Hawk Talk highlights: What to make of the Seahawks’ loss to St. Louis

Dec 30, 2015, 11:44 AM
The Seahawks struggled vs. the Rams' front seven without their starting left tackle, tight end and tailback. (AP)

The Seahawks struggled vs. the Rams’ front seven without their starting left tackle, tight end and tailback. (AP)

Danny O’Neil hosted a live Seahawks chat Tuesday, as he does each week during the season. The full transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.

Ross asked which team’s loss last week signifies a downward trajectory: New England’s, Carolina’s and/or Seattle’s?

O’Neil: Essentially, you’re asking which team’s loss was the most meaningful indicator of a potentially short postseason run? My answer would be the Patriots. I think that New England is so very beaten up – and their scoring has declined continuously over the course of the season – that they’re in for a short run. No. 2 is Carolina: For all the credit Cam Newton has gotten, he’s not as consistently elite as Carson Palmer this year. He’s inaccurate and look no further than the first three quarters of Carolina’s game at Seattle for an example of what can happen. The Seahawks, on the other hand, lost to a team that always gives them trouble in wet conditions without their starting left tackle, their starting running back, their starting strong safety and their only tight end by the end of the game was Cooper Helfet.

Cbrew contended that the Rams are a dirty team.

O’Neil: I think that St. Louis pushes the envelope in the nature of some of the hits. But I also think that to single them out is the kind of cheap heat that is more appropriate for pro wrestling. There are others in the league who will swear that Seattle’s offensive line is every bit as dirty as the St. Louis defense.

Cbrew followed up by noting some of the hits in Sunday’s game as well as how St. Louis’ defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, was at the center of the Saints’ bounty scandal.

O’Neil: Well, but there are people who will point to the number of leg injuries that opposing defensive linemen have suffered playing against Seattle (and there’s probably more proof that way). I think the problem is that pointing a finger at dirty play in the NFL leaves three fingers pointing back at you. It’s an incredibly physical game where defenders often have the stated intention of hitting an opponent so hard he no longer wants to play. The line between hard-nosed and dirty is entirely subjective. Seattle players were specifically shown in the officiating video shown to teams before the past two seasons pointing to the type of cut blocks that are no longer allowed (you can’t roll into a defensive lineman’s leg).

PDXHawk asked if the Seahawks could count on Marshawn Lynch to carry the load in their first playoff game if he doesn’t play in Sunday’s regular-season finale.

O’Neil: Another good question. I know I found myself fired up this morning thinking about how exciting it will be to see Lynch back in the playoffs and see if he can kick-start this offense. He truly does have an effect on his teammates with the way he runs. That said, I remember in the preseason wondering that when Pete Carroll talked about having 24 in there made the running game look different whether he was glossing over deeper concerns.

Zorn on the 4th of July asked whether the absence of left tackle Russell Okung on Sunday against St. Louis would influence the Seahawks’ decision on whether or not to re-sign him once his contract expires at the end of the season.

O’Neil: I don’t think it’s just the Rams game, but this entire season. I think there will be some very interesting discussions about the value of veteran offensive lineman and whether Seattle has understated the importance. I don’t know if Seattle sees Okung as a guy worth a five-year contract at $8 million per year. I think someone else will.

Rick DHaene asked about all the coach’s challenges the Seahawks have lost this season – including two on Sunday – and whether or not that’s Carroll’s fault.

O’Neil: Yes. And if you ask me, that part of the game management is one of Carroll’s weak points. But he believes in momentum and the importance of taking a chance and the idea that this play is big enough that it’s worth taking a risk even if there’s not conclusive proof. I would never throw a challenge flag unless I was convinced that I should absolutely win it unless there’s a ridiculous mistake on the part of the refs. I thought the challenge on the Tyler Lockett “catch” was ridiculous. Not only was it the second – and last – challenge, but it came on a play in which – given the way officials have ruled on catches all year – there was no way it was going to be overturned.

My Name Here asked if the turnover on the Seahawks’ coaching staff has had a negative impact on their defense this season.

O’Neil: It’s certainly possible. Seattle has lost some really high-powered defensive-minded coaches in Dan Quinn and Gus Bradley not to mention the departure of Ken Norton, who minded the mojo for the defense. But I think that Carroll is so plugged into this defense, how it’s built and how he wants it to play, that I tend to think any sagging this year is more about performance than choreography.

Contract guy asked what will happen this offseason with strong safety Kam Chancellor and defensive lineman Michael Bennett given both players stated dissatisfaction with their contracts.

O’Neil: We’re a long way out at this point, and we haven’t even heard how the issue will be framed. But my short answer is that I don’t think that you’ll see money added to either of those two deals. Money that’s in that deal might be moved around (like Lynch in 2014), but I don’t believe that we’ll see new deals for either player a la Lynch this year. And if that doesn’t work, I don’t think that potential trades are out of the realm of possibility. This is entirely my speculation – I don’t have any inside info – but I would be very surprised if Seattle let those two subplots smolder into training camp this year.

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Hawk Talk highlights: What to make of the Seahawks’ loss to St. Louis