR), 69 receiving yards (7.7 YPR), and 0 receiving TDs

Harvin: 120 targets, 84 receptions (70% CR), 1050 receiving yards (12.5 YPR), 9 receiving TDs; 35 rushing attempts, 224 rushing yards (6.4 ypc), 1 rushing TD

Baldwin: 90 targets, 63 receptions (70% CR), 945 receiving yards (15 YPR), 6 receiving TDs

Kearse: 50 targets, 30 receptions (60% CR), 480 receiving yards (16 YPR), 4 receiving TDs

Richardson: 22 targets, 10 receptions (45% CR), 180 receiving yards (18 YPR), 2 receiving TDs

Miller: 50 targets, 33 receptions (66% CR), 376 receiving yards (11.4 YPR), 4 receiving TDs

Willson: 42 targets, 27 receptions (64.3% CR), 354 receiving yards (13.1 YPR), and 2 receiving TDs

With these projections, I think Wilson, Harvin, and Baldwin are underrated. I think Lynch is probably rated about right in most rankings. And I think Michael is possibly overrated (for redraft).

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Offensive Philosophy

First, I want to address the notion that the Seattle coaching staff is tied to a specific formula on offense. Many, including many Seahawks fans who post in this forum, believe Carroll has a philosophy of playing conservative offense and relying upon the running game and defense to win. I disagree. His Jets and Patriots teams didn't follow that philosophy. His USC teams didn't follow that philosophy, despite having elite running and defensive talent.

Many flippantly say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But successful NFL coaches don't tend to find one formula and stick to it. They evolve their philosophy and adjust to fit their personnel. And I think Carroll has proven he is a good coach who does exactly that.

When Carroll arrived in 2010, he had 35 year old Hasselbeck at QB and limited receiving talent, but he had Lynch. In 2011, he had Jackson at QB but still had Lynch and had built a strong defense. To start 2012, he was playing a rookie QB, still with Lynch and a strong defense. So throughout that time, it made sense to use the formula that most seem to believe defines his offensive philosophy.

But I don't believe he intended to stick to that formula last season. Having seen how talented Wilson was down the stretch in 2012 when they opened up the offense a bit, I believe they were planning to pass more often. I think the decision to pay a very high price to obtain Harvin prior to last season is evidence of that. I'm not saying I think they were going to become the Denver Broncos. But I think they intended to open up the offense.

Unfortunately, they lost Harvin for nearly the entire season before the season started. Then the OL suffered a string of injuries, with 7 OL playing at least 441 snaps, and an 8th playing 283. Worse, their best OL, Okung, was the guy who played just 441 snaps. Then they lost their #2 WR, Rice, in week 8. I think the OL and WR injuries led them to stay more conservative than they had planned.

However, even with the injuries and the conservative playcalling, the passing offense was extremely effective. Consider where Seattle ranked in 2013 in various passing efficiency metrics:

- #5 in passer rating
- #9 in completion percentage
- #2 in TD percentage
- #10 in interception percentage
- #3 in yards per completion (YPC)
- #2 in yards per pass attempt (YPA)
- #3 in adjusted yards per pass attempt (AY/A)
- #5 in net yards per pass attempt (NY/A)
- #5 in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A)
- #4 in percentage of pass attempts that achieved first downs
- #5 in drive scoring percentage
- #6 in fewest percentage of drives ending in a turnover
- Tied for #1 with 5 game winning drives and tied for #2 with 4 4th quarter comebacks
- #6 rated passing game by Pro Football Focus
- Wilson was the #5 QB in PFF's version of passer rating
- #4 in Expected Points Added per Pass (EPA/P)
- #8 rated passing game by Football Outsiders

That's a lot of impressive efficiency, especially given the injuries and that they played a difficult schedule.

This year, it seems very likely the OL will be healthier, and Harvin should be healthy. I know many people look at Harvin's history and view him as injury prone. Adam Harstad has posted about this a lot in the Shark Pool and in this year's Harvin Player Spotlight article, and I agree with his perspective on this. The team added two rookie WRs in the draft; in particular, Richardson should add a stronger vertical element to the offense.

I also think it is very possible that the main (RB-based) Seattle running game and/or defense will regress a bit this season. Lynch has carried a heavy workload the past few years and could be due for injury or decline, and the backups, while talented, are unproven at carrying the load. The defense seems to have lost at least a bit of its impressive depth, and the NFL is saying it will crack down on illegal contact and defensive holding this season, which could impact their aggressive pass defense. Regardless, I doubt the Seahawks will lead the NFL in both points allowed and yards allowed again.

