The Morning After: Seahawks Subdue 49ers 24-13

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I have a doghouse. I put people in it. Heck, I put whole teams in it. The Seahawks have been in there since they lost at home to the Washington Redskins in a game where they rang up 138 yards in penalties, missed three field goals, threw two interceptions, and gave up a late touchdown. I nearly needed to move them to the padded room wing after they began to injure themselves in Arizona and Atlanta. A ho-hum victory over the now 1-10 San Francisco 49ers made for four straight road wins, including a sweep of division opponents on their home fields, and kept Seattle a game behind the division lead. It is going to take more than that to earn an exit. The good news for the Seahawks is they will now face three straight games as underdogs, including two at home. After having lost games they should have won, they will need to win games they are expected to lose if they have hopes of a meaningful season. The stage is set.

There was little the Seahawks could do against a truly terrible team in San Francisco that would have elicited real optimism. Throwing an interception on the first play, gaining fewer first-half yards than the C.J. Beathard-led 49er offense, and leading just 7-6 midway through the third quarter, did more to increase cynicism. There were multiple dropped passes, multiple missed reads by Wilson, and avert-your-eyes running from Eddie Lacy.

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of the day was that Pete Carroll sounded pleased with the running of Lacy in postgame press conference. Do not force a Denny’s steak down my throat and tell me it’s Daniel’s Broiler. Lacy was atrocious. He no longer deserves to be classified as a running back. At best, he is a meandering back. His cuts cover inches instead of yards. His burst is more like a slow deflation. His push is more like a light suggestion. On one play, he cut laterally multiple times, basically occupying the exact same place on the field, and then fell down. How he manages to be so large, and yet so easily knocked over, challenges the laws of physics.

If Mike Davis is healthy, Lacy should never touch the ball again for Seattle. We have to hope that Carroll was just being pleasant because every time Lacy carries the ball, an angel loses her wings. J.D. McKissic, on the other hand, continues to be the best running back on the Seahawks active roster. He got just four carries, but averaged 5.5 yards per run and had the Seahawks lone explosive rush of the day.

He added four receptions for 24 yards, and easily could have had twice that total if Wilson had chosen simple dump off passes to his backs instead of forced throws into coverage. On the very first throw of the game, Wilson either missed or ignored a wide open McKissic and threw to a well covered Jimmy Graham. The ball was intercepted rather easily. That is two straight games with early interceptions on poor passes from Wilson.

Later, Wilson failed to recognize Graham streaking alone down the seam for what would have been a touchdown and instead threw out wide to Paul Richardson, who dropped the ball. It was a rather dismal first half for Wilson, who was outplayed by Beathard. Some of that was on receivers for dropping passes. Richardson had two drops. Graham had one. Nick Vannett had another.

On the plus side, Tanner McEvoy made two touch catches, Richardson had some nice catches including a nice run-after-catch play, and Graham caught another touchdown. Give Darrell Bevell credit for getting defenses so worried about Graham running a fade route to the corner of the end zone that a quick slant was wide open. Seattle finished 3-4 in the red zone, tying their best performance of the season. Their lone failure in the red zone was on their last possession when they were more focused on running the clock than getting in the end zone.



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The offense put up 17 points and 186 yards in the second half. That is acceptable output. The offensive line played with both Duane Brown and Luke Joeckel for the first time. Ethan Pocic played his first game at right guard. We will find out if it was a coincidence that the Seahawks did not surrender a sack for the first time since late in the 2015 season. The 49ers have a tepid pass rush, but they recorded 3 sacks in the first meeting in Seattle.

Anyone watching the game saw Wilson escape multiple close calls, so this was not a super clean game in pass protection, but it was better than almost any other game this season. There were some moments of decent push in the run game. Lacy never took full advantage, but I will be interested to see how Davis can do against a far stingier Eagles defense.

Bobby Wagner was the best player on the field. His interception in the first half was a superstar play. He was all over the field, collecting tackles, picking off passes, and putting pressure on the quarterback. Perhaps we will see Wagner rise to occupy the leadership void left by Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. He has been the best player on the team this season, and one of the best in all of football. ProFootballFocus has him with a season grade of 98.1 (out of 100). No player at any position is graded better. Aaron Donald is 97.3.

Strong games from new names helped the defense play solid throughout. Bradley McDougald had his best game at safety, finishing tied with Wagner for the team lead in tackles with eight. Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson, and Quinton Jefferson played nice games along the line. Michael Bennett (1st), Smith (8th), and Frank Clark (10th) all finished in the top ten among 4-3 defensive ends in pressuring the passer, per PFF. Sheldon Richardson dominated against the run. He was credited with five run stops, which led all interior linemen this week.

The secondary did not have much to defend from a truly abysmal 49er pass offense. Beathard was off target much of the day, and his receivers were meek. Their only marginal threat was Marquise Goodwin, who managed to get behind Jeremy Lane for a big gain. Byron Maxwell gave up a late touchdown on the final play, but was mostly fine. This group will get back Shaquill Griffin next week, and it will be interesting to see whether Lane or Maxwell take a seat. My choice would be a Maxwell and Griffin pairing, but it is more likely Carroll will give Lane the nod due to loyalty.

