Week Thirteen: Seahawks Stomping.
The Seahawks had a very Seahawks victory yesterday, and it showed how promising this squad is becoming. Winners of 5 of their last 6, the Hawks are an unbelievable 7-5 and seem playoff bound as the rest of the league devotes itself to mediocrity. One might say it’s simply a lucky stretch but a few factors detract from that statement. For one, the Hawks have been playing consistently better, week by week, as they tighten the screws on the offense and the defense. Second, 3 of the 5 Hawk losses are against the Bengals (lost by 3, Bengals are 10-2), the Panthers (lost by 4, 12-0), and the Cardinals (lost by 7, 10-2). They lost to the creme de la creme of the league by one score or less so the Hawks displayed that they were a bubble team, not good enough to beat the elite but certainly capable of taking care of pretenders trying to claw their way up. Three, the Hawks have not been playing the best in the league, and have proven that the Pittsburg Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings are missing key components to becoming Super Bowl squads.
So why did the Hawks beat down on the Vikings?
The Seahawks defense is pathetic against the pass, at least by their standards; however, they are dominating against the run. The front four and the linebackers are so fast and so well programmed that handing off the ball removes all element of surprise. Yesterday, they manhandled Adrian Peterson, not only by closing down gaps but by being more aggressive than him. They hit him harder and brought him down easier. Conversely, Teddy Bridgewater is the definition of a quarterback that the Hawks can beat. Bridgewater wasn’t able to get rhythm going in the passing game, or perhaps the Vikings weren’t willing to let him, and before you knew it, the score was so massive that it was insurrmountable. Lastly, the offense was able to keep the chains moving with the surging Thomas Rawls, who is a third and short machine. When the Hawks can keep drives alive with the run game, it opens up the passing game on second and third down.
First the offense… To me, it’s shocking how cemented Marshawn Lynch’s popularity is. Even during the TV broadcast, the commentators were insisting that the Seahawks couldn’t wait to get him back. We couldn’t? Lynch was awful this year, putridly awful, and he didn’t have one good game. Despite the massive grab of yards we saw Rawls get in week 2 and 3, the “experts” were unwilling to blame Lynch; instead, it was the offensive line, it was Tom Cable, it was Russell Wilson. It was anybody but Lynch. Now that Rawls is the starter, nobody wants to acknowledge that Beast Mode is over. Hey, it was fun while it lasted. He was awesome, but nobody lasts forever, especially at the running back position. What Rawls is doing is changing this entire season for the Hawks. So much of the playbook is back on the table now that the Hawks can run their normal offense without having to hide Lynch’s deficiencies.
The Seahawks–who were supposed to be crippled by all the big contracts they gave out–are running on high octane thanks to two rookies, Thomas Rawls and Tyler Lockett. It’s hard to believe that the Hawks keep finding underrated or mid-round talent that nobody wants but they do and they trust they guys and they’re what’s working.
Russell Wilson went 21-27, 10.1 yards per attempt, 13.5 yards per completion. WTF……. I’m just saying it. Laugh if you want, Russell Wilson is the best passer beyond ten yards in the NFL.
The score may have been 28-7 but that 7 came on a special team’s return, which means the defense put up a shutout against a 8-4 squad who was–just being fair–the 29th ranked offense in the league. The Hawks defense deserves credit for their dominating victory but let’s break down what’s happening here.
1) The defense couldn’t have a fourth quarter meltdown. Since the offense was converting third downs (they had a drive that lasted 7 minutes in the fourth quarter), the defense was on the sideline. This is the antithesis of what has been happening this year, where the defense is on the field all day and, by the fourth quarter, they’re gassed.
2) Yesterday was not an aerial display by the Vikings but the revamped Hawks secondary had another promising game. It’s safe to say that Richard Sherman is Richard Sherman again. Also, Shead and Lane–while giving up completions–were able to hold coverage long enough that the defense got some sacks. The Hawks have begun playing Kam Chancellor deep–like so deep he’s almost never on the TV broadcast–to protect against the big passes that have been gobbling up yards, or they’re just so concerned with his inconsistent play that they’ve taken responsibilities away from him. Either way, this new unit, with Kam and Earl back, Shead and Lane underneath, and Sherman handling his business solo, had another positive week. I don’t want to praise them too much because they are a squad in transition. They’re nowhere near what they need to be, not by a long shot, but “play by play, inch by inch,” they are figuring out how to make this work.
3) KJ Wright is playing much, much better.
This defense isn’t like the squads of yesteryear, but they’re not packing it in. I see steady improvement every week, a rediscovering of their identity, and the reestablishment of their moxie and pride. I don’t know if this squad can win four road play-off games and take the Super Bowl but that it’s okay to feel prideful being a Seahawk’s fan. These guys have turned around a lost season. Be proud of this squad.
The Hawks cross-country next week for another 10AM game. Thankfully, it is against the Ravens, who I believe are signing high school kids at wide receiver now that state championships have been sorted out. Matt Schuab is a shell of himself, a total shell of himself, and I don’t see any way that he can beat the Hawk’s defense for four quarters and take the W. Still, this is an NFL game at 10AM for the Seahawks, so it is not to be taken lightly.
Approaching this game as if the season were on the line is what the Hawks need and what I expect they will do.
Thanks to Thomas Rawls, Tyler Lockett, Frank Clark (if only I could write longer posts, would I say about him…) and DeShaun Shead, the Hawks look like a reborn squad. Who else could pull this turnaround but the Seattle Seahawks? Who else could do it with rookies and practice squad players? Next man up is no joke on this team.
What a time to be a fan.