So I'm expecting more passing this season.

Offensive Plays

Now, how many offensive plays should we expect? The past two seasons with Wilson have been very consistent: 974 plays in 2012 and 973 plays in 2013. Given that I am expecting more passing this year, I expect that will result in a slight uptick in offensive plays. I'm projecting a nice round number of 1,000 offensive plays, which should still be in the bottom quarter of the league.

Last season, Seahawks QBs dropped back to pass 515 times in the regular season (Wilson 502, Jackson 13). Wilson was sacked 44 times and scrambled 51 times. They passed the other 420 times (Wilson 407, Jackson 13). Not including the scrambles, they ran the ball on designed running plays 443 times, and Wilson kneeled down 15 times. Many people look at the run/pass split without accounting for sacks, scrambles, and kneel downs. But the fact is, the Seahawks ran designed running plays 443 times and designed passing plays 515 times in 2013. That means 53.8% of the designed plays were passing plays. I think most people don't realize this fact.

I don't have any data on kneel downs, and I'm not going to take the time to research it. So I'll assume 15 kneel downs again. That leaves 985 designed plays.

I'm projecting that the percentage of designed passing plays bumps up to 56%. That means 552 designed passing plays and 433 designed running plays. That is only 10 fewer designed running plays, not much of a drop.

Passing Plays

Last season, Wilson scrambled 51 times in 502 dropbacks (10.2%). In 2012, he scrambled 50 times in 477 dropbacks (10.5%). Not much of a difference there. Wilson is a smart player and is obviously effective as a runner. However, he prefers to extend plays to pass whenever possible. Improving his protection and improving the quality of his targets suggest that he will scramble less often. I'm projecting a slight reduction in his scrambling to 9% of dropbacks. On 552 dropbacks, that means 50 scrambles.

Last season, Wilson was sacked 44 times. PFF assigns blame to individual players for 36 of those sacks. Of those 36, 7 were on Wilson himself and 27 were on the OL. The projected starting OL of Okung, Carpenter, Unger, Sweezy, and Bowie allowed just 15 of those 27 sacks. Paul McQuistan led Seattle's OL in sacks (8), QB hits (6), and hurries (23) allowed last season, and he is gone. And Breno Giacomini allowed 4 sacks, 1 QB hit, and 19 hurries in just 552 snaps, and he is also gone.

So there is reason to believe the OL should improve its pass blocking this season. Wilson also has another season of experience and another offseason of film study, so he should also improve in this area as well. Last season, Wilson's sack rate was 9.8%, quite a bit higher than his 7.7% sack rate in 2012, when he was sacked 33 times. I believe the difference was mostly due to the OL issues. I'm projecting a 7.5% sack rate. On 502 dropbacks that don't result in scrambles, that means 38 sacks.

552 dropbacks - 50 scrambles - 38 sacks = 464 pass attempts

Passing Projections

Similar to last season, I'm projecting 14 pass attempts for Jackson, leaving a convenient round number of 450 for Wilson. I'm not going to bother projecting Jackson's passing numbers.

In 2012, Wilson had a 64.1% completion percentage, 7.9 YPA, 6.6% TD percentage, and 2.5% interception percentage. Last season, those respective numbers were 63.1%, 8.2 YPA, 6.4%, and 2.2%. With the expected OL and receiver improvements, I think it is reasonable to expect improvements across the board.

For Wilson's passing numbers, I'm projecting 296/450 (65.8%), 3750 passing yards (8.33 YPA), 30 passing TDs (6.7%), 10 interceptions (2.2%), 38 sacks (7.5%).

Receiving Projections

Per FBG, here is how the Seattle targets were distributed last season:

WRs (255 targets = 62.2%):

99 Tate

73 Baldwin

38 Kearse

35 Rice

7 Lockette

2 Williams

1 Harvin

TEs (88 targets = 21.5%):

56 Miller

28 Willson

4 Davis

RBs (67 targets = 16.3%):

44 Lynch

12 Turbin

8 Coleman

3 Robinson

This adds up to 410 targets rather than 420. I assume the discrepancy is on balls thrown away or spiked without a clear target. As with kneel downs, I don't have any data on what to expect in terms of pass attempts not directed at a specific target, so I will assume the same number for 2014, reducing targeted pass attempts to 454.