Through eleven games, it has been feast or famine against the Seahawks defense. Three teams have scored 33 points or more against the Seahawks, and eight teams have scored 18 points or less. I cannot recall a team with that kind of bipolar personality. No team has scored in the 20s against the Seahawks all season. That’s just odd.

Seattle also broke a frustrating streak of five straight games with at least 100 yards in penalties. They had only 6 penalties for 35 yards on the day. Opponents have enjoyed over a 50 yard advantage these past five weeks from penalties alone. The 6 penalties tied a season-low, and the 35 penalty yards was a season low. Let’s hope that becomes a new trend.

This game will not be remembered for much, aside from Jimmy Garoppolo getting his first snap and first touchdown pass as a 49er. Seattle did little to prove they are ready to beat a good team, and they now face three straight. The most optimistic view is that the defense has played reasonably well without some of their best players the past two weeks, and the offensive line is better situated than at any other time this season. It will take more than that to win the upcoming games on the schedule. Wilson needs to completely eliminate turnovers. He has done that for long stretches before. He needs to do it now. Receivers and running backs must maximize their opportunities. Davis can be a spark plug if the coaching staff allows him to take over for Lacy. The defense has to continue making opponents work for their points.

Eagles fans have every reason to enter this week expecting their team to hand Seattle their third straight home defeat. Philadelphia has the best record in football, and have been dominating opponents on both sides of the ball of late. Something tells me, though, this won’t be the game they are expecting. They have one win against a team with a winning record, same as the Seahawks. Seattle has been slumming it as they tend to do through the first ten games of the year and have what would appear to be crippling injuries that make them look weak and vulnerable. Beware this team when they are overlooked and cast aside. These underdogs may just be poised to break free of the doghouse.


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  1. Remember going and watching Ray Allen coming to the Sonics from Boston. Mid-career, he was a pure shooter, maybe best in the league at the time. Come around a screen and the ball would be gone quick as spit. (they don’t make players like this in the NBA anymore, with all the ball-in-hand, face-up-the-defender Kobe wannabes) In warmups, he would go at 80% like he was getting his hands warm and his timing down.

    Then I noticed that his first halves were like that too, going maybe 85% and with a defender on him, often he’d be 0-7 with 4TOs. Seattle would be down 7 or 8 and the natives would be restless. Then suddenly he would go 100% and RA would bang down five shots in a row, make a couple threes, and Seattle would storm ahead.

    Not that they had the talent around him to win regularly, but it was definitely entertaining.

    Wonder if this is mid-career Russell Wilson for ya.

    1. When we played Atlanta, I noticed that Ryan would get the ball out of his hands in two seconds, max. I believe Russell holds the ball way too long, especially with the O-line he has “protecting” him. When he picks a receiver, and throws quick slants to mid-field, I notice a much better completion record for him. I wonder if DangerRuss holds it as he knows he’s going to have to scramble for a first down, due to our lack of reliable backs. GO HAWKS!!!!

  2. In my opinion, Pete’s decision to feature Lacy was a major blunder. Rawls has the potential to be great again, and Lacy, clearly, does not. Rawls could not have done much worse than Lacy yesterday and might have gotten himself settled down & un-tracked with
    meaningful touches against SF. Unfortunately, there will be no other “safe” opportunities this year in which to experiment with Rawls. Too bad, for as others have remarked, all Rawls may have needed to be great again, was job security, NOT competition. But that, of course, would have required a flexible approach from Mr. Pete.

    Here’s hoping Mike Davis helps the Hawks beat Philly. But if it’s the Four Million Dollar Man again… forget about it.

    1. Thomas is getting similar treatment to what we’ve seen before relevant to Cmike……………not a good sign for Rawls fans…….

  3. Totally agree on the run game. Lacy is glacial in his attempts to hit the hole, and doesn’t punish anyone but Seahawk fans. Why didn’t Rawls at least get a look? Ball security might be an issue, but Lacy is definitely not the answer

  4. Here we go again…………a win is a win………….argh!

    How’s this for a comparison? Hyde and Lacy ended up with practically the same RB stats for carries and yards. Hyde’s performance will be chalked up (rightly) to facing one of the top running defenses in the league. On the other hand, Lacy will likely be said to “finally” showing some life (?)……………..against the 30th ranked run defense!? He couldn’t even punch it in from the one yard line. Grumble, grumble, grumble……….

    Okay, a little voice in my head is saying something about finding positives. Bobby Wagner is just killing the LB game this year. We fans talk about DPOY, but since Seattle is tucked WAAAAYYYYY up in the corner of the country he’s too far from the East Coast centric voters. Sad for him, but as personal achievement goes he’s riding high. KJ ain’t doin’ too bad either. Graham is now leading TE stats for the team all time, as he should be. Vannett got his first pro TD. McDougald may not be Chancellor (but then, who is?), but he be lookin’ pretty darn good in there. Hey………no sacks allowed by the O-line, and the team actually………………make sure you’re seated here……………less than two digit penalty count! Brown and Joeckel looked good together on the blocking for Russ on the first touchdown. The patched up secondary got some live practice time in working together……………..gonna be needed down the road (hurry back Griffin). Defensive line depth is looking pretty good despite the sack numbers disappointing most fans.

