The Morning After: Seahawks Beat Jets 40-3, Significance TBD
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One of the symptoms of Covid-19 is a loss of taste. There are TikTok videos out there of people drinking lemon juice and chewing on garlic cloves to prove the point. The thought of not being able to savor a cold beer or warm plate of nachos is depressing. I got a glimpse of what that might be like during a rare blowout victory by the Seahawks that left me with only the blandest of emotions. Sure, I cheered when they made a play, but it was closer to the feeling of watching another team’s game that affected the Seahawks than a game of my favorite team. This team has lost my trust and belief, and it is going to take more than a 40-3 victory over the Jets to change that.
Some of you are finding welcome camaraderie in that description. Others, are thinking, “Who cares how you feel? Analyze the game we just saw you big downer!” I understand both ends of that spectrum. There will be something for everyone in this column.
The loss to the Giants hit me differently than almost any I can remember for the Seahawks in the Pete Carroll era. It felt more like betrayal than disappointment. The week that followed did nothing to help. Shaquill Griffin admitting they overlooked their opponent, Brian Schottenheimer admitting he wished they had adapted to the Giants taking away the deep ball earlier, was like hearing your partner admit they cheated on you after you already had a strong suspicion.
I’m an analytical dude, but much of my football analysis is born from a need to anticipate what is to come and buffer myself from emotional trauma associated with Seahawks losses. There is no logical reason to care this much about a football team, but we do. When my time on this Earth comes to an end, my relationship with the Seahawks will have outlasted all but my parents and sister. I will have loved them longer than I loved my wife, my kids, my friends. That is not to say it is as important to me as those relationships, but it is important and long-term, nonetheless.
I want to see them hoist another trophy. I want to see and experience the joy of my fellow community of fans. I hope to hug random strangers and buy rounds of shots for everyone in the bar again. I want it bad. I want my team to want it more than I do. I am not convinced this team does. I am not convinced this coaching staff can get them there.
A dominant victory over a winless team felt like the sort of grand gesture a you get from a desperate friend or spouse who knows they have done you wrong. No, they were not doing it for us, but it did little to repair the trust and belief that this team can be special.
There are no symbolic deeds that can turn bitterness into belief. Only victory after victory until they reach the Super Bowl can do that. A high bar? Tell me you would not look back and grimace if the Seahawks won every game, but lost in the NFC Championship in the frozen tundra of Green Bay because they lost home field advantage due to the loss to the Giants.
No more benefit of the doubt. No more punches pulled. Be a winner, coach a winner, or get the hell out of the way.
Okay, so let’s talk about the game.
If there was every a 40-3 game that was not as close as the score indicated, this was the one. David Moore dropped a perfect pass from Wilson 40 yards downfield. The Keystone Cops would have had a better chance of catching an interception than this defense. The Seahawks allowed a total of 20 yards in the second half, despite playing their backups almost the whole fourth quarter. This, from a defense that has allowed more 20 yards plays than any in football. New York scored first, and then Seattle scored 40 unanswered points.
Russell Wilson had his best game in ages. He was accurate and more decisive. Analytics will tell you that sacks are a quarterback stat. You can change coaches, offensive lines, etc., and sack rates usually do not fluctuate as much as you would think. The QB plays a major role in determining whether he gets hit. Wilson was not sacked Sunday (the one Jets sack came against Geno Smith), and there were only 3 QB hits on the day.
Why this team has seemed incapable of adapting in-game to quick underneath passes is one of life’s great mysteries. This should be an offense that can beat you in any way.
They can strike quick with big plays. They can dissect you with slants and screens and crossing routes. They can go wide to receivers or attack the seams with tight ends or swing to running backs. They can run inside or out. They can go heavy or empty the backfield.
The cliche is, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” The Seahawks have brought a handgun, a sniper rifle, an AK-47, a machete, a crossbow, and a grenade to these games, and chose the handgun when perched on the roof or the sniper when in close combat. If you prefer a less violent analogy, they are in Italy and only eating at one restaurant, they are in France and only trying one bakery, they are in Ireland and only drinking one beer.
While it was good to see them attack the underneath, they have not proven they can adapt because the Jets did not force them to, and likely are incapable of forcing them to.
That will change against Washington this week. They possess one of the best defenses in football. Then the Rams and 49ers after that will be challenging as well.
The ability of this offense to score more than 25 points against those teams will determine whether there is reason to think the Seahawks can overcome their mistakes so far this season, and demonstrate growth.
This is not just a coaching thing. Wilson has to be willing to check down or throw the ball away. He has to make better presnap reads and adjust plays and protections.
He will be aided by what appears to be an improving run game that could get another boost should Rashaad Penny return soon. Penny offers the home run threat they lack. Oh, and don’t forget, Josh Gordon is due back at practice after this next game.
This team will go as far as the offense takes it. They cannot just be good. They must be elite.
The defense, though, deserves credit for what has been a solid stretch of play. They suffocated the Jets.
There was solid play at every level of the defense. Snacks Harrison had his best game and continues his climb back to being an impact player. In fact, he received his first elite grade from PFF (90.1) in this game. L.J. Collier had a strong game and could have been stronger had he made the sack he missed. Poona Ford also played well and was robbed of an interception by his own teammate.
Ugo Amadi and Shaquill Griffin played well at corner. It will be interesting to see if Quinton Dunbar gets snaps against his former team this week.
Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright played well, and Jordyn Brooks was robbed of his first sack by a DJ Reed penalty.
Jamal Adams was solid, breaking the sack record for defensive backs in the NFL and dropping what should have been a pick-6. Lost in all the noise around Adams is the fact the team has acquired what could be a 10+ sack player. Had Seattle made the move for a defensive end who did that, fans would have been elated. The sacks don’t count any less when made from a different position.
In garbage time, Colby Parkinson looked good at tight end as did Ben Burr-Kirven at linebacker. Parkinson looked good enough to deserve some snaps during a meaningful portions of the game.
Seattle faces a much stiffer test this week. The defense should have a good chance to continue their strong play. The offense has a chance to prove they are more than a group that can just punish weak defenses. They have the weapons. It is time to use them wisely.