Three Things from the Seahawks’ win over Baltimore
Hard to remember when a blowout victory spawned as much concern as Seattle’s 35-6 win in Baltimore.
The Seahawks lost Thomas Rawls to a season-ending ankle injury, Kam Chancellor is unlikely to practice Wednesday because of a bruised tailbone and Marshawn Lynch’s return is still entirely uncertain.
With all that said, we did learn Seattle is well-armed even without a viable rushing attack. That’s because of how well Russell Wilson is playing.
Three things we learned:
1. Russell Wilson is an elite passer in the pocket, too.
That was really the only question left about him. As a rookie, he was already one of the league’s very best improvisational quarterbacks. Over the next two seasons, his ability to scramble and create on the move was unparalleled. And it wasn’t like he was a poor passer in the pocket. The question was whether he would ever be great at it. Well, the past four games have answered the question pretty clearly. Not only is he passing from the pocket in the context of a timing-based offense, but he’s doing that at an almost incomprehensibly efficient rate. It’s truly been exceptional, and anyone who still doesn’t include Wilson among the top 10 players in this league regardless of position can’t be taken seriously.
2. Doug Baldwin deserves a Pro Bowl bid.
He has caught eight touchdown passes in the past three games, a truly remarkable stretch. He has scored 11 touchdowns this season. Not bad for a guy who scored 15 in his first four seasons combined. So what’s changed? Well, it’s not Baldwin’s performance. He has always been capable of doing this. What has changed is the way this offense functions with Wilson not just being more decisive in the pocket, but throwing from the pocket with an effectiveness that is unrivaled in the NFL over the past four weeks. Baldwin has been the biggest beneficiary, but hardly the only one.
3. Tyler Lockett merits rookie-of-the-year consideration.
He’s not going to win the award, which will probably end up with Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston or Raiders receiver Amari Cooper given how Rams running back Todd Gurley has tailed off after his hot start. But Lockett, the receiver Seattle traded up to pick in the third round, has scored seven touchdowns this season, tied for third-most among all rookies. And while he was picked to make an immediate impact on kick returns, Lockett has shown that he’s a big-play receiver who also happens to be a great returner. Of the five rookies who’ve caught 40 passes so far this season, only Cooper – the No. 4 overall pick – and Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs are averaging more yards per catch.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Will Marshawn Lynch play again this season?
It took one play to go from wondering what Seattle would do when Lynch returned to worrying about what would happen if he didn’t. That’s the impact of Rawls’ season-ending ankle injury. Can the Seahawks be a Super Bowl contender without Lynch? Well, he’s not going to play this week as coach Pete Carroll said Lynch will continue to rehab on his own. Hard to imagine he would play next week against St. Louis, either. But there’s already a bit of a buzz that it’s possible Lynch will return for the regular-season finale in Arizona and be ready for the playoffs. Lynch’s return is now the biggest question in Seattle over the final month of the regular season.
2. Is Seattle going to run out of defensive backs?
Things were starting to get sparse out there in Baltimore. First, DeShawn Shead rolled his ankle, causing Jeremy Lane to move from nickelback to right cornerback to begin the second half. Then Marcus Burley rolled his ankle in the second half, prompting Shead to return to the game as a nickel defender. Throw in the fact that Chancellor didn’t play the final three quarters because of a bruised tailbone and you’ve got some depth concerns in that secondary. The good news is that none of those injuries are of the season-ending variety, but it does mean you’re going to see some shuffling these next few weeks. And one thing to watch is whether Seattle ends up liking Lane starting on the outside, something he has done in the past.
3. Is the secondary suspect?
This needs to start with a disclaimer: Seattle’s defense didn’t allow a touchdown for the second straight week and the fifth time this season. But – yes, there’s a nit-picking “but” here – Jimmy Clausen did complete four passes for more than 20 yards against Seattle. Yeah, the same Jimmy Clausen who threw for a total of 62 yards against the Seahawks in their Week-3 shutout of the Bears. Not only that, but Baltimore’s field-goal drive at the end of the first half showed a template for how opponents can be expected to go after Shead, first with a completion over the top and then with a back-shoulder throw. Seattle’s next two opponents may not have the firepower to take advantage of that, but expect that to be a template employed by playoff opponents.