The Morning After: Seahawks Scuffle Their Way to NFC West Crown, 24-3 Over Rams
Offense
Defense
Special Teams
3.7Game Rating
Reader Rating: (36 Votes)

The Seahawks are once again NFC West champions. The method in which they won the title befitted the rest of the NFL season. It was more a battle of which team could play worse than which team could prove their strength. Seahawks fans have reason to wring their hands about the mostly distasteful performances over the past four games, but were they to lift their heads, they would see much of the same around the league. No team and no fanbase has reason to feel overconfident about how their team will fare in the playoffs. The Seahawks stand atop the trash heap known as this season’s NFC West. Nobody should apologize for their accomplishment any more than the eventual Super Bowl winner should apologize for theirs. The Seahawks just punched their ticket to playoffs. There is plenty of work left to do if they want to raise another trophy.

 

The good

Tyler Lockett ascended to his rightful place as the second receiver on offense. He rewarded coaches for making what should have been an obvious decision by catching seven passes in eight targets for 130 yards and a touchdown. Jermaine Kearse was not targeted. Tanner McEvoy also saw increased action. These were positive developments. Russell Wilson completing 19 of 26 pass attempts may be related.

Doug Baldwin had an absolutely filthy move to get open for a touchdown.

The defense allowed just three points and held the Rams to 183 yards for the game. Seattle showed some positive signs on third down where they went 7-15 on offense and held the Rams to 3-12 on defense. They also did well in the red zone going 2-3 on offense and keeping the Rams from finding the end zone in three attempts.

The pass rush was back to being disruptive as three different players recorded sacks, and it would have been four if Michael Bennett’s sack was not erased due to penalties. They also had a season-high 10 tackles for loss in what was a disruptive day for the defensive line.

That Rams offensive line is truly terrible, but the Panthers line was riddled with injuries and the Seahawks did not record a single sack. This was progress. Bennett still does not quite look like himself, but he appeared to be getting his mojo back just a bit before exiting the game with a neck injury.

It is worth noting that as bad as the Rams are, this represented a pretty good showing on offense compared to what we have seen in past years. This was the largest margin of victory by Carroll over the Rams in his tenure as coach.

The bad

Wilson still not right

Wilson still began the night missing high on a few throws, and his usually impeccable judgment was absent again on a few plays. Much was made of the play call to pass on first and goal from the 1-yard line, and we will discuss that more shortly, but the decision to make that throw and the placement of that throw were equally disturbing. Turnovers in the red zone are completely unacceptable. Turnovers at the 1-yard line are even worse. Turnovers on first down at the 1-yard line are the worstiest worst (yes, that bad). Wilson finished his night by throwing a jump ball to three Rams defenders for no good reason that resulted in an interception and likely took points off the board as the team was in field goal range. His numbers were great, but this was not the return to form many are claiming it to be.

Nobody is perfect. Wilson does his best to reach that unreachable line. I sure hope someone is pulling him aside and reminding him what makes him great is not flinging the ball all over the field to any player he desires. It is his ability to properly identify the opportunities that strike the right balance between risk and reward that make him special. He is not just a check down and make the easy throw guy. He is not a Jay Cutler-esque ego who believes every player is always open and he can teleport a ball through defenders. He is a much better player than he has shown the last few weeks. There may be no more important task the next two weeks than to help Wilson rediscover his authentic quarterback self and the deft touch that goes along with it.

Steven Terrell was exposed

It was just one play, and it went for exactly zero yards. Yet, the ball that flew over Steven Terrell’s head and was dropped by a Rams receiver was disturbing nonetheless. This defense is predicated on taking away the deep ball. Nobody passed the ball over Earl Thomas. At least, not since his rookie season. Terrell’s mistake will clearly invite more challenges from the teams playing Seattle the rest of the way, and quarterbacks better than Jared Goff (all of them?) will not make the same mistakes. We can hope this was a learning moment the same way Thomas had a few as a rookie. That Terrell was so clearly fooled was troubling, though, and will be something to watch.

