There are few things that I am a hundred percent certain on. For certain, I can say that water is wet, fire is hot, ice is cold, and Larry David’s SNL Bernie Sanders is one of the funniest things I’ve watched in a while. However, I can not say, with a hundred percent certainty, that Abe Lincoln was the greatest US president, John Lennon was the greatest Beatle, or whether I really like or dislike hummus.
This all said, I can pretty comfortably say that this Seahawk road win against the lowly Matt Ryan-less Atlanta Falcons probably didn’t pump tons of confidence into the chests of Twelves that this team is anything more than a potential wild card playoff team. With all the hope we were filled with in the first half, going up 24-0 and really feeling like we’d finally see a blow out of an inferior opponent, it was fairly quickly dashed when Atlanta came back in the second half and outscored Seattle 20-3 to make it a much more respectable final score for them.
This game was literally a tale of two halves, and I think what we can glean from it is that Seattle still has a lot of work to do, if they want to truly contend this year, and that is even if they make some sort of big trade or two before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
I also think there is some perspective needed about this game and how it went down. I will go into that in later thoughts below, but first, let’s roll out the goods, the bads, and the uglies.
Rookie safety Marquise Blair followed a good game against the Ravens last week with a pretty darn fine awesome great game for a second career start against these Falcons. He notched up 11 tackles and a key forced fumble that stopped the Falcons from really coming back in this one. He made plays against the run, and plays in coverage. He made Earl Thomas plays and Kam Chancellor plays. I get why Seattle took this guy high in the second round last Spring. I will take more of it, thank you very much. Buy stock in Blair.
The defense was not dominant by any means, but there was some really nice continued play by Shaquill Griffin, I thought there was better play out of Bobby Wagner, and they got good pass rush and plays against the run out of Jadeveon Clowney.
Russell Wilson continued to be his ultra efficient play as a passer, completely 14-20 passes for 180 and 2 TDs and 0 INTs. He made plays when they needed him to, especially when he was pinned back towards his own end zone in the fourth quarter and they needed a long time consuming drive that lead to a score. Russ delivered in this one.
Chris Carson also delivered running the ball with toughness when needed, and Rashaad Penny showed again how talented he is when he get his chances with the ball.
I thought Tyler Lockett was the best player on offense, showing uncanny ability to make touch catches in tight coverage. For all the national love Russell Wilson is getting for a potential league MVP honor, I think more love should be directed on how special of a player Lockett is now becoming in Seattle. In my opinion, he is playing like a top five receiver in this league, and this is just not being talked about enough.
Finally, Seattle’s special teams unit had a great game. Michael Dickson was booming punts, and Jason Myers made all of his field goals. Punt coverage was hella solid.
There is a lot of constant talk about how Seattle’s pass rush isn’t generating enough sacks and hits. I think a lot of that is well warranted, but for my money, I think the season long tendency to miss tackles is plaguing this team, and they definitely need to get better here. They just have to. They missed too many in this one, yet again. One of the biggest hallmarks of a Pete Carroll defense is quality tackling, and it just hasn’t be consistently there this season. They gave up an easy third quarter touchdown run to Brian Hill by whiffing on tackling. Marquise Blair should have stopped him near the line of scrimmage, and I believe Mychal Kendricks missed him further down field, and Tedric Thompson missed him further down field. Can’t have that. Can’t. So stop it. Fix it, and then worry about the pass rush.
For as good as pressure that Jadeveon Clowney got on Matt Schaub, he was doing a lot of Michael Bennett impersonations jumping off sides, and it was annoying.
It was painfully obvious that Akeem King, starting in place of Tre Flowers, is not a starting caliber corner. When Schaub finally decided to pick on him in the second half, he couldn’t really do much to stop the pass catching on his side. He also missed an easy interception that could have easily been a pick six. I’m praying Flowers comes back soon.