I think the percentage of targets to WRs could go up slightly, given Harvin's return and increased confidence in Baldwin and Kearse based on their performance last season. I'm projecting 64% to WRs, 21% to TEs, and 15% to RBs. Here is how I project the breakdown:

WRs (64% of 454 attempts = 291 targets):

120 Harvin

90 Baldwin

50 Kearse

22 Richardson

9 Others

TEs (21% of 454 attempts = 95 targets):

50 Miller

42 Willson

3 Others

RBs (15% of 454 attempts = 68 targets):

45 Lynch

12 Turbin

8 Coleman

3 Michael

Harvin's catch rate in his career to date is 291/408 = 71.3% (including postseason). However, in the past 3 seasons, he has caught 150/200 = 75%. I expect Harvin will be used on plenty of short and intermediate routes, which should keep his catch rate high, even though I think his average depth of target should increase a bit in Seattle. I'm projecting 70% as Harvin's catch rate. On 120 targets, that is 84 receptions.

Harvin's career YPR is 11.8, but it was 13.2 in his rookie season with a healthy Favre. I think it will be higher in Seattle, so I will split the difference at 12.5 ypr. On 78 receptions, that is 1050 receiving yards.

Harvin has 20 receiving TDs on 291 career receptions, which is a TD every 14.5 receptions. On 78 receptions, that projects to 5.3 TDs. However, I think that is dragged down a bit by the poor QB play Harvin has had throughout most of his career. Harvin played in 39 games for Minnesota in 2010-2012. During those games, Harvin caught 14 of the team's 38 receiving TDs (36.8%). Given I'm projecting Wilson for 30 TDs, that TD rate projects to 11 TDs. I am going to settle in the middle, but closer to the high end - I'm projecting 9 receiving TDs.

So for Harvin's receiving numbers, I'm projecting 120 targets, 84 receptions (70% CR), 1050 receiving yards (12.5 YPR), 9 receiving TDs.

Baldwin is very underrated. Per PFF, last season he was in the top 10 WRs in the NFL at WR rating (QB rating when targeted), drop rate, and deep passing. Baldwin's catch rate last season was 71.6% (including postseason), his YPR was 15.6, and he caught 6 TDs in 63 receptions. It is very impressive to combine that catch rate with that YPR. I'm projecting his receiving numbers this year with very similar rates: 90 targets, 63 receptions (70% CR), 945 receiving yards (15 YPR), 6 receiving TDs.

Kearse's catch rate last season was 59.2% (including postseason), his YPR was 16.6, and he caught 6 TDs in 29 receptions. That is an impressive TD rate, which illustrates his ability to beat his matchup as the #3/#4 WR. I don't expect him to sustain that rate, but I still think he will have a high ratio of TDs to catches. I'm projecting his receiving numbers this year with very similar rates to last season: 50 targets, 30 receptions (60% CR), 480 receiving yards (16 YPR), 4 receiving TDs.

I think Richardson will draw 22 targets, primarily as a deep threat. Wilson is a great deep passer - PFF ranked him #3 last in its deep passing metric, in which they showed him completing 48.3% of his deep passes. So I'm going to project Richardson as follows: 22 targets, 10 receptions (45% CR), 180 receiving yards (18.0 YPR), and 2 receiving TDs.

Miller's catch rate last season was 66.7% (including postseason), his YPR was 11.4, and he caught 5 TDs in 38 receptions. Projecting similar rates against 50 targets, I'm projecting: 50 targets, 33 receptions (66% CR), 376 receiving yards (11.4 YPR), and 4 receiving TDs.

Willson's catch rate last season was 73.3% (including postseason), his YPR was 13.1, and he caught 1 TD in 22 receptions. I suspect that the Seahawks didn't use him on many snaps in the red zone, which contributed to his single TD. But I also think that will probably continue this season, as the Seahawks will prefer the veteran experience of Miller in that area of the field. However, I am impressed with Willson's athleticism, and we know that TEs usually improve, sometimes significantly, in their second seasons. I'm projecting 42 targets, 27 receptions (64.3% CR), 354 receiving yards (13.1 YPR), and 2 receiving TDs.

