They say the city light twinkle most when there is smog and pollution in the way. Particles between you and the source of light cause refraction, and the illusion of twinkling. It is both beautiful and disturbing. Meet your 2019 Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson and this offense are supplying all the electricity to light this city, while this defense tries repeatedly to poison the air. Somehow, together, they combine to create a mesmerizing effect and a gaudy 7-2 record.

Many will cringe at the notion that a 2-5 football team came into Seattle and nearly beat the Seahawks. Forget the fact that a winless Tampa Bay visited Seattle six years to the day (yesterday) and took a 21-0 lead over the eventual Super Bowl Champion Seahawks before succumbing in overtime. Ignore that this Bucs team beat the Rams 55-40 in Los Angeles. Football is a game of matchups, and the Seahawks had only one way to beat this team. It required going against their typical approach. Had they stubbornly stuck to their usual formula, Seattle would be 6-3 right now.

The Bucs were the best run defense in football entering this game. They also had one of the best offense in the league, while having faced top five defenses in five of their seven games. Unless the Seahawks suddenly became competent on defense, the Bucs were going to put up points. A lot of points. Had Seattle insisted on testing the Tampa run defense while the Bucs were jamming up and down the field on offense, there is no way the Seahawks could have won.

Instead, Brian Schottenheimer and Pete Carroll came out with a logical game plan to attack one of the worst pass defense in the league. Seattle passed on five of their first six plays on an opening drive touchdown. They wound up passing 38 times versus 22 passes on first and second down for the game.

Leaning into their best player and their biggest advantage allowed Wilson and his merry band of game wreckers to put up huge numbers, especially after halftime. Wilson finished with 378 yards passing, 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf had over 100 yards receiving and at least one score. It became such a factor for the troubled Bucs defense, that even the run game got untracked.

Chris Carson finished with over 100 yards rushing. No other back had managed more than 78 yards against the Bucs before yesterday. Carson also fumbled twice and lost one. One can only hope he is learning his lesson this season. He is too good to sit, but this team is not good enough to beat quality opponents when they turn the ball over.

Wilson and Lockett reprised their roles as magician and illusionist. Wilson deftly avoids pressure, and makes the ball disappear and reappear in receiver’s hands all over the field. Lockett routinely defies the laws of physics while exasperating defenders who cannot believe what they just saw.

How good has Lockett been? He set his career best for receptions in the season (59) with seven games remaining.

Metcalf was not far behind the master. The rookie/centaur had 106 yards receiving and his touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime alone. The Bucs could not stop him. This was easily the most dominant performance of his young career.

When he caught the ball on the final drive of the fourth quarter, he was knocking guys over and running past them to gain extra yards and still managing to get out of bounds. It was child’s play for the man with the binky.

Metcalf has 525 yards receiving through his first nine games. Only Joey Galloway (536 yards) has had more as a Seahawks rookie to start his career. The only other Seahawks rookie to have a game where they caught at least 6 passes, over 120 yards, and at least 1 touchdown was Steve Largent back in 1976.

Metcalf is doing things that only guys with names like Randy Moss and Mike Evans have done at the age of 21. There is every reason to think he could become the best receiver in franchise history given this early trajectory. Lockett may have something to say about that before it is all said and done.

The Seahawks now get to add Josh Gordon into that mix. He may wind up washing out. He probably will end up washing out. The potential, though, is tantalizing. Defenses will not be able to double anyone. New England is not the deep passing team Seattle is, which is a strength of Gordon’s. He is not technician Tom Brady likes to work with. He is the elite deep threat Wilson loves to work with.

The (on-field) question will more be whether the Seahawks can protect long enough for the deep plays to develop. They did quite well in that regard on Sunday. The offensive line was quietly competent in this game. Wilson was sacked three times, but on 43 pass attempts, or only 6.5% of the time.

Todd Bowles is the defensive coordinator for Tampa Bay, and Wilson has had a series of fantastic performances against his heavy blitzing scheme. It was pretty darn sweet seeing Bruce Arians and Jameis Winston eat this loss.

It almost didn’t happen, though, due to brutally bad defense and special teams play.

Why on earth is Brian Schneider still employed? His special teams units have been awful for years now. He went after Blair Walsh and then Sebastian Janikowski and then Jason Myers. His coverage units are well below average. His return units are near the worst in football. It is very hard to see what he is bringing to the table besides Pepcid.

