The Morning After: Blunders Lead to Loss and Likely Regrets for Seahawks in 33-27 Loss to Saints

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.

Founder, Editor & Lead Writer
  1. Games are filled with “Woulda, shoulda, couldas”, and, yes, things could have been better managed, but I appreciate Pete taking chances, like running when everyone expects a pass, going for it on fourth and short to keep NO off the field, etc. Fumbles, miskicks, etc. often come in the same game, but you can’t blame players or coaches.
    People forget that NO was the top NFC choice of many to make the SB and that Bridgwater was a starting QB and 1st round draft pick of Minnesota. Kamara is arguably the best RB in the NFC. Maybe the Hawks are just what the score indicates – almost as good as the top teams but still working out the kinks.

  2. Tikki Barber’s name came up during Carson’s fumbles. He was taught to carry the ball differently and the results were very positive. A ball control coach, I believe, has the responsibility to ensure that his RB carries the ball in the most secure manner possible. Carson also, in my mind, shares the blame for not carrying the ball “high and tight.”

    As for the 50 + yard gain as time ran out with 2 unused timeouts—-sad to say, that felt like business as usual for this coaching staff.

    What I minded most, yesterday, was the TV announcers, Chip and Dale cheerfully maintaining that since a Hawk receiver didn’t have the ball thrown his way (possibly because he was on his back on the turf) that it was okay for the N.O. DB to maul said receiver.
    Chip and Dale, of course, were mindful of who signs their paychecks. More business as usual.

  3. Hmmmmm. Okay, a stinker like this one gets the fans super restless and venting like crazy, and, as usual, some of it is nutso stuff and some insightful. I can agree that much of what went wrong yesterday falls on the players themselves, but I’m also going to push back on the light pass you’re giving coaching.

    This is a game where the stat sheet deceives. Record day for the Hawk’s qb and #1 receiver, and huge total yards (though honesty would point out that some of that came in what’s popularly called garbage time). The reality of the far lower production stats for the Saints is definitely laid at the feet of player error/under performance as that’s all they needed to win since the Hawks made it easy relatively. And that’s where that coaching stuff creeps in. I’ve seen some snark out there that challenges the notion that Payton is a top notch coach since he just had his guy do dink and dunk stuff along with using a running back who may be the best at what he does in the league. But that’s the brilliance of it. Don’t try to make Bridgewater emulate Brees, change the game plan to fit what Bridgewater can do well. He was at 2.55 average on his pass releases……….good way to negate most effective pass rushing. Extend this sort of preparation throughout the game plan and it’s masterful that a team that is accustomed to playing in an environmentally controlled dome can come into a crappy weather field and outperform the home team, especially considering they were away from home for 10 days and relying on a backup qb. Players make mistakes, yes, but it’s up to management (coaching) to prepare them for what they are going to face. Pete and his assistants didn’t measure up by comparison. The worst of it is we’ve seen this sort of mis-preparation before. And that’s the rub. Brian, you manage a team in your day job. Sure, any one of your team may make an error and that initially lays on them. But if they are allowed to continue to make the same errors, omission or commission, that falls on you for not taking appropriate action to rectify the root problem. Unlike too many fans I’m not going to tear Pete down as too old or too stuck in his ways. He is, or has been, a championship level coach. But just like there’s no silver bullet player that can turn a loser into a winner, there’s also only so much a head coach can manage in preparation for and execution within a game. His assistants are mid level; good but not great. You brought up Al Woods as an example of player fault. Perhaps he knows the rule, or perhaps he doesn’t understand the rule in absolute terms. It wouldn’t surprise me if he lines up the same way in practice and nothing is said by the coach responsible so he believes the amount of “cheat” in his line up is acceptable. So he does it in real time as well. Look at the game film and see his exchange with his coach following the flagged play. That’s coaching at a too late moment. The difference between good and great.

    There are many more examples, but pointless in hindsight accept to reiterate that there are a litany of errors that repeat from season to season in the past few years, regardless of significant player turnover. It’s the failure to figure out a solution that’s so frustrating.

    Man for man the Saints aren’t too much different in individual player talent compared to the Hawks. They excel at running back, probably right tackle, and (gasp) at punter (?). The Seahawks excel at qb. The Seahawks have a new #1 receiver who should have silenced the doubters yesterday. The new #2 receiver is blossoming early (too bad a spectacular reception was wasted by poor coaching decisions). The starting defensive front is essentially all new guys with shuffling not helping cohesion as should be expected. The defensive backfield has been in flux so far as well, though less than the line. The linebackers are terrific, but can’t cover everything. The qb is maturing to even higher levels than before, the receivers are shaping up beyond reasonable expectation, and the O line wasn’t awful against a very decent defense. The running backs are a mess with varying uncertainties with each. Tight end is inspiring while short handed for depth. This isn’t a team of stars outside of a couple on each side. To aspire to championship outcomes it’s going to take championship coaching at all levels, not just the head coach. But then, those support coaches are his hires, that’s his burden/fault if they underperform. On the player side I’d have to say we miss the intense leadership of a Kam and Doug type on each squad. It’s gonna be a long year.