Lynch is an underrated receiver. Last season, he caught 37 of 46 targets (80.4%, including postseason) for 319 yards (8.6 YPR) and 2 TDs. He averaged 7.8 YAC/reception. Assuming he stays healthy, he should remain a useful checkdown option in Seattle's passing game. I'm projecting 45 targets, 36 receptions (80% CR), 310 receiving yards (8.6 YPR), and 1 receiving TD.

To summarize, here are my receiving projections:

Harvin: 120 targets, 84 receptions (70% CR), 1050 receiving yards (12.5 YPR), 9 receiving TDs

Baldwin: 90 targets, 63 receptions (70% CR), 945 receiving yards (15 YPR), 6 receiving TDs

Kearse: 50 targets, 30 receptions (60% CR), 480 receiving yards (16 YPR), 4 receiving TDs

Richardson: 22 targets, 10 receptions (45% CR), 180 receiving yards (18 YPR), 2 receiving TDs

Other WRs: 9 targets, 4 receptions (44% CR), 80 receiving yards (8.9 YPR), 1 receiving TD

Miller: 50 targets, 33 receptions (66% CR), 376 receiving yards (11.4 YPR), 4 receiving TDs

Willson: 42 targets, 27 receptions (64.3% CR), 354 receiving yards (13.1 YPR), and 2 receiving TDs

Other TEs: 3 targets, 2 receptions (66.7% CR), 20 receiving yards (10.0 YPR), 0 receiving TDs

Lynch: 45 targets, 36 receptions (80% CR), 310 receiving yards (8.6 YPR), and 1 receiving TD

Turbin: 12 targets, 9 receptions (75% CR), 69 receiving yards (7.7 YPR), and 0 receiving TDs

Coleman: 8 targets, 7 receptions (87.5% CR), 55 receiving yards (7.8 YPR), and 1 receiving TD

Michael: 3 targets, 1 reception (33.3% CR), 6 receiving yards (6.0 YPR), and 0 receiving TDs

Rushing Projections

Last season, Wilson had 28 designed runs for 123 yards and 1 TD. Given Harvin's addition to the offense, I'm going to bump this number down slightly to 23 designed runs. I already projected 50 scrambles and 15 kneel downs above. In total, that means I'm projecting 88 rushing attempts for Wilson. He averaged 5.6 YPC last season and 5.2 YPC in 2012. I'll go with 5.5. He ran for 4 TDs in 2012 and 1 TD last season. Middle ground makes sense, and I'm projecting 2 rushing TDs.

So for Wilson's rushing numbers, I am projecting the following: 88 rushing attempts, 484 rushing yards (5.5 ypc), 2 rushing TDs

Lynch has had more carries than any NFL RB over the past 3 seasons. I think that could take a toll on him this season, and will lead to the Seahawks reducing his workload. Last season, he carried the ball 366 times, including postseason, an average of 19.3 carries per game. I think it will scale back to 17 per game this season. Assuming 16 games, that is 272 rushing attempts. Lynch averaged 4.2 ypc last season. In 2012, he averaged 5.0 ypc. Some of the difference is likely due to the OL injuries last season, but some is also likely due to Lynch himself, as his age and cumulative carries take a toll on him. I am projecting 4.3 ypc this season. Lynch has 29 rushing TDs in 717 carries the past two seasons, an average of 1 TD per 24.7 carries. That rate projects to 11 rushing TDs, which seems about right.

So for Lynch's rushing numbers, I am projecting the following: 272 rushing attempts, 1170 rushing yards (4.3 ypc), 11 rushing TDs

With Wilson projected as having 23 designed runs and 15 kneel downs, and Lynch projected at 272 rushing attempts, that is 310 designed rushing attempts. That leaves 123 remaining. Last year, the FBs had 6 carries, and I'll project the same number this season. That leaves 117 carries remaining.

Harvin has averaged roughly 2 carries per game in his career. In the playoffs last season, in just 48 snaps, he had 3 carries. And they were all big plays, totaling 54 rushing yards. IMO it is conservative to project him for 35 rushing attempts. He has averaged 6.4 ypc in his career, and it seems reasonable, if not conservative, to project him to maintain that. Harvin has 4 rushing TDs on 104 career carries. Given the projection of 35 carries, it seems reasonable to project him with 1 rushing TD.

