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How about that NFC West? In a game that nobody was looking forward to, the Los Angeles Rams escaped with a two-point victory over the winless San Francisco 49ers by a score of 41-39. Roughly translated, that is about four games of Seahawks offensive output in one game for both squads. There were impressive performances all around. Los Angeles, in particular, looks like a team capable of challenging for supremacy in a troubled NFC West.

Jared Goff no longer looks like the village idiot behind center. Todd Gurley has fewer than three guys in the backfield to bring him down. Cooper Kupp, Sammy Watkins, and Robert Woods provide a capable trio of targets for young Goff. Tavon Austin is the change-of-pace hood ornament instead of the primary target, as he always should have been. Gone is hapless top pick Greg Robinson, replaced by Pro Bowl veteran Andrew Whitworth.

The new concoction has turned the worst offense in the NFL into the top-scoring offense to this point, with a gaudy 35.7 point per game average. They have scored over 40 points twice in their first three games, and the success looks repeatable. San Francisco represents the best defense they have faced so far, if not a good one, and they barely registered as a speed bump much of the night.

One thing keeping the Rams from looking like a powerhouse is a defense that is allowing the 8th-most total yards and 3rd-most rushing yards after facing the Colts, Redskins, and 49ers offenses. Few will be writing or talking about that because the offense is more fun and flashy of a topic, but the dreadful defense is arguably as surprising as the electric offense.

Wade Phillips was brought on as the defensive coordinator and given players like Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree, and Mark Barron to play with. Aaron Donald missed the first game, but has been back for the last two. Phillips has created some of the NFL’s best defenses with less talent than this.

The 49ers offense is toothless. Carlos Hyde is their best player, and while he is a fine player, he is not a juggernaught. Plus, he was out part of this game due to injury, and the 49ers still rolled up 421 yards and 39 points. Granted, there were some special plays by receivers Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon, but there was a lot of room to roam through the air and on the ground.

We might rightfully expect to see that defense improve as Wilson gets more time with them, except for the fact that this group has a history of underperforming, especially against the run. Should they find stability on that side of the ball, the Rams could give a lot of teams headaches this season. Maybe in that bizarro world, the Seahawks will be the only team they struggle against.

 

Fingers crossed for Chris Carson

Everyone watching that game last weekend had to see it, right? I am not talking about the overall dreadful offensive performance by the Seahawks. I am talking about the powerful running of Chris Carson behind a line that seemed to even successfully block the person they were meant to block. Carson finished with 20 carries. The significance of that came not on Sunday, but on Wednesday when Carson was not listed anywhere on the injury report.

As much as I like Thomas Rawls, he has yet to carry the ball more than 16 times in a game without missing time during practice the next week. He runs with reckless abandon, and his body is not well-equipped to withstand that pounding for significant reps. Carson looks like a guy who is better built for the type of load the Seahawks would like to put on their running backs shoulders.

One of the less mentioned reasons for why the Seahawks staff may have backed off their commitment to the run last season was that they did not have a back who could take the pounding.

It is not easy or glamorous to send yourself hurtling into angry 300 pound men time after time, with the hopes of gaining 3-5 yards. Marshawn Lynch not only had the courage, but he had remarkable durability.

None of this is to suggest Carson is durable. We have no way of knowing. What matters is the Seahawks demonstrated a belief that they can hand him the ball time-after-time and he will get more effective as the game wears on.

They did not know that before the very end of that game. They also did not know how he would respond physically until practice started up again. With all signs pointing in the positive on that front, the thing I really want to see this Sunday is a stubborn commitment to handing Carson the ball. It won’t always be pretty, but it will help to reestablish the identity this team was built on.

 

Not high on grass?

The Seahawks play on grass again this weekend. That has not been a kind surface for this offense of late. Their last six games on grass went like this:

9 points @ Green Bay

25 points @ San Francisco

10 points @ Green Bay

5 points @ Tampa Bay

6 points @ Arizona

3 points @ Los Angeles Rams

That is an average of 9.6 points per game. You may say, “Well, that offense stinks on any surface.” What would you say if I told you they average 26.4 points on artificial surfaces since the beginning of last season? It is the truth.

This disparity is a new thing. The Seahawks did fine on grass before 2016, and this is more likely a small sample size aberration, but there is at least some truth to the fact that the surface played a role in the game against the Packers. Paul Richardson was one of a number of Seahawks players who had trouble getting out of their breaks (remember the slip in his red zone route).

 

14 Responses

  1. Rowdy Yates

    Recall the preseason hype, anyone? (Most of it @ Party Line
    Central: Seahawks.com):

    Michael Bennett high on Cassius Marsh.
    Pete Carroll talking up Kasen Williams.
    Pete Carroll & Jimmy Graham. talking up Jimmy Graham
    Tom Cable the “excited” position coach talking up the O. line.

    But the only hype that is playing out so far is the praise for
    Chris Carson.

    Reply
    • Doug

      Of course in the pre-season, you hear all kinds of hype and no one really knows what will happen once the pads go on and the season starts. Still, I think that is a little harsh… ‘Quille Griffin certainly has lived up to the most optimistic projections of his impact; the ‘rumored’ trade for Sheldon Richardson came through and he has had a positive impact on the DL; and despite the flack, the OL is actually better than it was at this point last year (low bar, but still).

