Earl Thomas says Seahawks defense was simple. Your point, sir?

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 08: Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 08: Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Former Seahawks great Earl Thomas recently said the Ravens run a very complex scheme compared to the Hawks. Did it even matter?

Earl Thomas has had a lot to say about the Seahawks since they declined to extend his contract. Not much of it has been good, so it’s no surprise he gave Seattle a bit of a shot when talking to Baltimore reporters recently. Basically, Thomas said the Ravens run a very complex defense, while Seattle ran a much simpler scheme.

Now there are two ways to look at this. First, it may not actually be a dig at Seattle at all. Maybe Thomas is complaining that Baltimore is making the game unnecessarily complicated. I don’t think that’s what he means at all, but it’s one possible interpretation. I can’t see Thomas stating publically that a system is too difficult for him to learn, can you? Nah, me either.

Or maybe he means that the Ravens don’t have the talent of the Hawks, so they have to rely on complex schemes to get an edge over their opponents. That would be a pretty lousy thing to say about your new team, though. While Thomas has never – and I mean never – been afraid to speak his mind, I don’t think that was his intent here.

Let’s make this a bit easier. Here’s the quote from Thomas, as tweeted by Andrew Siciliano. By the way, Siciliano is excellent and has been since his days on the Tony Bruno Show. Yeah, I’m old. Anyway:

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Thomas throws shade on Seahawks scheme

So we’ll assume that he really was dissing the Seahawks in a not-so-subtle fashion. Let’s compare the results of the complex defensive scheme of the Ravens against the Seahawks, “who just ran cover-3 all the time”. As many commenters noted, when you have three Hall of Famers (Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman), you don’t need anything too complex.

2018 was something of a shambles for Seattle, compared to their usual performance. Bear in mind that it’s hard to replace one HOF safety (Chancellor) even when you expect his absence. It’s doubly so when your other safety goes down in week four. Despite this, the Hawks finished 2018 ranked 17th in passing yards allowed and average yards per attempt. They were 14th in touchdowns allowed.

Seahawks weren’t great last year, but when at full strength….

The Ravens were much better last year. Baltimore ranked fifth in yards allowed, second in yards per attempt, and third in touchdowns allowed. Advantage Thomas, I’d say. The teams were much closer in 2017, though. In yards allowed, average per attempt, and touchdowns allowed, Seattle ranked sixth, sixth and seventh. Baltimore ranked tenth, fourth and fifth, respectively. The Seahawks allowed 19 touchdown passes, the Ravens 18, so it wasn’t a huge difference.

Going back to 2016 and beyond, the Legion of Boom showed their strength. That should surprise no one. In the three categories, Seattle ranked eighth, 15th, and third. Baltimore was ninth, 10th, and 24th. Seattle allowed 16 touchdown passes while Baltimore gave up 28. Yikes! Seems the complex scheme wasn’t complex enough – or perhaps too complex.

The beatdown was bigger in 2015. The LOB ranked second, fifth and first in the league. The Ravens were 10th, 16th and 22nd. The Hawks allowed 14 touchdowns through the air, while the Ravens gave up 30. Yes, Baltimore allowed than twice as many touchdown passes as Seattle. 2014 was more of the same story. Seattle ranked first in passing yards allowed, third in yards per attempt, and second in touchdown passes allowed. Baltimore was 23rd, 12th, and sixth. Hey, they did something right! In 2013 it was Seattle first, first and second. Baltimore was 12th, 16th, and 14th. I think you see the trend.

Next. Very early predictions for 2019. dark

You can look at this as the decline of the LOB, of course. It’s obvious that Seattle would have had a stronger pass defense last year if Thomas hadn’t broken his leg and missed 12 games. Overall, it seems that just running the cover-3 all the time has been pretty good for the Seahawks. If this was intended as criticism by Thomas, it was… well, I’ll be nice and just say it was not supported by the facts. If the Hawks are mediocre against the pass again this year, then we’ll talk.