The Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) lost to the Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1). The Los Angeles Rams (4-11) lost to the San Francisco 49ers (2-12).
Let’s Workshop This Offense (Some More)
Germain Ifedi Is Getting Up To Game Speed. Weeks ago, 18to40 took apart a “stunt” play on Ifedi. During the play, Ifedi got stuck on his initial assignment, chasing Buccaneers’ defensive lineman Gerald McCoy in favor of holding his ground for defensive lineman Ryan Russell. When Ifedi realized his mistake, he watched Russell pass by with his neck slung around like he just saw a pretty girl for the first time. What happened to Ifedi was not so much a deficit of his body but a deficit of NFL experience. Like a lot of rookies, Ifedi had a tendency to lock-in on his initial assignment. For Ifedi to effectively pass protect on third and long, he needed to learn to react to the situation as it developed.
Against the Cardinals, Ifedi faced a similar stunt on another third and long. How did he do?
Ifedi (76) is lined up above center Justin Britt (68) and beneath tackle Garry Gilliam (79). Ifedi is facing linebackers Alex Okafor (57) and Markus Golden (44). Both are playing hand down on the defensive line. Ifedi does himself a favor by near perfectly timing the snap. He is already mobile and balanced by the time Okafor charges at him and Gilliam, pinching them together. Ifedi is slow to recognize the stunt and his upper-body does get twisted around. Ifedi recovers in time to get an arm around Golden, but Golden’s leverage pushes Ifedi off-balance and then onto his back.
This is improvement.
Ifedi did not so blindly fall for the stunt, and while Ifedi’s upper body did twist, his lower body stayed mostly forward and balanced, putting him in a greater position for success. By doing so, Ifedi was able to obstruct Golden instead of watching him blow past. For this season, Ifedi may not be able to defend the stunt reliably, but he will probably do a better job of obstructing pass rushers who use one. Within that small window of wiggle room may lie a key play or two that advances the Seahawks further in the playoffs.
Russell Wilson Struggled On His Secondary Reads. Statistically, Russell Wilson turned in a monster of a game, going 29/45 with four passing touchdowns. The Hawks’ super-duper star, Wilson will always be asked to give more than his teammates, and always be asked to do what would be impossible for any average NFL player. Admitting that, in Wilson’s sixteen incompletions, he missed a few underneath routes.
On this play, Wilson wants Doug Baldwin (89). It’s worth noting, tight end Jimmy Graham (88) [6’7″, 265lbs] is covered up by safety DJ Swearinger (36) [5’10”, 205lbs]. Baldwin gets snagged up when his foot bumps into linebacker Sio Moore (54), making him late on the route. Curiously, instead of checking it down to the size mismatch on Graham, Wilson waits for Baldwin to appear. Coming out of the break, Graham did achieve separation from Swearinger, but by the time Wilson checks it down to Graham, Graham had already crossed Wilson’s body. The pass comes in behind Graham on a shallow angle. This allows Swearinger to come underneath Graham, playing the ball instead of the man.
After a fake handoff to fullback Marcel Reece (44), Wilson looks for Paul Richardson (10). Cornerback Brandon Williams (26) gives Richardson so much room that Richardson is unlikely to burn Williams. Wilson should dump out of this read instantly, as Jermaine Kearse (15) is leaving his break with safety Justin Bethel (28) several feet behind him. By the time Wilson sees Kearse, the window of separation has passed. Like with Graham, the ball comes in behind Kearse, allowing Bethell to make up ground by taking a hard angle on the ball itself.
By no means should Wilson turn into a check-down machine, but these underneath routes might be worth hitting, especially if you get Graham on a safety or a defender is playing that far off Richardson.
What Is Going On With Special Teams?
Here are a few statistics about extra points and the Seahawks from after the Eagles game.
On Sunday, the NFL had a record high of twelve missed extra point attempts. One of those twelve came from the Seahawks. It was not a one-off situation. While Steven Hauschka is 21/24 on field goals this season, he is 22/26 on extra points. That’s right. His kicking percentage is higher for field goals than for extra points. And the problem goes beyond 2016. Hauschka also had four misses in 2015. Of his four 2016 misses, all four have been blocks. In 2015, two were misses and two were blocks. Out of the eight missed extra points since the point after was moved to the fifteen-yard line, six have been blocks. Thus far, the Seahawks have suffered no consequences for this play. All three games in 2015 with missed extra points were wins, as have been all four in 2016.
Inevitably, the team will miss an extra point in a game they lose. It will be interesting to see what the final score of that game will be.
Well, we finally know what happens when the Seahawks miss an extra point in a game they lose. Paired with a missed field goal, the Hawks left four points on the field…and lost by three.
