The Seahawks had a rotten season last year. Going merely 9-7 and missing the playoffs for the first time since *checks hand* 2011. Pete Carroll and John Schneider are at risk of losing a whole generation of fans. Kindergartners, for the first time in their lives, experienced an NFL postseason without the Seahawks.
Pete and John replaced Darrell Bevell with
offensive wunderkind respected innovator guy-who-might-not-be-in-the-NFL-if-he-had-a-different-last-name, Brian Schottenheimer. Coupled with a draft and free agency period that seemed to prioritize the run game over the passing game, the twittertariat (myself included!) was less than pleased. I’m not here to dispute that passing is more valuable than rushing. However, it’s unlikely that the 2018 Seahawks offense will be worse than the 2017 version.
I am not basing this on any particular schematic analysis of Schottenheimer’s offense. Rather I am simply counting on some regression to the mean. If the Seahawks are the RMS Titantic, the defensive woes were the poorly designed bulkheads (no upper seal!) and the field goal problems were the lookouts who didn’t see the iceberg until it was too late, then the run game was the 40-foot gash in the hull that let the water in. Per the inimitable Ben Baldwin, the 2017 Seahawks averaged -0.183 EPA/rush attempt (over 339 attempts), almost twice as bad as the approximate league average of -0.1 EPA/rush attempt. An improvement to just league average EPA/rush attempt would cut the drag the run game has on the overall offense in half!
Also per the artist formerly known as guga, the Seahawks had 0.077 EPA/dropback (slightly above league average). That means they generated -62.037 EPA from rushing and 53.746 EPA from dropbacks for a total offensive EPA of about -8.29. (notgreatbob.gif).
However, with a league average run game, will the Seahawks run the ball too much to benefit from the increased rush efficiency since league average run game is still negative EPA? Schottenheimer did run the ball 55% of the time once…
The above chart shows the total offensive EPA based on rushing attempt frequency. The three lines are different based on which Russell Wilson we get. If we get 2017 Russ, then the offense would have 0 EPA (still a 8.291 EPA bump from 2017) with a 43% rushing rate. However, 2017 Russ was the worst version of Wilson we have seen in the NFL. If he plays more like his 2012-2014 self (approximately 1.6 EPA/dropback), then the offense would have to rush 62% of the time to have 0 EPA. If he plays like an average of both his ‘12-’14 self and his 2017 self, the offense would have to rush 54% of the time to have 0 EPA. And just for shits and giggles, if he plays like his MVP-caliber 2015 self, the Seahawks would have to hand the ball off over 70% of the time to have a 0 EPA offense in 2018. And even so, they would have a better offense than the 2017 team.
There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about 2018. It’s like 90 degrees in Seattle, people are opening up ominous black sarcophagi in Eypgt, the Mariners are in playoff contention at the All-Star break. Brian Schottenheimer running the Seahawks offense is not one of those reasons. To use a phrase of a ancient and venerable Beast Pode guest, the Seahawks offense will be… fine.