Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Cam's Kryptonite-- Seahawks 30 @ Panthers 27

Man, I hate when the Seahawks play Carolina.

I know, I know-- Sunday's victory puts Russell Wilson's record against Cam Newton and the Panthers at 6-1, with that lone loss coming in the playoffs of Newton's MVP campaign.  Seattle has certainly proven themselves to be the Kryptonite to Cam's Superman.

But every damn time these two teams meet, it's a slugfest that always goes to the wire.

Ron Rivera's team is similarly built to Pete Carroll's and their match ups always make for great games. Still, they always leave me biting my nails until the clock finally hits zero.

This game was no exception.

The Panthers started hot, stuffing Seattle's red hot rushing attack before sacking Wilson to force a 3
and out.  They proceeded to march down field before Seattle finally slowed them up in the red zone. Rivera, undoubtedly in an attempt to seize early momentum for his team and home crowd, opted to go for it on 4th, but were stuffed by Bobby Wagner and the Seahawks defense.

I'm sure coach Rivera is catching a ton of shit this week for that play call.  Yeah, it might have cost them the game, but when you consider the fact that Seattle's greatest strength is running the ball, and running when you're behind late in the game is impractical, it's easy to understand how an early touchdown in that spot could've put Carolina in the position to really step on the Seahawks throats early and never look back.

Unfortunately for them and to the Seahawks benefit, that turnover on downs gave the team a confidence boost that kept the fight alive.

The Panthers effectively shut down Seattle's league leading rushing attack.  Despite what national analysts seem to think, this team never has been one dimensional despite Carroll's commitment to running the ball. The Seahawks have an elite, top 5 quarterback in Russell Wilson and he carried his offense to victory.

Before this game started, I kept telling myself-- It's okay if we drop this game so long as we win out.  I was trying to be optimistic about our playoff chances, knowing that this game could easily go against our favor.

This team has fight.  It looks good having only one remaining road game left on the calendar-- and that one is against the lowly 49ers.  Tough games ahead in prime time against the Vikings, who are struggling mightily, and the Chiefs, who may very well be resting their starters for the playoffs by the time that game rolls around.

The playoffs are in sight for our Seahawks who have already won 2 more games than the 'experts' projected them to have this season.  Below are two plays that, if you haven't seen, you absolutely must check them out.

The first is the remarkable flip that Chris Carson pulled off early in the game.  Had he managed to break free for a touchdown-- this would've replaced Beastquake as the single most impressive play I've ever witnessed.

Next, is this touchdown reception from Wilson to David Moore.  I have both complained about Moore's lack of aggressiveness on contested passes and marveled at his ability to sell the defender with his eyes while letting the pass fall into his hands effortlessly. 

File this one under the latter-- but don't forget that this happened on 4th & 3 with the game on the line. 3 yards keeps the game alive, a turnover, on downs or by interception, almost certainly seals the game for Carolina.

Russell went for it all.

While we await Richard Sherman's return to CenturyLink Field this weekend, make sure you vote for the Seahawks to make the Pro Bowl!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Do or Die-- Seahawks 27 Packers 24

The talk leading up to last night's prime time match up was all about two teams fighting for their playoff lives. 

A pair of elite quarterbacks,  post season regulars, trying to stabilize their respective franchises as they endure a retooling phase. The winner would remain in the Wild Card hunt while the loser would very much be on the outside looking in.

The game could not have gotten off to a worse start.

Chris Carson, returning from injury having sat out the previous match up against the Rams, coughed up the football on the very first play of the game.  The Packers inherited possession in prime field position, wasting no time in scoring the game's first touchdown.

If there are two things that are sure to give an opponent the edge over the Seahawks, it's forcing them to play from behind and taking the 12s out of the game.

The game was a little more than a minute old and Green Bay had already accomplished both of those things.

I love the Seahawks run-first philosophy-- it just doesn't work when you're playing from behind with a struggling, young defense.

Beyond that initial hiccup, Seattle's offensive struggles continued throughout most of the first half.  The difference was that the team never let the game get away from them. The defense kept it close as the offense gained momentum.

This was a huge game for many reasons beyond the playoff implications.  They beat a team with an elite quarterback. They closed out the game by asserting physical dominance with their offensive line-- a huge confidence builder.

Seahawks find themselves with a .500 record and largely in control of their playoff destiny. Four of their 6 remaining games are here in Seattle.  Three of those games (@Carolina, Minnesota, Kansas City) are against teams in playoff contention.

Next week's road game against the Panthers will be a statement game.  Seattle has the opportunity to bury Carolina as they come off 10 days rest.  A win at Bank of America Stadium would give Seattle a tie-breaker over a potential Wild Card contender.

Seattle will have to face the Vikings who are hoping to win the NFC North, but either them or the Bears will likely be vying for one of the Wild Card spots.  We've already conceded a tie-breaker to Chicago with our week 2 loss to them, so Seattle cannot give up any more ground to the NFC North.

My hope is that Kansas City will have long since clinched the AFC West before they come here.  It would be ideal to find the Chiefs resting key starters for the playoffs ahead of this match up.

Things look good for our Seahawks down the stretch. The young players are coming into their own and the team is gelling in November, as usual.  A loss last night would have been devastating as we would likely have had to watch and hope for other teams to lose for any hope of a Seahawk postseason.