Myers was a mistake from the moment they signed him. He had one good season for a team playing meaningful football. No real pressure. They sign him to a lucrative contract that could have been money spent on a pass rusher like, oh…say, Shaquill Barrett (1 year, $5M deal) who now has 11 sacks on the season.

As an aside, that’s not second-guessing. I hated the Myers deal as soon as it was announced and said so on Twitter, and made the case for Barrett multiple times on the podcast during the offseason. That does not mean I’m brilliant. It just means the evidence was there to make a more sound choice.

Matt Gay played for the Bucs yesterday as a rookie who is now 3-4 from beyond 50 yards. He will make less in four seasons (~$2.8M) than Myers was guaranteed at signing ($5M). More importantly, he will be a better player than Myers.

Finding a kicker is not hard. Young players come out every year. Draft or sign an undrafted free agent or two. Have them compete. Keep one. If that player washes out, bring someone else in until you find one that works. It an approach John Schneider and Pete Carroll took with the whole roster in 2010. It is the approach they took in finding Stephen Hauschka.

They will not cut Myers, at least not yet. I am ready for them to at least bring in players for tryouts. Competition is supposedly a central tenet of this program. Myers has been terrible. Given what I saw during training camp where he was coaching Michael Dickson on kicking, it is not even out of the question that he was part of the reason Dickson struggled to start this year. Tin foil hat conspiracy theory? Perhaps. Just make your kicks, dude.

Now, the defense. Sigh. I am going to forego the blistering tirade about how bad this group is. They are one of the worst two or three defenses in all of football.

Here’s what I will tell you. There is still hope for some level of improvement. Quandre Diggs could be a key figure. Increasingly, I wonder if he will step in at nickel corner instead of safety. Jamar Taylor is so bad. So, so, bad. He can’t cover. He can’t tackle.

That one change could solidify a few things, including allowing the team to play more nickel. We can also hope that Quinton Jefferson returns this week, which would be the first time the team had Jefferson, Jadeveon Clowney, and Jarran Reed all available in the same game. I would have included Ziggy Ansah, but I don’t think there is much hope he will do anything of value the rest of the way.

Increasingly, I’m wondering if Tre Flowers is the Tedric Thompson of cornerbacks. He’s not fast enough to close and make big plays, and is always a few steps away from his opponent when the catch is made. We are not seeing tight coverage or tightening coverage. I had thought there were signs of improvement before he got hurt, but that was not the case yesterday.

The run defense was better against the Bucs. There were more tackles for loss and decent tackling. They need to be great with opponents like the 49ers and Vikings coming up.

Or not. Wilson and crew can remain the twinkle in this magical season. They have the potential to be the best offense in the game. As audacious as that sounds, they are #1 in the NFL in yards since week two of the season and #2 in the league in scoring over that same period. Seattle fans may hack and cough as they try to breathe in the splendor of a 7-2 start to the year, but take heart that the sun is rising on a new era of Seahawks football with the best player in the sport.

17 Responses

  1. Rowdy Yates

    I agree, Brian. I’m sending a memo to the F.O. : “Replace Jamal Adams w/ Quandre Diggs.” As long as we got Mac & Blair bringing up the rear. (C’mon, Reed & Poona, be up the middle.)

    Also, Meyers: Forget about it, already. It looks like you’re hoping out there, dude, instead of controlling a hook or a fade. (Maybe go to an 8 iron?)

    Meanwhile, can SFO beat the team that’s not good enough (to be 7-2)? I predict neither side comes out flat a week from tonight.

    Reply
    • Doug

      @Rowdy,

      Perhaps you meant Jamar Taylor should be replaced by Quandre Diggs? Anyway, I really liked the play of Ugo Amadi earlier in the year, and it seems like he’s been overlooked a bit. Just wondering if you had any thoughts on that?