Penalties return

Seattle finished the day with 13 penalties for 86 yards. At one point, they had almost as many penalty yards as the Rams had offensive yards. They came in every variety, but most were completely unforced mental errors. Five false starts, multiple offsides, and one too many pelvic thrusts were among the lowlights. The Seahawks offense simply is not good enough right now to overcome five yard penalties. There is no excuse for these types of mistakes.

The run game

Aaron Donald and crew made life miserable for Thomas Rawls and the run game. There were few bright spots.

 

The awkward

Sherman and his defensive brethren have lost games this year when holding teams to 9 and 14 points, and tied a game where they allowed 6 points in five quarters. When the offense lined up at the 1-yard line on first down and chose to throw the ball, every person who cares about this Seahawks team should have been up in arms. That a player who is putting his body on the line time and again to prop up what has been a mostly inept offense reacted vociferously to the decision should come as no surprise. Carroll’s first rule is: Always Protect the Team. Most would say Sherman confronting Carroll on the sideline violated that rule. What I saw was a player advocating for his team, his teammates, and their identity.

Sherman could have found a more respectful way to share his opinion, but I have no problem with an employee challenging management, especially when their work and effort is exemplary. The issue here is not that Sherman erupted. It is that the Seahawks coaches do not feel confident enough in their run game to call the obvious play in that situation and they likely are losing some confidence in their quarterback’s decision making in those moments after he nearly threw a pick. We should all be as angry as Sherman is. Baldwin has every reason to be upset that one year after leading the NFL in touchdowns, he ranks 30th in the league in red zone targets.

 

Doug Baldwin leads the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency (min 12 targets), scoring a touchdown on 50% of his targets. Yet, he ranks just 30th in the league in red zone targets and has just one more red zone target than Jermaine Kearse this year.

 

When coaches see players making bad choices, they call them on it and help them get better. If players see the same things happening with coaches, the team should welcome that input because it makes the team better. I am sure Carroll will speak with Sherman to find a better forum for the discussion, but he will listen.

 

Two remain

Seattle plays next Saturday in what will be their final regular season home game. It will be against another division foe who has struggled this season but gives the Seahawks plenty of problems. It may be their last chance to face a great defense for a number of weeks, and the last chance for the offense to gain some confidence. That unit is not finishing the season the way Carroll or anyone in that locker room would have wanted or expected. This feels like a group that is stepping back, or at best, stepping sideways. The elevation of Lockett to the number two receiver is one reason for optimism.

This is still the team that beat the Falcons and the Patriots. This is still the team with the league’s best defense and an offense that is averaging 24 points per game over their last seven even with games of 10 and 5 points mixed in. Projecting their future has become far more difficult, though, as they seem to have lost their way a bit. The talent, the character, the coaching…all the ingredients are still there. They have two weeks left to get right.

11 Responses

  1. Uncle Bob

    They’re still the Rams. No matter how you interpret that statement, you’re probably correct. Inept on offense? Yep. Tough on defense, especially the front 7? Yep. If you subscribe to the notion that the game plan is formulated by the entire coaching staff then the dismissal of Fisher had little affect on the strategy of this team that has so frustrated the Hawks (and RW in particular). Sure, morale may have been dented, and a rookie QB who plays like a rookie was a factor too, but ……… they’re still our nemesis, the Rams.

    Brian’s remarks pretty much cover the big picture, though that triple coverage toss was targeting Kearse I believe. Speaking of which, how is it that the same RW who seemingly had instant recognition of the failure of their best CB to cover Lockett on his TD blast, is the same one who seemingly can’t see triple coverage on his lowest percentage of completion receiver (IIRC)?

    The other day we made commentary about wanting to see more short range passes in situational circumstances when other types of plays weren’t either working or available because of defensive alignments. I was pleased to see they started the game with the dink and dunk stuff, and it worked for the first series of downs. Then they went to the run………..it just wasn’t happening last night. Rawls seems to be on his game for the most part, but the blocking just doesn’t seem to be there often enough with effectiveness. It’s a sad night when the punter is the second best ground gainer for the game on just one (slightly comical except for that concussion thing) gadget play.

