I hated the trade. I still hate it. Begrudgingly, however, I get it: despite his production, Josh is too small for what Carroll likes in defensive backs and his contract was up at the end of the season. Fine. But boy are we paying for it in the short term.
Through one quarter of the 2010 season, Seattle’s defense is just about as lopsided as it gets, being utterly dominant against the run (1st in the league in Expected Points Added, with a score of -27.7) and versus the pass, about as effective as a backfield full of crash dummies (24th in EPA with a score of 26.5). OK, that’s a little harsh. But that’s how frustrating it is to watch, sometimes. The Seahawks have given up an average of 302 yard per game through the air. Typing (and re-reading) that sentence is about as fun as a kick to the groin.
Thirty years ago, this would be a defense that wins games. Lots of them. Unfortunately, the modern NFL is undeniably a passing-driven game, with the the vast majority of Super Bowl Champions winning games with elite passers like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Rapelisberger, etc.
Would Josh Wilson would have helped the Seahawks Pass Defense this season?
We’ll never know. But what we do know, however, is that he can produce, even as part of one of the worst pass defenses in past years. Let me prove to you that he propped the squad up, and wasn’t actually part of the problem (as many people erroneously thought).
In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Josh started 24 games for the Seahawks. His high level stats were impressive: 22 passes defensed, 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 turnovers returned for touchdowns (pretty sure all pick sixes). He was often most successful in nickel situations on 3rd down, being able to roam passing lanes and double team targeted receivers. As a starting corner back, he was actually able to compete quite well with most wide receivers, and even did a fairly admirable job against guys like Larry Fitzgerald (who can cover that guy? Answer me that.)
From an advanced stats perspective, in 2009 he ranked 22nd among corner backs in Positive Win Probability Added with a score of 1.04 (Derelle Revis was #1 in the league at 1.69) and 16th in Positive Expected Points added with a score of 37.9. It’s significant to note that these statistics were 12 games worth of work; nearly every cornerback on that list within 20 spaces of Josh played 15-16 games. If Josh played those other four games at the level that he did the other 12, I’d be possible he’d be a top 10 corner back that year, from an advanced stats perspective.
Josh was under a lot of pressure to produce as a Seahawk, and he clearly made significant contributions to the Seahawks’ pass defense. I can only imagine how much worse it would have been without him. Had he been retained for 2010, he’d be playing alongside a healthy Marcus Trufant, Earl Thomas (10th overall in +EPA among safeties, who hasn’t yet played a 5th game, like most ranked above him), a squad of linebackers that have been far more effective against the pass this year and behind a defensive line that’s *gasp* actually been pressuring the passer!
As much as I’m a proponent of building for the future considering our team’s circustances, boy would I love to have me some Josh pick sixes right about now.