      Reply
  2. Uncle Bob

    Team dynamics are a magical thing when it works. Given the span of my life experiences I tend toward looking at these things from a management perspective. No doubt individual player skills are important, but too much reliance on that leads to a silver bullet, just add this uber athlete and all is fixed, mentality. As Jeff said some weeks back, look at the Browns, lots of “stars” but not a team. It’s the job of the coaches to fashion this collection of fine athletes into a functioning team. Last season Schotty was new and it took some process for him to earn his stripes. They (he and PC) had some sorting out to do in the beginning. In time he’s earned Pete’s trust to the point that now it looks like he runs his own show on the sidelines most of the game with only modest discussion with PC. As a result the offense is clicking pretty well. Yeah, all the attention will fall on the individual players, and Russ is at his best this season for sure, but this is still a team game (see opening comments). The defense…………………not so much. The ultimate responsibility falls to the head coach because he’s the ring master. He hires the assistants and sets the tone and goals. He’s the one that needs to be coordinating the efforts of the entire unit toward the singular objective. Yeah, Pete is a defensive minded guy, and perhaps he’s overly involved in the detail rather than overall function of that unit. If he’s acting more like the DC that’s a mistake. Just look at Dan Quinn as an example. There are too many things that need the attention of “the boss” at any given time that getting bogged down in the lower level functions detracts from. I’ve not been a big fan of the Norton hire at DC for some time. He’s a fine guy, was, for all appearances, a good linebacker coach. But he’s been pretty weak now in two DC jobs with two different teams. He had K. Mack, probably the singular most disruptive D line guy in the league, and still got meager results. It’s not just player talent, it’s what the coaches do with what’s available. It’s very similar for the ST game that Brian laments correctly. It won’t change in mid season since suitable replacements aren’t available, on top of the possible lack of motivation on PCs behalf. But we will need to have some changes in the coaching staff if we want to advance. Match ups are very important………………..in coaching as well as player. I suspect the match up in talent for both coaches and players are going to make the Niners a nightmare for the Hawks. It’s going to be a rough road from here on out to season’s end. We might get one, maybe two more games this year that will be like yesterday where there’s excitement, anger, joy, frustration, and so on for 60 or so minutes. Enjoy them when you can, the others might be blood baths that we will hate and bemoan in the days following them. Please prove me wrong boys and play your hearts out.

    Reply
  3. David

    I can only hope that yesterday’s game is a new philosophical beginning for Pete Carroll, that he realizes that this year’s Seahawks are different from all the other years & most importantly, not the defensive pound & ground team he likes to field. Stop deferring when we win the coin toss, get Dangeruss & the O on the field, score a TD & make the opponent play from behind…. Realize that the Hawks have to score 40 points to win because the D can’t stop anyone. And go for it on 4th down when we are across midfield, use Myers just for kickoffs… Might as well go for the 2 point conversion after every TD as well…

    Reply
  4. Rowdy Yates

    Agree with David & Uncle Bob: Time to go for 2 pointers and short 4th downs beyond the 50 stripe. Time to find a new Special Teams coach and DC.

    And time to stop running with the ball like: “Here-punch-this-out.”

    Reply
  5. Rowdy Yates

    And I agree that I don’t want to be at work this Monday morn.

    A thought about replacing Meyers. (make those kicks,dud, I mean, dude—no mercy here—and I’ll spell your name right). But why not have an open tryout? Look for Rudy’s with a leg. Find 3 out of 300 that can kick. Then let the real competition begin. If somebody out- kicks Meyers in practice, then sign them to a one week contract and put them in a real game. Always compete, etc.

    Reply
  6. Rowdy Yates

    Also, lastly: HOW ABOUT A SHOUT OUT TO HOLLISTER!

    Of course Hollister can’t block that well. He’s limited to good routes, good hands, and good chem w/ Russ. I don’t think he’s a flash in the pan. Hope he sees the field in SFO.

    Reply
  7. Doug

    Honorable Mention – Joey Hunt

    The pass protection was good, but what really stood out was the yards rushing. Seattle was averaging around 130 yards per game this year, and Tampa Bay was the best at stopping the run at allowing only 69 yards per game this year. Who won the battle, Seattle with 145 yards on the ground. Joey Hunt looks (to me) to be an upgrade at a position that many thought was already penned in ink, run or pass.

    Reply
  8. Andy

    Like I’ve always said, this team will go as far as RW will take them. He is the best player in the league. You can say it is Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Drew Brees, etc., but if there is one guy who literally carries the team, then it is RW. The one thing that differentiates between RW and other QBs is he makes the other players better. The only other QB that I can say the same is Tom Brady. Not saying RW is TB, but their road to the NFL success is eerie similar.
    Regarding the defense, this unit is average at best. The best player on that unit is not performing up to his usual standards and contract. The construction of the unit has been horrendous with missed players in the draft. Due to the philosophy and scheme of this defense, the most critical position on that unit is the free safety. When ET was there, he covered a lot of mistakes for other players. Now, Seattle doesn’t have another ET, they are in trouble. I am not going to stop whining about not drafting Eddie Jackson when they had a chance. Instead, they chose Hill and Thompson. Another indictment of horrific talent evaluation and choices. PC and JS are terrible in that department. When this defense unit was constructed, they had Scot as their lead talent evaluator. They hit 2 jackpots, and the rest is history. Not so much after he left.

