Three things from the Seahawks’ win over Oakland
The Seahawks didn’t have 46 healthy players to suit up on Sunday, and things didn’t exactly get better during a game in which they lost left guard James Carpenter to an ankle injury.
You can count resiliency among the things we learned about this Seahawks team on Sunday. That and the fact they need to get healthy before they play six straight games against teams that won 10 or more games in 2013.
Three things we learned:
1. Injuries have turned Seattle’s special teams into a liability.
No unit on the team is more vulnerable to fluctuations in personnel than special teams, whether it’s a player who is no longer available because of injury or someone who’s being asked to change special-teams assignments because of that injury. Take Derrick Coleman. Not only does Seattle have to replace him at fullback but also fill in his role on as many as four different special-teams units. It’s no coincidence that over the past three games the Seahawks have given up a punt-return for a touchdown against St. Louis, allowed the Rams to convert a fake punt and on Sunday had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown for the first time since 2003. “It was a circus out there, just getting the guys in their spots,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We had to move some guys around.”
2. Marshawn Lynch is more important than ever to Seattle’s offense.
He led Seattle in both rushing yards with 67 and receiving yards with 76, and that doesn’t even count the 78 yards from scrimmage that were nullified by Seahawks penalties. The trade of Percy Harvin and free-agent departure of Golden Tate have taken a bite out of the Seahawks’ explosiveness. Lynch has embodied the identity that Carroll wants for this offense. Lynch may now also be its most explosive component, and he’s accounting for more and more of Seattle’s offensive yardage.
3. There’s a reason teams haven’t been throwing in Richard Sherman’s direction.
Derek Carr got away with one throw in Sherman’s direction. That was a third-down pass to Andre Holmes along the sidelines in the first quarter. Sherman turned around in time to bat that pass away, and when Carr went back his way in the second quarter, Sherman was ready, leaping for his first interception of the season. He had a 22-yard return off that interception, which was highlighted by Earl Thomas’ block on tight end Mychal Rivera.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Why has Russell Wilson’s accuracy waned?
In the first four games of the season, Wilson completed 70.3 percent (78 of 111) of his passes. In the past four, it’s down to 56.5 percent (74 of 131). Now, that decline has coincided with injuries along the offensive line. It has also come at a time when Seattle is adjusting to personnel changes at wide receiver following the trade of Harvin. But Wilson wasn’t as sharp as usual on Sunday by his own admission, and while Seattle was still able to beat Oakland, the Seahawks will need their quarterback to be at his best when the schedule gets significantly more difficult beginning Nov. 16 in Kansas City.
2. How does Seattle stop the penalties?
The Seahawks have been among the league’s most penalized teams each of the previous three seasons, ranking second in 2011, sixth in 2012 and leading the league last season. They’re tied for fifth right now, but of their nine penalties against Oakland, three were pre-snap penalties against offensive linemen. Two more were for an offensive linemen being too far down-field on a pass, meaning that these aren’t mistakes of aggression that Seattle is making but more like lapses in fundamentals. Penalties haven’t cost Seattle a game. At least not yet, but the Seahawks are coming closer and closer.
3. Why does Seattle’s offense start so slow?
Yes, the Seahawks scored a touchdown on their first possession against Oakland, but that was the exception, not the rule, with their first-quarter performance. Their first three possessions in Carolina gained a total of 30 yards and just one first down, and after that opening touchdown drive against Oakland, the Seahawks failed to gain a first down on any of their next three possessions.