After Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor suffered serious injuries against Arizona earlier this month, there was understandable concern about how the defense would look moving forward. As someone who made the case over the offseason that Sherman might be as valuable to Seattle’s success on defense as Earl Thomas, his loss was especially concerning.
It has now been two games and the Seahawks have held both of their opponents under 5 yards per play:
Seattle yards per play allowed, by opponent, after Sherman injury (team season avg):
ATL: 4.8 (6.1)- 21% below average
SF: 4.2 (4.9)- 14% below average
— Ben Baldwin (@guga31bb) November 27, 2017
There are some caveats with the Atlanta game.
First, the yards per play numbers do not include the 41 yards in pass interference penalties (25 on Jeremy Lane and 16 on Byron Maxwell). And second, they do not include the trouble Seattle’s defense had on 3rd down, allowing Atlanta to convert 9 of 14 attempts, in addition to giving the Falcons four first downs by penalty, all of which allowed them to sustain drives despite their low yards per play.
It is a small sample, but early returns suggest that the Seahawks defense may still be good, and perhaps even very good, despite missing Sherman and Chancellor (not to mention Cliff Avril and Shaquill Griffin). In any case, the defense hasn’t fallen off a cliff like it did last year after the loss of Earl Thomas.
Next up are the Philadelphia Eagles, who were #3 in offensive DVOA coming into this week’s games and are averaging 5.7 yards per play on offense. Last year, Seattle shut down rookie Carson Wentz and the Eagles, allowing seven points through three quarters below allowing a garbage time touchdown. Will this game bring more of the same?