The Morning After: Blake Bortles Leads Jags Past Seahawks, 30-24
Offense
Defense
Special Teams
2.0Game Rating
Reader Rating: (12 Votes)

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There is a really funny Twitter account called Blake Bortles Facts that tweets out ridiculous accomplishments by one of the league’s most derided quarterbacks. His current pinned tweet says, “Blake Bortles and Tom Brady have combined for 5 Super Bowl Titles, 4 Super Bowl MVP Awards, 12 Pro Bowls, and 2 NFL MVP Awards.” Funny stuff. Bortles has earned that sort of trolling by throwing the ball nearly as often to opponents as to his own receivers. Even during the Jaguars 8-4 runup to this Sunday, Bortles was at best a supporting cast member with a passer rating in the low 80s. The same could not be said about his role in a commanding victory by Jacksonville over the Seahawks yesterday. He was the single biggest reason the Jaguars won, playing a nearly flawless game, while the Seahawks made more than enough mistakes to lose.

A lot of people are ripping into Russell Wilson for his performance. On one hand, I understand why three interceptions would elicit frustration. On the other hand, it was clear before, during, and after that way too many people underestimated this Jaguars defense. They are really, really, really, good. There has been only one quarterback this season that has attempted more than 20 passes against them without throwing an interception. That was Jared Goff, and he threw for 124 yards and 1 touchdown. They held the 11-2 Pittsburgh Steelers to 9 points in Pittsburgh and picked off Ben Roethlisberger 5 times without allowing a touchdown pass. You want to know how many players have thrown for 3 touchdowns against this defense this season? One. That short kid on the Seahawks.

I am by no means trying to say Wilson played well, but he was not the disaster many are implying. Seattle came out with an aggressive game plan that appeared to be predicated on the belief that moving the ball down the field on long drives with many plays was not a recipe for success against this defense. That, combined with the fact that one of Wilson’s biggest strengths is deep throws, makes the approach logical. The problem with it is that deep throws are far less likely to work than intermediate or short throws, no matter how good you are at throwing them, and there is an increased risk of turning the ball over.

My strong preference coming into this game was that the Seahawks would play conservatively on offense in order to protect the ball, stop the Jags running game, and force Bortles to beat them. That plan likely would not have worked either given the true primary cause of this defeat. A Seahawks defense that had exceeded my expectations since the injuries to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, disintegrated in Jacksonville.

Not only did they struggle to stop the run, but they produced absolutely no pass pressure all day. They had just one quarterback hit and that was arguably roughing the passer as Frank Clark hit Bortles a good second after he released the football. Give Jacksonville credit, their line blocked the best they have all season and the coaching staff called a clever game, killing the Seahawks on crossing routes time after time.

Bortles did not need to make many tough throws early on, but he made a number of great throws in the second half. If you told me this was the best game he has every played, I would believe it. He was accurate and rarely put the ball in harm’s way. Even so, the Seahawks were doing a decent job hanging around until Bobby Wagner left with an injury.

 

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The All-Pro linebacker has been nursing a sore hamstring for weeks, but has been able to make it through games. He could not finish this one, and it clearly hurt the Seahawks in run defense. It may have hurt them in assignments as well. After the Seahawks tied the score at 10-10, they uncharacteristically gave up a bomb to Keelan Cole for a touchdown. K.J. Wright could be seen trying to catch up to the speedy receiver, which screams blown assignment. Earl Thomas bit on another route on that play, so it may have been as simple as the Jags out-scheming Seattle, but Wagner is in charge of getting folks lined up and calling the plays on defense. It would not surprise me if there was a miscommunication. Once Wright went out as well, the defense was pretty helpless against the run.

Even with all that had gone wrong, from another missed field goal, to three picks, to losing multiple key players to injuries, to a long punt return, the Seahawks still had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead. If not for a rare mental error by Baldwin and a missed defensive holding against Paul Richardson, we might be talking about a Seahawks miracle. Baldwin did not have one of his better games. He usually is better in those contested catch situations than he was when Jalen Ramsey got the first interception, and his decision to step out of bounds instead of picking up an easy first down was costly. The guy barely ever makes mistakes, so it is hard to rip him, but those were big moments.

