Week 2 Advanced Statistics Review: Seattle Seahawks Game

Jonathan Ferrey

I review the last game through a statistical lens.

Well that was an ugly game. Really ugly. There was a strong part of me that really didn't want to write any sort of review. Maybe if we just ignored the game, it will go away. It will be like we just had two bye-weeks or something.

But that's not how life works: bad things just don't go away. So, let us trek onward by looking a bit backward.

Since last week's computer problems limited me to discussing Kyle Williams alone, I thought I would flip the tables and talk about the team broadly by examining the offense, defense, and special teams. But don't worry, as I move between the three, I'll be sure to highlight specific players. And, as I mentioned last week, I want to (in general) look at players who might be flying under the radar each week.

Let's just get it out of the way: the offense was atrocious. According to Football Outsiders' VOA rankings, the 49ers' offense is 22nd in the league with a VOA of -10.4%. This is after last week's monster game from the offense, after which they were ranked 3rd. The drop, though, is largely due to the running game. Even after the Seahawks game, the 49ers do have a 21.6% in pass offense. It's the -20.7% in the run game that hurts.

Pro Football Focus' individual rankings confirm this too. According to PFF, only three players on the 49ers' offense to register a positive overall grade. Go ahead, take a guess who. I wouldn't have guessed, that's for sure.

The highest score goes to Garrett Celek with a 0.6. In particular, he had a good game blocking, scoring a 0.1 in pass blocking and a 0.5 in run blocking. Here's the catch, though: he only played four snaps. That's not nearly a large enough sample size. The next highest score goes to Adam Snyder, with a 0.5, all of which came from run blocking. But, he was on the field for only three snaps.

Finally, Kendall Hunter finished the game with a 0.2 score on 15 plays. Even though he ran the ball only once for -7 yards, I am a fan of his 0.6 pass blocking score. This is would be a huge area of his game for him to improve. In his rookie season, Hunter finished with a -2.3 PFF score in pass blocking. Last season, though, that improved to -0.7. So, let's keep hoping that trend keeps going upward. One of the reasons Gore has such a strong reputation is that he is perceived to be quite good at pass blocking.

On the other side of the ball, the defense had a decent game. They aren't grading out really well on Football Outsiders, though. Through two weeks, the defense has a 13.8% VOA (remember, in FO's defensive rankings, the lower the number the better; top defenses have negative scores), which is good for the 28th place in the NFL. They have played strong against the run, with a -6.4% VOA, however.

Let's take the opposite tactic than I did with the offense and look at which players on the defense have the worst game according to PFF. Four players had lower than 0.0 scores. The big one, and the guy about whom we have talked the most, is Nnamdi Asomugha. He graded out with a -3.9 game, largely due to his run defense (-1.9) and his pass coverage (2.1). Ray McDonald also had a down game, compiling a -0.9 grade. Both his pass rush (-0.5) and run defense (-1.1) were poor. Dan Skuta, on only 6 plays, rounds out the first three negative defensive players with a measly -0.1 score. Again, that's not a large enough sample size to determine anything relevant.

The player on defense that I wanted to highlight, however, is Craig Dahl. Mr. Dahl, entering the game in relief of Eric Reid, did not have a great game. PFF rated him out at -1.5. The real problem is his pass coverage (-1.3). Besides Mr. Asomugha, Reid was the only player to have a bad game in coverage on a day when the 49ers were largely able to shut Russell Wilson down. In fact, before Reid left the game, he racked up a 1.7 score on 35 plays. That is the best grade of the day. Based upon Dahl's career, this type of performance isn't out of the norm. In fact, this is about as best as he can play. The -1.3 is essentially equal to his -1.4 from last season, which is better than the two seasons before last. In 2011, he scored -4.7, and in 2010 PFF ranked him at -5.3.

By moving over to Special Teams, however, I can give Dahl some credit. He graded out as a 1.0 player based upon his work on the punt unit. This was the second highest score of the day, with Phil Dawson taking top honors. Dawson ended up with a 1.5 based upon a strong kickoff performance (1.6). Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox both had the worse special teams days with scores of -2.5 and -2.7 respectively.

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