BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Seahawks Quick Hits: Conservative approach nearly sinks Seattle late

Dec 20, 2020, 2:29 PM | Updated: 3:34 pm
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson...
Russell Wilson ad the Seahawks' offense struggled after a questionable punt. (Getty)
(Getty)

Well, that was certainly … something, but at the end of the day, the Seahawks are winners who are heading to the playoffs and still have a chance at winning the NFC West with two games remaining in the regular season.

Recap: Seahawks beat WFT | Playoffs clinched | Instant Reaction

As is the case with many Seahawks games, it seemed like Seattle had its game with the Washington Football Team – who entered Sunday as one of the NFL’s hottest teams after four wins in a row – in the bag in the second half after taking a 20-3 lead. But the offense stalled, the defense allowed touchdowns on back-to-back drives, and naturally Washington had a chance to take the lead with under a minute left.

Thankfully for the 12s that didn’t happen, and the Seahawks have won their 10th game of 2020, though it was a lot harder than it needed to be. Let’s look at some takeaways from the performance.

Snowball effect after conservative approach

The Seahawks had a 20-3 lead with the ball at midfield and a yard to go on fourth down. Rather than running the ball, which they’d done to a clip of over 9 yards per carry at that point, the Seahawks played it conservative and punted.

Sure, Washington went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but that marked a turning point for the game in Washington’s favor.

WFT’s talented defensive line had no answer for Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and Russell Wilson on the ground. None! But the Seahawks gave the ball up rather than trying to let one of their bruising backs get one yard. You get it, you score, you’re up 20-plus. You don’t get it, Washington has to drive 50 yards, but its offense struggled mightily up to that point.

So, Seattle punts rather than going for an early dagger, and from that point on the Seahawks ran 12 plays not counting kneel downs. Those 12 plays went for 38 yards and an interception. Washington capitalized on offense as well, scoring touchdowns on two drives in a row to turn Seattle’s lead that shouldn’t have been close into a one-possession ballgame. WFT also had a chance to win it with under a minute left.

The Seahawks practically begged Washington to get back in the game after that punt, and it did and nearly won it at the end. It didn’t need to be that way, and it all started with Seattle going too conservative in the game plan.

Wilson and the offense aren’t fixed

A hope after last week’s 40-3 blowout of the New York Jets was that Wilson and the offense were finally back on track.

Well, the run game looked great against Washington, but Wilson looked like anything but an MVP candidate aside a 38-yard run.

Wilson finished the game 18 of 27 passing for just 121 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He averaged only 4.5 yards per attempt and 6.7 yards per completion. Dwayne Haskins should not be outplaying No. 3. Haskins had over double Wilson’s yards and also had a passing touchdown. Wilson only edged him out in turnovers, as he threw one pick to Haskins’ two.

Now, a LOT of credit needs to go Washington’s way. WFT has a top defense, a great pass rush and the secondary has played well all year. But we’re getting close to playoff time. It’s very likely the Seahawks will face a tough defense. Heck, if they don’t win the NFC West, they may face Washington again in the first round.

Wilson’s play last week was encouraging, but it looks like that was a case of facing a hapless Jets team.

Wilson has dropped off big time since the Week 6 bye, and though a lot of that isn’t his fault due to injuries on the team, Seattle won’t get very far in the postseason with more performances like he had in Week 15.

Pass rush plays hide and seek

Jamal Adams recorded another sack in the first half, giving him 9.5 on the year in 10 games. Pretty great. But other than that, the Seahawks really struggled to generate pressure on Haskins, who orchestrated two touchdown drives in a row thanks in part to a lack of a pass rush.

After going missing for most of the game, the Seahawks got sacks on two plays in a row on Washington’s final drive, with L.J. Collier sacking Haskins on second down and Carlos Dunlap, who was playing a limited role due to a sore foot, taking the quarterback down on third down.

Yes, it was an awesome and exciting finish, but it was clear that Haskins was struggling with defenders getting pressure. Blitzes weren’t getting the job done, rushing three or four guys wasn’t getting it done. That’s got to change, especially next week.

The Seahawks will face the Rams in a Week 16 in a game that likely will decide the NFC West champion. The Rams have a very capable offense, and pass rush is key to knocking quarterback Jarred Goff off his game.

Hopefully Dunlap can have a larger role next week and the rest of the group creates more of an impact after going missing for most of Week 15.

Here’s a gold star, D.J. Reed

Who would have guessed the Seahawks had an emerging star in D.J. Reed when they claimed the injured defensive back off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers?

Well, he has two picks, a ton of tackles, and in his latest start as an outside cornerback, he was exceptional.

Reed ended the day with six tackles, three pass breakups and an interception. He was flying around the ball and looked like a rising star yet again.

The Seahawks may get both Tre Flowers and Quinton Dunbar back from injury and Ugo Amadi has played well at nickel, but Reed needs a role. He has been one of Seattle’s best defenders since he was activated in Week 8 and is an absolute playmaker.

Whether he stays at outside corner, plays nickel, comes in for dime packages or even plays some safety so Adams can have more of a linebacker role, Reed needs a ton of snaps going forward.

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Seahawks Quick Hits: Conservative approach nearly sinks Seattle late