This column is deliberately written the morning after the Seahawks game. Most game recaps are written immediately following the game or later that day. I have always found that a night’s sleep provides the necessary separation from the outcome to judge it more evenly and see the bigger picture. No amount of sleep would change the assessment of this game. I could sleep a thousand nights and come to the same conclusions. There are no excuses or explanations for what transpired on Sunday. This was a Negan-style beatdown, except the Seahawks had their hands firmly on the bat being used to bash their heads to mush. No lessons will be learned from this game. The only question is whether it can truly be flushed away. The alternative is too gross to think about.
Russell leads Packers to victory
It only seems fair that Aaron Rodgers shares a portion of the win with Russell Wilson. After all, Wilson had at least as much to do with the Packers victory as Rodgers did. He completed five passes for 77 yards to Packers defenders. That’s a 15.4 yards per attempt average! When Wilson wasn’t completing passes to the Packers, he was missing open Seahawks receivers for would-be touchdowns or first downs. Doug Baldwin had his man beat by three yards on the first drive and Wilson overthrew him. Jimmy Graham was running free with nobody within 15 yards of him on the second drive and Wilson threw off-target and too far. He tried to force a pass into Jermaine Kearse in the end zone that had little chance of succeeding, not only because the Packers player had better position, but because Kearse refuses to fight for the ball with any conviction. Wilson tried throwing back across the field before the end of the half, but hung it in the air too long, making for another easy pick.
This Packers defense is not good. They are not average. Their secondary is one of the worst in all of football. Interceptions are as foreign to them as hipster cocktails are to their fans. Wilson made life easy for them. Jared Goff was a better quarterback than Russell Wilson yesterday. That can never again be true.
One of the oddities in Wilson’s performance was there was little reason to force the throws he was trying to make. Thomas Rawls was getting decent gains from the first drive and ended averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Wilson has been taking more chances the past few weeks, and there have been some crushing interceptions as a result. Seattle was fortunate last week. His interception led to Carolina scoring their lone touchdown and cutting a 10-0 game to 10-7. It could have been a turning point, but the run game made it a blowout instead. The interception he threw before the end of the half in Tampa Bay was as much on Paul Richardson as it was on Wilson, but it again cost the team a chance to get back into the game.
The interceptions were disturbing in Green Bay, but the inaccuracy was more troubling. The latter often leads to the former. We can hope this was due to frozen footballs or a poor night of sleep. It will not get easier against a Rams team that always tortures him or a Cardinals team that still has one of the best defenses in the league. Wilson is built to bounce back from adversity. This is his latest test.
Defense blown away by Rodgers
The first three times this Seahawks defense played Rodgers, they made his life miserable. Even in the NFC Championship game, he was picked off twice and had a passer rating under 60.0. He has been the one administering the torture the past two games. It started early here as Jeremy Lane was toasted by Davante Adams on the first drive on a 3rd and 2 that Adams cleverly converted into a go route. Rodgers made the throws that Wilson did not. On that play, he dropped the ball perfectly into a sprinting Adams’ hands, who never broke stride on the way to a 66-yard touchdown.
DeShawn Shead was beat by Adams a few times as well. Lane and Shead looked like liabilities. That was partly on them, but credit should be given to Adams and Rodgers as well. Adams looked like a star in the making in creating separation, and Rodgers was throwing dimes all day. The combination would have been difficult to stop for anyone.
The only way to disrupt a passer who is so locked in is with pass pressure. It was nowhere to be found for the third straight game. Michael Bennett’s return should have been a turbo-boost to an already potent pass rush. Instead, it has been a disappearing act. Bennett does not look like himself. He was pushed to the ground on multiple plays, and his unmatched motor never seemed to rise above idle. I would never question the effort of a player like Bennett, who has proven time and again that he will push himself to the limits. Something just seems off. It may be that he is just not as confident in his knee yet, and is hesitant to go full speed.
Cliff Avril has not recorded in three weeks. Frank Clark has not sacked the quarterback in four weeks. Not only are they not getting sacks, but they are not pressuring the passer. On a day when Rodgers was nursing a sore hamstring and a strained calf that made him practically a potted plant in the pocket, Seattle could not move him off his spot all afternoon.
Finding that pass rush is almost as important as Wilson finding his touch and judgment. What was a strength for this team has disappeared. They have some advantageous matchups the next three weeks against a porous Rams, Cardinals and 49ers line. The expectation should be three sacks a game.
Thankful for Thursday
The good news is the Seahawks get a chance to move past this atrocity quickly with a Thursday game. The bad news is that is it against a Rams team that give the Seahawks fits no matter how bad they are or how good the Seahawks are. It does not matter that they lost 42-14 to a Falcons team playing without their top two receivers. It does not matter that Jeff Fisher loses to every other team in the NFL. They represent just as much of a test for Seattle as Green Bay, Dallas or New England.
Seahawks fans are right to be upset about this game. It was terrible for a long list of reasons. Not a lot changes in the big picture, though, in a year where every single team has a flaw that makes them vulnerable. Do not fear the future, for it possesses the only path to glory. This season is not a Formula 1 race where a spectacular crash ends all hope of winning. It is a demolition derby. Seattle was just t-boned by a big green station wagon. The engine still runs fine. The driver is still intact. They can still inflict damage and be the last car standing. It would be wise to start checking their blind spots, though, because nobody wants to get hit like that again.