Wassell’s Thoughts: Seahawks wouldn’t score as much as they are if they didn’t need to
Welcome to another edition of Tom Wassell’s Thoughts, a regular column from the co-host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy. This week, Tom tackles the Seahawks’ success on offense and the renewed rumors of the team being interested in free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The Seahawks can score, and they have to
The Seahawks are averaging 33.8 points per game. I was outside walking the dogs the other day and that number was ruminating around my mind’s eye. That’s a lot of points – it happens to lead the league through six weeks. This offense is just unstoppable. But is there another reason why they’ve scored that much?
I believe the fact that they have to score that many points is the primary reason Seattle has led the league.
Pete Carroll is a run first/defense guy. He’s expressed a desire for balance at times, but that’s just a matter of semantics. In 2012 and 2013, Seattle played shutdown defense. By the time the opposition ‘quit,’ it was just a matter of controlling the clock by running the ball and occasionally scoring touchdowns. The offensive result? Less points.
Sure, there were the odd games where the Seahawks scored 50 points or the Super Bowl when they blew out the Broncos 43-8, but if we look at Russell Wilson’s stats in those games, they’re not exactly gaudy. The defense set them up with excellent field position and even scored a bunch of points themselves.
Now, the situation is flipped. Whether or not Carroll made a conscious decision to Let Russ Cook before the season is inconsequential. The way the Seahawks’ first five games have gone, the defense has proven unable to prevent opposing offenses from A) gaining yards, and B) scoring points. Most every game has come down to the wire, or at least demanded that the offense keep scoring until the clock hits 00:00 at the end of the game.
They have the capability to score a ton of points, yes. But would they be realizing their full potential in every game if the situation didn’t demand it? No.
My co-host Jake Heaps points out that beginning with last year’s game against Atlanta, when Matt Schaub almost led the Falcons back after the Seahawks jumped out to a sizable lead, Carroll made a decision to adapt a more aggressive mindset: “Keep Scoring.” Could that have anything to do with what the offense has achieved this season? Absolutely.
He wants to leave no room for error. But in 2020, Pete’s desire to remain committed to scoring is secondary to the fact that they have no choice in the matter. It’s great that the team has a new mindset, but when the other team is hot on your tail because your defense can’t keep them out of the end zone, what decision is there to be made?
If you were hanging off a cliff, you could say “I want to climb back to the surface,” but really what you mean is “I have to climb back to the surface.” That’s where the Seahawks are in every game – hanging off a cliff. Exciting as that may be, the choice is made because of the pace of the game.
Keep on scoring. Thankfully, they have the talent to do so.
What would another wide receiver contribute?
There’s talk of Antonio Brown joining the Seahawks. For me, this is a multi-sided issue. For many of you, it may seem very simple – “Get him, he’s talented” or “Don’t get him, he’s dangerous to the locker room culture.” I prefer to look at everything, even if my gut tells me the answer is an obvious no.
First, let’s look at what he could contribute, should he be at his athletic best. Right now, we have elite receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. As I stated above, this offense is running up 33.8 points per game on the opposition. By putting another play-making wide receiver on the field, how many more points can we expect that they’ll be able to score? After all, there are only so many possessions in a game.
I suppose they could score quicker with more un-coverable talent on the field, but is that really a good idea? Can’t possessing the ball for a significant amount of time yield positive results? In short, the Seahawks don’t need his production.
Now, there’s the issue of accusations that have been made against him. There are three separate incidents involving one woman, Britney Taylor, a former trainer for Brown. I don’t take accusations lightly, but I haven’t heard much beyond just the accusations themselves. If the Seahawks have used their investigative resources to determine that all of this is going to be resolved with Brown an innocent man, I suppose I’m alright with that. Again, that doesn’t mean he’s innocent of any wrongdoing, it just means he didn’t break the law or there wasn’t enough evidence to make a case against him. That’s murky territory as far as us fans being able to form an opinion about how we feel, but what choice do we have? The point here is that I’ll abide by the legal system’s decisions even if they leave a strange feeling in my stomach.
Now, how about the other strange behavior aside from what I mentioned above? Assaulting a delivery driver, throwing furniture out of a 14th floor window (that almost hit a 22-month-old baby), Twitter ranting against Patriots owner Bob Kraft and the NFL, carelessly (in my opinion) accusing them of racism? What about forcing his way out of Pittsburgh and Oakland, then being cut by New England – all under strange circumstances?
With Brown at the center of all of this, it suggests an inability to behave in accordance with societal norms. Not only am I worried that he might do the same while employed by the Seahawks, I’m concerned about the message it sends that Seattle would lower its standards for a man that is incapable of meeting them.
The Seattle Seahawks are a private business. What they do and who they employ isn’t up to me as a fan. They’ll have to deal with the consequences. Presumably, Brown would be put on some kind of zero tolerance behavioral policy if he is signed. But again, why even engage the situation? By making him a member of their organization, they’re suggesting to their fans that a supremely talented athlete shouldn’t be held to the same standards and cultural norms as everyone else. In fact, the Seahawks are willing to lessen or de-emphasize those standards so that they can score a few more points in a game? At that point, aren’t there diminishing returns?
If winning a Super Bowl meant having to put someone who is a danger to society on the field, does that championship feel as gratifying? There’s something to winning and winning the right way, without having to compromise values.
Maybe I’m overstating the issue. Perhaps it’s as simple as “Antonio has worked out his problems and he deserves another shot.” If that’s the case, the story will play itself out and I won’t complain. But I’m a worrier. I work out every scenario in my head before it happens. That’s why I’m paid to write articles like these.
Jake & Stacy