What we learned from the Seahawks’ win over the Jags
By Danny O’Neil
Three things we learned:
1. It’s time to stop worrying so much.
Seriously, Seattle. The Seahawks were the largest favorite in the NFL this weekend, and yet there were still some doubts rattling around town. Maybe Seattle would overlook winless Jacksonville. Perhaps Jags coach Gus Bradley had some sort of magic bullet to beat his former team after serving as a Seahawks assistant the past four years. Or maybe there would be some emotional letdown by Seattle given the magnitude of last week’s win over the 49ers.
So much for that. Seattle is hardly invincible, but it’s OK to stop tip-toeing around the schedule and seeing ghosts everywhere. The Seahawks did exactly what they were supposed to do: They won convincingly. It’s time to stop thinking that Murphy’s Law governs Seattle sports because when a team is as deep and talented as Seattle, it goes a long way to preventing everything from going wrong.
2. There’s an underside to all of Seattle’s scrambling.
Coach Pete Carroll said after the first game this season that his goal is to be the best scrambling team in the NFL. He feels that accentuates quarterback Russell Wilson’s ability to escape pressure and extend a play, and it can result in some big gains.
It’s also when mistakes happen. That became clear Sunday when Wilson committed two turnovers – each coming on Seattle’s half of the field – as he was either scrambling or rolling out. The first was a fumble in which he was chased down from behind by a blitzing safety who chopped the ball out of his hand. The second turnover was even more on Wilson as he rolled to his right, threw back left and was off the mark to receiver Golden Tate, who deflected the ball, allowing it to be intercepted.
After the game, Wilson seemed to acknowledge the risk that comes with embracing the idea of making plays on the run.
“It’s kind of one of those things where I can make those plays, too,” he said. “You want to make a smart decision, and you never want to turn the ball over, so that one’s my fault.”
3. Michael Bennett is a perfect fit with this defense.
That’s at least a little surprising, but only because of Bennett’s size. At 274 pounds, Bennett is on the small side for the Seahawks’ defensive line because he is not someone Seattle uses as a speed rusher coming off the edge. Bennett’s quickness at the snap and the consistency of his effort has made him a constant presence in opposing backfields.
“He has such a great motor,” Carroll said. “He plays so hard. He really compliments our style of play.”
Bennett had 1.5 sacks against the Jaguars, another tackle for loss and after three games he leads the team with 2.5 sacks.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Is Russell Wilson still getting hit too often?
The Seahawks definitely thought so after two games, and he took a few more shots in Week 3 against Jacksonville, including one play in which he tried to get out of bounds but didn’t before taking a whack. The way Wilson plays, it’s impossible to expect him to get through the game clean, but he had a couple of passes in the second half that were so inaccurate you had to wonder if it was the result of a few of those hits he took earlier in the game.
2. How in the world was a punter picked five spots in front of Russell Wilson?
Seriously. It happened. The Jaguars picked Bryan Anger in the third round in 2012, No. 70 overall. Five picks later, Seattle chose Wilson. Then again, maybe Jacksonville was on to something, knowing how often they’d be calling on the punter. Anger had seven punts on Sunday, the longest traveling 48 yards. Of course, Jacksonville might not have had to punt so much had it drafted Wilson instead of trusting its future to Blaine Gabbert, who was injured and did not play Sunday, leaving Chad Henne to start.
By the way, Wilson was absolutely masterful on the final touchdown drive of the first half, leading Seattle 79 yards in all of 34 seconds as he was 4-for-4 passing and also scrambled for 10 yards. Wilson matched his career-high with four touchdown passes. He did not, however, punt the ball for Seattle.
3. Why did Seattle release Clinton McDonald before Week 1?
Seattle might have saved itself about $600,000 in salary by cutting the defensive tackle and then re-signing him, but any doubt about what he was worth should have been erased with McDonald’s first-half sack, the first of his career. McDonald picked up his blocker and carried the guy back into Henne before all three fell over. It was almost comical. McDonald adds to the depth this team has on the defensive line.