Sunday, October 29, 2017

Shootout in Seattle-- Seahawks 41 Texans 38

What a remarkable game.

It was back and forth.  I was confident we'd win and I was certain we had blown it.  It was an emotional roller coaster where we saw Seattle's best players step up when we needed them most.

Russell Wilson made his case for MVP today. Wilson finished with 4 touchdowns for over 450 yards but threw a lone interception that appeared to have sealed the victory for Houston in the final moments of the game. Seattle's defense held on as Richard Sherman made his second interception of the game to put the nail in the Texans' coffin.

I have to give credit where it's due-- and it's due in a lot of places where we typically dish out harsh criticism after the game.  Coach Bevell called a great game.  Blair Walsh had me like-- "Hauschka who?" The offensive line played perhaps its best game against a beastly Texans front.  Don't let the failures of the running backs fool you.

'O Quah Tangin Wann' -- Riley Martin
Wilson broke the franchise's single-game passing record in today's victory.  I'd love to see the Seahawks adjust their playbook to look more like the Saints back when they had Graham.  Russell can sling it, we have a lot of shifty pass catchers and the best running back that is currently on the roster is JD McKissic-- a speedy playmaker that is best served getting the ball in space.

While I don't expect Seattle to overhaul their gameplan in the middle of the season, I do expect them to continue trimming and tailoring their playbook to accommodate their strengths.

I thought Rees Odhiambo played well considering his assignment.  Jadeveon Clowney is a phenomenally gifted athlete that has terrorized opposing quarterbacks when healthy.  He got the better of Rees a couple of times, but Rees had is number on a few critical plays.

The run game has become a problem.  Thomas Rawls seems to be in his own head while Eddie Lacey is just too goddamned slow to account for our run blocking deficiencies. McKissic is clearly the best option, but can't handle more than 10 carries between the tackles in a given game.

I think it's time to put CJ Prosise on IR and give Mike Davis a call up from the practice squad.  Like the old NFL adage goes, the best thing you can be in football is available-- and Prosise has been all but completely unavailable.

Now the Seahawks find themselves with a slim lead in their division and will host a banged up Washington team next week.  This team is poised to hit their stride right when they usually do-- the cold months of November and December running into the playoffs.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Making Due with What You Have-- Seahawks 24 @ Giants 7

The Seahawks featured 4 different running backs on their first 4 plays of the game.  While it is nerve-wracking and aggravating that we find ourselves 7 weeks into the season with no idea who this team's leading back might be-- I love that they seem to be going with a committee moving forward.

CJ Prosise managed to once again hurt himself on his first play back.  At this point, I'm ready to shut him down for the season and call up Mike Davis from the practice squad.  Sadly, that's not my decision to make, so we will likely spend the next few weeks hearing Pete Carroll tell us how close Procise is.

Neither Rawls, Lacey or McKissic have come close to matching the consistency we were getting out of Chris Carson, but each of those backs have their own special skill set that could work well together when used as a committee.  

I have been surprisingly pleased with coach Bevell and the offensive play calling the past couple of games.  It usually isn't until late November and on into December before this team comes to grips with their identity and begins to click together. 

That's not to say the offense hasn't continued to struggle.  Seahawks receivers were dropping passes like they came straight from the oven.  Particularly Jimmy Graham, who inexplicably choked two potential scoring plays away in the game.

The offensive line had arguably their best performance of the season against a tough Giants defense on the road.  Unfortunately, Justin Britt may have sustained an injury that might linger through the year.  There were two scoops of good news that came from his injury-- he was able to return to the game and rookie utility lineman Ethan Pocic was able to get some experience at both guard and center in the game. 

I have a strong feeling Russell Wilson is going to quietly work his way into the MVP discussion by the end of the year.  He's thrown 11 touchdowns to 3 interceptions so far this season and seems to be getting hotter by the week.  

He owes a great deal of credit for his success to Doug Baldwin, who has been extraordinary this season.  He's been the team's most reliable playmaker, Wilson's security blanket and a quiet leader on and off the field.  Baldwin will probably never get the credit he deserves, but if this team can earn another championship while he's here-- it could be difficult to exclude him from the halls of Canton.

Still, this team is predicated on defense.  A remarkable defense that impresses so often, it becomes ordinary.  Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Jaran Reed were outstanding on Sunday.  Then again, so was KJ Wright, Justin Coleman, Shaq Griffin and more.  It's insane how great this defense is and how they've been able to sustain greatness so long.

The Seahawks have the Texans coming to town with a red hot rookie QB of their own. There has been considerable talk about the Seahawks doing a trade with Houston to acquire their left tackle, Duane Brown, who had been holding out all season.  The belief is that Seattle would be willing to part with Jeremy Lane, given their depth in the defensive backfield with the emergence of Griffin and Coleman along with the eventual return of DeShawn Shead from injury. 

Brown ended his holdout on Tuesday and could potentially start his first game of the season against the Seahawks this week. I'm glad the deal didn't go through, because Brown only has 2 years left on his deal at almost $10 million per season.  He might be a 3 time Pro Bowler, but Seattle can't allocate that much cap space to him with so many contracts coming up at the end of this season.