The biggest disappointment was easily the play of the Seahawks defensive line. They were handled in all aspects of the game by a Jaguars offensive line that is nowhere near the level of the Eagles group Seattle beat up last week. They then decided that playing poorly was not enough. They chose to behave poorly at the end of the game. This is not a new thing with the Seahawks defense. They often do not finish games with class. It does not really matter what you or I think of their behavior. My hope for the players involved is that they find their better selves. They represent their families, their hometowns, their franchise, and the city of Seattle when they are out there. Hate defeat, but channel that toward improving yourself and your teammates instead of taking cheap shots to bring winners down. The latter approach just confirms your status as a loser.

A few bouquets

A lot of the reaction I have seen to this loss has been by folks who simply did not respect the Jaguars. I came in with tons of respect for that defense, and so a few things stood out to me as better than I had expected.

First, I thought Darrell Bevell had a number play designs throughout the game. The early screen pass to Mike Davis was terrific, but it was unfortunately called back due to Luke Joeckel getting downfield too soon. The opening drive had some nice quick game that resulted in a few first downs before eventually punting. The touchdown to Doug Baldwin was beautifully called and executed. My primary confusion was why they went so exclusively to deep throws after having at least some success with underneath routes on that opening drive. I was also surprised we did not see a more concerted effort to involve the tight ends. Jacksonville’s defense is very similar to Seattle’s and can be vulnerable to tight ends up the seams.

Second, the offensive line was pretty darn good. Yes, Germain Ifedi had some bad penalties, but he also drew some. What stood out to me was how much time Wilson had to throw deep all game. This was the most dominant pass rush in the league, by a pretty wide margin. My biggest concern heading into this game was that the Jaguars defensive line was going to physically dominate the Seahawks offensive line. They definitely created some pressure, but there were not many free runners who made the offensive line look foolish and overmatched.

They also blocked reasonably well in the run game. Seattle finished with 141 yards on the ground, with 5.9 yards per carry, and every runner averaging at least 4.4 yards per carry. A lot of that came on the left side behind Duane Brown and Joeckel, with some help from Justin Britt here and there. The third thing that was promising was the play of Davis. His feet were light in the hole, meaning he hit a roadblock but managed to keep his feet out of defenders hands and cut it back outside. That happened at least three times, and maybe more. He had to leave again with an injury, which does not bode well for his future as a starting tailback. That aside, he was a difference maker again.

If you asked me which group played the best for Seattle in this game, I would say the offensive line. That provides at least a little hope for this next week against another dominant defensive front.

 

Imperfection

The win over the Eagles opened up the possibility that this team was ready to turn it on and finish with a flourish. This game against Jacksonville was going to tell us more about the Seahawks chances once they got to the playoffs than about their chances of making the playoffs. The truth is they exit this game with full control of destiny. Win their last three games and they win the division, make the playoffs, and host a game in the first round. It is tough for me to get too excited about that after watching Blake Bortles drop 30 points on this defense.

We will have to see what the status of Wagner and Wright are, but if either of them miss either of the next two games, it is going to be very tough to win. This Rams game is going to be tough even if they are playing. The most optimistic outlook is that the offensive line and running game is starting to show some promise and the Seahawks have scored 24 points in two straight games against two of the best defenses in football. Only one team had scored more against the Jags in regulation than Seattle did, and only one team had gained more than the 401 yards Seattle put up.

They did it all without Graham catching a single ball. Tyler Lockett now has touchdowns in two straight games, and Richardson caught another long score. Maybe the offense can catch fire. Maybe Dion Jordan can return and help the pass rush. Maybe there are too many maybes.

