The Seahawks closed out their season on Sunday with an overtime loss to Arizona, 23-20, foiling their bid to finish at 8-8 and 2nd in the NFC West. I wrote before the game that although there were no playoff implications for the game, long term tone-setting and a little momentum and confidence heading into the offseason certainly wouldn't hurt either team. In the end, though Seattle came out behind, what showed through for me was that the NFC West is no longer a soft, aging or just plain bad division, and when coupled with Seattle's smashmouth grudgematch with the 49ers last week, it's easy to see the intra-division rivalries developing nicely.
But that's looking forward. Let's take a look at some of the numbers from last night's game, and also some of the final numbers Seattle had as a team.
Tarvaris Jackson finished 21 of 35 for 222 yards, one touchdown and one interception on the day. These numbers are just about on par for how he performed on the season. Solid, not spectacular, not going to win you many games outright, but also not going to lose you games alone either. Jackson finished 271 for 450 on the season, a completion percentage of 60.2%, for 3,091 yards with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. It was the first time he has thrown for over 3,000 yards in a season, and considering he played much of the year with a partially torn pectoral muscle, fairly respectable.
That said, he was, really, about what you could have expected. He will thrown a nice deep ball for a big gain and then on the next play throw a pick. He'll take a few untimely sacks from holding the ball too long and he'll extend plays and make unlikely first downs. He's neither great nor terrible, and he's exciting at times and frustrating at others. As you can probably tell, I'm fairly neutral on Jackson and wouldn't be overly glad or disappointed if he returns as the starting QB for the Seahawks next season.
He's a good leader in the locker room and respected by his teammates, and the value in that is not something you can overlook. You can tell which teams have no confidence in their quarterbacks, and they're almost exclusively bad teams. The Seahawks are not a bad team, and they could use a more complete, dynamic player under center, but that doesn't mean Tarvaris Jackson is the problem. That said, finding his successor remains important.
Golden Tate led the way for the Seahawks' receivers on Sunday, grabbing five catches for 46 yards. Doug Baldwin added three for 40, and rookie Ricardo Lockette hauled in a 61-yard bomb for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Marshawn Lynch, as usual, led the way on the rushing attack, picking up 86 yards on 19 attempts. He was kept out of the endzone for the first time in 12 games. Lynch finished the season with 1,204 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. This was good for 7th in the NFL despite an excruciatingly slow start, and Lynch trailed only Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, Michael Turner, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, and Frank Gore. Pretty good company to be in.
Leon Washington finished well behind Lynch but second on the team in rushing, with 53 rushes for 248 yards and a touchdown.
As for the receiving corps, the numbers are pretty well spread out, which could be expected, considering the amount of injuries at the position this season. Undrafted free agent rookie Doug Baldwin surprisingly led the team in receptions, yardage, and touchdowns, nabbing 51 catches for 788 yards and 4 TDs. Ben Obomanu grabbed 37/436/2, Golden Tate 35/382/3, Sidney Rice 32/484/2, and Mike Williams 18/236/1.
Zach Miller's receiving yards were down this year to 25/233, but his blocking was very much noticed by the front office and fans. Anthony McCoy (13/146) and Cameron Morrah (6/74) logged significant snaps as well.
Comparing offensive numbers to last year, the Seahawks improved in some areas and regressed in others. Their total offensive yardage output was up to 4,860 yards, an improvement over last year's 4,765. They rushed for 1,765 yards this season, an improvement over the 1,424 from last year. They averaged 4.0 yards per carry, better than last year's 3.7 ypc, and scored 15 rushing TDs, better than the 13 from last year.
Probably the most impressive improvement, as a team, was their +8 turnover ratio, a vast improvement over last year's -9 mark, though much of this is due to the defense. Speaking of that...
The defense didn't have their best game on Sunday, giving up 131 yards on the ground, 93 yards to LaRod Stephens-Howling. They gave up 271 yards to John Skelton on 22 of 40 passing, one touchdown and one interception. Larry Fitzgerald did account for a large part of Arizona's offensive output though, and there's certainly no shame in that. Fitz played out of his mind, catching 9 passes for 149 yards, including 3 for 46 in the crucial overtime frame.
In terms of traditional stats, the Seahawks certainly made some improvements this season. They finished the year giving up an average of 332 yards per game total, ninth in the NFL. That was an improvement from 2010's performance, where they gave up 368 yards per game, 27th in the NFL. The Seahawks gave up an average of 219.9 yards per game through the air, 11th in the league, and 3.8 yards per carry on the ground, good for 4th in the NFL.
Last season, the Hawks gave up 249 yards per game through the air, 27th in the NFL, and 4.2 yards per carry on the ground, good for 13th in the league. You could quote about a million different statistics to make a case for your argument, but those are a few numbers that make it easy to see the apparent improvement.
Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and David Hawthorne led the way for the defense, and Chris Clemons, Brandon Browner, and Richard Sherman made big contributions as well. Brandon Mebane and Leroy Hill were their normal effective selves, and newcomer Alan Branch played well plugging up the middle. Red Bryant continued his career renaissance by putting together a very strong year, and K.J. Wright proved that even as a rookie, he can make plays and contribute as a starter.
There will be much more of this type of analysis over the next few weeks, but that's what I got right now. Make sure you check out Field Gulls for more on the Seahawks!