    Penalties are aggravating to say the least, but I saw something that would mitigate those numbers just a bit……..though not intending to make excuses for sloppy play otherwise. Saw it first on the off sides call on Avril, then the one on Bennett. Collinsworth even caught it on that second one. The Rams center does this tiny wrist flex just after setting the ball, a moment before the snap. Is it intentional or a tick? I don’t know, just saw it and think the officials missed it. But then those are the same zebras who can’t seem to see where a play actually ends for spotting the ball.

    As for Sherm going nuts about a pass play from the 1 yard line, I’m of two minds. When it doesn’t work……he’s right. But when it does…………put the numbers on the board. Given that we only see the exterior stuff as far as team action/performance/reaction goes, I can’t help but wonder if there’s some insight into the internal workings of the team displayed there. We remarked the other day about coaching responsibilities and the potential distractive nature and conflict of interest that the responsibility splits could contribute to unfocused team unity of purpose. I just wonder here………….

    We all know the O-line is a work in progress (when hasn’t it been for a few seasons now?). Ifedi has now had a couple games in a row where he seems to have bumped up against a ceiling of some kind. Sowell is Sowell. Britt is playing his best ever, and to a very good standard. Glow is a mixed bag, maybe a good run of the mill guard. Fant, while still raw, is actually over performing his resume, albeit that’s a bit of a rationalization.

    With some extra time to prep for Az. maybe we’ll see some refinement of play, from both the players, and hopefully (even moreso) the coaches.

    • andytyl003

      Regarding RS’s “issue,” I’d tend to agree with w/ him, which I often don’t beside his standard of excellence (but it appears to be off this year). You made a point about of “two minds” in the context of “it is great when worked but suck when failed.” That is obvious the measuring stick for anything that the team is trying to do. However, we also need some baseline to “judge” if a particular play is worth of executing or not. Based on RW career, within this particular area of the field, he hasn’t very been successful in the context of executing a particular play (i.e., quick slant at the 1-yard line). I believe, during his career so far, he had thrown 3 TD’s, in this area. However, they were all “broken plays” to the TEs, not receivers or running backs. Maybe he deviated from the original plays, but the point is he didn’t make those kinds of similar decisions in the past like he is doing currently. We failed once in the SB and one other time this season besides the one last night. It seems DB is trying to prove a point to RW or RW is trying to prove a point to himself. Who knows? Another example of trying to be the “smartest guy in the room” syndrome. It starts w/ PC. For one thing, good coaching is the one who is trying to set up the conditions for the players to succeed not for them mainly, but they eventually will benefit from it. It is called playing to the individual’s strengths, not weaknesses. It appears our coaching has a difficult time recognizing that basic principle. BTW, if you believe in numbers, then RW’s QB ratings in this are, between the opponent 1-10 yard line, is the second lowest at 88.9 compared to the red zone overall of 97.

      About the OL, Britt is our best player. Very disappoint w/ Glowinski. I’ve thought he has a chance to be really good w/ more reps but apparently not. Ifedi does not seem to get better. I give him the benefit of the doubt being a rookie, new position, injury, etc., but the fact of the matter is he is not improving as you’d expect to be a first rounder. At this point, I am sick and tired of the “experiment” in this area. I am aware that we have always issue w/ the Rams but last night was a nightmare. Rawls had 21 carries and -10 yards at first contact. So basically, his 1.6 average for the game was basically on his own. This is a familiar story about the illusion of success w/ Cable. The success of our running game, in the past, however, one needs to wonder when your runners, whether Beast Mode or RW or others, always have at the top of the league in yards after contact, which means they don’t get a lot of yards at the initial contact where the blocks supposed to be taken place.

      Lastly, even though we clinched the division but the feelings among the fans are not as confident that we should. Unless this team miraculously is making and winning the SB, PC and JS need to make some tough decision regarding players and coaches. But who knows if their “being the smartest guy syndrome” will hinder their contemplation of making any decision.

  2. Michael

    Folks are exaggerating Wilson’s issues due to recency bias. Also, he has a tougher job than most QBs, since his time to pressure is quicker than other top QBs.

    Wilson has had two bad weather games in the last 4 weeks, and he’s simply never shown he’s good in bad weather. Moreover, two of his picks last week were the receivers’ faults and 3 of them were deflections, which is just bad luck. Wilson was bad, but not 5 INTs with average luck bad.