This game was a small taste of what a playoff game on the road would be like. It is hard to imagine this team going into Minnesota or New Orleans and winning. Instead, the peak accomplishment this year may be finding a way to win another division title and hold off the Rams. There are worse consolation prizes.

 

 

 

17 Responses

  1. Uncle Bob

    I’m reminded of the early days of MNF, Dandy Don Meredith would break into song when the outcome became evident; “Turn out the lights…………the party’s over…….”. Yes, there are too many maybes. I just hope none of the guys gets a career damaging injury playing out the string.

    Last night I wanted to vent about wasted talent, insufficient coaching skill, and future challenges in reshaping the team. This morning it’s just time to come in off the ledge and remember…………..it’s only football.

    Reply
    • Kurt Z

      I wrote that I HATED this game. Shadow boxing against a team just like us, that is bigger stronger faster younger, at their place. Didn’t think we were gonna win.

      Dont hate this game so much anymore, except for the injuries to our middle ‘backers. That WILL spell doom if they are out.

      Thought maybe Russ, our midget receivers, Jimmy Graham or Mike Davis might get killed. Our offensive line showed well and we are upright on that side of the ball. Late in the season, everyone else is banged up too. One side of the ball can win it.

      No pressure from our defensive line? I am not surprised. That goes down to the shitty footing in that swamp they call a stadium in Jax. Gonna pound that drum until someone who has played athletics notices….. It ALL comes down to footing!

      If you are a small quick team, in a league built on parity, where advantages are measured in .1% and hundredths of a second, if you put your foot in the ground, as a rush end or three tech nose tackle, and it gives on you just a little, or you are not sure that you are not gonna end up off your feet if you push too much…. Consider yourself neutralized.

      Watching what little film I could and what I see is a Dline being assignment correct without really trying to get home….. Just staying on their feet.

      Can we go into Minnesota (now indoors, on turf) or New Orleans (same) and win?

      Absolutely.

      My biggest problem with this middle-aged team is they can’t sustain at a high level week in and week out. They get UP to beat a brilliant Houston team with DeShaun Watson, then sleep through a loss to Washington. Play a perfect game against Philadelphia, then can’t get quite enough energy to beat Jax.

      I say we follow this trend. Look for us to beat the Rams, and then go on the road and lay one down to Dallas.

      Look for us to stay home from the playoffs on a tie-breaker to Atlanta.

      Reply
      • Josiah White

        Other than injuries, the game really did come down to the lack of defensive pressure on Bortles. You’re probably right that the grass surface worked in Jacksonville’s favor big time. But I also blame Kris Richard, who should have been able to conjure up some defensive pressure somehow. He called a great game the week before against the Eagles.

  2. SikhHawk

    Oh uncle Bob, its so much more than “only football”. Its a deep enduring flame of love thats been burning since childhood.

    We have developed a weakness against SW teams in late season. Mainly due to team Dr’s not fully understanding the finer nuances of human circadian rhythms. In future arrive on Wednesdays not Fridays, the evidence is available on the Cambridge medical university website, where I teach. WE have been mauled by the bucs, titans & now the jags, due to mainly late arrival flights.

    Any ways, we would have won if the zebras had done their job, that last pass was a clear PI, come on refs, that was almost as bad as the incorrect ejection of JLane & the cancelled Jimmy G TD in the packs season opener.

    HARD 2 WIN WHEN THE ZEBRAS EFF UP!

    silver linings
    M Davis ran well late on.
    B sWagz hopefully back v Rams Jags scored 3TDs wen he went off.
    Hopefully Bennett escapes w a fine not ban
    OL did well v NFL best DL hopefully Ifedi will mature soon, stupid verbal pen at zebra.
    D Jordan back v Rams & will improve pass rush
    We are at our best when backs to the wall, forcing us 2 fight like cornered Wolverines.

