Week Two: Are the Seahawks Bullies?
For the entire Green Bay game, I found myself having the same arrogant thoughts I had had during the St Louis Rams game. We’re going to win this game. I just knew that, the way our defense was, the way our offense did just enough, how special teams would do one special thing, this was a Seahawks game. It felt close but it wasn’t—the avalanche was coming. Somewhere during halftime, with the Hawks behind and the offense having scored an abysmal—is “abysmal” a strong enough adjective?—three points, I realized that I had felt this way during Super Bowl 49. I was certain that the Seahawks would triumph over the Patriots, certain that the Patriots would fall apart at the end, certain that the Seahawks would win another squeaker, like they always do.
The first two weeks of the season, I’ve felt like I’m watching Super Bowl 49 all over again. Whether it was Bailey failing on the one-on-one for the touchdown the same way KJ Wright was burned by Gronk during the Super Bowl. To these slippery, quick horizontal passes to a single receiver while everyone else blocks. To the sweet move Edelman put on Simon on a big-time third down, breaking lose into the open field. Looked a lot like the sweet move from… You know what? Who needs to relive it? The point is that I’ve watched the Super Bowl for three straight weeks, and for three straight weeks the Seahawks lost it.
The New England Patriots exposed the Seattle Seahawks—and now everyone is copying them.
The Seahawks have a problem: Predictability. For many years, the Seahawks won games exactly the same way. That was great—when they were winning. But take away a miracle win against Green Bay in the NFC Championship game and the Hawks have lost—are you ready for this?—four straight games. They may not have been blow-out losses but the writing is on the wall: It’s time to push the panic button. If the Hawks sit around telling themselves, “We’re fine. We’re the Seahawks. We’ll get it going eventually,” they probably will get something going, but it won’t be enough of that something, because people know how to beat the Seattle Seahawks.
Now the Seahawks need to prove that they can change.
Here is where you start.
1) The Seahawks are a pass first team. In the offseason, the Hawks traded Max Unger—a veteran offensive lineman and Seahawks homegrown player—and a first round pick to the Saints for Jimmy Graham, who cannot block your grandmother (whether she is dead or alive). The second that deal went down, the second the Hawks gave up an o-lineman and the draft pick that could replace him, it was clear: the Seahawks were a pass first team. The Hawks need to get Graham out of the trenches and out there catching fly balls. They need to utilize the vertical passing game, not the horizontal one, to push the ball down the field. 1st and 2nd downs are no longer, “Can we run to get us in third and short?” it’s, “Can we throw this to 2nd and two?”
And why do the Seahawks need to become a passing team?
2) The Seahawks need to score early and often. The Seahawks can no longer depend on winning every close game they play. The problem with the Seahawks is not the defense. The problem is and will always be the offense. And now that the defense isn’t super-duper elite—still great, but not legendarily great—the Seahawks offense must score more points, and they need to score those points early in the game. You can forget the days where 3 first half points lead to a dramatic fourth quarter victory. 3 first half points means losing—and it should mean losing. You should lose when you do something that awful, it’s the only way to learn to stop doing it.
3) The Seahawks need to blitz. The front four on the Seahawks are a great squad. Many people will never understand this because, despite football being a team sport, they’re told to do their jobs as individuals. They don’t get much support in the form of blitzes, they try hard, but it becomes easy for quarterbacks to understand—pre-snap—where the most likely escape valve is to keep the play alive. The Seahawks need to generate devastating pressure that ends in fast sacks, and they need to do it because…
4) The Legion of Boom is evolving. It was great when the Seahawks could defy all logic in holding teams to ridiculously low passing numbers, but things that crazy-good never stay that crazy-good because being that crazy-good is a rare and fantastic accomplishment. The Lob isn’t gone, but they can’t hold their own for four, five, six seconds while the front four misses their mark time and again. The LoB is still a great squad, one of the best in the NFL, but this is not the squad from yesteryear. This is a different squad, and it needs different things to succeed.
5) Aggression is turning into mistakes (and turning the Seahawks into bullies). In football, the most aggressive team is usually the most successful, to a point. The Seahawks have crossed it. Every team will hard count that defensive line every play of every game for the rest of the season—you can count on that. The false starts? The delay of games? This amateurish antsiness that puts them in holes? All of this has got to go. And what has to go most of all: The fact that the Seahawks are bullies. Whether it was the end of the Super Bowl, the Rams game, this game, the Seahawks can’t handle losing. When it happens, they start getting in fights. They turn into bullies who can’t handle being bested. Beside being extraordinarily lame, it’s affecting the football that is happening on the field.
The Seahawks have great players. They’re a talented team. But the next challenge for the Seahawks is to become a disciplined team—to grow and evolve to their next level. If the Seahawks want to win this season, if they want to go back to the Super Bowl, and win the Super Bowl, they need to push the panic button. The Seahawks in their current form, playing the game the way they do, will no longer work. The Seahawks are going to have to become a more balanced team, where offense carries more of the load, where passes—especially deep to Graham—become a staple of the team. The “2nd half team” mentality has got to end. It’s time to become a mature team, playing four solid quarters on the offensive side of the ball. The Seahawks are going to have to become a defensively smart and savvy unit, instead of playing with such reckless abandon. If they get support from the offense, this should be easier, but even if they don’t, they still need to go back to some fundamentals and get away from the, “We do it our way and we don’t care what anyone else is doing,” mentality.
The Seahawks need to become a balanced football team. Unfortunately, for the Seahawks, that’s the one thing they’ve never been.