That leaves 82 carries. I think the team knows what it has in Turbin but wants to see what it has in Michael. So I am projecting 50 carries for Michael and 32 for Turbin. Turbin averaged 3.4 ypc last season but 3.9 for his career. I'll project 4.0. Michael averaged 4.4 ypc last season, and I'll project the same. Neither of them rushed for a TD last season. I'll project Michael with 1 breakaway TD, but I'll stick with zero for Turbin.

To summarize, here are my rushing projections:

Lynch: 272 rushing attempts, 1170 rushing yards (4.3 ypc), 11 rushing TDs

Wilson: 88 rushing attempts, 484 rushing yards (5.5 ypc), 2 rushing TDs

Michael: 50 rushing attempts, 220 rushing yards (4.4 ypc), 1 rushing TD

Turbin: 32 rushing attempts, 128 rushing yards (4.0 ypc), 0 rushing TDs

Harvin: 35 rushing attempts, 224 rushing yards (6.4 ypc), 1 rushing TD

Summary

Wilson: 296/450 (65.8%), 3750 passing yards (8.33 YPA), 30 passing TDs (6.7%), 10 interceptions (2.2%), 38 sacks (7.5%); 88 rushing attempts, 484 rushing yards (5.5 ypc), 2 rushing TDs

Lynch: 272 rushing attempts, 1170 rushing yards (4.3 ypc), 11 rushing TDs; 45 targets, 36 receptions (80% CR), 310 receiving yards (8.6 YPR), and 1 receiving TD

Michael: 50 rushing attempts, 220 rushing yards (4.4 ypc), 1 rushing TD; 3 targets, 1 reception (33.3% CR), 6 receiving yards (6.0 YPR), and 0 receiving TDs

Turbin: 32 rushing attempts, 128 rushing yards (4.0 ypc), 0 rushing TDs; 12 targets, 9 receptions (75% CR), 69 receiving yards (7.7 YPR), and 0 receiving TDs

Harvin: 120 targets, 84 receptions (70% CR), 1050 receiving yards (12.5 YPR), 9 receiving TDs; 35 rushing attempts, 224 rushing yards (6.4 ypc), 1 rushing TD

Baldwin: 90 targets, 63 receptions (70% CR), 945 receiving yards (15 YPR), 6 receiving TDs

Kearse: 50 targets, 30 receptions (60% CR), 480 receiving yards (16 YPR), 4 receiving TDs

Richardson: 22 targets, 10 receptions (45% CR), 180 receiving yards (18 YPR), 2 receiving TDs

Miller: 50 targets, 33 receptions (66% CR), 376 receiving yards (11.4 YPR), 4 receiving TDs

Willson: 42 targets, 27 receptions (64.3% CR), 354 receiving yards (13.1 YPR), and 2 receiving TDs

With these projections, I think Wilson, Harvin, and Baldwin are underrated. I think Lynch is probably rated about right in most rankings. And I think Michael is possibly overrated (for redraft).

James Carpenter has been looking good in camp, also Britt is outperforming Bowie, so that gives me a bit of optimism on the pass blocking. If they can stay healthy then I'd agree that the offense opens up a little more. So more reasons to buy into Wilson and Harvin, IMO.

One question, are you assuming that all of Wilson's scrambles are broken pass plays, or is there a stat somewhere that keeps track of that? Would designed scrambles only happen on read option plays? I don't know enough about playcalling to make that assumption, but it would make sense that a lot of passing plays were converted into Wilson rushes due to the terribleness of the line. Thats how it looked to me in the games.

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ProFootballFocus tracks all rushing attempts per player and shows the rushing direction (LE, LT, LG, ML, MR, RG, RT, RE) for what I am calling "designed runs". For QBs, they also separately track scrambles, kneel downs, sneaks, and "other". (I don't really know what falls into the "other" category; maybe falling on a fumble?)

Since PFF tracks scrambles separate from the other QB runs, I'm treating scrambles as designed pass plays and all other QB runs as designed run plays.

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I watched the replay of the first quarter or so of the Broncos-Seahawks preseason game. One thing that struck me is that it is going to be a big advantage to teams with mobile QBs if this emphasis on illegal contact carries over into the regular season. The longer a play is extended, the harder it is to cover the receivers (legally).

I watched the one long Seattle drive, and Wilson extended plays behind the LOS twice that resulted in defensive penalties (illegal contact and DPI in the end zone). He also drew a face mask penalty and scrambled once for a first down. Those were four plays for first downs, three of which don't show up in the (traditional) QB stats.

Even more reason to expect this offense to be prolific.

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