Jun 12, 2013; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and quarterback Brady Quinn (10) do a drill following minicamp practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jerrod Johnson (1) stands behind Wilson and Quinn. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Projecting Some Stats For Russell Wilson

We’re down to just 12 days until the Seahawks take the field for their first practice. I found myself trying to pass the time by looking over some stats from 2012 and wondering what they’ll look like in 2013. I thought it might be a fun exercise to try and project a few based on what we know of the team.

I decided to take a look at Russell Wilson, and see if I could come up with a realistic expectation for his total yards in the season. To do this, I broke that down to a per game basis to try and make my estimation more accurate. Take a look and tell you what you think.

Passing Attempts

Anyone hoping to see Wilson sling the ball around all game like Matthew Stafford or Drew Brees isn’t going to like what I have to say here. Wilson’s total number of passing attempts isn’t likely to increase all that much.

The Seahawks are still coached by Pete Carroll, and their offensive identity isn’t going to change. They are going to be a run-first team that looks to shorten games by running the clock. That’s just part of the philosophy in Seattle right now.

Last season, Wilson only averaged just 24.5 passing attempts per game. While he lost playing time because of 3 blowout wins, Matt Flynn only had 9 total attempts in those games, so it’s not like Wilson lost many attempts with that playing time. The 2 QBs combined averaged just 26 attempts per game in 2012.

2013 likely wont be all that different. Its not like the defense is going to give up a lot more points, or the running game is suddenly going to become inept. If anything, the team will have less incentive to pass the ball because I don’t think they’ll be behind at the end of games as often this season.

My expectation is that we’ll see Wilson get 28 passing attempts per game. I expect him to get some leeway he didn’t have a year ago to audible into passes when the defense stacks the box, and that will give him a couple more attempts per game.

Yards per Attempt

Take a look at this chart of the league’s best QBs from 2012 in terms of yards per passing attempt:

Rank Name Team Yd/A
1 R. Griffin Was 8.14
2 P. Manning Den 7.99
3 C. Newton Car 7.98
4 R. Wilson Sea 7.93
5 A. Rodgers GB 7.78
6 D. Brees NO 7.73
7 M. Ryan Atl 7.67
8 T. Brady NE 7.58

Wilson was already among the league’s best in this statistical category. I included the table to show you that the best QBs were mostly just under 8 yards/attempt. Griffin was slightly over, and there’s usually a couple of QBs each year that break that threshold, but it’s not particularly common.

8 yards per attempt is a bit of a natural ceiling for NFL QBs. Due to the rarity and unpredictability of which QBs will be the one or two that breach that ceiling each year, I don’t think it’s reasonable to ever expect an individual player to do so.

At the same time, I don’t expect Wilson to regress in this area. He’s not going to suddenly become Brady Quinn and be unable to complete a pass over 5 yards. He always keeps his eyes downfield and isn’t afraid to take some deep shots. That wont go away.

Put those together and I think his yards per attempt will remain at approximately 8 this season.

Total Yards

This one is easy. Do the math:

28 attempts per game * 8 yards per attempt * 16 games = 3584 yards

That’s not an impressive number. It’s about 400 more yards than a year ago, but it still would have only been 18th in the league.

Interestingly though, that would still be the 7th best season in passing yards in franchise history, and it would be more passing yards than Matt Hasselbeck had in the Super Bowl season in 2005.

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  • skeletony

    Very well done article. I cannot really contest your reasoning or projections here except to say that I suspect the the passing attempts and total yardage will go up because of Percy Harvin and possibly Luke Willson (if he ends up being anywhere near as good as he seems to have potential to be).

  • EranUngar

    I can context your reasoning…

    While i agree that certain things are not going to change drastically like Yd/A or the team run first attitude but i can certainly see a combination of factors causing a combined effect on RW total yards.

    1. Harvin. We didn’t bring this guy at his cost just to take a few passes from Rice or Tate. Having such a fine tool means using it. Pete can scream that we’ll keep running the ball just like last year but i predict we’ll have a very balanced close to 50/50 which will result in at least 30 pass plays a game.

    2. A better team with better 3rd down performance means longer drives for the offense and hopefull shorter drives for the diffense. In total i predict that we’ll have 65-70 snaps min. per game – uping the passing total to close to 35 per game.

    3. A part of last year’s states were effected by the first few weeks with RW learning the system and i believe that this year starts at a very different place.

    All in all i dare to predict 250 yards a game ave. 4,000 for the year, 34 TD.

    • 12thMan_Rising

      I can’t argue with #1. We’ll have to wait and see. I was going off of what Pete Carroll has said since the draft, but it’s possible that it was a smokescreen.

