Clayton’s Observations: Seahawks keep getting gifts from Bill Belichick
Plenty of things were defined in the wild and crazy Seattle Seahawks overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
In the Seahawks’ Thursday night home win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5, they learned they could compete for the NFC West title. In the 27-24 win over San Francisco, the Seahawks found out they could compete for one of the top three seeds in the NFC.
The upcoming bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. The starters are exhausted as would any hard-hitting team that went 10 weeks without a break, including two overtime games in eight days. The week off will give the battered players a chance to freshen up and get ready for the final six-game stretch, which is one of the toughest in the league.
Let’s review what we learned Monday night.
• For the first time this season, the Seahawks showed they could rush four defensive linemen and drop seven defenders. Jadeveon Clowney was the best player on the field, getting a sack, five quarterback hits and a touchdown return, his second of the season. Quentin Jefferson also showed his value after missing a couple games with an oblique injury.
The big advancement was the Seahawks finally getting pressure from their defensive tackles. Jarran Reed looked the Jarran Reed who had 10 1/2 sacks last year. He had a sack and a half Monday night. Poona Ford had half a sack and some good rushes, as did Al Woods. That play from the defensive line allowed linebackers K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendrick to drop into coverage and help stop the run.
• It’s time to realize the Ziggy Ansah signing hasn’t worked out for the first 10 games. He wasn’t benched, but he was moved toward the back of the line in the pass-rush rotation. The Seahawks gave linebacker Shaquem Griffin the chance to rush 14 times. Ansah was on the field for only 14 plays and wasn’t much of a factor.
The one-week break could help, though. Last week, Pete Carroll said Ansah weighed only 258 pounds and that he plays his best when he’s 270. No one questions Ansah’s work ethic. He plays hard on every play. He’s just not getting to the quarterback.
• San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo showed he’s not yet ready for primetime. Though his career record as a starter is 16-3, Monday was his biggest test in a primetime game. Sure, he beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on a Sunday night, but Mason Rudolph was the Steelers quarterback in that game, not Ben Roethlisberger. Plus, the Steelers came out of that game feeling they could have beaten the 49ers.
Where Garoppolo needs to improve is his passing when he’s under pressure. He threw five tosses that could have been intercepted. He was 3 for 15 on throws longer than 10 yards, and he finished the game 24 of 46 passing for 248 yards. He was also sacked five times. What Garoppolo has shown is that he’s a good enough quarterback to get a team to the playoffs. He is still pretty good, just not great.
• Patriots coach Bill Belichick is a legitimate genius in coaching and in personnel, but he has helped the Seahawks through the years. For a mere seventh-round pick a couple of years ago, he gave Justin Coleman to the Seahawks. Coleman became one of the best slot cornerbacks in the game, and the Detroit Lions subsequently gave him $9 million a year to be a starter.
Jacob Hollister was the next gift. After losing No. 1 tight end Will Dissly for the season to an Achilles tear, Seattle turned to Hollister, who has 12 catches for 99 yards and three touchdowns in the past two games. Meanwhile, the Patriots have nothing at tight end. Ben Watson, Ryan Izzo, Eric Tomlinson and Matt LaCrosse have combined for 18 catches and 232 yards. In five games, Hollister has been on the field for 206 plays after coming off the practice squad. Izzo (271 plays) is the only New England TE to top Hollister in that category.
• Another Patriots gift to Seattle might be Josh Gordon, who caught two key third-down slants late against the 49ers. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, he looks the part of a big, talented receiver. He was good enough in New England to average 3.3 catches a game as a starter.
Gordon played well with Tyler Lockett sidelined late in the game, and it sounds like the Seahawks dodged a bullet with Lockett’s leg injury. He spent Monday night in a hospital as a precaution, and he appears to just have a bad contusion and not the compartment syndrome injury that was feared.
The loser in the Gordon waiver claim was Jaron Brown, who was a healthy scratch. He’s now the sixth of seven receivers on the Seahawks roster.
• Good thing the Seahawks didn’t cut Jason Myers. He made his two longest field goals of the season against San Francisco, including the game-winner in overtime. Fill-in kickers coming into Week 10 in the NFL this season were 25 of 49 – not very good. The 49ers had to use their own fill-in kicker Monday in Chase McLaughlin, who made his first three kicks but badly shanked a potential game-winner in overtime.
• Finally, what’s great to see is that the Seahawks-49ers rivalry is back. Levi’s Stadium sounded as loud as CenturyLink Field. This was lowest percentage of Seahawks fans in an away stadium I’ve seen in a while. Both teams are going to be playoff contenders and quality division rivals over the next couple of years.
More Seahawks coverage
• Seahawks Takeaways: Carroll updates Tyler Lockett’s injury and more
• Moore: Seahawks should be favored to win NFC after D showed up vs 49ers
• O’Neil: Seahawks have a new identity – the team you can’t put away
• Rost: Seahawks’ defense makes a statement against 49ers in OT thriller
• Seahawks 3 Stars: A kicker, TE and Clowney stand out
- Tune in to 710 ESPN Seattle weekdays at 10am for John Clayton's show.
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