Byron Maxwell was recently released, so I would not be surprised at all if Seattle does find a trade partner for Jeremy Lane that brings back an offensive or defensive lineman.  Dwight Freeny was brought in for a physical as a potential pass rush rotatory. Halloween is the trade deadline-- hopefully something ghoulish transpires between now and then. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Resilience in LA-- Seahawks 16 @ Rams 10

The Rams came into this game as the #1 rated offense, coming off a big win against the Cowboys in Dallas.  New coach Sean McVay seems to have his team poised to be a factor in the NFC this year. Despite the new coach, one thing that never changes about this rivalry is the physicality-- and this game was no different.

Earl Thomas had a remarkable performance that may single-handedly have punched his ticket to Canton. After the Rams ran at-will in the opening drive, Todd Gurley was once again denied via the Earl Thomas karate chop.

Seattle tried some trickery early-- a lateral to Tanner McEvoy that was bombed out to JD McKissic.  I loved everything about it, except that it didn't work. I hope this doesn't deter coach Bevell from drawing from that well again.  I think that's a play that catches defenses off guard more often than not.  The Rams defensive back made an outstanding play on the ball.

The Rams got the ball back and displayed why their offense is so highly touted. Jared Goff is markedly improved from last season.  He seems much more confident than his rookie campaign, but that could be due to the offensive additions provided to him this offseason. Gurley seems to be having a bounce back from his sophomore slump, but it was a carry from Tavon Austin that put the Rams on the board first.

Fortunately, Austin gave the ball right back to the Seahawks on a muffed punt.

In spite of the great field position, Seattle couldn't score.  Wilson threw an ill-advised pass that was damn near pick-sixed, if not for the speed of Wilson and McKissic to chase the defensive back down. The defense held the Rams to a field goal, but the Seahawks found themselves down 10 on the road.

The Seahawks had some fight in them for this one.

Russell and Jimmy rekindled their chemistry, connecting on the teams only touchdown of the day.  The offense adapted to what the Rams were giving them and managed to have a decent day against a really good defense. 

The Seahawks defense were the stars of this game.  Earl Thomas had a clutch interception to go with his touchdown-saving chop.  Sheldon Richardson had an outstanding game, notching an interception and recovering Frank Clark's strip sack of Goff and rumbling 20 yards up-field with it.

I always complain when the schedule comes out and I find the Seahawks with an early Bye Week, but more often than not, it seems to help the team get right in the second half of the season. This year is no different in that regard. 

Luke Joeckel is having a knee procedure, Baldwin and Sherman have been banged up-- and I'm not entirely convinced Russell hasn't been a little less that 100% healthy.  The team comes out of this bye with a relatively soft landing against a hapless Giants group that might have a worse offensive line than we do.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Getting in the Groove-- Seahawks 46 Colts 18

Despite a slow start, the Seahawks managed to overcome adversity and seemed to find themselves in the process. There are few teams as downtrodden as the Indianapolis Colts, giving this game all of the trappings for a Seahawks field day, but the Colts did not intend to be the Seahawks punching bag.

Seattle drew first blood with a field goal, but gave back two points when Russell Wilson held the ball too long and surrendered a safety. Justin Coleman came up with a pick six and gave the lead back to the Seahawks, but Jacoby Brissett marched the Colts right back down the field and Robert Turbin punched in a touchdown.

Russell Wilson had a pair of interceptions, both on passes to Jimmy Graham.  It could easily be argued that both picks were more Graham's fault than Wilson's-- but Russell has shown bouts of inaccuracy this year and I worry that it might stem from a lack of trust with his linemen.

My mouth was agape in dismay when the whistle blew for halftime and the scoreboard had the hometown Seahawks trailing by a five spot.  Jacoby Brissett was in the Patriots' quarterback meetings just two weeks prior. The Colts main running backs are a former Seahawk castoff and graybeard Frank Gore. What is going on here?

The second half of this game was vastly different. Seattle's defense gave up just 3 points in the second half and the Colts looked more like the team-in-flux that they are.

Wilson got his act together with an electric 23-yard touchdown scamper. He started to sling the ball around and make plays with his feet and it paid off big.  Wilson finished with 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the Seahawks starting running back is now lost for the season.

Chris Carson suffered an apparent broken leg late in the game that most likely put an end to what has been a tremendous rookie campaign.  Carson had been the only member of the Seahawks backfield that was reliably consistent.

It looks like it will now fall to either Thomas Rawls or Eddie Lacy to run the ball on early downs.

On the bright side, JD McKissic had breakout performance.  We had been hearing hype for a long time now about what a terrific playmaker this kid is-- well, put to rest any doubt about McKissic. He show's a unique versatility that leads me to think that the Seahawks could use him like Kansas City does with Tyreek Hill.

McKissic's debut was stellar, but that doesn't mean we've filled to hole left by Carson's injury. JD simply doesn't have the frame to sustain him running between the tackles 20 times a game.  He's going to be a guy we want to get out in space.

The offense showed signs of life, although it came against an unimpressive opponent. I'm going to focus on the improvements we saw, particularly in-game.  This team always starts slow.  We need to look for progress being made week-to-week and I believe we did.