How Will the Addition of Duane Brown Impact the Seattle Seahawks' Offense?
As the trade deadline neared, the Seattle Seahawks made a move that their fan base had been clamoring for, for the past year and a half. Seahawks General Manager John Schneider managed to acquire stud left tackle Duane Brown from the Houston Texans. That loud cheering noise you heard from the 12's in the Pacific Northwest wasn't for the release of a new Dave Mathews Band album, but for the team finally protecting their multi-million dollar quarterback, Russell Wilson, and a step in fixing the run game.
The Seahawks went into the season hopeful that former collegiate basketball player and tight end George Fant would take a step forward in his second year. However, in Week 2, against the Minnesota Vikings, he injured his knee and was lost for the year. In came second-year former guard and third-round pick Rees Odhiambo. Jadeveon Clowney had just about put the nail in the coffin of Odhiambo at left tackle when Clowney had a tackle for loss of six yards at the four-yard line in the Texans-Seahawks shootout.
The 'Hawks made the move for Brown the next day.
Duane Brown's Impact in Houston
Our Net Expected Points (NEP) is what we use to track the efficiency of both teams and players, with the team totals being adjusted for strength of schedule. This will tell us the expected points a team has added on each play for a specific time span, giving us a true glimpse into the differences between the Texans' offense with Brown and without him.
Below we'll look at everything from yards per carry (YPC) to Rushing Success Rate, which is the percentage of carries that positively impact NEP. For reference, the league averages in 2016 were -0.02 Rushing NEP per carry -- yes, negative, because rushing is so inherently less efficient than passing -- with a 40.28% Rushing Success Rate.
The numbers -- which cover from the start of 2016 through Week 8 of this season -- are pretty telling.
|Split||YPC||Rushing NEP Per Carry||Success Rate||Sack Allowed Rate|
|Texans with Brown||5.50||0.08||45.12%||6.04%|
|Texans without Brown||4.43||-0.01||43.96%||7.76%|
The only change on the left side of the Texans' offensive line in this time was Brown's absence -- due to his holdout -- at the start of this season, as left guard Xavier Su'a-Filo has a steady hold on his position. Without Brown, the Texans' yards per carry average dropped more than a full yard, and their Rushing NEP carry clip suffered mightily, as well. Brown's presence in the pass game is seen, too, as the team went from giving up a sack on 6.04% of drop backs, to 7.76% of drop backs without him.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Seattle is getting a massive upgrade at left tackle. Of the 74 tackles that PFF has graded out, they have Odhiambo as the 73rd of that group. He has the lowest overall grade of any left tackle PFF has charted. PFF grades out Odhiambo at a 28.8% in the passing game and 31.9% in the run game. In comparison, after one game (so obviously a very small sample, PFF graded out Brown at 74.9% in the pass game and 46.8% in the run game.
Seattle Moving Forward
Seahawks running back Chris Carson hasn't played since sustaining a season-ending injury in Week 4, yet he is still the team's leader in nearly every rushing statistic. That's how dire things have been when it comes to Seattle's ground game.
|Player||Attempts||Rushing Yards||Yards Per Carry||NEP Per Rush||Success Rate|
|Chris Carson (IR)||49||208||4.2||-0.01||34.69%|
So, who do we want to target here for fantasy football? If added Brown can help the team can get a run game going, and Lacy really does get a workhorse role, then he's the back to target. In Lacy, you could be getting a running back with opportunity on a team whose coaches have traditionally wanted their offense to be more run heavy. That said, Thomas Rawls will still probably mix in, and both C.J. Prosise (when healthy) and J.D. McKissic should have roles in the passing game.
It may still be a situation to avoid, although Lacy is likely worth a bench stash at the moment.
Based on everything we covered above, look for Wilson to get a boost in the passing game, which is scary considering how well he is playing of late. An improved left tackle should give Wilson more time to throw -- never a bad thing.
Seattle looks to beat teams with explosive plays: runs over 12 yards and pass plays over 16 yards. The addition of Brown can be a big lift there if he can give Wilson a better pocket to throw from and improve the run game. Seattle currently has a schedule-adjusted Passing NEP per play of 0.17 (8th overall) with an Adjusted Rushing NEP per play of -0.09 (24th overall).
As of now, the 'Hawks, per our models, are the NFL's 10th-best team with an 83.5% chance of making the playoffs and the fifth-best odds (7.8%) of winning it all. The addition of Brown will likely improve the Seahawks' entire offense. He is a vast upgrade over what the team had been rolling out at the position, and he should only help Seattle moving forward.