Monday, September 14, 2015
Not Good Enough-- Seahawks 31 Rams 34/OT
How nice would it be if we could just point the finger at Dion Bailey, call Kam's agent over to the VMAC and get this thing all sorted out in time for next weekend's trip to Lambeau Field? Just welcome him back, say all is forgiven and then we'll simply waltz into Green Bay and steal a win.
That'd be nice, but that wasn't at all the problem with yesterday's game. Sure, Kam's presence would've been a huge motivational boost, but it's not like we can lay this loss on our defense. There is plenty of blame to go around for this one.
Let's start with a look at the Rams. They always play us tough-- especially in St. Louis. However, these guys were without their main receiver (Brian Quick) as well as their top two running backs (Todd Gurley and Tre Mason). As dominant as Seattle's defense looks to be-- Kam or no Kam-- victory seemed immanent given those circumstances. But the Rams have a pretty damn good defense themselves. Chris Long, Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn are some bad dudes who always give their opponents headaches. We knew the game would be close, but certainly winnable.
Let's look at each phase of the game to see where the Seahawks excelled and where they fell short.
The offense flashed moments of brilliance but were unable to sustain any success throughout the game. With this much talent amassed, its no wonder they flashed brilliance, but why were they unable to keep it going throughout the day? I'm going to point a big, ol' finger at the offensive line.
Seattle's offensive front got manhandled by St. Louis' defense. They couldn't run block, they couldn't pass protect. They could not get any semblance of a run game established. That forced Jimmy Graham to spend the bulk of his day as an extra blocker and the lack of a run threat allowed the Rams to key in on Graham in passing situations. This lack of running production also forced Russell into a career-high 41 pass attempts.
Drew Nowak struggled to fill the mighty shoes left by Max Unger. He struggled with his shotgun snap accuracy all night, leaving Wilson to shag grounders and force passes or hastily set up running lanes.
Lynch finished the game with only 73 yards rushing, a 2-point conversion and 31 yards off of five receptions-- Not bad, but not enough for the focal point of this team's offense. But it wasn't his fault. There simply wasn't any push from the front line.
Graham wasn't involved as much as we'd like, despite hauling in his first touchdown reception as a Seahawk. The stress of the line's inability to take control of the game affected Wilson's decision making throughout the game. Wilson under threw Lynch on a rushed pass that was picked off by Trumaine Johnson, who shortly thereafter left the game with an injury (concussion).
The offense was the biggest disappointment of this game, far and away, While we cannot blame their performance on Kam Chancellor's absence, at the same time, we can't allow the typical 'the-offensive-line-will-get-their-shit-together-by-mid-season' mantra to continue as it has the past few years if we're not going to have Kam around to help the defense be the crutch this team has always leaned on.
Kam's not here. That sucks. Got it.
No sense crying over that now. It sucks, but all we fans can do is wait patiently with fingers crossed. Dion Bailey played admirably in Kam's stead, with the exception of one play where he seemingly tripped on a loose blade of AstroTurf and gave up the tying score. If you want to hang this loss on that one player and that one play-- you're welcome to do that. Just know that you're being naive and/or petty.
Richard Sherman did not have his best game to say the least. He seemed to be favoring that injury and often shied away from contact. I wasn't the only one to notice he was off his game. Nick Foles wasn't afraid to throw at him, either-- even when the game was on the line. Thomas didn't look 100 percent, either. Despite the success he was having throwing on the recently acquired Cary Williams.
Williams had a huge play late in the game where he strip-sacked Foles, recovered the fumble and took it in for what was the go ahead touchdown. It was a great play, but it came after he had given up several costly receptions.
Seattle's defensive front held their own for the most part. The Ram's leading rusher was held to under 50 yards and the Seahawks notched a pair of sacks, but ultimately they weren't able to put the game away for their offense.
It wasn't a bad game by the Seahawks defense by any stretch. It simply wasn't good enough.
Biggest change from last season-- we actually have a return game to speak of! Tyler Lockett did what he's done all preseason, returning a punt 57 yards for the game's first touchdown. After that, the Rams did what we can expect all teams to do going forward: they didn't kick to him for the rest of the game. If Lockett is able to carve out a roll on the offense and teams continue to make the mistake of kicking to him-- we might well have the NFL's rookie of the year on our hands.
The Rams were able to answer our punt return with one of their own. Tavon Austin had his coming out party yesterday. His punt return should've been defended, but Luke Willson got squared up by a cornerback half his size, springing Austin for the touchdown.
The last bit of special teams I wanted to touch on was the decision to open up overtime with an onside kick. Now, the Seahawks say that the kick was supposed to have been deeper than it ended up going-- but even still, I liked the call.
The jackass announcing crew of Daryl Johnston and Kenny Albert ignorantly stated that this was a show of lack of trust in the Seahawks defense, but I couldn't disagree more.
Had the Seahawks recovered the onside kick, they would've likely had the ball on the Ram's side of the field with ample opportunity to end the game with a touchdown. Not recovering the ball may have given the Rams a short field, but coach Carroll trusted his defense to do what they had done most of the game and hold the Rams offense under control. A field goal meant Seattle would have another opportunity to answer back-- and that's exactly what played out.
Seattle ended up with exactly what they wanted. The ball in their offenses hands with the game on the line. The Seahawks managed a couple first downs and moved the ball alright at first before finding themselves in a 4th and 1. Make it, and the team lives on. Fall short and it's all over.
Unlike last seasons heartbreaking decision to pass, Seattle opted to give it to their star running back-- but they did so in the least sensible way possible. With only three feet needed to move the chains, Seattle lined up in the shotgun-- creating an additional, unnecessary seven yards between them and those 36 inches they needed to stay alive-- and sent Marshawn Lynch into an offensive line that hadn't won a battle of the trenches all afternoon. Lynch took the ball, hesitated before meeting the line and that was all the time St. Louis needed to make up ground and stuff the play in the backfield.
It was a game that the Seahawks could have and should have won, but they didn't, and ultimately, it wasn't for a lack of Kam Chancellor-- though that would've certainly helped.
It only gets worse for the Seahawks as they prepare to take on the Packers in Wisconsin next Sunday. The Packers are also lacking in offensive weapons but they have a far better signal caller than Nick Foles at their helm. Bottom line-- Seattle has to get their offensive line in top shape well before the Bye week. If this team expects to return to the post season and maintain an identity as a 'Run First' offense, they can't put it all on Marshawn Lynch to get it done.
Don't get me wrong-- this Kam situation needs to get worked out ASAP. But I don't want to see Dion Bailey take the fall when the whole team looks lackluster.