The Morning After: Seahawks Do Their Thing, Beat Panthers 30-24

Seattle did much of what it needed to do in order to flush the negative feelings following a dreadful game against the Rams last week. They scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and intercepted three passes on their way to a 30-10 lead in the fourth quarter. Of course, that could not continue, as they let the Panthers back into the game late. Never has a Seahawks team so consistently left me aggravated after victory. Thankfully, the 49ers got a much more painful form of torture yesterday to turn aggravation into mischievous glee.

Seattle is now 11-3 and guaranteed to be the top-ranked team in the NFC for this week. They own the tiebreaker with either Green Bay or in a three-way tie with the Packers and the Saints, should the Saints win tonight.

ESPN’s playoff machine indicates the Seahawks would win the NFC West if they beat the Cardinals and the 49ers lose to the Rams. You can see that scenario here. Many other folks have said that is incorrect. Either way, if the Seahawks can win their next two games at home, they have a good shot at being the top seed in the NFC.

I have to admit, this does not feel like a 13-3 team, but do they even feel like an 11-3 team? This group continues to find ways to win despite an obsession with prolonging the life of their prey. An offense that is on pace to break the franchise record for yards in a season seems to love providing oxygen to opponents in the form of turnovers or long stretches of ineptitude.

After scoring three straight touchdowns to start the game, Seattle went:

  • Punt
  • Punt
  • End of Half
  • Punt
  • Interception
  • Field Goal (on a drive that started at the Panthers 21-yard line)

They did not gain more than 30 yards on any of those six drives after going 75 yards or more on their first three. They eventually went 82 yards for another touchdown, but this Panthers defense was set to surrender 35-50 points. They are bad. Really bad.

Meanwhile, the Panthers offense tortured Seattle in a couple of ways. They featured an ultra-conservative game plan with very few passes traveling more than five yards downfield. It was a lot of end arounds early in the game that Seattle has yet to prove they can defend given what the Rams and now Panthers have done. Then, there were lots of running back screens (another persistent Seattle problem) and receiver screens.

It was tortuous because they managed to do some damage on very simple low-risk plays Seattle has yet to show they can stop consistently, but also because it was a showcase of what the Seahawks offense should do more often when they are struggling with the opponent pass rush or need to find a rhythm.

Instead of always turning to the run game when pass protection breaks down, throw some smoke screens to D.K. Metcalf or get Chris Carson more involved out of the backfield. There is far too much of a wild swing from long-developing deep passes to grind it out run game. There is a huge collection of plays that live in-between those two extremes that Seattle simply does not utilize enough.

Most of that I attribute to coaches. Some of it falls at Russell Wilson’s feet. People hate to admit it, but Wilson and Pete Carroll have very similar offensive preferences. Wilson is always looking for the big play, and will turn down more certain passes for lesser yards while hunting for trophy kills.

It is not clear if this is puzzle that can be solved. When your team is the top seed in the NFC, maybe it does not need to be solved. It certainly is frustrating to watch at times.

Carson had one of his best games of the season. He finished with 133 yards, 5.5 yards per carry, and 2 touchdowns. It was him that helped seal the victory with a 4th down rush for a touchdown and first down run late in the game.

Tyler Lockett looked much more like the dynamic playmaker we have witnessed much of the season. Wilson hit him on one of those trademark, “how did they do that?” completions early in the game that was both a remarkable throw and brilliant catch.

Josh Gordon has a beautiful catch of his own on a 58-yard strike in the first half, but that was his only target all game. The oddity of seeing the team run Jaron Brown or David Moore out there continues. Malik Turner rebounded from a bad game with 3 catches in 3 targets.

C.J. Prosise fumbled, even if he was ruled down, and did not really see the field again. Travis Homer got a few snaps and did nothing noteworthy, besides holding onto the football.

This defense was missing Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, Shaquill Griffin, and Mychal Kendricks coming into the game. They lost Quandre Diggs and Bobby Wagner during the game.

Seattle can beat the Cardinals this week at less than full strength. They are a dangerous offensive team, so it would require the Seahawks offense to score a lot of points, but they certainly are capable of doing that against the worst defense they have faced.

The Seahawks have almost no chance to beat the 49ers missing most of their defense. Expect Diggs to miss this week and possibly Griffin. They might hold out Kendricks and Ansah as well, even if Carroll is indicating they should play.

Cody Barton had a mostly rough day playing for Kendricks. He missed some key tackles and got overwhelmed by blockers. Not to mention, he got stiff-armed by a quarterback.

Akeem King and Ugo Amadi appeared to do okay. Lano Hill was okay at safety. Amadi had a chance to make a game-breaking play but could not complete the interception.

There is a slim chance Marquise Blair could find his way back into the lineup if Diggs cannot go. He got a few reps in this game. Coaches continue to prefer the assignment-correctness of a guy like Hill, even if he has not shown the playmaking ability of Blair.

Arizona will give the Seahawks a handful to deal with. Their offense can be dynamic with Kyler Murray and an improved run game with Kenyon Drake. Wilson and Carson have to play a great game. The defense will need to cobble together enough plays. It is one game to earn a shot at the top seed in the NFC.

We are the cusp of a great moment. Do not expect your Seahawks to make it easy.