I thought Seattle’s offensive play calling was weirdly dialed back early in the second half. It was only when it seemed like Atlanta’s offense was going to continue rolling that Brian Schottenhiemer started dialing up the passing attack more. I don’t know if it was Schotty’s decision to dial it back, or it was Pete who mandated it, but I would have loved to have seem them continue the second half in attack mode.
It appears that starting center Justin Britt tore is ACL in his knee early in this game, and if so, is done for the season. It’s a shame. He was a big leader on the line. Joey Hunt did a serviceable job replacing him, and has done serviceable jobs in the past stepping in for him. Seattle might still be okay here, but depth on the offensive line is now officially really being tested and San Francisco has an electric defensive line.
The officials missed a bad face mask on Russell Wilson, and then an obvious Clowney roughing the passer on Matt Schaub. What did these two quarterbacks do to deserve that?
This was a game that proven a bit tougher than it needed to be, but this is not new for these Seattle Seahawks this season. They opened the season at home against a Bengals team that is still win-less, and that awful Bengals team gave them fits, yet Seattle still won. Is it playing down to the level of the opponent? Maybe, but maybe this is what the Seattle Seahawks are this year.
They can still win ten or eleven games and make the playoffs, but if they really want to push for the division title against San Francisco and LA, they must clean things up. The good news is that Pete Carroll coached teams tend to play their best ball in the second half of the season. My hunch is that they will.
I also wouldn’t overly fret about this very un-blow out performance against the Falcons. Seattle was playing without it’s starting right cornerback against a team that has probably the best receiver the league along with several good complimentary receivers and a pro bowl tight end. Even though Matt Schaub is no Matt Ryan, he is still a savvy veteran quarterback and he had weapons to throw at. I think also, you have to credit Dan Quinn and his staff for making good second half adjustments to the offense to take advantage of Seattle’s overly eager pass rush with screens and play action. Any dog can have his day and Schaub was kind of having his.
Still, Seattle did what it needed to do to win, and that was really captured by the long fourth quarter Wilson, Lockett and Carson led drive that got them three additional points and more importantly, chewed up a ton of clock. Credit needs to be given for that. By the time Myers made that field goal, the game was pretty much out of reach for Atlanta. The final score made it seem closer than it was, period.
As for Schaub’s crazy 460 yard passing day, ESPN 710’s Danny O’Neil offered a very interesting tweet after the game; the Seattle Seahawks are now 7-0 against quarterbacks who have passed for 400 yards against them in the Pete Carroll era. This why I think the passing geeks need to pipe down just a bit. For one thing, teams that fall quickly behind will pass more. The other more important thing is that Pete Carroll is fine giving up passing yards if it is just underneath stuff. His philosophy is stop the run and don’t give up explosive down field plays that lead to easy scores. We can complain about the lack of sacks and all the missed tackles, but this is pretty much what Seattle’s defense did today. In a sense, that’s Pete Ball right there.
Trade Deadline Approaching.
Mark Tuesday October 29th in your calendar. There could be breaking news about another Seahawks trade.
What is really going to be interesting over the day or so is whether Seattle makes any bold moves heading towards the trade deadline to help chase the 49ers for the division, or if they stay more tempered. It was rumored by NFL insider Ian Rapoport Sunday morning that Seattle is potentially shopping Rashaad Penny. It’s odd to me that they would trade away their 2018 first round pick so soon (especially since he was as impactful as he was in this game), but maybe he would be a part of a package for a much bigger named player for the offense or defense. We shall see.
In my mind, I still can’t decide if they should make a splashy trade (or two), or be more measured. On one hand, it would be fun to see them add more to the offense and have Russell continue to chase the MVP, but on the other hand, I don’t want to see them mortgage too much of the future to win now. They have a young team around Wilson, and a lot of draft picks for next Spring. In my mind, it’s still best to build through the draft. I’m sure that’s the balancing act general manager John Schneider is weighing in his mind as I type all this out. It will be interesting to see what it does in just a short while.
If I have to only have one thing on a wish list it is this. Get a quality starting tight end. This team misses Will Dissly.