Mike Williams is 6’5″ and over 230 lbs. People have lauded his inspiring comeback effort where he dropped 40 lbs off his once-270 lb frame. As critical as his play on offense has been this season, nobody could fault Pete Carroll for having a truck load of Top Pot donuts dumped in front of his locker in hopes Williams might pitch in to help his flagging run defense.
The Seahawks collectively kissed the ring of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. A run defense that has been held together with duct tape since the Raiders game, blew apart like so much wet tissue paper. So complete was the dominance by the KC offensive line that the Seahawks had just a single tackle behind the line of scrimmage. The “good” plays for the run defense came when Seattle was able to hold KC to two-yard gains. I didn’t need to see the box score to know the average run for the Chiefs was around six yards. Every glance at the scoreboard showed 2nd and 4, 2nd and 2, or too often, 1st and 10.
It was fair to expect more from this Seahawks team that looked as if its offense was taking steps toward growth that could counter-balance the weakening defense. The defense played poorly and was over-matched, but it was the offense that should shoulder most of the blame. Not only was the defense missing key players, but the KC offense is formidable by any measure. The Chiefs defense is not. In a nauseating first half, the Seahawks gained 71 yards and scored just three points. Even Seattle’s own special teams outscored the offense, 7-3. The second half was better, with 14 points and 217 yards of offense, but even that was mostly uninspiring. It has become very clear that Seattle’s offense must be dominant for Seattle to compete in a game with any credible opponent. Dominance looks like over 400 yards of offense and red zone success. It looks like what the Chiefs did yesterday.
Matt did not have a great day, but the bandwagon jumpers are missing the point entirely. Forget for a moment that he threw for 282 yards without his best receiver and with a broken wrist, or that his receivers dropped critical passes. Charlie Whitehurst did not get better on Sunday. Hasselbeck is this team’s best QB now, and certainly next year. If you do not believe that, there is nothing that can be said to convince you. Of all the problems on this team this season, quarterback play may be the least of them.
The running game was absent, but not because it was ineffective. Twelve carries is a joke. Some of that is because the game got away from Seattle, and yes, some of that was because there were not big gains early in the game. A large part of that is play-calling. Marshawn Lynch was getting 3-5 yard gains, but there was no commitment to making the Chiefs respect the run. Look no further than 4th and an inch when the game was still early and in question. Jeremy Bates dialed up a desperate hail mary fade pass to Golden Tate that was a failure as soon as it was called. I hate that call even if it’s a touchdown. For those that play basketball, it would be like defending a player that makes a jump shot you know he can’t make with any consistency, and smiling because you know he’ll keep shooting it now. Every defender prefers contesting a jump shot to staying in front of guy who is driving to the hoop. Bates makes this offense a bunch of jump shooters far too often. Guess what happened when he ran Marshawn Lynch on 3rd and 1 later? HE GOT A FRIGGIN’ FIRST DOWN!! Progress was made since at least Lynch was on the field for short yardage plays this week, and did get that one opportunity to convert. So while Bates as a whole struggles on 3rd and 1, Lynch is sporting a nice 100% conversion rate.
Kansas City may have the best young offensive line in the NFL. It is impossible not to respect the efficiency and effectiveness of their work. It is hard to believe they went 48 rushing plays with only one holding call. The refs probably missed a couple, but still, that is impressive. Any major analysis of the Seahawks defense is a waste of time. They will battle as best they can the rest of the year, but this is a horribly flawed unit. They are the player that hurt a knee who is valiantly trying to limp off the field under their own power, only to need to cart to come out after they collapse. They are not hopeless, but they also are not likely to make meaningful strides forward the rest of the season.
This loss was brutal. People will be jumping off the bandwagon–if previously .500 football teams have bandwagons–in droves. The same people who were writing about how great the Seahawks looked in a loss to New Orleans last week will now be writing apocalyptic prophecies. This team is at once inspiring and soul-sucking. That duality is a welcome change from the pure suckage of the past two seasons. Health, more than any other factor, will determine the outcome of this year. Winning a playoff game remains a very realistic possibility, as does finishing 3rd place in a horrid NFC West. There are benefits to either result. Anything other than a win this week against Carolina starts to eliminate possibilities. In a week where we spent time being thankful, the fact that football will still be worth talking about in December is worth some gratitude.