Sunday was a huge disappointment for the Seahawks on offense. Nobody reasonably expected the offensive line to look good, but it was hard to imagine they would be worse than last season. Then they were. The general storyline being promoted by the Seahawks was that they “started rough” and improved as the game went on. Improvement is always relative. This felt like standing on a dollar bill and claiming to be taller. The performance was atrocious from literally the first snap until the teams walked off the field. Where the Seahawks did have some success was when they went to a hurry-up offense. It is not the first time the offense found a rhythm by increasing the tempo. Those two facts have led to a rash of articles and Twitter calls for more hurry-up tempo. Seahawks fans should not pin too much hope in any quick fix to what we witnessed last Sunday.
Utilizing no huddle to spark an offense can make sense, and even be sustained for a few series. It is less viable as a foundational element. Pete Carroll has pointed out that while fans and media members tend to focus on the positive results at the end of halves, there are real downsides when done in the middle of the game. The Seahawks defense already spent over 40 minutes on the field in Green Bay without resorting to much hurry-up offense. We have seen that side of the ball wear down when that happens. The game in Arizona last year was brutal, and appeared to have a carryover effect.
There is also some selection bias in play. Seattle tends to go into no huddle at the end of halves or when trailing by a large margin in the second half. Those are unique situations where the rules on defense also tend to change. It is unlikely the Seahawks would be facing the same defensive strategies if they started the game in no huddle as they do in these other moments.
Carroll has gone against his better judgment and allowed the offense to go up tempo before. Tarvaris Jackson got the green light to do it in 2011 when the offense was struggling mightily, and there were some modest results for a short period of time, before the team returned to normal tempo. Carroll lamented the deviation from his core philosophy at the time, and even referenced it a year later after Russell Wilson came aboard. It just is not what he believes is the right way to build a winning formula.
He wants effective running and big strike passing. He knows that large chunks of the playbook go out the window in no huddle situations. It tends to be a gimmick with limited staying power, and spending too much time perfecting it takes away from time spent getting better at more sustainable offensive options.
None of this is to say the team will not or should not experiment with more up tempo possessions. Of course they should. It just is not the cure-all that some are hoping or promoting it to be.
Disappointing absence of Marcel Reece
I told myself that Tre Madden made the roster because the team did not want to guarantee Marcel Reece’s veteran contract by carrying him on the week one roster. The story went that the team would make it through week one without him, and then sign Reece and let Madden walk or sign him to the practice squad. Monday went by. No worries, they tend to do their signings on Tuesday. Tuesday came and went. Then Wednesday. Then Thursday. Damn. Are they really sticking with Madden over Reece?
While the offensive line was terrible at blocking on Sunday, so were the three tight ends and the fullback. I watched 1v1 pass block drills through training camp where linebackers faced off against the running backs and fullbacks. Reece was far and away the best blocker, with Chris Carson being the second best. Madden weighs 220 pounds, compared to Reece at 250 pounds. It shows.
At a time when the Seahawks need every possible bit of help in blocking, eschewing a powerful contributor like Reece is hard to justify. There is a moderate difference in salary due to Reece being a veteran, but he is worth it. There will be fewer assignment mistakes, more physical and effective blocking, and more poise from a guy like Reece who has been through all this for years.
Reece was also a valuable weapon as a receiver last season, and something tells me he would help that young offensive huddle and running back room. The door is not closed on Reece rejoining the squad, but it is certainly less of a sure thing.
Ahtyba Rubin to Denver
The other player I thought might return to the Seahawks after the first week was Ahtyba Rubin. The team appears to be thin at defensive tackle with only Jarran Reed, Sheldon Richardson, and Nazair Jones as true interior players. This looked to be another case of the team trying to make it through one week before adding a veteran for depth. Rubin was a guy I thought would get signed last week, but when it did not happen, the chance of him returning seemed to grow. No longer.
Rubin is headed to Denver, and the Seahawks have yet to sign another tackle. Desmond Bryant is another name to watch as he came in for a tryout after being released by Cleveland. That happened before the Richardson trade, so they may not have the same need for how they would use him. It still feels like the team will look to add more to this defensive line at some point.
Realistic expectations for the offensive line against San Francisco
I knew the Seahawks offensive line was going to be bad, but Freddy Kreuger could not have crafted a more gruesome nightmare than what transpired in week one. Thinking that group will magically become effective this Sunday is like thinking an infant is going to walk in a week. This is going to take some time, and possibly some creative thinking. There were communication errors and assignment mistakes for sure, but there were also far less correctable physical problems.
Luke Joeckel continues to get overpowered. I don’t see that changing. Germain Ifedi has slow feet. I don’t see that changing. Still, it is fair to hope that this group will benefit enough from facing an inferior opponent at home to show progress. What would progress look like?
One sustained scoring drive over 60 yards without the no huddle would be something to build on. A handful of pass plays where Wilson has a chance to at least go through two reads before needing to scramble of throw the ball away would be another. A huge measure will be yards gained on first down.
The Seahawks averaged 9.4 yards to go on second down against the Packers.
Finding reliable ways to gain three yards on first down would help tremendously. That allows for more conservative second down calls, which then result in more achievable third down conversions. The Seahawks averaged 7.2 yards to go on third downs, and the line is just not good enough yet to make 3rd and long a common conversion.
The hope is that the defense dominates so thoroughly that they give the offense some short fields to work with. This group needs the help and the confidence.