Salk: Why Seahawks just now started to play more aggressively
The Seahawks’ win over the San Francisco 49ers was a departure from the way they’ve played during a frustrating year that has them at 4-8, just one loss away from guaranteeing their first losing season in 2011.
How was it a departure?
For starters, they scored 30 points for just the second time all season, and the first time against a team with more than two wins. They also went for it on fourth down twice – first on a fake punt that turned into a 73-yard touchdown run by Travis Homer, then on a successful 3-yard run (again by Homer) when they needed just one yard from the San Francisco 4 late in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks also threw the ball 37 times to 27 running plays, and it worked out as Russell Wilson completed 30 of those 37 pass attempts because he looked more like himself than at any point since returning for midseason finger surgery three games prior.
So if this type of aggressiveness led to success on offense against the 49ers, why had the Seahawks not tried it earlier in the season? Mike Salk discussed that Tuesday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk Show, and he had five reasons that could explain it.
Here’s what Salk had to say.
1. The defense wasn’t good enough earlier in the season.
“The defense was so bad that they had to protect it. Early in the year, your defense was historically bad. They were giving up yards at a record clip; you needed to protect them. If you had been aggressive, going for it on fourth down, etc., some of those risks could have resulted in just a complete disaster and getting run right out of the building. You have to do everything in your power to try to stick around.”
2. Russell Wilson’s injury.
“Then you didn’t have Russ. So without Russ, what are gonna do, let Geno Smith cut it loose? You want to be super aggressive with Geno Smith? I don’t think that makes any sense. That sounds like turnovers.”
3. Wilson didn’t play like himself after his return.
“Then Russ comes back, and injured Russ wasn’t much better than Geno Smith, as we saw. In fact, I’ve made a fairly reasonable argument that injured Russ was worse than Geno Smith – 55% completions, nine points per game. The Russ we saw wasn’t capable of cutting it loose because he couldn’t accurately throw the football where he wanted to. You want to get crazy and let that guy start being aggressive all over the football field? I don’t think so.”
4. The weather factor.
“A couple of those games where maybe you could have had the possibility of cutting it loose, the weather didn’t cooperate. Maybe you felt like you could have done that against New Orleans or Green Bay, but you couldn’t play aggressively in those games and take some of those extra chances because the weather was so bad, you had to play very conservatively and try to wait for the big moment.”
5. They didn’t think of it.
“Maybe they just hadn’t thought of it yet. I know that that sounds sort of tongue in cheek, but I think that there are times where we forget just how fragile success is. You ever wonder about that, how fragile success might be? You ever worry about what’s out there and might like take you down? … Were they just kind of in their own head to the point where they just didn’t think about being aggressive because they were too busy being in protection mode?”
Pete Carroll was asked yesterday why it took them so long to be aggressive this year. I don't think they could, and here are a few reasons why:
— Mike Salk, 710 ESPN (@TheMikeSalk) December 7, 2021
So what’s the exact answer?
“Maybe they’ve been freed in the last couple of weeks in addition to all of those other examples,” Salk said. “Maybe that wasn’t even a possibility until this week. It’s a really good question. The answer, as usual, is a whole lot more complicated than the question is.”
You can hear the whole segment from The Mike Salk Show in the podcast at this link or in the player below.