    1. At least, someone on this blog speaks the truth. We know Brian “worships” PC, but at least have some intellectually honest to provide constructive criticism when warranted. This team is constructed by PC, not RW, not JS, not KN, not BS, not BW, not TL, etc.. Can’t be labeled as a “genius” when you win with great talents, but when you lose with lesser “talents,” then it is somebody else fault when you picked all the “ingredients”. I call it Lebron’s Syndrome. But I don’t think PC is in Lebron category of greatness.

  4. I felt the exact same way you did this morning, and I agree 100% with your analysis. Very hard to stomach that loss, but on to Arizona.

  5. Yup, pretty much agreed on all fronts Brian, again your analysis is great.

    The poor tackling was infuriating, the lack of pass rush and pressure frustrating.

    Sad to see Carson have these fumbles, I’m a huge fan of his and hope it can work itself out. The one time they run outside they had success, as well as did the team before against NO so not sure why we didn’t do more of that, except we were playing from behind most of the game.

    I’m not sure why Dickson is taking a step back either but he does seem to be pressured a ton, can’t we block that up a little better? Special teams were putrid.

    Gonna have to flush this one and move on quick – the biggest bummer is that it was an NFC team at home. Going in to AZ on that effing field where only bad things happen, just hope the team can have a short memory.

    1. Why do you feel infuriating about the lack of pressure on the opposing QBs? Did you buy into the hype of Clowney as well?

  6. That is true that PC didn’t make those miscues and the lack of production, but guess who picked and chose the players. This is the team constructed by PC, so you have to put the responsibility on his shoulder.
    Regardless, he has to be one of the worst in-game coaches. Of course, you don’t expect coaches or players to make all the calls or plays perfectly all the time. However, those things that you mentioned, it is not like the first time. Seattle fans have seen this type of mismanagements throughout the years. It seems he doesn’t “learn” from those mistakes. Hey, but at least, from what I’ve heard, he owned up in public yesterday. What happens to the narcissism and arrogance?
    They’ll be fine. Probably end up with 9 or 10 wins. Make the playoffs and get bounced in the first round, if they don’t have home field.

    1. Typical PC. 10 minutes in the 4th qtr, 4th and 1 from the Seahawks 28. PC goes for a 35 yd pass instead of going for the 1st down. Why? The important thing is getting a 1st down and not giving them a free fg. We were only down by 13 with tons of time left.

      1. Watching the reply of that play i thought RW was looking for Dissley over the middle, but he was being held & didn’t get open, so RW threw it to the only other option he saw…Remember, Hawks are not great on 4 & 1

  7. Brian I really appreciate all you do for this and I really do enjoy your analysis most the time. And while do think people go to far with there criticism of Pete Carroll. He is not above reproach. The issues many of us have are not specific to this game. It the outdated mentality of the system he wants to run. We have seen time and again that the his system does not allow for any flexibility, so when when bad stuff happens he is completely unable to overcome. But this was not always the case. Remember in 2013 when they down by 17 at Texas or vs the Bucs down 20? How the 2015 NFCCG when they were down by 16 with 2 min left? Pete has gotten so conservative and honestly after the game last night the statements he was making feel like they are going to be even more conservative going forward. The Niners yesterday gave up 5 turnovers to the Steelers and still won the damn game. At what will you finally be willing to admit being mired in 9-10 wins every year and getting to the divisional round at best is no longer acceptable? Are okay with watching him waste the prime years of what is the best QB Seattle has ever had? Are you okay with him ending up like Aaron Rodger, 36 years old and only one ring despite to s of talent? I am not asking for Carroll to be fired but I do want to see him held accountable and taken to task for his shortcomings. And if he is unwilling or unable to correct them, then yes I want to see him replaced by someone who can realize thisnteams true potential.

  8. Pete Carroll has some great defensive coaching talents, but in some aspects of the game (see offense and in-game decisions, he’s a liability). Let’s trade Carson for Kamara and Carrollasaurus for Andy Reid.

    And this Brian Schenieder thing is really starting to stink. Nepotism, pure and simple. Meanwhile I hear a chant. Could it be? Yes! It’s: “Homer, Homer, Homer.” Stick Penny in there too, while we’re honoring “Always compete,” (and putting people in a position to maximize their talents). Send Penny wide. The OLB on their team has to shadow=man blocked. Swing it to Penny in time and, chances are he can make the OLB miss a little, or totally= 5-50 yards.

    And how about a shout out for Schotty and all those 4th down rejects. Looked like Sean Peyton anticipated one the 4th down calls and Russ had to auto a go-route.

  9. The fact we’re 2-1 is a miracle, my hope was after getting lucky with both early wins we’d show a little more on both sides of the ball. Russell is playing elite, sure he misses the occasional open receiver, what QB doesn’t. Its a team in transition, making the playoffs was beyond belief last year, we shouldn’t make the playoffs this year based on the first 3 games. It’s game on again if the big boys up front on D can get their fingers out as a unit. The standard around the league is no better than average, there in lies the hope I guess, pesky 49ers may have something to say as well. Roll on Sunday

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