2011 Seahawks Running Away From 1992 Ghosts

Back in August, I wrote about the eerie similarities between the 1992 Seahawks and the 2011 Seahawks. That 1992 team surrendered 67 sacks and set an NFL record for offensive futility by averaging only 8.8 points per game. Both the 2011 and 1992 teams featured a young and inexperienced offensive line, and both represented the first season after waving goodbye to a long-time franchise quarterback (Dave Krieg and Matt Hasselbeck). The script was playing out almost identically through three games.

Both teams were 1-2 after three contests, each having won their third game. The 1992 squad managed a 10-6 road victory in New England, while this year’s Seahawks beat the Cardinals 13-10 at home. The pass protection was actually better early on for the 1992 team, with only 10 sacks through three games compared to 14 for the 2011 line. This year’s team had outscored their old counterparts 30 – 20, for a whopping 10.0 points per game average. The fourth game dramatically changed the trajectory of the 2011 team, and likely divorced themselves from that comparison for good.

The 28 points scored by the Seahawks yesterday was more than the 1992 team scored at any point during the year. In fact, the 1992 team never scored more than 17 points in a game all season. The 372 yards of total offense also bested anything the ’92 team pulled off. They only went over the 300 mark three times, and not for the first time until week twelve. Tarvaris Jackson’s 319 yards passing demolished anything done by the trio of Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, and Stan Gelbaugh. That group passed for under 100 yards in a game a whopping seven times. Think about that. The Seahawks had a 44% chance of throwing for under 100 yards that season. They only pass the 150 yards passing mark four times. It would take that team, on average, three games to pass for as many yards as Jackson did on Sunday.

The pass protection skidded off the rails in game four as well, as the Dolphins sacked the Seahawks five times. That raised their season total to 15 sacks allowed. This young 2011 line held at 14 sacks allowed on the year by pitching a shutout against Atlanta.

While there remains a mathematical possibility that the Seahawks of 2011 could challenge the 1992 offenses ineptness, the outburst against the Falcons make that highly unlikely. Seattle is now averaging 14.5 points per game. There are three teams scoring less. Heck, that’s approaching double what the 1992 team averaged.

The one place both teams are still very much even is the record. The 1992 Seahawks only won one more game after their 1-3 start, to finish 2-14. A team that plays even half as well as the Seahawks did in the second half versus the Falcons is going to win a game or two more than that. The underlying story here remains the rapid development of the 2011 offensive line and the improvement of their quarterback. Tom Flores was much more aligned with the 2011 Charlie Whitehurst supporters that want to switch quarterbacks at a moment’s notice. That did not work so well. The offensive line never really did grow in pass protection throughout the full season the way this line has in four weeks. If the 1972 Dolphins get to pop a bottle of champagne every time the last undefeated team loses, Seahawks fans should grab a beer to celebrate an escape from reliving the nightmares of 1992.