Now Is Not The Time To Panic
Seattle lost a tough home game to a talented Baltimore Ravens team that is destined to win their division, much like their loss to the New Orleans Saints a month ago. They are still 5-2, and will travel on the road to play a struggling Falcons team and then they will return home to play a struggling Buccaneers team. In two weeks, this team has a pretty good shot at being 7-2 and this loss will be long in the rear view mirror as they get ready to play the unbeaten San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
Speaking of the 49ers, their schedule is about to get tougher. Next Sunday they have to play a tough Panthers team in Carolina, and then they have to go on the road to play the rapidly improving Arizona Cardinals. There is a chance that by the time these two clubs meet on November 11th, both will be facing off with 5-2 records.
Seattle just needs to beat the teams that they are supposed to beat to stay firmly in this race. I think a home loss like this can certainly help them hone into that.
Further Reflection on the Ravens Loss
Seattle was a bit undermanned on offense with no Duane Brown, Will Dissly, and DJ Fluker. In a wet day where leaning on a power run game might have been the more desired route, the loss of these three players probably hurt their chances doing that. I think this is why we saw so much volume passing from Russell Wilson.
Having Duane Brown starting at left tackle would have allowed for George Fant to play tight end in heavy run formations. Jamarco Jones has done a great job filling in for Fluker, but Fluker’s presence probably would have lent better for the run. Will Dissly would have helped as a run blocker, and would have been a way better passing target for Wilson during play action than Luke Willson and Jacob Hollister. Ideally, in a soggy late October match, this is probably what Pete Carroll would have preferred.
Seattle was also a bit undermanned on the defense because they didn’t have defensive end Ziggy Ansah, and the back end experience of Bradley McDougald. Rookie safety Marquise Blair played pretty well in McDougald’s place, but Carroll admitted in his post game press conference that they kept the calls on the defense simple for Blair, and didn’t ask him to do too much. This might have limited how they could adjust the defense.
This is the NFL. Seattle is a playoff contending team that lost a tough match up. It’s warts were exposed, like a lot of playoff contending teams have happen to them through the course of a season. Wilson doesn’t have the benefit of playing with a great defense right now, and when Baltimore was able to make Seattle’s offense more one dimensional, Seattle lost. It does not mean that this is how Seattle will be the rest of the way. It just means that this is how is was on this day.
Expect Seattle to be Active Leading Up to the Trade Deadline
It’s probably one of the worst kept NFL secret that Seattle probably wants to add a tight end. There are options out there on a number of losing teams looking to dump salaries and add picks for next year’s draft. The Bengals’ Tyler Eifert, the Buc’s OJ Howard, and the Titan’s Delanie Walker are just a few players to keep in mind.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Seattle makes a couple moves. Seattle could definitely use help with the pass rush, but part of me wonders if they would consider adding even one more offensive weapon for Russell Wilson outside of tight end, and just ride the offense for as far as Russell and company can carry them. Part of the reason why I think this is because even when they had a healthy and productive Will Dissly, they were initially interested in bringing in Antonio Brown before he ended up for a short spell in New England. Could Seattle trade for a tight end like Howard and maybe bring in a Emmanuel Sanders or AJ Green?
We shall soon see, but one thing is clear, Seattle will probably only go as far as Russell Wilson will take them. They aren’t particularly special on the defense right now, but they can be pretty special on the offensive side. If they can just be middle of the pact on defense and elite on the offense, they can still have a pretty special year.
Finally, on this subject of trades, it was interesting that they didn’t use running back Rashaad Penny in this match against the Ravens. He was active for the game. Were they holding him back because he’s potentially part of a big trade package?
Is It Time to Go Younger on the Defense?
At the beginning of the season, it was expected that the strength of the Seattle defense (if not the entire team) would be their veteran linebackers. Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, and Mychal Kendricks are veteran players who have made fairly big names for themselves. On Madden, that threesome looks terrific, but last week, they allowed Baker Mayfield to easily jog ten yards up the middle for a touchdown in the red zone, and losing containment on running backs has been a bit of a season long theme. Against Lamar Jackson, it just looked kinda sad in the second half of the game.
Is it time for Carroll to consider mixing in rookies Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven? Both were play-makers in college, both are faster players than KJ Wright, and while KJ had a really nice play in coverage defending what would have been a touchdown pass, I’m just not sure if he is quick enough to consistently make plays like he used to against the run and pass.
The reason I bring this up is that Marquise Blair at safety was pretty flashy out there and his speed was apparent. While they had to simplify the defensive calls, he made plays that we just do not see Tedric Thompson routinely make.
I’m not expecting Carroll to bench KJ Wright in favor for Cody Barton heading into playing what could be the Matt Ryan-less Falcons next week, but I just wonder if they don’t start transitioning youth in a bit more moving forward.
At the beginning of the season, I thought Seattle had a decent chance at winning eleven games and maybe winning the division. I still think that is possible, but there is a lot of games left to be played, and they have a lot of work to do. Added to that, with the Rams trading for Jalen Ramsey and the Cardinals on a three game win streak, Seattle just doesn’t have San Francisco to be concerned with in the NFC West. This is another reason why I think they will probably be active over the next week looking to add to the roster.
I still feel like they should look to add at tight end, and another pass rusher, but I accept the idea of double dipping on the offense. Perhaps this is a year to make your strength that much stronger.
On the defense, it doesn’t feel great right now, but they just got Jarran Reed back. I think there is a fair chance that in a couple weeks fans are going to feel much better about this side of the ball once Reed gets more acclimated. As bad as it felt against Lamar Jackson, I’m still willing to be patient with this unit. Marquise Blair gives me hope.