JOE FANN

Fann: Seahawks’ loss to Bucs indicative of who they are on both sides

Nov 15, 2022, 9:18 AM
Seahawks...
Rachaad White of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks on November 13, 2022 in Munich, Germany. (Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images)
(Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images)

The Seahawks losing 21-16 to the Buccaneers on Sunday, while disappointing, shouldn’t send fans looking for the panic button. Seattle snoozed through the entire first half in Germany, went just 1-of-9 on third down and still managed to be one defensive stop away from getting the ball back with the chance to win late in the fourth quarter.

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Overall, the performance served as a proper indication of who this team is on both sides of the football.

Offensively, the Seahawks possess a quality and versatile attack that should be able to move the ball against anybody. The no-show in the first half can be attributed to negative plays on early downs and costly penalties more than being overmatched by Tampa Bay’s defense.

Seattle’s offense came out humming in the third quarter and remained productive for all four drives during the second half. For as egregiously as it felt like the Seahawks were outplayed, both teams averaged the exact same 5.7 yards per play. The difference is that Seattle went 1-of-9 on third down while Tampa Bay went 10-of-15.

Are there things to work on? Sure. But this Seahawks offense is very legit.

Geno Smith remains the league’s most accurate passer at 72.8% with 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions. This offense should continue to run through Smith, particularly in neutral situations with Kenneth Walker III serving as a home run-hitting complement in the running game.

Sunday’s second half also illustrated how dangerous the Seahawks offense can be when operating out of tempo. The combination of Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, three capable tight ends and an extra deep threat in Marquise Goodwin should be a week-to-week nightmare for opponents to game plan against.

Defensively, we saw Seattle regress a bit, not to the depths of the first five games of the season, but merely toward the middle-of-the-pack. That was to be expected, at least by me, as Seattle’s month-long stretch as one of the league’s top defenses felt unsustainable. But what’s comforting is that the egregious missed assignments and busts have been cleaned up for the most part. The exception is the shallow crosser that Julio Jones scored on that continues to give Seattle’s defense fits.

Even when accounting for a gift-wrapped takeaway with the Bucs inexplicably calling for Leonard Fournette to pass the ball to Tom Brady, the Seahawks allowed just 258 passing yards and 3.7 yards per carry. Sunday’s downfall was two-fold, starting with losing at the point of attack which meant Seattle rarely forced a negative play on early downs. Secondly, the Buccaneers regularly won one-on-one matchups in the passing game, particularly on third down.

I’d say my biggest concern about Seattle’s defense is its lack of depth at linebacker, both at edge and in the middle. Bruce Irvin went from watching games on his couch to playing 47 snaps in a matter of weeks. And while he’s been impressive, evidenced by his 72.9 PFF grade on Sunday, the Seahawks simply need to get more production out of Darrell Taylor and Boye Mafe.

As for the middle linebackers, the Seahawks got a scare when Jordyn Brooks went down with an injury against the Bucs. Luckily he was OK because the cupboard is bare behind him. Linebacker-turned-fullback-turned-linebacker Nick Bellore is the second-stringer behind both Brooks and Cody Barton.

My faith in the interior of the defensive line as well as the secondary is much more substantial. Shelby Harris, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods have collectively been tremendous and an ever-improving secondary, led by standout rookie Tariq Woolen, is about to get Tre Brown back. A second-half surge from Quandre Diggs would be a welcome sight for Seattle’s defense as well.

The Seahawks will enjoy a well-earned week off before returning to action with a favorable stretch of games. The Raiders, Rams and Panthers are next on the docket in Weeks 12-14, respectively, and Seattle will almost assuredly be favorited in at least two of those matchups.

Nothing that happened on Sunday against the Bucs should deter belief that this team can go at least 2-1 leading up to a Week 15 rematch versus San Francisco.

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Fann: Seahawks’ loss to Bucs indicative of who they are on both sides