Anyone who has been called a bandwagon Seahawks fan can breathe a sigh of relief. Nobody will accuse someone willing to sit through a Seahawks game this season of being a fair weather fan. A category five hurricane is brewing, and it may just sweep the entire front office and coaching staff right out of town. A nearly fully healthy offense was both awful and confounding. Bizarre personnel decisions joined with porous offensive line play, receivers who could not get open, and a quarterback who played more like a scared rookie than a Super Bowl-winning veteran to make for a tortuous stew of ineptitude. Anyone defending any part of the Seahawks offense or coaching staff is part of the problem. Dare to raise your expectation level. Instead of evolving into a soaring Seahawk, this offense more closely resembles a single-cell organism, and Darwin is knocking on the door. Adapt, or find a spot next to the Dodo.
There was an emotional battle for supremacy last night. Back and forth it went. Deciding which was more infuriating between the Seahawks coaches choice to once-again sit Chris Carson or the endless equivocation for Russell Wilson was as close as any contest in recent memory. On one side, you had Pete Carroll literally lying in the postgame interview about why he was sitting Carson. Carroll explained that Carson was “gassed” from all his special teams work. The official snap count log showed Carson getting two snaps on special teams.
Seahawks snap counts. Of note, Chris Carson played 19 offensive snaps and 2 on special teams — and again, these are the official ones not mine. Carson played 25 offensive snaps and 6 special teams snaps against Denver: pic.twitter.com/P1JK9E76FP
— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) September 18, 2018
This is what happened when Carson was handed the ball against Chicago:
1st & 10: 9 yard gain (success)
2nd & 1: 2 yard gain (success)
1st & 10: 2 yard gain
1st & 10: 4 yard gain (success)
1st & 10: 4 yard gain (success)
1st & 10: 3 yard gain
He never touched the ball again. Rashaad Penny took over the primary halfback role and Mike Davis took the rest of the snaps. Penny wound up with 30 yards on 10 carries for 3.0 yards per tote, and Davis finished with 3 yards on 3 carries for a whopping 1.0 yard average. I have spent a fair amount of pointless time attempting to ascertain what could be leading to the decisions around Carson’s playing time.
Is he still not fully recovered from his injury? All we heard about was how he was the hero of the offseason program and is better than ever. Unlike Penny, I don’t believe he missed a snap for health reasons during preseason. Is he missing assignments or running plays incorrectly? Possibly. That’s tough to tell. Nothing I have seen would indicate this is the issue. Is he breaking team rules or requiring discipline for some reason? Again, there is no way to know for sure, but those types of issues usually keep guys from starting games, and there is no evidence that Carroll disciplines anyone on his team for anything.
What appears to be the painful truth is that Carroll is once again undercutting his core philosophy around competition and putting his thumb on the scale for a higher draft pick. He has done it for Germain Ifedi and is doing it for Penny. The shame of it is that by artificially propping up these players, he is both hampering their development and working against his own interests.
It was nice to see Penny have a few successful runs of his own late in the game. I would love for him to flash as a weapon who is going to help the Seahawks. This has nothing to do with wishing him failure. It has everything to do with the process by which decisions are getting made. There appear to be serious flaws here that beg the question what other aspects of the team are being negatively impacted by this kind of flawed logic?
So that was a strong contender for most aggravating, but we all know you can never count out Wilson. He looked uncomfortable from the beginning. An early hold and a sack near the goal line could have been avoided if he had been decisive about either throwing the ball to a receiver or throwing the ball away. That really was not the aggravating part. In fact, nothing Wilson did was as frustrating as the refusal by so many to admit he is contributing to the problems on offense.
How a player can be the most important player on the field, be paid twice as much as anyone on the roster, and yet be faultless when things are not going well defies common sense. It is the offensive line’s fault. The receivers are not getting open. The offensive coordinator is calling the wrong plays. A friend even claimed that critics have gotten in Wilson’s head and made him second-guess himself. The implication is that fans and media members are apparently more at fault for the quarterback’s performance than the player himself.
Wilson was bad in this game. He was horrible in the first half. Guess what? He was not alone. Other aspects of the offense were bad as well. Acknowledging that Wilson was awful does not mean the universe will collapse on itself or that the Wilson haters out there are right. Wilson is the best QB in franchise history and has already accomplished more than most quarterbacks ever will. He also has been nowhere near good enough so far this season.
He did look better for a brief spurt in the fourth quarter when the team went up tempo. It is hard to know how much of that was due to a change in how the defense was playing once the Bears took a 14-point lead versus truly elevated play from the offense. Notice, though, that the same people who point fingers at everyone but Wilson when things are going poorly, give none of the credit to the other players or coaches when things start clicking. To be clear, it is the oversimplification that drives me batty.
Was Tyler Lockett open on the touchdown he caught? Nope. Wilson made an elite throw on time in an impossibly tight window and Lockett made a fantastic catch with a defender hanging all over him. That was not beautifully schemed. It did not require a clean pocket for three or more seconds. It was two Seahawks offensive players being better than their defensive counterparts and other guys doing enough to make it possible. Great players make plays like that at least a few times each game and give opponents nightmares trying to figure out how to stop what appears unstoppable. Wilson and company have been anything but unstoppable thus far.
There were a few rays of sunshine in an otherwise dreary evening. Will Dissly scored another touchdown, but fare more eye-opening was the open field deke on his 34-yard reception that left a member of the Bears secondary crumpled on the ground in shame. Dissly looks like a legitimate weapon that should get more targets. Shaquill Griffin had more interceptions in the second quarter of this game than he had his entire rookie season. It was great to see him turn and make a play on the ball on his first pick. That is the skill he most needs to develop if he is going to step forward into Pro Bowl-level corner play. The tackling was better in this game than in week one. Austin Calitro did an admirable job filling in for Bobby Wagner.
The Bears are a committed run team, and the Seahawks held them to 86 yards on 27 carries for a 3.2 average, and that was inflated by Mitch Trubisky’s scrambles. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen averaged 2.5 and 2.0 yards per carry, respectively. The pass rush was a little better, and the Bears had only a couple explosive plays. There were not the major breakdowns that we saw in Denver. Those were the highlights.
Seattle looked like one of the worst teams in football last night. The defense could be proud of their effort. The offense should be embarrassed by theirs. This team needs the offense to be among the best in the league. They had everyone but Doug Baldwin available (unless D.J. Fluker is considered a major difference-maker). The game plan was bad. The execution was bad. The personnel decisions were bad. It was not just Carson. George Fant should have been given a chance to sub for Ifedi in that game. Seattle has lost to two mediocre teams to start the season. Neither are likely to make the playoffs. Things could get worse. Those who choose to stick around will get to witness new leaders emerge and young players develop. This season was never about wins, but if the offense does not improve drastically, it very well may Carroll’s last.