    Regarding PC, Uncle Bob mentioned something about his lack of attention to details. PC is a big picture kind of person; he doesn’t pay attention details. That is one of the reasons he is so bad in-game management. He is probably one of the worse. It is so funny; I heard when NE played the Jets, the guest referee in the booth said BB knew every detail about the referee crew that did their games. That dude does not miss anything. I guess that is the difference between 6 and 1 SBs.

    Reply
    • Uncle Bob

      Just to clarify Andy, I did not say he doesn’t pay attention to details, I criticized (yes mildly) that I believed he was “overly involved in the detail….” rather than doing his job of big picture oversite. Looks like we actually agree at some level…………

      Reply
  9. Brad

    A couple weeks in a row now, I think I’m banging the same drum. Schneider needs to go, yes, but what about Norton? Is Carroll responsible for this defensive scheme? Is Norton a puppet or the devil incarnate?

    Reply
    • David

      Why fire Schneider? 96-56-1 record with 2 SB appearances, 1 SB win, 7 playoff seasons in 9 years, soon to be 8.. Plus Pete Carroll has personnel authority…We don’t know who has the final say during the draft, but i believe it’s Carroll

      Reply
  10. Trevor

    I’ve been reading your posts this season and sporadically checking your twitter and there is an absent name – Bobby Wagner.

    I love the man. After being the 2018 #1 MLB he came in as an early contender for DPOY. He hasn’t been bad. Our eyes are drawn to the bad on the team. But I see him being a step slower at times this season. I see some bad angles and him trailing more. He is not playing like an all-pro, and the defense is playing towards the bottom of the league in part because their best playmaker isn’t changing games. I’m not heaping it all on him, or saying he is bad. But his name has just been absent from everyone’s mouth this season.

    Reply
  11. John

    Great stuff, Brian, you always make my Monday. I agree with all the above, but regarding the O-line, what game were you guys watching, anyway? Seemed to me an all-too-large part of Wilson’s great day was a result of a bunch of spectacular, at-the-brink-of-disaster Houdini plays and insane passes from Russ after the O-line once again broke down. Ifedi’s pass blocking consists of beating the snap and immediately moving three steps, then getting pushed into Russell and making him scramble. Fluker seems to be pretty good at it, too, although at least he tries to hold his ground before he gets run around. If Russ were a normal quarterback, they would have had 10 sacks. I cringe to think what might happen at SF with a big rush and real DB’s covering our WR’s. Carson’s amazing at breaking tackles at the line, a survival skill with this O-line, Penny not so good but getting better. I can’t figure if the D problems are scheme, talent, or both. I would say TB is a lot better offensively than your average 2-6 team, and Winston was certainly on. Oh well, in Russ we trust, and we’ll get another crack at a real D coming up Monday!

    Reply
    • Doug

      A couple of points to consider.

      The offensive line consistently gave RW between 2.5 and 3.0 seconds to throw the ball. League average is about 2.5 seconds. Some of the best runs were when the RT and RG pulled left, and there aren’t many teams that can do that anymore. Especially playing against Vita Vea & Suh.

      Going back to Bobby Wagner’s sack, that happened when the opposing center decided to double team Poona Ford, and Bobby was left with that lane right down the middle. Just my opinion, but I believe that the trouble on defense right now, is that the DT’s aren’t talented enough (yet) to draw double teams consistently.

      Monday night’s game might just expose some weaknesses on that 49’er team too.

      Reply
      • Doug

        Correction, I meant to post that some of the best runs came when the LT and LG pulled to the right. Joey Hunt did a great job of sealing off the back side as well.

      • John

        That’s true, but we have to remember that not all three seconds are created equal, and some of that extra time to throw was RW running around waiting for receivers to open up. He’s not indestructible, either, and he’s taking a lot of hits after he delivers some of those gems. It would be pretty exciting to see what Russ could do if he had more time in a protected pocket like some of the other QB’s he’s compared with, and also whose really sitting on our bench behind the starting line, like Joey Hunt. That said, can’t wait for Monday!

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