Experts on the matter would say the first one-fourth of the Seattle Seahawks’ 2014 season has gone extremely well.
Their 3-1 record has them back atop the league power rankings, and head coach Pete Carroll on Wednesday said he thinks the Hawks are “in good shape now.”
But to find a cluster of men who are unimpressed by the team’s performance, one need go to the Seahawks’ locker room.
“We’re 3-1, and if you went in the locker room right now, you’d feel like you were in the locker room of a 1-3 team,” All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said. “(Because of) the way guys are still hungry and (getting) after it. Guys are far from content, and actually kind of frustrated with how close games have been and how things have gone.”
To Sherman’s point, some statistics stick out as odd in the first quarter of the season.
The Hawks have just two interceptions, which leaves them on pace for a measly eight for the season, which would be 20 fewer than last season (Sherman had eight by himself in 2013).
Sherman said quarterbacks are playing a little more cautiously against the Seahawks defense this season, not to mention they’ve played some of the best quarterbacks in the game in Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning.
Those are factors in another curious statistic thus far — the 97.8 passer rating of opposing quarterbacks — which is up 34 points from last season’s excellent mark.
The team’s sacks are down, too, with a total of six having them on a pace for 24 — well down from last season’s 44. Carroll said that, too, is a function of quarterbacks getting rid of the ball quickly, but also that the pass-rush units have not “worked together that well,” thus far.
They recovered 11 fumbles last season, but only one this season.
Sherman and his teammates might have some valid criticisms in those areas.
And the one loss, in a pressure-cooker down in San Diego, is a disappointment “we’re going to carry for a long time,” Carroll said.
However, so many other areas show that this team is off to a stunning start.
The 3-1 record comes against a quartet of opponents that (taking away the outcome of the game against Seattle) have a 10-5 record. That makes the first “quarter” look like the toughest of the season.
Some of the most remarkable performances have come from some predictable sources.
Russell Wilson, with eight touchdown passes and only one interception, is on pace for 32 TDs and four interceptions. His accuracy is at a career-high 70.3 percent, too, up from 63.1.
The surprise is that Wilson already has 209 rushing yards, on pace for 996 rushing yards this season, which would be in the neighborhood of Michael Vick’s 2006 NFL record of 1,039 yards.
And while Wilson is rushing at a high rate, his top rusher, Marshawn Lynch, is catching the ball at an all-time high. Lynch already has 13 catches (a 52-catch pace, up from 36 last season). And he’s scored as many touchdowns via the pass (three) as the rush.
Before the season started, Carroll was asked if he planned to diversify an offense that has been so run-oriented. He scoffed. Well he should, as the team’s 669 yards in four games has it on pace for a franchise record of 2,676 yards, above last season’s record mark of 2,579. That’s 219 yards more than the great rushing team of 2005 compiled.
Opponents now average 2.6 yards per rush, and at this pace, the 16 teams won’t crack the 1,000-yard barrier against the Seahawks defense. Carroll and others say a key to that stat is the continued excellence of Brandon Mebane at nose tackle.
“We just finished the first quarter and to be in the fight for the top of the division is a good spot for us,” Carroll said. “All in all, we played a lot of really good football, and (are) doing a lot of really good things.”
The big key in getting this season under way in a strong fashion was to play with the same degree of intensity they did on their way to the Super Bowl last season.
“I think it was really important to capture that,” Carroll said. “I think we’re in good shape now.”