Three Things from the Seahawks’ win over Minnesota
We’ve learned that you don’t write the Seahawks off.
At least we should have learned that by now. After all, this was a team that was 6-5 in 2012 and facing potential suspensions to its two starting cornerbacks. All the Seahawks did that year was win their final five games by a combined score of 193-60. They were 6-4 last season and in distinct danger of missing the playoffs when they went and allowed 39 points in their final six games combined.
Sunday’s 38-7 victory in Minnesota was a statement that Seattle may be summoning a similar closing kick, so let’s take a look at what we learned from that game and what we’re still trying to figure out.
Three things we learned:
1. Russell Wilson is now the engine of Seattle’s offense.
Used to be Marshawn Lynch provided the Seahawks’ horsepower while Wilson was the trump card they waited to play. He was the guy Seattle counted on to protect the ball and make those three or four plays to decide a close game. Well, the Seahawks’ three victories in the past three weeks have come without Lynch. That doesn’t show that the Seahawks don’t need Lynch anymore so much as it illustrates how much Wilson must now do for this offense. Pete Carroll has always said that he wants his quarterback to be a point guard, and well, Wilson has been the NFL equivalent of Steph Curry the past three games with 11 touchdown passes, one rushing score and no turnovers.
2. Doug Baldwin is having the best year of any Seahawks receiver under Carroll.
Baldwin has led Seattle in receptions in two of the past four seasons, and he’s the best bet to do it again. Not only that, he’s on pace to become the first 1,000-yard receiver the Seahawks have had since Bobby Engram in 2007. He has been called a pedestrian receiver. An appetizer. But it’s time that everyone recognizes him for what he is: the top receiver in an offense who is making the most of his opportunities right now.
3. Seattle’s rookie class is picking up steam.
Frank Clark – Seattle’s second-round pick – is playing like it’s the preseason and given how impressive he was in August, that’s a good thing. Clark had two sacks against Minnesota and he has three over the past two games while showing an ability to make an impact as a pass-rushing defensive tackle in Seattle’s nickel defense. Then there’s Tyler Lockett, who had a 47-yard kickoff return against Minnesota and caught seven passes for 90 yards. Throw in Thomas Rawls, who had his third 100-yard rushing game this season, and you’ve got a rookie class that is helping counterbalance the injuries to Lynch and Jimmy Graham this season.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Are Seattle’s defensive concerns really fixed?
The Seahawks held Minnesota to 125 yards of total offense, the lowest total allowed in Carroll’s six seasons with Seattle. It was also the third time this season Seattle held an opponent to fewer than 150 yards, something that happened only once in Carroll’s first five seasons. But this is also a defense that just last week allowed a franchise record in passing yards as Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger became the third quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards against the Seahawks this season. The Seahawks have shown the ability to smother an opponent without a proficient passing offense. We still haven’t seen if they’ll stand up to a top-shelf passing attack.
2. Will Seattle’s red-zone proficiency continue?
Close doesn’t count in the NFL. In fact, coming close to the opponent’s goal line makes it more excruciating when the offense fails to score a touchdown. And through nine games, Seattle had scored a touchdown on only seven of the 19 times it had the ball inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Over the past three games, the Seahawks scored a touchdown on nine of 11 red-zone possessions. Does that represent a hot streak or a fundamental change for this offense? If Seattle remains that proficient in the short game, it’s going to be tough on opponents.
3. Why did Seattle let Cary Williams go on Monday?
He wasn’t the right fit in Seattle’s defense. We saw that over the course of the first 10 games when a 30-year-old veteran struggled to adapt to the kick-step technique and coverage style the Seahawks insist upon. Not only that, he wasn’t seeing what the rest of the defense called, helping explain Seattle’s tendency to give up touchdown passes to opposing tight ends. But Seattle isn’t exactly overflowing with cornerbacks. DeShawn Shead is now starting opposite Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane just came back two games ago and Marcus Burley provides some depth. So while Williams clearly didn’t fit, he was also a sunk cost at this point and unless the Seahawks see someone more capable of providing depth either on the practice squad or the waiver wire, it’s puzzling that they would cut him loose now.