    Played on ESPN PO machine & with a 10-6 6 seed we get to play wentzless eagles then can beat rams & vikes to sb 52 glory

    just hope we don’t have to fly to SW venue

    Reply
    • Josiah White

      I don’t blame the refs. They’re honestly trying to do a difficult job, and aside from SB XL, I haven’t seen much bias either for or against the Hawks. There are always bad calls, but they tend to balance out over the long run.

      But you’re right about the jet lag factor. The Eagles stayed out on the west coast to avoid jet lag, and somehow managed to beat the Rams even without Wentz.

      Reply
    • Uncle Bob

      I applaud your optimism while not sharing it, but I do understand your feelings my friend.

      I mentioned self editing regarding, among other topics, the need for restructuring going forward. Your fellow countryman, Rod Staton however, took that step in a posting he put up today…………which, is as usual for him, well thought out and presented. I would just add to his commentary that I would put at least equal emphasis on coaching changes as well as player options. While this team has a higher number of highly regarded players, we keep seeming to have repetitive short comings with a few exceptions. The Eagle game last week was one of those exceptions. From the first offensive drive, there was a decided change of pace and, in my mind, good and creative play calling. The Seahawks scored early and didn’t look back. While not a blow out, it was establishing position early and maintaining it. Against the Jags it looked like they might repeat that formula on the first drive, but when it wasn’t as successful they bailed and reverted to the formula that has led to too many loses. Saw a stat earlier today that the team is something like 4-13-1 the past two years whenever they are behind in scoring at half time. PC is fond of saying something like “you don’t win in the first quarter……”, well Pete, it sure looks like you increase the odds of losing if you don’t get out in front early, at least with the current player/coach alignment. Perhaps the other teams have learned too well to scheme against stale game planning. Perhaps the players take too much for granted. Maybe something else or a combination of several somethings, but whatever it is isn’t going to get this bunch into the big show in February. There are going to be some tough choices to be made, and will likely be unpopular with some segment(s) of fandom……………….but that’s what management gets paid to do………figure out how to make the product better.

      Keep the faith friend.

      Reply
  3. metelhead

    Early this year, Pete made a statement about Road games….saying specifically one area which they want to exploit on the Road, is the Deep ball and explosive plays….

    This strategy was clearly evident in the Jags game, in spite of the Jags secondary- we thew the deep ball time and time again, resulting in interceptions. Gotta wonder about play calling strategy regardless of opponents or weakness of the other team.

    This loss is squarely on the Coaching, much like the Washington game.

    Reply
    • Josiah White

      And the win against the Eagles is also squarely on the coaching. Give credit where credit is due.

      When you’re the underdog, it often inspires the coaches to be unusually creative, and to take chances they wouldn’t ordinarily take. It makes them more courageous. Against the Jaguars, the Seahawks acted more like they were the favorites. Jacksonville’s coaches were a lot more creative than Seattle’s were.

      I’m not surprised at Wilson’s interceptions. I wasn’t that impressed with the Jags’ safeties. Because of those mediocre safeties, Wilson almost managed another miraculous last minute comeback, after the Jags dominated the Hawks all game.

      But those 2 corners — Ramsey and Bouye — are among the best CBs I’ve ever seen.

      Reply
  4. Hawkman

    Finally the O-line actually played a half way decent game -except one person ! It is Blatantly obvious Ifiedi CANNOT play tackle ! Anyone that says he can simply isn’t watching the games ! We also got to see what a actual true O-line looks like that played with some consistency and won this game( minus all the mistakes Seattle made )! Lets Hope upon Hope our LB’s are ok and we rise up against the Rams or the season is OVER !

    Reply
    • Jack Reacher

      And Britt was total garbage too and should have been run out of town, remember???

      Reply
  5. Rowdy Yates

    Crappy footing does not a level playing field provide. (Good point, Kurt Z). Add un-penalised, flying beer bottles, a game long double standard on how much contact is allowed out of bounds and a
    potentially game-deciding blown call at the end, and all I can say is: “Thank you very little, Roger Goodell.

