Monday, October 19, 2015

A Tale of Two Halves-- Seahawks 23 Panthers 27

In what was a tremendously disappointing weekend for Washington-based football, the Seahawks managed to surrender yet another lead in the late stages of the game, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It appears Seattle has abandoned the mantra "Always Compete" in favor of this years theme of "Too Little, Too Late" if you've watched any of the past two games. The Seahawks have made minor adjustments early in games, but revert promptly back to prevent offense and soft defense in the second half.

Today is Tell The Truth Monday at the VMAC. Since I do not have the privilege of being on site with the team today, I'm going to tell the truth right here for all of you.

This team cannot run the ball.  Not at will or with any dominance, anyway. You might argue the fact Thomas Rawls put up 150+ on the road against the undefeated Bengals, but that only proves that we have great running backs.  I would remind you how we punted on our final 6 possessions of that game, giving the Bengals ample opportunity to steal that game away from us.  We are six games into this season and Seattle has proven without a doubt that they are unable to control the clock late in games with an effective rushing attack. 

There are two reasons why we can't run the ball like we have in previous seasons.  The first reason is that our offensive line is below average. Maybe even well below average.  I swear, every long run by Lynch this season has been wiped out by a holding penalty. I have yet to see the offensive line get any push and rarely do you see holes open up where they're supposed to.

However, the main and most glaring reason this team cannot close out games with the lead in the final quarter is that the play calling has been atrocious. Darrell Bevell either hasn't noticed the deficiencies with his team or he is simply clueless as to how to fix them. Hell, maybe he just doesn't care. 

They've made minor tweaks each week, both too little and too late, but even those tweaks seem to get thrown out the window once the final seconds of the third quarter expire. This week, the small tweaks included replacing the abhorrent Drew Nowak at center in favor of the slightly more competent Patrick Lewis. This move should've been made three weeks ago, but it did seem to help.

Jimmy Graham was finally used as a receiver in this game and all that came of it was his best
performance as a Seahawk against one of the best defenses we've faced all season.  Still, when we need long, clock-controlling drives late in the game, Seattle reverted back to it's ol' 3-and-out in 15 seconds or less page in the playbook.

But the mismanagement hasn't been solely on the offensive side of the ball.  Kris Richard seems to have been issued a roster from three years ago, based on his late-game play calling.  Once Seattle has the lead, if there's less than 30 minutes of clock in the game, Richard eliminates the blitz, rushes 4 and puts everyone else in a soft zone.

This used to drive me nuts when Gus Bradley did this and Dan Quinn after him-- the difference was that they had much better interior pass rushers and FAR better secondary depth. 

Unfortunately, Richard doesn't have the defensive depth to get away with that bend-but-don't-break stuff.  Carey Williams isn't fit to be an NFL cornerback.  He's a complete liability as a starting cornerback.  Initially, when we signed him in the preseason, I was hoping it was more of an insurance signing-- maybe it was supposed to be.  Injuries have decimated our secondary, forcing Williams into a starting role that he has long since played his way out of.

Here's another truth I came to grips with yesterday-- Seattle absolutely must find a way to resign Bruce Irvin this offseason.  Irvin has been one of the few standouts on this team this season. As recently as this preseason, I had made my peace with the fact we wouldn't have Irvin beyond this season.  He would require more money than we have cap space and he would likely command a contract that is more money than he's worth.  His play this season has demonstrated to the contrary-- we can't afford NOT to sign him.

Our defensive secondary issues have gotten so bad that I would go as far as to say that, if our secondary struggles persist through Thursday's game, Seattle needs to make an emergency trade for cornerback help before this weekend is through.

Look-- this season is far from over.  Seattle still has ample opportunity to not only make the playoffs, but they could still win this division.

The Seahawks need to tell the truth today.  Acknowledge their short comings and weaknesses.  After that-- ADAPT.  I know that was my message in the last post here, but it's even more true today. The Seahawks can make the playoffs if they acknowledge their deficiencies and adapt their game plan to account for them.

Look at Pittsburgh.  They were without their star running back for the first four games of the season, then as soon as he returns, they lose their star quarterback for a significant stretch.  If this had happened to the Seahawks, we'd be talking about who we're taking with the first overall pick in the draft. 

But the Steelers adapted. They changed their play calling and style to suit their personnel's strengths while covering up the weaknesses. Even when they looked doomed, they have prevailed due largely in part to their coaching staff's ability to put their players in the best position to win.

We're not even close to being doomed like that.  We have far too much talent to be playing this poorly. It might be a short week for our Seahawks, but they'll need to spend all day today telling the truth.

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