Founder, Editor & Lead Writer
  1. So, the other day Brian wrote that he’d be disappointed if the Seahawks didn’t beat the Panthers by at least 10 points because of the mismatch in record and stats. I suggested he get ready to be disappointed because the Hawks only held an average 8 point victory margin on the entire season. With yesterday it’s somewhat lower than that now. There’s not joy in being correct in that prediction. Like most of you, I can’t figure why these guys seemingly can’t stand success. Why they, both players and coaches, choose to let up early I just don’t understand. Some will talk about the starters that were out on defense as the, or part of, reason, but it’s a season long malady, regardless of players on the field.

    Okay, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, they did win. And because Quinn and Garrett both did their jobs well, and gave me a day early birthday present, the Seahawks are, for now, in the NFC lead. To add to the joy of the win there were some really enjoyable plays/moments. The receiving corps of Tyler, D’calf, and Flash popped eyes. Good to see Lockett back to close to his ol’ self. Metcalf is doing especially well for a rook who wasn’t supposed to be able to do what he’s doing. And Gordon, such sweet hands, so smooth. It’s fascinating to watch the difference in catching style between D’calf and Flash. It’s as if the ball has a persona and as it gets near Metcalf it seems to say; “I’m not sure I want you to touch me.” And DK says, “well, I’m ganna take you anyway”. A little rough, but the play is made often enough. Gordon on the other hand (there’s probably a pun there) evokes a different response. It’s as if the ball says; “Take me……take me…….I’m yours.”
    Carson was on his game as well. Loved the 4th and short……………..he was not gonna be denied that touchdown. And NO fumble……….yeah! Prosise, on the other hand, was re-introduced to the adage; “One aw s#!t wipes out all previously earned attaboys.”

    On defense, for all that the back part of the fourth quarter stunk up the joint, did reasonably well considering the need for backup players. Those youngsters made some errors, but nothing lethal, and probably gained some valuable experience. Many had given up on Rasheem Green earlier this season, and yes, he’s no Jacob Green (older fans will get that), yet. But the young lad is leading the team in sacks with 4. Yep, good news, bad news, but all good for him as he’s showing growth in the job. LJ haters take note btw. Poona is growing as well as a player and a solid starter. It was interesting that the Panther game plan for passing focused on working Flowers almost to the exclusion of King as replacement. Could be the original game plan was to avoid Griffin and they just stuck to it. Bobby and KJ had a ball with the int’s, even though the team was in “waste the opportunity” mode at that point.

    So now it’s come back West for a two game home stand to close out the season. On paper the Rams could still sneak into the playoff picture, but are on life support. SF is playing behind and, at this moment anyway, has similar injury losses to the defensive squad as the Hawks, though they admittedly have more talented back up depth. I don’t want either of those teams to beat the other next weekend, but one will emerge. For all the joy in leading the NFC West, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the Seahawks lose the two remaining games. Like many of the fans, it’s possible the team will take Arizona too lightly………………..big mistake. They’re not the same team faced earlier in the season. Likewise, no matter how next weekend turns out, the Niners will have the motivation edge in addition to talent edge for the finale. Some will say, ”So what? The Seahawks are in the playoffs either way.” Well, yeah, but the bye has real value as well as the venue, even though the Clink hasn’t been as good the past few seasons. Rest the injured the next two games to hopefully benefit the playoff squad? Or bust hump and play the walking wounded to maintain scheduling “advantage”? Tough call. Either way, the next two games won’t be gimme’s. And Brian’s correct, the Hawks certainly won’t make it easy on themselves.

  2. Trap game for both 49ers and Hawks this week. Hopefully the Cards make some mistakes with it being their first time at the Clink. Hopefully McVay motivates his team to keep fighting – playing on Saturday before the Vikings means they can’t be eliminated before they play.

    Tongue-in-cheek comment – but I think the offense stuttered because RW3, Schotty, and the rest of offense doesn’t know how to play when they are comfortably ahead due to a lack of experience. That, or Russell Wilson secretly takes classes at Juilliard because no NFL player has more of a flair for the dramatic.

    Turnovers are somewhat random. This defense’s propensity for them lately has masked the fact that the LB crops is simply not fast enough to defend a stretch run game, or recognize a screen if their name isn’t Poona Ford. The lack of speed shows up when they get absolutely gouged on intermediate crossing routes. Finding a LB that can cover sideline-to-sideline may be their biggest need in the upcoming draft now that all their division opponents run offenses that stretch the field horizontally.

    The Seahawks have shown they can mitigate the 49ers run game without Kittle, but the offense runs through that madman. He is a flat-out game breaker and he will break the Seahawks base defense if they don’t bracket him.

    1. In the good old days of LOB, we used to game plan for guys like Kittle. I think in one year we had Bruce Irvin play across the line to impede/disrupt the target’s initial progress and then we had Kam on the back end to provide bracket coverage. Could we not line up Kendricks (assuming he is healthy) across from Kittle and have someone like McDougald provide the additional layer of coverage. Force them to look away from Kittle? Just spit balling here.

    2. Turnovers are random. This team will go as far as RW can take them regardless. You’re absolutely right about the LBs corps, not as fast. They are relying on their experience more than anything else. Could have had Darius Leonard, but they picked an injury-prone running back when they could have had Chubb in the latter round. Since Scot left, Seattle is horrible with their draft choices. Since 2013, 55 picks, not including this year, not one single positional player in the All-Pro/ProBowler. One made it, and he is a freaking punter.

  3. Aye, lad, tis a fine Kittle of flounders. (boo)

    With Flash augmenting again, let’s give Ursua a day in court. Do the Doug Baldwin short-ball kinna game. What say you, Russ? Talk to da chew-gum man and get it done. A little extra O wid the D all bang up can make da kine numba one seed.

Comments are closed.