    Wilson was fine yesterday and maybe pressed a bit on that last INT, really wanting to have a huge showing to make up for last week. He’ll be totally normal going forward, nothing is wrong with him.

    And it’s always going to be true that Wilson is responsible for all the marginal value of the run game. When the run game is going well, it’s because of the threat of Wilson’s legs, like against Carolina. Wilson’s healthy presence alone is the entire offense. Last year, Seattle was dead mediocre on non-read option run plays.

    Read option or no, Seattle never can run against the Rams. Everyone was claming that after Rawls got back and replaced the “terrible” Michael, our run game would explode. Nope, Rawls can only get what’s there (unlike Michael, who averaged 5 ypc against LAR when Rawls also could do nothing — an 8 inch difference in vertical makes a big difference against a line stacked with 1st rounders).

    Anyway, Seattle’s run game has off-and-on looked better recently purely because Wilson got healthy again. The types of plays that were successful last year and this year have not changed one bit — they only work when Wilson’s leg threat is real and stronger than the opponent’s collective talent.

    • Jim Wilke

      I seem to remember Wilson playing very well in bad weather; both New Orleans games in ’13 were a lot worse than yesterday. Other examples as well.

    • andytyl003

      Not quite sure I agree with your analysis of RW’s play as “nothing to worry about.” We can make a point about the interceptions and whose fault it is, but the fact of the matter is that he MADE the decisions to throw the ball at a particular time of the game. If that is a case, then we can all make the case that all QBs don’t make mistakes. One of the RW’s strengths is the ability to make right decisions and not taking any unnecessary chances. That is his ammo, and his head coach has drilled that mantra into his head since day one of protecting the ball. That is why RW always has one of the highest numbers in throw aways and taking unnecessary sacks because of this principle. This will be his highest total number of interceptions, in raw number, for his career, and we still have 2 more games. His interception percentage is the second highest since his rookie year, 2.3 vs. 2.5. This number, which is an important metric due to our scheme and philosophy, has been in the declined since his rookie year, until recent games (he was going to have the lowest interception percentage before the Eagles game) Personally, I don’t know what is going on w/ him but whatever the reason is, he needs to figure it out fast because we are not going anywhere if he continues to make these ill-advised decisions because our defense is nowhere dominant as it used to be. For all I know, he does not have a gunslinger mentality as an indication of the past experiences, but it seems he wants to become one recently.

      Regarding your cold weather theory, it might have some bearing according to the numbers. Games w/ 32-degree or below, during RW era, the team has a record of 1-3 and his ratings at 61.4 w/ 4 TDs and 6 interceptions, but that reflected the 1 TD and 5 ints in one game against GB. Without that one game, the average ratings for the other two are about 81, which is still much lower than his career average. Now if we look at the games at 35 and below, the team has a record of 5-3 and his ratings is at 88.1. So I guess it appears that he does not play well in the cold weather after all.

  3. JC

    I don’t think they’ve “lost their way” exactly, there have just been more peaks and valleys to their play this season than we’re used to. It’s easy to forget however that the 2013 Seahawks lost 2 of their last 4 games, including a home game against the Cardinals where they only scored 10 points. They also destroyed the Saints on MNF and shut out the Giants on the road in between those. We were not panicking about inconsistency then, at least not to the degree we are this year. While there are reasons to be concerned, I think it’s too easy to see a trend, take an emotional narrative and run with it. Football is a game of matchups, and I actually find it somewhat encouraging that they were able to generate as much offense against the Rams as they did, considering that defensive line has destroyed the Seahawks’ game plan year after year. Next week will be another key test of where this offense is heading into the playoffs, as will their ability to handle the deep ball sans Earl Thomas.

    While I would like to see more consistent play out of this team, this NFC playoff field is full of teams with obvious flaws. The best defense outside of Seattle’s is probably the Giants… another wildly inconsistent team. Any team in this playoff field could beat the Seahawks if they play like they have in some of these road games this year, but none of these teams are anywhere near as good as the previous 4 NFC champions. In my opinion. The opportunity to make a run is very much there.