Free Agents Need to Step Up
In the offseason, wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was signed to a four year, $13,500,000 contract. Cornerback Jeremy Lane was brought back on a 4 year, $23,000,000 contract. Both deals represent John Schneider and Pete Carroll’s belief that the talent within the organization was just as good or better than the talent available on the free agent market, and that Kearse and Lane could replicate their 2015 success. In retrospect, Kearse and Lane’s 2015 performances appear to be contract year play. Once signed to a deal, they suffered a regression to the player they always were or perhaps even worse.
Regardless, for the Hawks to win the Super Bowl, these costly free agents have to show up.
This week, it was easy to figure out where Kearse went wrong. His offensive pass interference penalty occurred on the first play of the game, dooming a drive for an offense who cannot get anything happening on its initial drives. On the next drive, the Cardinals scored, continuing a trend of the Hawks losing any game where they don’t score first. In this particular circumstance, Kearse tried to do too much. He put a nice “block” on Patrick Peterson (21) by obstructing him, but in his hurry to get upfield to block safety Bethel, Kearse ran into Peterson. This is not the type of error one usually sees from a four-year veteran. Kearse can’t lose his focus and just run into defenders.
Last season, Jeremy Lane won a competition for the second corner position against DeShawn Shead. This season, he not only lost the job to Shead, he started to get beat early in routes. The defense likes to use coverage where the cornerbacks are lined up close to the receivers, sometimes as close as two yards. Recently, Lane has been a liability in that position. On Saturday, Lane got burned for an eighty-yard touchdown reception, and the rest of the game wasn’t much better. In this example, Lane (20) followed wide receiver John Brown (12) inside. At the snap, Lane attempted to jam Brown and did get enough of Brown to take him a step off the route. That part was good. Then Brown ran right past Lane, with Lane turned around and hanging on for dear life. That part, and how it kept happening, was not so good.
In these two examples Kearse and Lane started the plays well, but they didn’t finish them that way. These two have to get some consistency back in their game.
How Bad Are Things For The Seahawks?
The Seahawks are an unknown. Despite looking sluggish, with a line that was being terrorized, the offense was still explosive. Both Baldwin and Graham turned in big touchdowns, from 42 and 37 yards respectively. If one part of the game looms large, it was the stretch of seven red zone downs at the end of the second quarter producing only a field goal. Defensively, the Hawks were able to create significant pressure on quarterback Carson Palmer, forcing several throws. They were stout in their run defense, holding David Johnson to 3.4 yards/attempt. (His season average is 4.3). But the Legion of Boom gave up five passes for over twenty yards each, including an aforementioned eighty-yard bomb to JJ Nelson.
Discombobulated but still dangerous, the Cardinals were not to be taken lightly. A playoff caliber team in the midst of a lost season, the Cardinals proved (twice) that, if they get a few big plays and don’t get in their own way, they transform into the 2015 unit. This loss may end up costing the Hawks the second seed in the playoffs, but it also gave Pete Carroll and Co the blueprint to winning these close games.
1) Find a way to get one yard in short yardage situations.
2) Get a lid on the rear end so receivers don’t burn the defense.
3) Block correctly on special teams.
The Seahawks’ problems are not complex. They’re normal stuff any old team can do, and this one can do it, as well. If the Hawks find a way to discover some confidence in the trenches, don’t call it a comeback if the team starts eeking out these close games again.
In case you missed it…
Week 1, On One Leg | Week 2, The Spread Will Save the Seahawks, Exactly Like It Did Last Year | Week 3, Could Trevone Boykin Be The Future? With Doug Baldwin, He Might. | Week 4, Kam Chancellor’s Modified Role Improves Entire LoB, Takes Defense to New Level | Discombobulated But Still Dangerous, The Cardinals Lie Ahead – Seahawks Bye Week Special | Week 6, Seahawks Defense Comes Up Strong, Team Passes First Test | Week 7, Defense Wins Championships But This Vanilla Offense Needs An Attitude | Week 8, As Injuries Mount, Seahawks Still Poised For A Super Bowl Run | Week 9, The Hawks Deal Blows To The AFC East, Real Test Comes This Sunday | Week 10, Bam Bam Kam Is Prosise-ly What The Hawks Need, Finally Time To Put The Hurt On The NFC | Week 11, Seahawks Dash Eagles Playoff Aspirations, Red Hot November Continues | Week 12, Seahawks’ Offense Was Outgunned and Outcoached, Did Buccaneers Call Psychic Hotline? | Week 13, Redemption Win Against Panthers Proves Bittersweet; Minus Thomas, Team Must Overcome Greatest Challenge Yet | Week 14, The Seahawks Are A Dark Horse To Win The Super Bowl. They Probably Like It That Way. | Week 15, Seahawks’ Defense Does It Again. Curse Against Rams Finally Broken.