What we learned: The Seahawks’ offense is not fixed
Here’s what else we learned from the first tie in franchise history and three things we’re still trying to figure out.
Three things we learned:
1. Seattle’s offense is not “fixed.” It was tempting to think that the Seahawks had taken off. After scoring one touchdown – total – over the first two games, Seattle averaged 30 points and scored a total of 10 touchdowns over the next three games. Of course, those three games were against three of the 10 worst defenses in the NFL. The 49ers have allowed the second-most points in the league, the Falcons the sixth-most and the Jets have given up the 10th-most. On Sunday, the Seahawks played a Cardinals team that had allowed the fourth-fewest yards in the league, and the result was among the most anemic offensive performance in Pete Carroll’s tenure as Seattle’s coach. The Seahawks gained 130 yards in four quarters of regulation and didn’t carry the ball across midfield in that time as their fourth-quarter field-goal drive came after a blocked punt.
2. Be grateful to watch this defense. Rooting for a dominant defense is the single most pleasurable thing in football. Seriously. Would you rather get quiet so your quarterback can audible his way to a mismatch against the opponent’s nickel cornerback or SCREAM YOUR LUNGS OUT HOPING YOUR DEFENSE BLUDGEONS THE OPPONENT INTO AN UNRECOGNIZABLE PULP? It’s no contest. And I didn’t realize how admirable Seattle’s defensive performance until I went into the locker room afterward and saw Richard Sherman so exhausted he couldn’t look his coach in the eye, Bobby Wagner incapable of walking without a cramp and K.J. Wright struggling to put on shorts. You can make jokes about what a rock fight that game was, but what Seattle’s defense did was absolutely incredible. And then someone asked Earl Thomas about being on the field for 90 snaps. “That’s more opps,” he said. Absolutely awesome. How can you not love that defense?
3. Injury has cultivated a new appreciation for Russell Wilson. For four years, Wilson’s mobility was used to diminish his quarterbacking skills. Yes, he’s great, but it’s because of his scrambling ability (as if that’s cheating). Now, the injury-induced lack of scrambling ability is being cited as the reason for Seattle’s offensive struggles. And for anyone scratching his belly-button, wondering when Wilson is going to be back for 100 percent, Carroll had a perfectly indignant answer: “Come on now. What timetable would I go on?” Carroll asked not really rhetorically. “He’s busting his tail to do everything he can. He gives his total heart and soul every chance he goes and he’s playing in the NFL, doing pretty darn good against pretty darn good football teams. I’m amazed that he’s done what he’s done this early part of the season and he’s getting better. And he came out of the game feeling better, and so there’ll come a time, you’ll know, and it will be very obvious.”
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Was this Seattle’s typical midseason clunker? It’s tempting to characterize Sunday’s debacle as a sign of an offensive emergency in Seattle, but we should mention that this is the time of year the Seahawks always tend to roll out an absolute stinker of a performance. It happened to the best team in franchise history back in 2013. It was midway through that season when the Seahawks gained 38 yards in the first half of a 14-9 victory at St. Louis in which two touchdown passes to Golden Tate accounted for 92 of the team’s 135 yards of total offense. The Seahawks’ offense was pretty darn terrible in a 13-12 win at Dallas in Week 8 of last season, too, when Seattle scored only three second-half points despite gaining 169 yards over the final two quarters.
2. Are the Seahawks really going to go with George Fant at left tackle? That was their decision on Sunday after Bradley Sowell went down with a knee injury. J’Marcus Webb was active, but the Seahawks went with Fant. Sowell isn’t out for the year, but he suffered a knee injury that typically requires four to six weeks of recovery. Will the Seahawks be prompted to make an addition? That hasn’t been this team’s M.O. Even when Seattle has signed veterans in training camp – guys like Eric Winston in 2014 or Jahri Evans this year – the Seahawks have opted for home-grown projects over veteran Band-Aids. But Fant played one year of college football and that was as a tight end and defensive lineman. Is Seattle really going to trust left tackle to a guy who’s not just new to the sport, but in his first year playing on the offensive line?
3. What spurred Seattle’s offense in overtime? The Seahawks had 11 possessions in four quarters of regulation Sunday night. They gained a total of 130 yards in that time and never once took the ball across midfield into Arizona territory. The only possession in the Cardinals’ half of the field came because of a blocked punt. Yet in two overtime possessions, the Seahawks gained 127 yards and had the ball inside the Arizona 20 on each occasion. What changed? It wasn’t a personnel package. Seattle used Christine Michael on occasion. And C.J. Prosise. And even for one carry, Alex Collins. Wilson was 7-for-8 passing in overtime, but before you say turn it over to him, he didn’t hand the ball off on either of Seattle’s first two series. Whatever spurred Seattle’s offense in overtime, the Seahawks should try to bottle that.