    Also, I “learned” on 2 other Seahawk Blogs this weeks that:

    (1) “Ifedi is fine.” No argument why, just the Voice of The
    Founder to render all stats to the contrary null and void. ( Ifedi,
    I think, is liable to end up as another James Carpenter. Part of
    the Cable/Carroll “We train ’em for other teams,” strategy).

    (2)”John Schneider should be GM of the year.” (I would imagine that Blair Walsh, Eddie Lacy, Luke Joekel and Malik McDowell
    certainly think so).

    Reply
    • Josiah White

      Jaguars fans are trying to excuse the gatorade bottle and racist epithets hurled at Jefferson. They’re saying it’s all a justified reaction to Bennett’s cheap shot during the Jaguars’ victory formation.

      But there’s no way this could possibly excuse the trash thrown at Tyler Lockett after his TD late in the 4th quarter. Has anyone here EVER seen Seattle fans act this way toward the opposing team? Such behavior makes their entire fan base look like a bunch of [expletive deleteds].

      Reply
      • Wigman

        Hawks fans threw popcorn on badly injured Navaro Bowman. I’m hoping that several hawks players step up and sincerely apologize .This is not the first time this has happened (sb) and it needs to be addressed. If you are not embarresed to be a hawks fan today you are blinded by love. Go hawks

  6. Wigman

    Hopefully Darrell Bevell makes enough money from those sonic commercials so he will be ok financially ?Side note. Sonic could add Eddie in the back seat of those ads. Window girl says”did you guys get everything ?” Bevall looks to back seat . Eddie leans in.Seen for first time and with huge smile and many bags of grub. Lacys line is”hey where is my salad?”

    Reply
  7. hawkdawg

    I would just like to say that the non-call on Richardson on 4th and 9, with the linesman 5 yards away and nothing blocking his vision, was a complete choke.
    The DB held him three separate times. Or held him twice and tripped him once. Meanwhile, Baldwin was being held outside, but not with the kind of hatchet job that was done on Richardson. That DB saved the game for his team, though. Richardson was the primary, and if he hadn’t been held/tripped, he would have been long gone with the ball in his hands. There’s a gif of this play out there. Watch that a few times and try to be philosophical about it all….

    Reply
  8. Doug

    Man, Bortles did not look like his reputation in this game, at all. That was the real surprise to me, that and the DL that could not get any kind of pressure all game. The Seahawks made it to 24 points which is what I thought it would take to win–the difference was the Seattle D not getting it done and in particular the DL. Losing Wagz and Wright during the game was a gut-punch, and to the point of miscommunication on the 75 yard TD, Griffen has confirmed it was a coverage mixup that led to the TD.

    Hard to see us beating the Rams this week with Wagz and Wright both out, but maybe the OL has improved enough that the Seahawks can win a shootout. Just hope it doesn’t come down to a last-minute field goal….

    Reply
  9. Jack Reacher

    The problem is the DL and lack of consistent pressure. How many examples do we need to look back at to see this reality. We got good pressure on Rams, SF, PHI to name 3 and held them to 10-13-10 respectively. We get no pressure on ATL and JAX and they both score 30 or more.

    Much has been said about the LOB and the fact turnovers are way down, but the big turnover years were when the DL was getting near top of the league pressure.

    PC/JS knew this full well and committed their highest draft capital to it. However best laid plans sometimes fail. Mcdowell lost. Avril lost. Bennett hampered by PF or is simply declining with age. Clark being completely inconsistent. Richardson, although being a great acquisition, not being even close to the Aaron Donald type of pass rusher many of us were expecting. This is in the end the story of 2017. The rest could have survived it all and had a legit shot at the SB.

    The JAX D is the up and comer because of SAXONVILLE. Take that pass rush away from them and let’s see how well those DB’s hold up.

    So Davis gets 40+ yards on 3 straight carries against a team who’s only weakness was their Run D. Can someone answer why it took them till mid 2nd quarter to try running the ball?

    Reply

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