Monday, November 12, 2018

WANTED: Playmakers-- Seahawks 31 @ Rams 36

I don't know how many more of these heartbreaking losses I can take.

I never bought into the nonsense that Seattle was somehow going to completely fall apart after losing a bevy of stalwarts from the team's supposed glory years.  Can anyone point to a single, former Seahawk that is playing at a high level on a new team?  Exactly.

Still, perhaps I was too optimistic in my assumptions as to where this team was at for the 2018 season.

The Seahawks past two performances along with the previous match up with these Rams have made one point painfully evident-- this team is sorely lacking play makers.

See the source imageClosing out games in the 4th quarter was once a specialty of the Wilson-led Seahawks.  Now, it appears to be their greatest deficit. In back to back losses, not only was the ball in Wilson's hands with the game on the line-- he committed costly turnovers to seal the team's fate.

Once again, I'm left scratching my head as I walk my mind back through the team's preseason decision making that got us here.  Instead of the problem being with the running back group, as it has been the past 3 seasons, Seattle's biggest problem is with their pass catchers.

You could say their problem is with pass rushers, and you wouldn't be incorrect in that assumption, but I'm willing to concede that those are the unicorns of the NFL-- hard to find and typically come with a heavy price tag.

The receiver market wasn't much better.  Seattle's outgoing Paul Richardson was one of the top free agents.  They could've improved through the draft, though the only productive receivers this season from the incoming draft class were all selected just a handful of picks after we took Penny.  Improving the run game was a priority, so it's hard to argue there.

I guess the thing that I find most maddening is that, after adding Ed Dickson and Jaron Brown in free agency, through week 10 this team's three leading receivers are Tyler Lockett, a banged up Doug Baldwin and backup running back, Mike Davis.

While Nick Vannett has contributed more than ever before, he doesn't appear to be transforming into the red zone threat we had hoped.  Will Dissley would undoubtedly have made that list had he stayed healthy. If 'ifs' were fifths, we'd all be drunk.

I love the Seahawks commitment to the run, but the NFL has a way of exposing one-dimensional teams. Committing to the run shouldn't mean abandoning the passing game, but it certainly feels like there is no grey area with this group.  They're either running the ball or making Russell scramble for his life, looking for someone down field.

Seattle needs to find their way back to the middle.  Just as the run can open up the play action pass, the short pass and screen game can open things up for the run as well as shots downfield.

I had assumed, incorrectly evidently, that the Seahawks decision to sign Jaron Brown was made as somewhat of a poor-man's replacement of Paul Richardson.  A guy who could stretch the field and take the top off of defenses.  So far, we haven't seen that from him.

It's refreshing to see that Seattle can get 100 yards from whoever they place in the backfield, regardless of the opponent.  It's nice to see that our defense, in spite of youth and inexperience, can keep this team within one score of seemingly any ballgame.  It's incredibly frustrating that nobody, not even Tyler Lockett, can come up with a big play late in the game to put this team over the top.

Four of Seattle's seven remaining games, including a match up with the Packers just 4 days from now, are against team's that will be in the playoff or are otherwise vying with Seattle for a Wild Card spot.  The other 3 are against lowly division rivals that are sure to play us harder than their record indicates.

In all reality, the Seahawks will need to win almost all of these games if they have any hopes of backing into the playoffs.  It's not going to be easy, but the way this team fights, it should be feasible.

We've seen it just about every year of Pete Carroll's tenure-- who will step up in the latter half of the season and emerge as the next star of this team?  They're going to need playmakers if they want to play in the postseason.

By the way-- Seattle leads the league in rushing.  You know you're doing something right if you're frustrating the NFL's best defender to this point.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Gross-- Seattle 17 Chargers 25

Only one of the teams on CenturyLink Field this Sunday appeared to have playoff swagger.

It wasn't the Seahawks.

This game was ugly.  The officiating was abysmal, but Seattle didn't perform well enough in any phase of the game for this loss to be laid at the feet of the refs. After Chris Carson's hot start, he quickly left the game with the hip and groin injuries that had been plaguing him all week.  Seattle's offense didn't get their act together again until the final drive of the game.

That, I suppose, would be the silver lining to take away from a game where Seattle appeared to take a huge step backward.  They took a playoff team down to the goal line with an opportunity to score, go for two, and take the game into overtime.

I knew Phillip Rivers was going to be a major challenge for this young defense, but Seattle had absolutely no answers for Ken Wisenhunt's offense.  Seattle didn't register a single turnover and they allowed for both a 100+ yard rusher and 100+ yard receiver.  Nothing was working.

For the first time this season, I'm going to criticize Brian Schottenheimer's play calling.  Once Carson left, the Chargers seemed to figure out Seattle's rushing attack-- but that didn't stop Seattle from insisting upon going to it.

After leading the league in 3rd down efficiency the past few weeks, Seattle finished this game with a disgusting 26% on third downs.

It did seem that Seattle was gearing up for a 4th quarter rally, but that was essentially thwarted when Wilson, the only player not allowed to make mistakes, gave up a costly pick six.

Seattle is by no means out of playoff contention, they're most certainly vying for a Wild Card spot, but they must find a way to consistently improve and not give away games when they're in position to win.

I'm so frustrated with this game, I want to forget about it.  We have the Rams next week in LA. Find a way to get it done.