NFL

The Seattle Seahawks Lead the NFL in 2020’s Most Important Statistic

Turning D.K. Metcalf loose on opposing secondaries has been a good plan for the Seattle Seahawks. Allowing Russell Wilson more freedom in operating the offense has been even better.

But if Seattle ends up making a run deep into the playoffs and perhaps even reaching Tampa for Super Bowl 55, then a statistic that makes the Seahawks unique within the NFL could prove to be the key.

Prospects are improving for the Seattle Seahawks

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Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll should continue to worry about his team’s defense, but that unit seems to be making strides. The 5-0 start to the 2020 season helped disguise the fact that the Seattle defense was surrendering 27 points a game. The Seahawks were winning because Russell Wilson was outlandishly good while steering the offense to 33.8 points per game.

The illusion of the Seahawks being a top-three NFL team was shattered over the next four contests. Kyler Murray led the Arizona Cardinals to one victory, Josh Allen’s arm carried the Buffalo Bills to another, and the Los Angeles Rams struck an offensive balance to hand Seattle its third loss.

The last two weeks, however, have indicated that the defense is coming together. Seattle allowed 314 yards of total offense en route to a 28-21 win over Arizona in the rematch, and then the Seahawks went on Monday Night Football to beat the Eagles by finally holding an opponent – granted, it was Carson Wentz doing the throwing – under a 64% completion rate for the first time all season.

Allowing a combined 28 points in two games isn’t stop-the-presses news, but it’s still a reason for optimism. At 8-3 with the Giants, Jets, and Washington Football Team up next, the Seahawks are building momentum.

The Seattle Seahawks are pitching a shutout vs. COVID-19

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Football was the last major sport to have to face playing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s been messy. The number of postponed or flat-out canceled college games is almost too high to count. Meanwhile, the last few days of NFL news have been stressful for teams and their fans:

  • The scheduled Thanksgiving game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the virus-ravaged Baltimore Ravens has been pushed back to (at least) Dec. 2.
  • The San Francisco 49ers have been ordered by Santa Clara health officials to leave town if they want to keep playing. They’re setting up shop in Arizona.
  • The Denver Broncos played without a genuine quarterback on Nov. 29 in their 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The situation got so bad that the NFL issued a stand-down order over fears of what Thanksgiving might have done to spread the virus. Teams were told to shutter their training facilities and only conduct online meetings for the first two days of the current week.

It amounted to a disruption for 31 of the 32 teams. The one that didn’t need to worry? The Seattle Seahawks. That’s because the Seahawks are the only NFL franchise that has not had a player, coach, or staff member test positive since the start of training camp. Their standards have exceeded the league’s all along.

“It’s not going to affect us at all,” coach Pete Carroll told the News Tribune in Tacoma. “We’ve already been doing what they are asking.”

No plan is foolproof when it comes to dodging the virus, but the Seahawks stand a better chance than others of fielding their best 22 players each week. That will be huge once the playoffs arrive.

They’re executing the plan in the Pacific Northwest

RELATED: The Seahawks Refuse to Let Russell Wilson Suffer Cam Newton’s COVID-19 Fate

The NFL learned a lot from the NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball in formulating protocols for teams to follow to avoid having the 2020 football season disintegrate. No matter how thorough the planning, however, sloppiness has seeped in. The league fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000 and took away a draft pick over a locker room celebration during which players were not wearing masks.

The Seahawks have been taking no chances. To cut down on in-person contact, coach Pete Carroll has eliminated most of the downtime between the morning walk-through and the afternoon practice. According to the Peninsula Daily News, players are now seated 10 feet apart in meetings instead of the six that has been imprinted on the public’s mind since “social distancing” became a thing in late winter.

“Indoors, we have our team meetings and it takes up almost 50 yards of the field. Everybody is spread out,” Carroll said.

In addition, the Seahawks take player contact with non-team personnel seriously. Players are encouraged to tell the team when they are expecting visitors. The Seahawks arrange to have the visitors come to team headquarters for a COVID-19 test in a tent separate from where players and staff are processed each morning.

It’s one more reason why the Seahawks have stayed atop the list with no positive virus tests this fall.

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