Projecting the Seahawks sack totals: Cry "Havoc!", and let slip the dogs of war

The Seahawks pass rush might be fearsome this season.
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The Seattle Seahawks pass rush tied for seventh in the league in sacks last year with 45. There's every reason to believe they'll boost that total by double digits in 2023. Well, three or four reasons, at least, including big jumps from a pair of returning stars.

The fact that the 2022 Seahawks ranked seventh in sacks (tied with the Jets and Buccaneers, actually) might lead less a few aware 12s to think that Seattle's pass rush doesn't need any improvement from last season. True, they weren't as inept as the last-place Bears - and how did the Monsters of the Midway manage to get just 20 sacks - but the Hawks sack total is misleading.

Yes, the 45 sacks look good, but let's dig a bit deeper. You know, get mathy. You'll see that the Seahawks ranked 19th in total pressures last season. I'd say a big part of that lack of pressure was because they ranked 31st in blitzes, both as a percentage of dropbacks and absolute numbers. Compare the Hawks numbers to the top blitzing team in the league last year, the Giants.

New York's 253 blitzes nearly tripled Seattle's 95. El Gigantes blitzed on 39.7 percent of all passing plays, while the Hawks blitzed just 15.2 percent of the time. While New York only recorded 41 sacks, four less than Seattle, they pressured the QB 155 times, 25 more than our guys. The Giants ranked sixth in pressures, far more than the Seahawks.

Seahawks sacks are the name of the game, more or less

I need to clarify that I don't think blitzing is always the answer. The Eagles led the league in sacks with 70 and were just barely in second place in pressure percentage. Yet they ranked just 18th in blitz percentage. The Cowboys, one tick above the Eagles in pressure percentage, ranked 13th. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Steelers ranked 30th in pressure percentage - more of a Steel Sieve - yet ranked sixth in blitz percentage. Blitzing a lot can simply mean your pass rush can't get it done without help.

The two best defenses in the league were the Bills and the - it pains me to write this - the Niners. They were the only two teams to surrender less than 300 points, and were one and two in yards allowed as well. Yet they ranked 14th and 11th in pressure percentage. Both had fewer sacks than the Seahawks, too. Maybe sacks and pressures aren't everything then, right? Except that the two teams that met in the Super Bowl, the Eagles and Chiefs, ranked second and fifth in pressure percentage, and first and second in sacks.

We can get as mathy as we like with percentages, but sacks disrupt an offense like almost nothing else. For those of you pointing to interceptions, well yeah. Except, the middle-of-the-pack Steelers defense was tied for the league lead with 20 picks, while the Jets, fifth in yards and fourth in points allowed, only picked off 12 passes all year. All units have to be firing, sure, but I'll take the team piling up the sacks.