Week Four: Lost at Sea?
The Seahawks even their record to 2-2 but all is not well for the two-time defending NFC Champions. Thanks to a big-time Kam Chancellor strip and a big-time no-call from the officials, the Seahawks walked away with a victory they neither earned or deserved. The Seahawks are in distress. Playing without an identity, playing without a scheme, the Hawks turned in an eyesore of a performance. This is not the team Seahawks fans have seen since the arrival of Pete Carroll. What is happening to the Seahawks is confusing and quasi-unexplainable. Even if nothing is working, this should still be a functional team. So what’s wrong?
The Seahawks are a passing offense. When will they learn this? Last year, the Seahawks were far and away the most dominate running team in the league. This year, they are mediocre. The yards per game may indicate that this team is still a good running team but film don’t lie: The Seahawks are not dictating games from the run any longer. Weirder regressions have happened in a single off-season, and this regression makes sense. The trade for Jimmy Graham sent Max Unger to the Saints. Since Graham is not a good blocker, the Seahawks lost two blockers in that trade, the one they sacrificed, and the fact that they did not get one back in return. This and some other decisions led to an offensive line that needs the quick, timed passing game to buy it a breather every now and again.
On the first play of the game, the Seahawks ran for a loss. On the second play, they threw for a first down. The first pass Wilson made to the second level was to Doug Baldwin for a touchdown (a similar throw was made to Baldwin in week 2 for a touchdown). The first completion to Graham saw Graham stiff arm a linebacker for a first down—that’s Marshawn Lynch stuff there. These things are not coincidences. The Seahawks are a pass to run team, but they won’t stick with it. They’re so hesitant to accept their new identity that, even with nobody in the backfield and the receivers stretched wide, Detroit still felt comfortable sending corner pressure.
Jimmy Graham is the key to this offense. The Seahawks cannot run to pass because to do so requires bringing Graham in as a blocker. But after you get your running game going, you have to abandon the power running formations to get Graham in situations as a wide out. So in order to run, you need to bring Graham in, and in order to pass, you have to bring him out—so he becomes an inconsistent and predictable threat to secondaries. If this sounds like a philosophy that won’t work, you’ve probably watched the last four Seahawks games. Until the Seahawks get Graham going early, and get defenses afraid of getting their ankles broken on his double moves, defenses will continue to cheat on the run and continue to get pressure on Russell Wilson.
Russell Wilson is trying to be Superman. Wilson has looked poor this year. He’s been indecisive, inaccurate and at times looked confused. Yesterday, it came to a head as he committed two costly turnovers and displayed a total inability to throw from the pocket. Wilson is terrific with his legs, able to get first downs or keep plays alive, but this is the NFL, you have to be able to drop back and throw in rhythm and put the ball in a tight window. People will say, “The offenseive line is terrible. It’s not Russell’s fault.” Maybe so, it would be unfair to unilaterally blame Wilson but he has to be decisive and get the ball to his primary receiver at the back of his drop. Wilson’s been slow on his decisions all year but yesterday’s indecisiveness saw him driving himself to exhaustion by extending plays, which eventually led to fumbles.
Russell Wilson is trying to be Superman, but the Seahawks don’t need Superman—they need a focused, smart quarterback who fires bullets from the pocket.
The defense looks feisty but next week is the real test. Playing against a Cutler-less Bears, the Seahawks dominated Chicago so greatly that it sent the franchise into a fire-sale and a possible rebuild. You know you’ve got a defense when a front office just gives up after playing you. Yesterday, the Hawks defense was once again stellar against a Detroit team that can be dangerous when it sticks to its passing game but is nonetheless one-dimensional. The Bears couldn’t pass. The Lions couldn’t run. This gave an opportunistic and smart Seahawks defense opportunities they could exploit; however, the true test comes this Sunday in Cincinnati where the Hawks will meet a Bengals team that’s eager to prove they are an elite team in the AFC.
AJ Green will be a real challenge for the LoB, and if he is paired one-on-one with Cary Williams, you can bet Andy Dalton will not let it go untested. It should be an exciting match-up and a great barometer for this defense.
Isn’t this supposed to be the revenge season? The Seahawks were better than the Patriots in Super Bowl 49—not by much but they were. The championship that belonged to the Seahawks was ripped from their grasp. The last time this happened in professional sports was when the San Antonio Spurs blew game 6 against the Miami Heat—what happened? The Spurs turned into villains and demolished the NBA on their way to destroying the Heat in the Finals the very next season. Where is the chip on the Seahawk’s shoulder? Where is the anger? Where is the rage? This team should be annihilating their competition. Their hearts, their minds, their souls, their bodies should live and breathe for one thing and one thing alone: Super Bowl 50 and the New England Patriots who will be there waiting for them.
This is supposed to be the Seahawk’s revenge season. This is supposed to be when they take back what was theirs.
At Century Link field, the Seahawks should have pummeled the Lions. The regression that the Seahawk’s offense is experiencing is perplexing. Ryan Tannehill has 7 touchdown passes this year—Ryan Tannehill from a completely lost Miami Dolphins team that just axed its coach! Russell Wilson has 4. Doug Baldwin, the Hawk’s slot receiver, leads the team in yards while Jermaine Kearse (who continues to be Wilson’s security blanket) is second and Jimmy Graham is third. For the fourth consecutive game, the Seahawks offense scored less than twenty points, which is dismal.
In week 2, I said it was time to push the panic button. Now, it’s time to abandon ship. The Seahawks need to fire Darrell Bevell and spend the next 12 weeks rebuilding this offense or this will be a lost season for a team that should be in its prime.
How did it come to this?