Week One: Seahawks Down.
You wait the entire year after losing the Super Bowl on the last play of the game for week one where you will get a new start, a new season, and the first game ends in losing on the last play. It was a fourth and short but it felt like fourth and forever with how dismal and predictable the Seahawks had been in short yardage situations for the preceding four quarters.
Fresh off his big contract, Russell Wilson looked un-Russell Wilson-like during the first half. He was “thinking.” At points, he got so cerebral that he had those Peyton Manning happy-feet. He didn’t seem to trust his arm, his accuracy or Jimmie Graham while we’re at it. In the second half, he looked more like the Russell Wilson we love (and some hate). He was decisive. He threw in rhythm (or mostly what felt like .2 seconds off rhythm, but who’s counting?) on his first read and trusted his receivers. It opened things up, and once things were opened up, the game started coming to him instead of him chasing it by making his first, second, third, fourth read…oh wait, sack!
Outside of Wilson, I just hate the Seahawks offense sometimes. The Rams spent most of the game saying, “If you throw vertically, and you keep trying, eventually you’ll get our safeties confused and you’re going to burn us.” Sure, the Rams threw in some funky looks, showing big time blitzes and dropping back, but it felt like the middle of the field could’ve been an option for intermediate routes. Sure, it’s a tight fit, but I felt if the Hawks kept being aggressive, it would’ve at least forced the Ram’s pass rush to be honest. Nothing makes you cringe more than seeing Wilson throw what seems like his 100th consecutive horizontal pass.
I understand that we want to get our athletes in space with blockers, believe me I do, but the vertical threat is more important. Sorry, it just is. Two times the Seahawks marched into the red zone on consecutive drives. How many passes were in the end zone? None. Let’s repeat that: No attempts were made to the end zone…in the red zone. That’s just not pro football—sorry.
For the Seahawk’s offense, the “big play” factor is huge. When the offense proves it can deliver down the field, the running game, the intermediate game, the sideline game—it all becomes too easy. Everyone will groan, “But the sacks! The sacks!” And the old, “You run to pass.” It’s simple: Once the Seahawks threw vertically to Graham, making a 19 yard completion, Lynch immediately followed it up with his longest run of the game—24 yards. Even on the Seahawks, you can pass to run. On first and second down, you simply have to try 8-15 yards down the field on vertical throws. Or you end up at 3rd and 3 and everyone knows they don’t need to worry about a receiver hitting the back door.
While we’re at it… Hats off the Nick Foles, people. Aside from the blindside fumble, which is debatable if you want to put that on his shoulders, man, he delivered some strikes. His confidence was off the charts. Two big drives were extended with by big time throws. The first on 3rd down and 15, where his scrambling lead to a beautiful sinker for 21 yards and a first down. The second was a serene teardrop that dropped right into his receiver’s hands. Even Richard Sherman couldn’t defend it.
Aside from a few huge defensive breakdowns, the Hawks defense actually had a lot to hang its hat on. Two big time turnovers, one returned for a TD, kept the game reasonable while the offense lagged; although, honestly, sometimes the defense looked slow. Richard Sherman got burned twice in this game. (And the first one should’ve been a pass interference call…on Sherman). The final TD that Bailey gave up felt awful. The fact that he tripped actually helps him because it hides how, by the time he tripped, he was so ludicrously beat that this was a TD no matter what.
Looking at the field, watching it, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching Super Bowl 49, waiting in agony for the inevitable when Rob Gronkowski would burn KJ Wright mano-a-mano. You just see that match-up, no help… Look, the Seahawks are an aggressive defense, and they should be an aggressive defense, but man, can all those eggs even fit in that basket?
In that situation, the Hawks needed to do anything but give up a TD—anything but give up a TD. After seeing the TD, you’d have taken 15 yards over the middle, an unavoidable and agonizing grunt expelling from your mouth, and living to fight another day, wouldn’t you have? I love aggression—situationally. There, I did not love it. With the departure of Maxwell, that whole side of the field is confusing and unrecognizable. We better put a lid on that pot because teams are just going to love testing the Hawks if they keep this up.
Special teams had an up and down day. Lockett returns a punt for a TD but special teams gave up a TD, nullifying the gain. And then there’s the elephant in the room… THE ONSIDE KICK, WTF? I know… I know… It felt desperate. It was desperate. And it certainly wouldn’t have won the girl at the end of a romantic comedy. Bone head decision—and already a front runner for the 2015 play that generated the most, “We’re moving on to next week,” statements.
Nobody goes 19-0, so everyone loses; however, it wasn’t the football being played that seemed offish but instead the attitude of the team. This game felt like a “Seahawks” game. The arrogance and over-confidence became a liability instead of a strength. This is a team that really needs adversity to function or they go into coast mode. Last year, they refused to believe their shit didn’t stink until practically week 8, but once it became clear, “Hey, we could be a bad football team,” they couldn’t accept it, and they were willing to be humble and claw for every victory like they had never known one to begin with.
I smelled some Seahawks arrogance yesterday and I’m glad they paid for it. The Hawks are best when they’re not sure they’re the best. When the fear hits their hearts that they are frauds and they can’t live up to the hype.
Most people are crushed by it but these guys respond to it.