In case you didn’t notice, the Seattle Seahawks are pretty good in the Red Zone. Seattle has scored a touchdown on three quarters of their trips inside the opponents twenty. Per TeamRankings.com, this is the second best Red Zone offense in the NFL by scoring percentage (touchdowns only), trailing only divisional rivals the San Francisco 49ers. And this isn’t exactly a new trend; in the last five years, Seattle has only ranked outside of the top 10 one time. But where they stand right now — at 75% touchdown rate — would not only be the highest of the Pete Carroll era, but also the third highest redzone scoring percentage of the last decade, trailing only the 2019 Tennessee Titans (with a gaudy 77.36%) and the 2020 Green Bay Packers (76.81%). And if San Francisco’s pattern of success inside the twenty holds, they would assume the best rate of all time with their outstanding 78.95%.
I find two things very interesting about this data; first, the trend of offenses becoming more lethal in the Red Zone certainly seems to be on the rise, as outside of some heroics by the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints in the early 2000s, teams rarely cracked the 70% mark, even into the early 2010s. But as the league has trended increasingly pass heavy, teams have obviously found more and more ways to score with consistency. Second, success in the Red Zone seems to correlate with success in the win-loss column only modestly; see the tweet below.
To be fair, the Hawks are also near the bottom in terms of actual trips inside the opponents twenty, so there is that. pic.twitter.com/djrRL8JXSz
— Stan ‘the boy’ Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) November 3, 2021
As you can see, the two best teams in the NFL right now are 3-5 and trail their division. Houston is top 10, and they are a whole different kind of bad. Jacksonville falls just outside the top ten, and they are so close to Houston that they too can smell the stench of burning garbage. But if you look at number of trips into the Red Zone, things make a bit more sense; only two teams that rank in the bottom 10 of trips inside the twenty have winning records (Pittsburgh and Cincinnati). But this isn’t to suggest that conversion percentage is irrelevant; just that it matters just as much, if not much much more, to actually get inside the twenty.
But getting back to the matter at hand, while Seattle has been good at putting points on the board in obvious scoring situations, they have struggled to get themselves into these scoring situations with consistency. While we can hope that they improve in this regard, a more realistic hope may be that they simply maintain their consistency when they do find themselves within reaching distance of the goal. So in this article, I want to take a look at the numbers and statistics behind Seattle’s success in the Red Zone this season. Next week, I will return with a look at some actual game film and playcalling to analyze where the team may be headed for the remainder of the 2021 season under Shane Waldron.
Seattle Seahawks: Red Zone Juggernauts?
Looking at Seattle’s Red Zone performance on a game-by-game basis, the data looks like this:
Of course, Seattle has been in the unenviable position of having to make a quarterback switch part way through the season, which undoubtedly has impacted their performance near the goal line. But how much did it impact them? Below is a comparison between Russell Wilson and Geno Smith.
Both have had ten opportunities, but obviously Wilson has had more success. Still, Geno Smith hasn’t been awful near the goal line, this is just another example of an area where we have consistently seen Russ excel. Interestingly (disappointingly?), the only failed conversion — outright — that Seattle has had this season came on a Jason Myers miss during the Ram’s game.
Rather than editorialize this topic any further, I want to let the data mostly speak for itself. I will dig into this issue more when I do a deep dive into some game film to follow up next week on what Shane Waldron’s Red Zone offense has actually looked like in the games. Going purely off of memory, I feel like his playcalling has been significantly different from what we saw out of Schottenheimer over the past few years. Could this just be recency bias? Possibly, but I am optimistic that Waldron may, in fact, be bringing some new wrinkles to the offense that will continue to pay off down the line. So join me next week and we can find out together.