Four numbers that tell the story of the Seahawks' defense in 2017

From ESPN - January 9, 2018

The number that mattered most to the Seattle Seahawks' defense in 2017 was 332. That's how many points Seattle allowed, its most in any season since 2010. The Seahawks finished tied for 13th in scoring defense after leading the league in that category from 2012 to 2015.

But there are many more numbers that tell the story of Seattle's defense in 2017. Here's a look at four of them and what they might mean going forward:

27.9. The percentage of opponents' dropbacks on which Seattle generated pressure on the quarterback, according to ESPN charting. That ranked 18th, while Seattle's 39 sacks were tied for 13th. Each of those numbers was slightly better in 2016, when the Seahawks pressured QBs on 29.8 percent of their dropbacks (seventh) and finished with 42 sacks (tied for third). There were games this past season when Seattle's pass rush dried up almost entirely, most notably in a December loss at Jacksonville, when the Seahawks produced only one QB hit and zero sacks. Losing Cliff Avril to a season-ending neck injury in Week 4 certainly affected the pass rush. Teams also went after Seattle's defense with plenty of shorter, quicker throws designed to mitigate the pass rush. But that did not happen every week.

Overall, the results were underwhelming based on elevated expectations following Seattle's preseason trade for Sheldon Richardson. He will be a free agent, Avril may never play again because of his neck injury and Michael Bennett is a potential salary-cap casualty. Then again, the Seahawks need all the pass-rush help they can get, so it might make sense to hang on to Bennett for another season with Avril's future in serious question. Either way, improving the pass rush should be an offseason priority for Seattle.

82.2. Opponents' passer rating over the final seven games, when Seattle's secondary was missing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. That was 12th in the NFL. Through the Seahawks' ninth game, when Sherman and Chancellor suffered season-ending injuries in the second half, the Seahawks allowed a passer rating of 76.9, which ranked fifth. That the dropoff was not bigger despite the loss of an All-Pro in Sherman and a Pro Bowler in Chancellor speaks to how their backups -- Byron Maxwell and Bradley McDougald, respectively -- played as well as anyone could have expected.


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