Seahawks-Rams Quick Hits: This one’s on Russell Wilson and the offense
After a poor showing on defense in the first half of the Seahawks’ 23-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, now-third place Seattle will be pointing at the offense for why it dropped its third game in four weeks.
Even with Seattle’s defense allowing Los Angeles to score 17 in the first half and giving up nine third-down conversions on 15 opportunities, the man who was the MVP frontrunner through the first five of six weeks of the season had his worst performance of the year.
Let’s look at what went wrong for the Seahawks in southern California.
Wilson with a head-scratching performance
Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson’s four-turnover day in last week’s 10-point loss to the Buffalo Bills was rough, but it at least made sense.
Wilson lost two fumbles on sacks as he took a beating all game long. His two interceptions were less than ideal, but again, they can be explained as one came on fourth down when he had to make a play and the second came on third-and-long late in the game as he was doing anything he could to try and get Seattle back in the contest.
He followed that up with three turnovers against the Rams, though, and while you could argue one of them wasn’t his fault because it was a bad snap (he probably should have just fallen on it), the two picks were pretty symbolic of the day Wilson had.
The first one came with Seattle down seven in the first half and looking to tie things up. Instead of taking the free rushing yards the Rams were allowing him to have, Wilson forced a throw across the field to the corner of the end zone to tight end Will Dissly that was picked of by Darious Williams.
Darious Williams = BALLHAWK. pic.twitter.com/2txv0KwuNd
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 15, 2020
And later, with the Seahawks down 10 in the second half, Wilson threw a poor pass to tight end Greg Olsen which Williams also picked off.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 16, 2020
The picks weren’t the only issue Wilson had. He missed DK Metcalf down the sideline for a possible touchdown, or at least a big gain. He also missed Freddie Swain and Tyler Lockett in the end zone as well. He also seemed to evade pressure at times that really wasn’t even there, and that ultimately put him into pressure from the Rams’ defensive line.
Simply put, Wilson looked off basically all game.
Is he forcing the issue because he knows the defense has been poor? Is he being told he has to do it all?
Either way, he now has 10 turnovers in the last four games. In that span, the Seahawks are 1-3.
Questionable decision by Carroll
The Seahawks had a fourth-and-1 opportunity early in the second half after Wilson came up short of a first down at Seattle’s 42-yard line. At that point, it was 17-13 Rams.
Head coach Pete Carroll challenged the spot, which didn’t go his way and the Seahawks lost a time out. Then, the Seahawks kept the offense on the field and attempted to lure the Rams offsides, which didn’t work. So Seattle took a delay of game and punted instead of trying for the first down. The result? A 14-play, 88-yard touchdown drive to give the Rams a 23-13 lead, which held for most of the game. The drive lasted nearly seven minutes.
Funny enough, that was the last bad drive the defense had in the game (more below), but the Seahawks were coming off points at the end of the first half after Jason Myers’ franchise-record 61-yard field goal. And at that point, the Seahawks had just two defensive stops.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 15, 2020
The defense improved, but for where the Seahawks were in the game, it seemed strange to trust the league’s worst defense over one of the top offenses. After the game, Carroll told reporters he’d do it the same way if given the opportunity to go back to that sequence again.
Defense turned it around, but it wasn’t pretty
The first half looked like more of the same from the league’s worst defense.
Seattle allowed 17 first-half points and was struggling against the run, the pass, and getting off the field on third downs.
Ultimately, that group improved later in the game and gave up just six points in the second half.
Now, the overall numbers were bad again, with the Rams going 9 for 15 on third downs, possessing the ball for over 33 minutes and putting up 389 total yards. And some of that could be contributed to the Rams taking their foot off the gas late. But after allowing an LA touchdown on the first Rams possession of the second half, Seattle’s defense got three stops. The Hawks only got three points in the second half, and that field goal came with less than a minute left so Seattle could attempt an onside kick that was unsuccessful.
So to the fire Ken Norton crowd, that really wasn’t the main issue today.
Advantage Jalen Ramsey
There were a few shots on the TV brodcast where star Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf looked frustrated about the lack of targets he was receiving. And that was because, well, he didn’t have any targets for most of the game.
Metcalf ultimately finished the day with two catches on four targets for 28 yards. It was his second-worst outing of the season, coming three weeks after he had two catches on five targets for 23 yards in an overtime loss to the Cardinals.
Like in that game, when eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson spent most of the day covering the second-year receiver, the Rams used All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey to match up with Metcalf. It worked great, partly because of Ramsey’s coverage and partly because it seemed that Wilson had no interest throwing Ramsey’s way.
Throughout this season, when either Metcalf or Tyler Lockett have a game without much production, the other seems to step up and have a big game. That didn’t happen this time, as Lockett had five catches for 66 yards and didn’t find the end zone.
The Seahawks have thrived on deep shots down the field to Lockett, Metcalf and others this season, but that just didn’t seem to be the case on Sunday. Wilson had 248 passing yards, which was his second-lowest total this season, and for the first time, he failed to find the end zone. It was also the first time Lockett and Metcalf both failed to get a touchdown.
Metcalf is still on his way to an All-Pro or Pro Bowl season, but aside from dismantling reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gillmore in Week 2, Metcalf hasn’t done much when shadowed by star cornerbacks – at least not over the last four weeks.
Food for thought: Adams’ sack total
The Seahawks didn’t pick up where they left off in the pass rush after sacking Bills quarterback Josh Allen seven times last week, but one player got to Rams quarterback Jarred Goff multiple times, and that was safety Jamal Adams.
Adams had two sacks, including a strip sack, that gives him 5.5 this season.
— NFL (@NFL) November 15, 2020
Why do I bring that up?
Well for starters, Adams is a safety, so that’s a lot of sacks for a defensive back.
Secondly, and more importantly, Rasheem Green led the Seahawks in sacks in 2019 with four. Adams has 1.5 more than that in just five games, and he left one of those contests early in the second half with an injury.
Adams hasn’t fixed the Seahawks’ overall pass rush woes or defensive troubles, but he is at least getting to the quarterback at a much better clip than any member of last season’s team did.