The Morning After: Seahawks Batter Giants, Win 38-17


Logo by Kevin Gamache, Hammerhead 

There was plenty of panic percolating on social media when the Seahawks walked into the locker room down 17-14 at halftime. The common refrain was something along the lines of, “Eli Manning is shredding the us,” and, “our offense is a disaster!” Let it be lesson to anyone new to the game of football. When a team trails by three points despite losing the turnover battle 2-0 and has scored their points running the ball while the other team has been completely pass-dependent, the odds are pretty heavily in your favor. Seattle beat the Giants badly with one hand tied behind their back. They did it with a punishing running game and defense that continues to impress.

Validation

Carroll does not want an offense that relies on finding a franchise quarterback who can carry a team. Not only are they hard to find, but a pass heavy offense ceases to function if that one player struggles. 
A run-first team involves everyone on the offense, and when it is working well, can control a game. Russell Wilson had another bad game throwing the ball, but his unique skill set allowed him to help the team with over 100 yards rushing.

Wilson has three 100-yard rushing games this season. Only DeMarco Murray and Arian Foster have more.

The Giants never adjusted to the Seahawks bootlegs and read-option keeps. It was if they had not watched the Seahawks play before, or made the conscious decision to make Wilson beat them with his feet. The gambit failed miserably if that was the case.

Seattle realized they could run at will and Wilson was not himself passing. Carroll and Dan Quinn made the necessary halftime adjustments to their defense, and the players suffocated the Giants offense. They won the second-half turnover battle 2-1.

When you combine 200 yards of rushing, 100 yards of opponent offense, and a plus mark in turnover differential, you get a 24-0 second half.

Wilson funk continues

It would be a mistake to get too comfortable with the idea that this offense can thrive with Wilson passing this poorly. They need to find repeatable passes and explosive passes. It has to start with Wilson regaining his confidence.

Find a throw he can make with confidence. Find a receiver he feels comfortable with. Give him something to build on.

He is not just missing tough throws. He is missing throws he normally makes and is hesitating when he is normally decisive. People have tried blaming it on poor pass protection, but it simply is not the case. He had fine protection for most of the day against the Giants, and created needless pressure by escaping a clean pocket. Lineman can’t stay in front of you when you keep running around them.

The Seahawks will not win next week if Wilson cannot regain some measure of confidence throwing the football.

The running hydra

Lost in the midst of Wilson’s recent pratfall has been the emergence of the best stable of running backs in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch deserves every bit of praise he receives, and is having a legitimate MVP season. Fewer realize Robert Turbin and Christine Michael are having their best years and are making the most of increased opportunities.
Turbin is averaging a career-best 4.6 yards per carry and 10.9 yards per reception. He upped that rushing mark with a 5.9 YPC number over his last three games. He has been better than I gave him credit for. His is running hard and quick. He will never be the most creative runner, but he is someone you can count on.
Michael has had four carries in each of the last three weeks.

OPP ATT YDS YPC
@CAR 4 12 3.0
OAK 4 16 4.0
NYG 4 71 17.8

There should be no question about Michael’s running ability. He need to prove he can stay healthy and protect the football. The team has not yet started to use him as a receiver, but it is about time. This is a guy who can score from anywhere on the field. The Seahawks simply do not have many players like that on offense, and will hopefully continue to explore ways to increase Michael’s role.

Offensive line stands tall

This continues to be one of the best seasons of offensive line play under Tom Cable in Seattle. There is a lot of misinformation out there and kneejerk analysis, but this group is between good and dominant in the run game each week and has been a solid league average in pass protection. That is without their All-Pro center for four weeks and without their left tackle and left guard at times.
Max Unger came back and played fantastic football. It is no coincidence that the line had no false start penalties.

The Seahawks offensive line had zero penalties, and Seattle had just two pre-snap penalties overall

Alvin Bailey filled in admirably at left guard. He is not the run blocker that James Carpenter is, but he is not bad in that regard and is a far superior pass protector. Justin Britt had arguably his best game.
This group is going to have a lot to say about how this team plays against the likes of Arizona and San Francisco in coming weeks.

Defense wobbles 

The good news was that the Seahawks welcomed back a bunch of players like Jeron Johnson and Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. The bad news was the addition of those players into a rotation that had been gelling over the past three weeks seemed to cause some communication issues early on.
Zone coverage is so much about controlling spacing and handoffs between defenders that even the slightest misjudgment can lead to a wide open player. Seattle adjusted as the game wore on and played solid football. Fans think Eli Manning and remember all the interceptions he throws. 

Manning had gone four games and over 150 pass attempts without an interception before Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas got him

This was the third straight quarterback to have a lower efficiency numbers against the Seahawks.

Michael Bennett collected his fourth sack, and first since Week 2. Cliff Avril was credited with five quarterback hits as part of a group that had nine QB hits overall.

And that run defense continues to be dominant. Eight of the nine offenses Seattle has faced have rushed for under 4.0 yards per carry. The Seahawks came into this game leading the league with a 3.2 YPC opponent average, and the Giants finished with exactly that. Their longest run by a running back was seven yards, and they did it without Brandon Mebane for a long stretch.

Pivotal game ahead

Seattle has clawed their way to a 6-3 record, and are on the edge of doing something more interesting than sneaking into the playoffs. This upcoming game in Kansas City will be very difficult. Seattle will not be favored to win for the first time all year. It is a game the Seahawks likely lose if they play like they have most of the way so far. But they have pieced together bits of brilliant play from various parts of the team at various times that could be special if combined.
Consider a workout regimen that focuses on different muscle sets to create a powerful holistic whole. The Seahawks have the biceps and triceps, the solid core, and the pecs to push people around, even if they have sometimes looked like glutes. 
They have earned this chance to return to the ranks of teams that matter.  

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