Rost: 3 key numbers after Seahawks’ shocking loss to Cardinals
The Seahawks should have beat the Cardinals Sunday. They were favored by 9.5 heading into the game – which is interesting since they have just one win of eight points or more this year. But outside of that, they have an advantage almost across the board – at least on offense.
And maybe that’s why Sunday’s loss was so surprising. Seattle was expected to struggle on defense due to being short three starters: edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, and safety Quandre Diggs. Despite that, they still had a chance to be productive against a four-win Arizona team with a rookie quarterback playing on the road.
What wasn’t expected was Seattle’s struggle on offense. Nevermind that the Seahawks were short starting left tackle Duane Brown, or that they failed to score a touchdown at all two weeks ago; Seattle’s offense was still in the top five league wide in yards per game heading into Sunday. They have one of the league’s best quarterbacks with Russell Wilson, a 1,000 yard rusher with Chris Carson, the most productive rookie receiver this year in DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett, who just recorded his first 1,000-yard season.
More than that, the Cardinals’ defense was – is – bad. Arizona ranks 32nd overall and is one of two teams in the league allowing 400 or more yards on average from opposing offenses. Their best player is outside linebacker Chandler Jones, however, and the Seahawks’ offensive line couldn’t find a way to block him. Jones finished with four sacks and six quarterback hits.
The Seahawks have a few big questions moving forward. How can they step up their protection if left tackle Duane Brown remains out? What are they going to do at running back with Carson and C.J. Prosise both hurt? And what can a defense that allowed 100 yards by Arizona running back Kenyan Drake in the first half do to contain San Francisco’s offense next week?
Here are three key numbers:
The Seahawks converted just 8% of their third downs – 1 for 12 – against the league’s worst-ranked defense. That’s not just well below their season average of 40.23%, it’s also their season low.
One of the benefits of Seattle favoring its base defense has been an improvement against the run this year, but they allowed 253 rushing yards by the Cardinals Sunday, including over 100 yards from Drake before halftime.
Seattle’s defense allowed just three 100-plus yard rushers over the first 10 weeks of the season, but that’s changed over the final stretch. Opponents have since rushed for 100 yards or more in four of the last five weeks. Injuries are a likely catalyst for those changes, particularly to starting outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Kendricks was able to return on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether Clowney (or starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin, for that matter) will make it back for the regular season finale against the 49ers.
“We held out hope that maybe they could turn a corner, but neither one of them did,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after Seattle’s loss to Arizona. “It’s interesting that a few of our guys, sometimes earlier in the season you get to the end of the week and they can make it back. Here, these guys didn’t in this case. So, we’ll just see how that goes next week.”
The task won’t become easier in Week 17. Seattle will face a San Francisco offense that ranks second overall in rushing yards per game (145.1).
The number of starters Seattle had inactive or lost to injury in Week 16.
Clowney (core), Diggs (ankle), Griffin (hamstring) and Brown (knee) were all inactive. Meanwhile, running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise were both injured during the game and did not return.
An already bad injury situation only got worse for Seattle with Carroll’s postgame comments. He revealed that both Carson and Prosise are feared to have suffered season-ending injuries – Carson with a hip injury and Prosise with a broken arm. Carroll said the team will receive the final word on Carson’s injury Monday.
In addition, Brown will undergo minor knee surgery to alleviate excessive discomfort, and he is expected to miss a few weeks. Unlike Carson and Prosise, though, Carroll says Brown has a chance to make a return in the playoffs.
“He tried like crazy to get through it this week and just couldn’t,” Carroll said about Brown’s knee injury. “He did everything he could during the week and couldn’t get it to quiet down. He just needs to get his knee cleaned up. It’s not a major surgery, but the discomfort is that he just can’t play.”
It’s also not clear whether Diggs, Clowney or Griffin will be able to play in Week 17.
Regardless of whether they return, the Seahawks are at least guaranteed one playoff game (whether as a wild card or as a division winner) and will need to add running back depth before then. The team has one remaining healthy running back on the roster – rookie Travis Homer – and another, Xavier Turner, on the practice squad.
“We do kind of like running the football, you know,” Carroll said. “It’s a challenge. (Seahawks general manager John Schneider) has to get working. He has a plan, and he was already preparing for every position that has a fallout wherever we go. So, we’ll let you know when we get to it.”