BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Seahawks Takeaways: What went wrong in sloppy loss to Saints

Oct 25, 2021, 9:37 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2021, 12:40 am
Seahawks QB Geno Smith...
Seahawks QB Geno Smith leaves the field following a game against the New Orleans Saints at Lumen Field. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The Seahawks desperately needed a win over the New Orleans Saints to get the season on some semblance of the right track. So much for that.

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Despite the Saints doing seemingly everything they could to lose the game in their own right, the Seahawks somehow played even worse, falling 13-10 in one of the sloppiest and lead inspired games of the Pete Carroll era.

Let’s look at what went wrong for the Seahawks in Week 7.

Russ clearly ain’t the problem

Quarterback Geno Smith played a solid if conservative game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a losing effort a week ago, but that really wasn’t the case against the Saints.

Sure, Smith didn’t turn the ball over, but aside from one 84-yard touchdown strike to DK Metcalf, he really did nothing to help the Seahawks get a much-needed win.

Smith finished the game with 12 completions on 22 attempts for 167 yards and the score. Take the Metcalf touchdown out, though, and Smith had just 83 yards.

Yup, more than half of Smith’s passing yards came on one play on the Seahawks’ second drive of the game. And it took until late in the fourth quarter for Metcalf to even get a second target despite completely destroying the Saints on a single play.

Smith is tasked with being a game manager as a backup QB in for star Russell Wilson, but he needs to at least make some plays. That’s especially pertinent when he’s paired with a lackluster rushing attack like Seattle had against a stellar New Orleans run defense.

That didn’t happen. Smith ate some horrible sacks, at one point causing Jason Myers to kick from 53 out instead of closer to 40. Myers wound up missing that kick.

Wilson gets blamed for a lot of the Seahawks’ issues offensively, such as holding the ball too long, avoiding checkdowns, taking sacks and so on. Well, Smith did a lot of that but had no real “wow” plays like Wilson constantly puts up. Monday night seemed like a game the Seahawks would have won with Wilson, just like last week in Pittsburgh.

Wilson reportedly will get the pin out of his surgically-repaired middle finger this week and has a chance to return after Seattle’s Week 9 bye, but what is he returning to?

He’d return to a Seahawks team that, at best, is 3-5 with a number of issues that have plagued this team for years and a coaching staff that is plugging away at a run game that, in Week 7, clearly didn’t work. Many of the key roster issues the Seahawks have had the last few years appear even worse now that Wilson isn’t playing.

Sure, with seven teams making the playoffs in each conference, there’s still technically a shot the Seahawks could get on a run and get a wild card even at 2-5 right now. But as of this moment, the Seahawks look like a last-place team with Wilson unable to mask the team’s deficiencies like he’s done the last few seasons.

And a large part of those deficiencies come from the coaching staff.

Carroll said after the game that the Seahawks have a problem with finishing games and that Wilson being out has obviously hurt them given his ability to come up clutch.

That much is obvious, but this coaching staff needs to get more out of Smith until Wilson returns, otherwise 2021 is a lost season. Heck, it may already be at that point.

Running into a brick wall

There was a lot of hype surrounding offensive coordinator Shane Waldron entering the 2021 season. Like a lot a lot.

Gone was Brian Schottenheimer and in was the new kid who would help the Seahawks develop a more innovative offense, using concepts from Waldron’s time with the Rams.

Well, where was that on Monday with your star quarterback out?

Yes, your offense will almost always regress under a backup quarterback. But at least help the rest of the team out by being creative.

This looked like the worst of the worst when it comes to offenses under Carroll. Running for the sake of running. Running into stacked defensive looks. Not using motion or pulling blockers to help get the running backs more space. Running over and over and over again despite it not working.

The Seahawks finished with 28 carries for 90 yards. Of those 90, 32 came from Smith, receiver Freddie Swain and tight end Gerald Everett. So 23 carries for 58 yards from the running backs. Yikes.

Carroll said after the game that he liked that his offense ran the ball a lot, but that he obviously wished they got more out of the run game both in terms of yards and getting more plays built off of it.

Well, instead, the Hawks repeatedly rushed into the brick wall that was the Saints’ talented run defense and didn’t really make any adjustments. The offensive line was bullied, the backs couldn’t make anyone miss and the result was a lot of bad down-and-distances and too many Michael Dickson punts.

Carroll’s Seahawks can be a run-oriented offense until Wilson returns, but it has to be better and more varied than this.

Sloppy mistakes

Even with all the issues on offense with Smith and the run game, the Seahawks had the ability to win this game but made far too many costly mistakes.

Jason Myers, who didn’t miss a field goal in 2021, missed two. Smith took five sacks – some of them very ugly – and attributed to Myers missing from 53 yards out. And the defense, while pretty great for the entire contest, hurt the team as well.

Marquise Blair was flagged for roughing the passer on the Saints’ game-winning field goal drive after Jameis Winston was sacked on third down. A few plays later, Al Woods, who Carroll called one of the most disciplined players he knows, jumped offsides before a field goal attempt on fourth down, keeping the Saints’ drive alive. That cost the Seahawks over a minute in game time.

And while the defense played well, it allowed running back Alvin Kamara to catch four balls for 64 yards and a score shortly before halftime, which wound up being killer given the Saints won while scoring just 13 points.

With Wilson out and the defense for the most part this year struggling, the Seahawks can ill afford to make those kinds of mistakes.

While a win would still have had the Seahawks at under .500 after Week 7, a 3-4 record is a heck of a lot better look than 2-5, especially for a team that is coming off an NFC West crown and doesn’t have a first-round pick in 2022 to build around if the season doesn’t result in a playoff berth.

Rost: Why did 2-5 Seahawks’ latest loss feel so ugly?

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