  4. Josiah White

    I think Wilson’s performance varies because of the offensive line’s performance. Last year was a case in point. The line was terrible early in the year, and at least average in the second half of last year. As a result, Wilson’s performance was average in the first half of the year, and absolutely unreal in the second half.

    Too many hits over too many games, and Wilson seems to act a little “shell shocked.” He no longer trusts that a pocket will be there, and starts running way too early. But can you blame him? When the hits result in actual injuries, like they have this year, he’s even less likely to trust his protection.

    In the second half of last year, we saw just how spectacular Wilson can be. When he starts to feel safe, then he puts up record-setting numbers.

    So get the man some protection. Drafting Ifedi, Odhiambo, and Hunt was a huge step in the right direction. One more draft like this one, and then we’ll see just how Dangeruss he can be.

  5. Metel

    Rarely have a seen a team struggle as much, as the Seahawks to adjust when faced with adversity. This is my single biggest concern moving forward with the rest of this season, playoffs and the future…..this causes me to question whether the orchestra is listening to the conductor; or is the conductor is listening to the orchestra?
    Something is amiss, the talent is not in question (regardless of the Oline rollercoaster performance week in or out), but the collective continuity of the coaching and play-calling on all sides of the ball is.

    Out of all our games thus far, we have underperformed as a unit in all but one game (Pats, but even in that game we were far from our best). As much as I adore Carroll, this is directly in his lap (and His surrounding asst. coaches)

  6. Ungar Eran

    Sorry to challenge you on that but you and Sherman are wrong.

    I can vomit all that stats published after the NE SB that prove it’s safer to pass than to rush from the 1 yard line but those are not the point.

    I do not know what the play call but firing the ball into that tight cover was a mistake. It’s first and goal and RW should have just got rid of it. That does not mean that the Seahawks should call a run play automatically in this situation. Fortunately for us, we found out just one play later that rushing the ball was not a better option and a play later that passing does work…

    So, NO – WE DO NOT HAVE TO RUN THE BALL ON 1st AND GOAL FROM THE 1 YARD LINE.

    Now that i have said it, i’ll admit that this is not really the point here. The point is not the play call or what Sherman thinks about it.

    The point is the eruption. Sherman is well within his rights to feel the way did regarding the play and to share those feelings with the coaches. He has earned that right. However, just like his previous eruption this year, the way he reacted was not helpful to the team on the field during a game. If I am Doug or Graham or RW , a senior and highly respected member of my team has just expressed total lack of confidence in us. Pete can belittle it all he wants, Sherman was dead wrong erupting the way he did just like he was during the ATL game.

    P.S. – I still firmly believe that Sherman’s eruption during the ATL game had A LOT to do with ATL quickly scoring 2 more TDs following his eruption before the D settled back and kept ATL scoreless in the 4th quarter.

  7. SikhHawk

    Sherm is grieving sudden loss of his bro ET3: & angry over O struggles v Packers: He is mistaken, as the SB49 pass call was good (they went to beastmode 7 times @1 yd during that season & failed 6 times). If PC does not go to pass v rams, then opponent’s will know run is coming & easily stack to block: & angry at 4.5k round trip. If RW had looked left in SB49 he would have seen wide open beastmore waiting for easy pass.

    RW was smashed by packers, has incredibly played through injuries which would kept other QBs for 10-12 weeks. Inflammation caused by those injuries last a long time, & is made worse in cold, which in turn adversely affects RWs DECiSION MAKING. RW plays much better w PROSISE & Time to judge RW is after cards game.

    3 time zones long trips much harder to handle when body & brain are inflamed.RW threw INT as thought he had a free play but zebras’ did not call foul.

    Terrell is going to be targeted so we need Bennett back 100% which will happen soon

    RW will be fine as last 3 games on west code w minimal travel. We need Ifedi to improve
    Rams D Line is fearsome, Donald was terrific.

  8. SeahawkMaster

    The Miami Dolphins had a deep ball that went over Earl Thomas. I wouldn’t worry about Terrel. I believe he will learn from it. I’m more worried about Wilson throwing interceptions.

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