Seattle Seahawks 2013 Team Review: The Start of a Dynasty?

The NFL team reviews wrap up with the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

We’ve covered Tom Brady’s Patriots, Peyton Manning’s Broncos, Aaron Rodgers’ Packers and Drew Brees’ Saints. We looked at why the Texans dropped so far in the standings, and why the Chiefs were able to rise to the top.

We analyzed the Josh Gordons Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. We even looked at the middling Dolphins, Bills, Jets, Raiders, Vikings, Falcons, Lions, Buccaneers, Titans, Jaguars and Rams. And trust me, it’s not pretty.

All non-Seahawks teams have been examined on, actually. We dug deep in seeing Marc Trestman’s offensive impact with the Bears, how Bruce Arians created a defensive monster in Arizona and how Jim Harbaugh continued to get so close to lifting the Lombardi. The Colts second year with Andrew Luck, the Panthers breakthrough season with Cam Newton and the Chargers magical run with Philip Rivers were looked at, too.

And, of course, we can’t forget about the always popular NFC East, where we analyzed the Eagles, Redskins, Giants and Cowboys.

But now there’s one team left to review before we can officially move into full-blown 2014 mode. And that team is none other than the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

The Good

Any Lombardi lifting team will have a lot of positives associated with them, and that’s no different for the Seattle Seahawks. In fact, you could argue that the Seahawks were one of the most complete teams to win the Super Bowl that we’ve seen in years.

When it comes to football, we analyze four major buckets here at numberFire: pass and rush offense, and pass and rush defense. In terms of our favorite metric, Net Expected Points, the Seahawks ranked 5th in adjusted passing (fixed for strength of schedule), 11th in adjusted rushing, 1st at defending the pass and 8th at defending the run. As a result, they ranked as our second-best team all season long statistically.

The Seahawks’ secondary was, according to our metrics, the best one we’ve seen since the New York Jets’ 2009 unit. While the numbers used are adjusted for strength of schedule, what’s more impressive about Richard Sherman and company is the fact that it’s a much pass-friendly NFL – the Seahawks still posted the 12th-best secondary since 2000 under today’s NFL rules.

To make the defense even more dominant was Seattle’s run-stuffing abilities. Though stopping the pass is more important nowadays, Seattle’s rush defense, as noted, ranked eighth-best in the league, preventing 26 points from being scored via the ground when compared to another team in a similar situation.

Offensively, Russell Wilson continued to get better in his sophomore campaign, finishing the season with the seventh-highest Passing Net Expected Points total among all quarterbacks. Wilson’s now been analytically better than nearly any other quarterback we’ve ever seen through their first two seasons, and without going into much detail on that specific subject, I’ll simply link you to the article I wrote on it.

As a result of Wilson’s efficient play, the Seahawks receivers were sensational as well. Though they didn’t score incredibly well within Reception NEP due to lack of volume, the team’s receivers were some of the most resourceful in the game this past season. In fact, only New Orleans’ wideouts had better Reception Net Expected Points per target averages, proving that Doug Baldwin’s post-Super Bowl trash talking was indeed correct.

Marshawn Lynch continued to find success in Seattle this past year as well, but he did see a decline from his 2012 advanced numbers. Beast Mode had his best season a year ago, toting the rock 315 times for a Rushing Net Expected Points total of 19.92. This season, that total fell about 15 points, but was still ninth-best among the 22 runners with 200 or more carries.

In addition, Marshawn caught 36 balls (second-most of his career) for the best Reception NEP total of his career. Though there are some talented runners behind him, he showed little signs of deterioration in 2013, touching the ball over 330 times in total, not including the playoffs.

Overall, the good far outweighs the bad for the most complete team in the NFL. But that being said, no team is perfect – Seattle still has room for improvement.

The Bad

If there’s one spot to be critical with the Seattle Seahawks, it’s the offensive line. Yes, they were injured throughout the year, but the unit didn’t help the versatile Russell Wilson get time while dropping back to pass.

According to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks line was fine with regards to run blocking, ranking ninth in the league. However, when it came to pass protection, no group of guys was worse in the NFL, finishing 32nd.

As a result, Russell Wilson was sacked more than any quarterback not named Ryan Tannehill, resulting in 294 yards lost. Imagine if he wasn’t able to escape pressure and leave the pocket? It could’ve been worse.

The tight end position was fairly “meh” as well for Seattle, though it’s not like a lot was expected. Zach Miller ended the season with 33 catches, ranking 22nd in Reception Net Expected Points. Rookie Luke “Double L” Willson saw some action, too, but actually finished the season with far worse efficiency scores than Miller. Perhaps time will heal that situation.

What Should They Do?

Coming off an impressive Super Bowl victory, the Seahawks need to do one thing: keep the team’s core players together.

Wide receiver Golden Tate could be gone, while Sidney Rice is already a goner. But that’s a position that could be filled through this year’s deep wide receiver NFL Draft. It appears as though defensive end Michael Bennett is sticking around, which is good news for their pass rush.

Aside from that, the team’s free agent situation – this year, at least – looks solid. Chris Clemons could cause the team to look for a defensive end in the draft, while the franchise continues to go with more of a “best player available” mentality. That is, after all, the luxury of being such a complete team.

Offensive line, as noted, will be important for the Seahawks entering 2014. But with their main parts returning, there’s a good chance this team will be favorites to win the Super Bowl for years to come.