The 2015 Seahawks Re-Watch, Week 3: The Good News Bears?
On a beautifully sunny Seattle day, the 0-2 Seattle Seahawks hosted the 0-2 Chicago Bears. Although, the situation was different for the two teams. The Seahawks had lost two tough road games, and they took the Rams to overtime; whereas, the Bears once promising season was derailing. Giving up 31 points to the Green Bay Packers, and 48 points to the Arizona Cardinals, the Bears defense was reeling. The Seahawks would be no less challenging, as the Bears would be down their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, and their star wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery. An uncharacteristically weak Seahawks defense was eager to shake off the rust and get the first W of the year. They accomplished a shut-out, as Seattle cruised to a 26-0 victory.
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Given the wrath Rob Gronkowski havoked on the Legion of Boom in Super Bowl 49, general manager John Schneider went into the off-season in pursuit of a super weapon to call his own. A player who could create match-up problems and give versatility to a successful yet slow-placed running offense. When the Hawks acquired tight-end Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints, it became the biggest offseason move in years.
Statistically, the case for Graham was clear. Paired with Drew Brees, the former collegiate basketball player had taken the league by storm, accumulating 51 touchdowns, 4,752 yards, and most importantly, converting 269 first downs. At 6’7” and 265lbs, Graham would give the Seahawks a big target. However, the Seahawks and the Saints had a complicated and emotional history. The teams had met twice in the playoffs during the Pete Carroll era, both in Seattle and both being Saints losses, including a loss known for the legendary “Beast Quake.” During these match-ups, some of Graham’s behavior angered fans and players, and many of them disliked the pass catcher.
Like it or not, the deal was done. And while the high expectations for Graham were not met in week 1 or 2, he experienced his breakout game against the Bears, with 7 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown, and a big fourth down conversion to seal the victory. Graham found his stride as an offensive weapon, but his deficiencies as a blocker were causing the team fits. As Lynch continued to struggle, being unable to escape early contact in the backfield, the narrative of the 2015 Seahawks slowly developed. Lost in the Graham trade were center Max Unger and a first round pick. Essentially, the Seahawks had given up two opportunities for a skilled lineman to obtain Graham’s massive talents as a playmaker. But how could those talents be utilized with Russell Wilson only throwing the ball on 50% of the plays?
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Despite facing a Bears defense who had given up seven touchdown passes in two weeks, the Seahawks limped into halftime with a 6-0 lead. At the close of the game, the offense had produced a mere 19 points, continuing another week of low production. Marshawn Lynch had entered the game late after a calf injury. He would later leave the game early due to injury. In his place, Thomas Rawls would finish the game. The young one looked fast and confident, however he bumbled a pass and did not operate well as a pass blocker, so Lynch and Jackson were needed for plays coming out of the backfield or for blitz pick-up. Still, the young back showed grit and potential. It was electric to see him so energetically and urgently force his way forward, especially since the injured Lynch had yet to play a game at full health.
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The defense had a day of dominance the likes of which the elite unit had grown fond of enjoying. Facing an overmatched Jimmy Clausen, the linebacker core went to work, getting home on several blitzes. Meanwhile, the Bears managed to bruise their way to rushing yards, often running sets with three tight ends. In the end, all it did was kill clock, as the Bears never established any consistency or focus of attack. Every drive Clausen would embark on would end in a punt. The painfully ineffective Clausen was unable to make his reads before the defense swarmed him, knocking him to the ground or tipping his passes. A mere sixty-three yards of passing surrendered indicated a big day for the Legion of Boom, but they were side actors to a pass rush that bullied Clausen.
Three unique stories spawned from this game. The first were the Bennett brothers. Michael Bennett, the Seahawks unstoppable defensive end, faced off against his brother, Martellus Bennett. The result was a mix of success and failure for both brothers; however, Michael ended up the victor, as Martellus had no quarterback who could deliver the ball. Second, defensive back Tracy Porter, now a member of the Bears, got off a great hurry on Russell Wilson. It was a nice showing for Porter, considering how he had been stiff-armed backward and on his backside during the aforementioned “Beast Quake,” a run that generated such a response from Seattle fans it registered as an earthquake. Third, Tyler Lockett continued his hot start to the season, taking the opening punt for the 2nd half from five yards in the end zone to pay dirt. He read his attack point correctly after a few excellent blocks and was never touched or obstructed, blowing past the punter as if the he was cemented to the ground. The explosive young rookie was one of many rookies beginning to make an impact on the roster.
1-2 meant this season had a pulse. The Detroit Lions awaited.
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