    This was a game that shouldn’t have been as difficult as it looked, but then, that’s the Seahawk way it seems. Will they rise to the occasion next Sunday night? They did it last year in Foxboro , but that was then, this is now. The usual silly stats will be trotted out about PC and RW home records, prime time records, etc. This team is on a two game losing streak at home………………and if the odds makers are correct it’s headed for three in a row. On paper the Hawks look doomed against what has been the class of the league this season. Injuries, and repetitive negatives in penalties and red zone impotence, coupled with slow responding scheme adjustments don’t offer much hope for beating the odds…………….but then again…………… could happen………….maybe……………..I hope………………sigh…

  5. C’mon Brian, you want to believe in this team, I just know you do! Right at the end “These underdogs may just be poised to break free of the doghouse.” It is going to happen!

    I am willing to give Russ a mulligan on that first pass. Life the SF kicker, I think Russ misjudged the direction and strength of the wind and hung it up.

    I have a theory about why he targeted Jimmy on that play instead of McKissack. I think the play was designed to go to Jimmy and Russ wanted to at least give him a chance. Jimmy has had a number of games with drops and ‘disinterested’ play, and my read of that is that Jimmy stops thinking he is going to get the ball and does not play 100% as a result.

    Like many others, I am totally mystified about Rawls and why he is getting the CMike treatment. There is something to the picture that we can’t see to explain the otherwise unexplainable. The Seahawks need to get a stronger run game going through this gauntlet they are about to run, and into the playoffs (if they qualify).

    There are a lot of NBA comparisons drawn, but here is one from hockey. To be a great hockey team you need to have “strength up the middle” staring with the Goaltender, at least one shutdown defenceman, and some very good Centres. The strength of the Seahawks D now is up the middle–starting with Earl, through Bobby, through Sheldon Richardson/Nazir Jones. The surrounding pieces are good to very good, but the strength in the middle is elite and capable of making the surrounding talent look better than it is.

    I am making a prediction right now that the Seahawks hold Philly to under 20 points next Sunday. Whether that results in a W depends on whether Russ and Co. get their collective act together, and whether the coaches can scheme up a decent run game with the talent available. I will not bet against them and believe that they will be coming out of that game on Sunday with a W.

    1. A little time and a few different perspectives have restored my usual optimism for the Hawks. Thank you!
      O-line and new secondary may just need more reps to gel well.
      I’ll be cheering for them Sunday night. May be just a knuckleheaded 12, but I see promise in stats and in the heart of this team.

  6. I think you’re incorrect in the defensive points allowed assessment.

    Atlanta scored 34 on the Seahawks, but I don’t believe that a defensive score goes against the box score for our defensive points allowed. Even if it does, it shouldn’t. The defense didn’t give up that fumble return for a TD. The Falcons only scored 27 points in reality.

    I will say it doesn’t disprove your comment about being bipolar, it just changes the 30 point narrative.

  7. A really good team doesn t need a magician to pull a rabbit out of a hat. It s a formula for failure. How about every snap is a championship opportunity Russell? Where s your mind in the first half, still with Kiara, or somewhere? It s a tough year in the NFC. The past 2 years saw only Atlanta and before that Carolina getting major separation. This year there are 3 teams playing that way, and if Rodgers wasn t hurt there would be 4. The separation isn t with the preparation, the separation is with the separation. That s the simple difference, no separation, and it starts with the first snap. Way to use the big guys in the red zone. Thats new, and it can only get better.

  8. I would guess that Thomas Rawls is living in the penthouse suite of your doghouse. It is beyond me that he doesn’t get a few series to see what he can do. Can’t possibly be worse than Lacy

  9. Brian, you’re writing cracks me up. The way you describe Lacy had me crying. I keep waitin for this O to click, but that may be a pipe dream this year. I think for the playoffs, we need to win 4 of our final 5.

  10. Finally we saw a little light at the O-line. Without any practice to speak of together , Joeckel (sp) and Brown and Britt looked like the makings of an Oline – Now they need to swap Pocic and Ifiedi , cause Ifeidi CANNOT play Tackle !!! and Pocic is not strong enough to be on the inside.
    Give Rawls a shot with Davis ( hopefully back) and really hope Carson can get back .
    That might actually get them an offense that would be more consistent.
    The D actually looked OK ( although Lane still can’t cover well ) and we are about to find out all about our secondary this week –
    GO HAWKS !

  11. A few (cup is half full) thoughts:

    1) I quit hand-wringing over the Hawks’ performance in the first half of games several years ago. Since PC’s arrivial it seems they have mostly been a second half team.

    2) The theme in the NFL this year seems to be from the financial industry: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” KC seemed unstoppable earlier in the season; head-scratching unexpected losses *regularly* happen to good teams.

    3) It’s not just the Seahawks with a heavy load coming – none of what I would call the NFC contenders have an easy schedule ahead of them. Including the Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints, Panthers and Falcons.

    Go Hawks!

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