Friday, August 29, 2014

The Morning After: Seahawks Defense Disappoints In 41-31 loss to the Raiders


The last time the Seahawks lost a game by more than seven points, Marshawn Lynch had exactly one 100-yard rushing game in a Seattle uniform during the regular season. Russell Wilson was leading the Wisconsin Badgers to a Rose Bowl. Bobby Wagner was playing at Utah State. J.R. Sweezy was still a defensive lineman. Pete Carroll was still an NFL punch line. The Seahawks were still irrelevant. Fifty-six games. One-thousand and twenty-six days. It was a run of dominant play that saw the team go 44-12 over that span. The regular and postseason streak lives on, standing at 45 games, but this milestone still matters for a team that prides itself on blind consistency no matter the opponent or situation.


One streak ends, another lives on

Opposing fans want to believe the Seahawks offense is over-reliant on a fragile Percy Harvin. It did not look that way as the Seahawks starting offense scored for the 11th time in 13 preseason possessions. Nine of the eleven scores have been touchdowns. Nine of the eleven scoring drives were on drives longer than sixty yards. Russell Wilson led the team to an 80-yard touchdown drive in just four plays, including a gorgeous 44-yard bomb on the first play of the game. 

Wilson finished his evening with a silly 25.7 YPA after he threw a pretty 25-yard strike to Luke Willson for the touchdown. 

Offensive line play mixed

Most of the starters on the line only played the first series, and they looked terrific for those four plays. Russell Okung and Justin Britt played a while longer, Okung getting an extended run to prepare for his first full game. The pass protection was solid for most of the night. There were a couple of edge rushes that got home, but the quarterbacks had clean pockets to work from.

Alvin Bailey had a standout performance in relief of Okung. One of his run blocks, in particular, was rewind worthy. He kicked out the defensive end so far that he exited the TV screen. Gary Gilliam was beaten badly on at least one play, and the backup interior lineman struggled to open up running lanes all night. Much like the rest of this team, there is elite talent in the starting lineup, and pretty big drop off thereafter.

Indefensible defense

This was the worst defensive performance by a Seahawks team in years. Running lanes were open. Tackling as atrocious. Coverage was soft. Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel did not play. Bruce Irvin is still out, but Oakland rested a number of their starters. The opening touchdown drive by the Raiders should stick in the Seahawks craw as they prepare for an offense that features 10x the talent they saw last night. 

There were plays where two linebackers were covering the same gap. There were plays where multiple tackles were missed. There appeared to be an arrogance in coverage that assumed the rookie quarterback was little threat. 

Most people will talk about the Derek Carr's night, and they should. He was lights out. I was much more frustrated by the two back-up running backs averaging 7.9 and 5.1 yards per carry. Unacceptable, even in the fourth preseason game.

Individual player notes:

  • It is increasingly looking like Terrelle Pryor will be on the outside looking in when final cuts happen. My guess is the Seahawks are trying to find a trade partner to at least recoup the 7th round pick they gave up for him. BJ Daniels outplayed Pryor and can be stowed away on the practice squad, essentially giving the team a third quarterback without taking away a spot on the 53-man roster. Pryor had some nice throws, but continued to be maddeningly inconsistent with his decision-making and accuracy. 
  • Bryan Walters made his case to stick. The problem is that Ricardo Lockette is a sure thing due to his special teams duties, so it really comes down to whether Kevin Norwood will get put on IR. Norwood will not be cut. And if he makes it back, there is no room for Walters. 
  • Morrell Presley had a nice game, showing what I saw during training camp. He would be a great practice squad candidate, who has some nice upside potential at tight end.
  • Chris Mathews deserves a tip of the cap for showing real improvement since the opening day of camp. He was dismal that day, and looked disinterested at times. I wrote him off as a low effort player, and the coaching staff appeared to as well since he barely saw the field for the next 7-8 practices. He has made some nice plays the last two games, and could earn a practice squad spot.
  • Phillip Adams and Akeem Auguste were battling for the fifth cornerback spot last night. Both were beaten, Adams especially looked bad on a touchdown, but both made some big plays as well. And both showed up on special teams. Adams has a leg up as a punt and kick returner as well as a special teams coverage guy. He also has more experience than Auguste. I see Auguste as the guy with more upside. Money will not factor in here as it's only about a $200K difference in cap hit. This will be an important and interesting decision. I would like to see Auguste on the roster, but my guess is the team will try to sneak him onto the practice squad.
  • Benson Mayowa had his best game, but it was not nearly enough to make the roster. Practice squad or trade are possibilities.
  • Jordan Hill showed some nice push as a pass rusher, and recorded a sack. He is still a one-trick pony who is a liability against the run. And his one trick, pass rush penetration, is only above average.
  • Greg Scruggs had a couple nice moments, but similar to Hill, looks mostly like an average NFL player right now.
  • Liked what I saw from Korey Toomer. His speed was evident again. It seems unlikely the team would keep him over Mike Morgan right now since Irvin probably does not play week one. 
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