Rarely do I dread writing this column. I have been doing it after every game for over 12 years now. A night of sleep usually gives me the distance I need from even the most painful losses to gather and share my thoughts with all of you. This morning is one of the only times I can recall not wanting to sit down at my keyboard.
The bitterness of this loss was both familiar, and yet, uniquely aggravating. I hated the way the team gave away points to a team that was going to be unable to score much themselves. I hated the way the coaching staff made error after error in managing the game. I hated the grade school tackling attempts that accounted for at least a third of the Saints yards on offense. Most of all, I hated the bickering among Seahawks fans during and after the game. The rush to confirm one’s biases has never been more prevalent.
Something goes wrong, and the Pete Carroll haters circle like piranhas in one cesspool on Twitter, while the Russell Wilson detractors swarm in another area. It is so tiresome.
The Seahawks lost a game they should have never lost to a desperate and undermanned team on their home field. The failed in every aspect. The punter who barely looked like a pro, let alone an All-Pro. The running back who has almost given more carries to defenders in the first three weeks of the season than he has taken himself. The defensive lineman who lined up in the wrong spot on a missed field goal that led to an eventual touchdown. The coaches who failed to use timeouts and challenged the wrong plays and made some mind-bendingly bad play calls like running on 3rd and goal from the five. The quarterback who missed a wide open receiver for a touchdown. The dominant pass rushers who were dominated.
You lose a game like this and everyone shares the blame. Saying Carroll is to blame for the mistakes, but only Wilson is credited for the positive plays is nonsense. Carroll is ultimately responsible for everything that happens on the field, both good and bad. That said, the idea that coaching was to blame for Michael Dickson’s putrid punt or Chris Carson fumbling the ball is silly. Maybe you could blame coaching for Al Woods lining up in the wrong place for the field goal, but it’s not like Woods doesn’t know the rule. It is hard to not place primary responsibility on him.
Those three plays changed this game in a way the team never was able to overcome. Twenty-one points that never should have been. Players failed. The Seahawks were not out-coached in those moments. Any athlete who has stepped on a competitive field knows where the burden falls when there are physical errors. I would wager that even each Seahawk defender who missed a tackle would blame themselves and not poor coaching.
Where the coaches were clearly to blame were in situations like when Carroll did not take a timeout near the end of the first half which led to the time running out after D.K. Metcalf made a big catch. Or when they called a running play on 3rd down when they needed five yards. Or when they did not go for two when they could have pulled to within 11 (two scores: a touchdown plus a two-point conversion and a field goal) instead of being down by 12 (three scores).
Fans can bring out the old trope of, “the coaches didn’t have them ready to play,” but that not what I saw. It was not a lack of energy or even a terrible game plan. The players made some mistakes that could not be overcome and the Saints are better than fans want to admit.
New Orleans ended the game with just 265 yards. Their offense scored 21 points, seven of which should have never happened. This was not a story of Sean Payton brilliantly coaching a backup quarterback to victory.
It was the story of a Seahawks team making huge mistakes and squandering a beautiful opportunity to start a season with three straight wins. This one hurts.
They head to Arizona next week to face a team that could be far tougher to beat than their record indicates. This team cannot continue to give opponents easy points with fumbles and poor special teams play. They would benefit greatly from the offense starting off in the first half at least 50% as effective as they have been in the second.
Carroll has a tough decision to make on Chris Carson. He is undoubtedly the best lead back, but it feels like this might be the moment to elevate Rashaad Penny. If Carson is not benched this week, you have to think he is one fumble away from not seeing the field.
When was the last time Wilson threw for over 400 yards without being sacked once and every Seahawks fan was livid?
Time to move on. This loss to an NFC team is very likely going to come back and haunt the team when playoff seeding is finalizing. They now need to find their way to winning a game they might have otherwise lost. They have one week to get right for a matchup against the Rams that will say a lot about the season in front of us. Blame and shame win no games.