      As for #2 let me add this: Over the last 10 games, Wilson was the best 3rd down QB in the NFL, with a passer rating of 120.1. This team was good 3rd down team in 2012, that isn’t going to be able to improve much.

      Wilson’s pass attempts per game were actually less in the final 8 games than they were in the first 8. Even if you ignore the 3 blowout games, then his pass attempts per game were the same over the last 7 non-blowouts than they were in first 6.

      The lack of passing attempts has nothing to do with Wilson, and everything to do with a philosophical approach by Pete Carroll. I just don’t that is going to change.

      • billdozer

        Agreed. Remember Harvin is quite the weapon out of the backfield too. Also, a guy like Harvin is sometimes more useful as a diversion, to get other receivers open.

        Longer drives mean more running the ball, not necessiarily more passes. Remember, PC likes to eat up the clock. PC can preach philosophy all he wants, but if he has a 2 TD lead in the second half, he’s not gonna to let Bevell call many passing plays.

  • billdozer

    Ya I was expecting a high of around 30 passes per game(but I think an average of 25 is more realistic, assuming the Hawks offense can take and hold a lead, which I think they’ll be more able to this year) and I think 4k yards is the high we’ll see (just counting regular season).

    Remember, this team isn’t about statistics(with the exception of Marshawn Lynch). Wilson had the chance to break Mannings TD record last year, and he ran it in instead. He doesn’t care about numbers.

  • Raymond

    I think Seattle could get a little more attempts because they should be able to get more first downs with a player like Harvin who can also take a 5 yard pass and turn it into 80 yards which will help Wilson’s numbers

    32TDs to 8 Int is my prediction and those are the important numbers

    • 12thMan_Rising

      This is where my projections could have some problems. If Harvin take a few short passes and turns them into long TDs, then Wilson’s yards per attempt will certainly break 8, which will mean that he’s going to have more yards even if he doesn’t have more attempts.

    • Ram It Baby

      LOL! You’re going to be very disappointed this year. #SophomoreJinx

      • 12thMan_Rising

        Look back a couple week on this site and you’ll see that I’ve explored the phenomenon of the “Sophomore Slump” in detail. In the last 15 years, only 1 QB (Matt Ryan) who played at least 10 games in his first 2 season wasn’t better in year 2 than in year. Every other QB was better, many remarkably slow. The Sophomore slump is a myth.

  • hawkman54

    Just got done Friday re-watching the last Four Hawk games- niners, Rams, Skins, Falcons. Three things stood out RW got better as each game progressed, Sydney Rice has a hard time getting open anywhere but on the sidelines , and the O-line was much better with Moffitt in the game then Sweezzy(sp). In those four games there were 13 mistakes by the right side of the Oline and ELEVEN of those were by the ORG. With Harvin in the fold and Hopefully an improved right side of the line( just through doing and learning more I guess , don’t see any major player changes) RW will probably be around that 28 number . Good READ !

  • bobk333

    That is an interesting and good analysis.

    It would not be much of a surprise for Russell Wilson to have the very best season ever for passing yards for a Seahawk QB. He will surely be the best QB we ever had. The only question is if he will get enough attempts.

    The ceiling at about 8yds/att is a good point, but this is DangerRuss we are talking about. His YA was, I am pretty sure, much better in the second half of the season (better that 8ya) after he was unleashed, so there is an argument that he can break that ceiling. Remember, he is the type who can shatter ceilings, just as he shattered the NCAA passer rating record on a running team like Wisconsin.

    Add major breaktthroughs at the end of the season and the playoffs by Zach Miller, Golden Tate and Robert Turbin. Add Percy Harvin. Add an entire off-season of intense film study and practice with his receivers. Don’t be surprised if he is above the 8 ya ceiling.

    What we have to watch out for is his YA for away games, which wasn’t very good.

    As far as attempts per game, that is one of the hardest things to predict and depends on factors like the game plans which can very greatly depending on the team/defense are up against, how well their running game is working and most of all the score – if they are behind and playing catch-up, they will pass a lot more and if they are ahead (which is likely to be much more frequent this season compared to last) they will run the clock. Based on last year, even with Percy Harvin and an all around improvement in the passing game, 30 attempts per game is as good a guess as any.


  • Fan in Japan

    I’m guessing closer to 4000 yards passing this year

  • Fan in Japan

    Having read billdozers comment he mentioned a good point in “assuming the Hawks offense can take and hold a lead” They have some very hard teams to play on the road and I think that those will really be the litmus test of this team for this year.