The Morning After: Seahawks Not Good Enough Without MVP QB, Fall 30-16 to Ravens
There will be detailed breakdowns of specific decisions, picking apart of certain play calls, anger about a weak pass rush, but the reason the Seahawks lost to the Ravens was very simple: Russell Wilson did not play at an MVP level. There will be those who rage at that comment and blame it on Pete Carroll or the defense. They are free to do so. This team is simply not good enough in other phases to beat quality opponents unless Wilson is playing his best football. He was not close to his best on Sunday.
If you want to broaden the story, you can say that the Seahawks offense has to be great for the Seahawks to win. They are far and away the strongest unit on this team. They scored 16 points and gave up 14 points versus the Ravens. The chances of Seattle winning a game like that are slim-to-none.
People can marvel at Lamar Jackson—and he is a fantastic runner—but the Ravens offense scored 16 points and had fewer total yards (340) than the Seahawks (347).
The defense played a pretty decent game. Most of the Ravens yardage came on off-script scrambles by Jackson. There was the one deep pass where Tedric Thompson once again showed his lack of ball skills, and the one seam pass to the tight end over K.J. Wright.
Jackson was held to his fewest yards passing and their offense was held to its second-fewest yards and lowest point total on the season
No, this game was not on the Seahawks defense. It turned on the pick-six from Wilson. Seattle was ahead 10-6 and driving for more points. They were in control of the game to that point. Wilson very rarely makes mistakes that lead to interceptions, but when he does, it is that throw in the flat.
He did it in Chicago last year and against the Chargers. You will not find me destroying him for the play here. The guy has been nearly flawless this season and is the primary reason the team was 5-1 before Sunday.
What folks need to realize is that if gets the bulk of the credit for victories, he must also feel the weight of responsibility for losses like this one. Heavy is the head that holds the crown.
This team needs him to be great. If it had not been raining yesterday, he very well might have been. This marks just the latest example of Wilson struggling in the rain. He entered the season with an 85.6 passer rating, 8 interceptions, and 5 fumbles in eight career games where it rained at home. This game did not help his numbers, as he ended with a 65.2 rating and another pick.
Wilson completed less than half his passes. He was unable to push the ball downfield successfully as he ended with just 5.9 yards per attempt.
The running game did not help as Chris Carson was held to 65 yards on 21 carries, but that was to be expected. This Ravens run defense is stellar when interior lineman Brandon Williams plays, as he did yesterday. Four of the six Ravens opponents this season were held to under 80 yards rushing. Three of them were held under 40 yards rushing. Seattle had a respectable 106 yards on 26 carries for 4.1 yards per tote. That would have been a fine counter-punch to an effective passing attack, but they did not have one.
There were a few other problems that need to be pointed out. Brian Schottenheimer’s play call on 3rd and 2 when the game was tied at 13 was awful. Every yard on that drive had been earned on the ground to that point, much of it with Carson. Schottenheimer called a play without Carson on the field that involved Tyler Lockett in the backfield sprinting to the left flat for what was the least deceptive attempt at a deceptive play I can recall.
Everyone knew what was going to happen there, including the Ravens defense, who smothered Lockett for a loss.
That was then followed by a terrible decision by Carroll to kick a 53-yard field goal in poor weather conditions instead of going for it on 4th and 3 from the 35-yard line. That was followed by our supposedly good kicker missing said field goal. It was a tough kick, but how about doing something tough to earn your paycheck?
I have seen folks on Twitter contrasting Carroll choosing not to go for it with John Harbaugh choosing to go for it on the next drive. The problem with that comparison is Harbaugh had decided to kick the field goal as well. It was Jackson who pleaded with Harbaugh to change his mind and ultimately go for it. I don’t necessarily see that as a clear example of Carroll being out-coached.
As bad as that all was, those moments were not as pivotal as the pick-six earlier, and could have been overcome with better play by the offense.
There were a few positives to acknowledge.
Marquise Blair did a nice job in his first start. We can only hope the team considers keeping him in the starting lineup when Bradley McDougald returns. Carroll was measured in his analysis of Blair in the postgame, noting that Blair was out of position a few times. My guess is Blair is headstrong and resisting coaching. Carroll’s one area of leverage to force Blair to listen is playing time. That hidden battle could be keeping Blair from getting the snaps he needs.
Blame that on Carroll. Blame it on Blair. Either way, let’s figure it out and get Thompson off the field.
The offensive line did a nice job. Wilson had a good pocket for much of the game and was sacked only one time. It was great to see D.J. Fluker active but Jamarco Jones starting. That is a pretty good indicator Jones will stay in the lineup going forward.
The next test will be what happens when Duane Brown returns to health. Is there any chance Germain Ifedi faces true competition finally? Let’s hope so.
Seattle now turns to the Falcons in Atlanta in a game they must win if they hope to have any chance of competing for the division title. There are not many weak teams left on the schedule, and the 1-6 Falcons certainly qualify. Wilson playing indoors in a dome on the turf against a porous defense should be just what the doctor ordered.