      Reply
  2. Matt

    Can’t stress enough the importance of committing to the run game. It’s success is the only thing that will give Russ enough time to throw deep (from the pocket). When they run an empty set backfield, Wilson has less than 2 seconds to get rid of the ball if he stays in the pocket. That means DC’s know there are only about four plays the Seahawks can run out of that formation (bubble screen, slant, quick-out, or an underneath to a tight-end) and even then the throw is usually under duress from base pressure, so they get to press their LBs and their safety. It winds up being a three yard pick-up at best.

    I shutter when I see empty set from the Hawks, unless Russ rolls out.

    Reply
  3. Dug

    Any guesses as to who will start on the offensive line? I’ve got a few options that I could possibly see happening.

    1: Odi – Joeckel – Britt – Glowinski – Ifedi
    Another words exercise patients and don’t pull a good athlete.

    2: Tobin – Joeckel – Britt – Glowinski – Ifedi
    I’m not sure if RT position is in competition or not.

    3: Odi – Joeckel – Britt – Aboushi – Ifedi
    This is the option I’ve heard spoken of most this week.

    4: Doug – Uncle Bob – Dave – Ceasar – Hawkdog
    Not sure the team has enough cap room for this one.

    5: Odi – Joeckel – Britt – Ifedi – Battle/Pocic
    I’m liking this option the best.

    Last I heard from reports, PC eluded to their being some possible changes this week, but he wouldn’t specify anything. So, anybody want to take a guess?

    Reply
    • Andy

      Thank you for the options. However, do we really think it will make a difference? IMHO, this “experiment” has gone far enough. However, it is too late to do anything, personnel-wise. Nothing but a band-aid approach w/ the “hope” that maybe one or two of them will turn to be “less than poor.” JB is the only one that I see is competent. Regarding PC, keep talking, the more he speaks, the fewer people are buying. This picture looks eerie similar something to his past college days.

      Reply
    • Uncle Bob

      Re: #4……….that would be a real Joeck (or should that be joke?) at left guard………….but I would take his contract, you know, just to help out on that cap thing.

      Reply
      • Dug

        Uncle Bob, this is your last chance to avoid signing… Oops, you missed your missed chance!

  4. Rowdy Yates

    Dear Doug,

    You’re right about Shaquille Griffin living up to expectations. I forgot him.

    But I don’t think rumors count (re Richardson) and the OL improvement—–I don’t see it, despite the low bar. (Let’s let R. Wilson weigh in, as he’s the one running for his health on 95% of the snaps. “Go Hawks.”

    Reply
    • hawk.lips

      Hey Rowdy,
      I understand your frustration with the team talking up potential that never ends up happening, but I think all teams do that. My favorite one is “the skies the limit for Drew Novak” and then out of the league three weeks later.

      I disagree with you on the OL improvement. Still giving up too much pressure in passing situations, but I thought showed a bunch of improvement from week 1 to 2. I thought the performance against the 49ers about what we saw mid-season last year. It was only a mediocre performance (and only one at that, which doesn’t make a trend), but is certainly something to build off of.

      If this off-season gets us:
      – Sherman’s replacement (Griffin looks legit)
      – Chris Carson
      – DT tackle (Naz Jones, Richardson with McDowell being unknown potential)
      – Better line-backer depth
      – Better o-line depth

      That is a great draft/off-season!!!

      The pre-season teased me into believing the offense would start better so understand if some are underwhelmed by the output, but I believe things are only going to get better. Trust me! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Andy

    Brian,

    Wonder why the Rams can put up 41points on the pathetic 49ers at Levi, and Seattle scored 12 points at CenturyLink? Can it be JG is a better QB than RW? Let’s see, no sacks, 3 QB hits, and 5 hurries. They scored in 7 out of 10 possessions. Is this the same defense Seattle saw just a few days ago?

    Reply
  6. Shane

    Is this the week that SEA goes with their “big nickel” package & play with three safeties on the field? Slowing Delanie Walker will be a key. Isn’t that why McDougald was signed (along with being insurance for ET3)?

    Reply
  7. Wingman

    Sowell-Moffett-Novak-t.Poole-Webb all should be availible. How about that p.i last night? Funny how the networks will not let all the angles out. Just a real bad call that decided the game. At least that does not happen very often. Hawks should have someone be the pass blocking coach. If Cable is going to stay pass blocking is his Most glaring weakness. Or maybe better scouting for o line . Also a weakness. To keep it positive I think that getting carson is a steal and a sign that young players are in the pipeline to assure that the future is bright. Go hawks

    Reply
  8. hawk.lips

    I think the Ram’s success and the lack-there-of on Grass both suffer from a small sample set.

    I am not saying the Ram’s offense isn’t legit, it is just wins against two bottom feeder teams. If they can do this for six weeks in a row they become a legit contender for the NFC-west title. I really hope a wheel falls of their offensive bus soon.

    Reply

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