Gallant: 2 reasons why Seahawks aren’t more than above-average
I’ve always wondered what would have happened in The Matrix if Neo had taken the blue pill. After all, the real world that the red pill led to was a bombed-out, sky-scorched land where machines treat humans like AA batteries. Cypher said it best while eating his fake juicy meat: Ignorance is bliss.
The first half of the Seahawks’ 27-20 victory over the Falcons featured a lot of blue pill bliss:
• Chris Carson and company looked like they could run for 300 yards.
• Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett were doing Russ & Tyler things.
• Matt Schaub threw an interception and nearly tossed a pick-6.
• The Seahawks scored three straight touchdowns going into the half.
But it also made me overlook some concerning developments that would rear their ugly heads in the second half, and that red pill realization of the truth set in:
The Seahawks are one of many above-average teams across the NFL.
Please excuse my rejection of reality, Hawksplainers. Believe me, I get it – the Seahawks just don’t blow teams out, even though they should. So instead of focusing on the repetitive trend, let’s look at why it’s continuing in 2019.
The Seahawks’ D isn’t improving, and might be getting worse.
It’s easy to forget the struggles of the Seahawks’ defense in the first half, but the Falcons moved the ball all game long. They just couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot before halftime.
• Two missed field goals
• One interception (and another near pick-6 before one of the missed field goals)
• One fumble
If the Seahawks’ defense was a plus unit, they would have feasted on Matt Schaub, a 38-year-old backup QB who hasn’t played well since 2012. But Seattle’s D is clearly not that. Schaub threw for 460 yards and a touchdown via screens, quick passes, and a lot of Julio Jones.
Matt. Schaub. Yes, this one.
It’s time to swallow this red pill: The Seahawks won’t have a pass rush in 2019. I’m sure Pete Carroll will tell us that the ball was getting out quickly, but Seattle only managed two sacks in this game. One was via a Bobby Wagner blitz and the other was on a pass setting up to be a Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter. If it can’t get sacks or force bad throws from a team that’s allowed the third-most hits on QBs (for what it’s worth, Seattle had seven Sunday), those sacks are just never coming.
There were some nice moments. Rookie safety Marquise Blair has been an imposing thumper with two games of extended reps under his belt. And on a day without starting cornerback Tre Flowers, Shaquill Griffin made some nice plays on the ball (though Jones and Calvin Ridley looked unstoppable, and often).
I’m going to highlight a nice moment that should have been more, however – a near pick-6 thrown by Schaub to Akeem King. Schaub, who just hung it up while under pressure, badly overthrew his man and hit King right in the hands. Alas, the ball went through his mitts. An inconsistent defense without a pass rush must take advantage of every opportunity like that, because failing to capitalize against an actually good team will result in a loss.
They’re so balanced on offense, they confuse themselves.
The Seahawks’ offense is entirely dependent on three playmakers:
• Russell Wilson
• Tyler Lockett
• Chris Carson
It’s one of the better triplets in the league, and as they go, this offense goes.
But at times, it seems like offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is overwhelmed by these three options. Like a dog that can’t decide what its favorite toy is. The Seahawks’ first two possessions of the second half killed nearly all of their momentum. Two play calls in particular irked me:
• Drive 1: A Carson run on first-and-15 (after an illegal formation)
• Drive 2: A Carson run on third-and-4
Carson was having a great first half, but that shouldn’t make Schottenheimer forget about Wilson’s existence – especially in a game where center Justin Britt suffered what appears to be a serious knee injury. Russ is one of the best players in the league and should have thrown far more than 20 passes against the Falcons and their fifth-worst pass defense.
There were some other things that bothered me, namely Seattle’s idea of throwing jump balls to a covered David Moore. But I’ll always be most frustrated by the Hawks’ obsession with achieving offensive balance. Why? Because they don’t even do it right (20 passes to 33 runs).