Whether at home, or on the road, good teams find ways to beat lesser teams. This is the way of team sports. However, sometimes good teams can get caught napping during the course of a match against a lesser opponent, and if they are not careful, they give them new life. If that lesser team has just enough talent, that come back and bite the better team right square in the butt.
Seattle flirted with being bit in the ass during this match, and there was really no need for it. Instead of going for it on fourth and three in the red zone during the first half, they could have kicked an easy field goal, especially considering that Jason Meyers had hit an impressive 55 yarder earlier in the half. Instead, they failed to convert that fourth down attempt, and they left points on the field.
Later in the second half, Russell Wilson threw a pick in the end zone. It wasn’t the pick that annoyed me, it was the fact that once they got to the ten yard line, they decided to throw three times in a row, instead of mixing in the run when it was clear that the Miami defense was having trouble stopping the run. Watching this, it felt like they were trying to force a touchdown pass to feed the Let Russ Cook crowd, and I wasn’t happy about that. Not at all.
Simply put, in a game in which the struggling Seahawk defense was able to turn things around enough to play a fairly decent against the Ryan Fitzpatrick led Dolphin offense, Seattle’s much ballyhooed offense left points on the field that would have likely led to more of a blowout. After winning back to back nail biters against the Patriots and Cowboys, personally, I would have preferred that blow out. I think that I earned it as a fan, and I don’t think I’m alone in that among the Twelves in feeling that way.
Good teams find ways to beat lesser teams. Great teams find ways to bury them. Seattle is a really good team right now. They still have a bit of work to do to become a great team in 2020.
Here are my notes about this game.
Russell Wilson didn’t have his best game in 2020 against these Dolphins. He was 24 for 34 passes attempts, throwing for 360 yards, with two touchdown passes, and an interception in the red zone. If this is his worst game so far in 2020, it only proves how excellent he has been through these first four games. Russell is staying on course for winning MVP honors this year, and that should not go unmentioned here. He made the plays that Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t.
Quietly, DK Metcalf had another strong game at receiver. This is becoming the norm in 2020. Yes, he had another drop, but his ability to get deep, catch and run, and bully defensive backs is simply next level stuff. He’s not the most polished receiver that Seattle has, but he clearly has the biggest upside. His enormous upside is starting to become more and more realized with each game this year. This is exciting stuff.
David Moore had yet another splashy game. Seattle is getting really good production out of him in his contract year, and this is boding well for an offense that is still playing without Josh Gordon. When you put also factor that Seattle is also getting good production from rookie sixth rounder Freddie Swain, this is really exciting stuff. Tyler Lockett was uncharacteristically quiet against the Dolphins, and it felt like it didn’t matter. It’s now not unreasonable to contemplate whether Seattle has one of the deepest receiving units in the league. They just might.
For all the talent in the pass game, running back Chris Carson wins the game ball for me, and it isn’t close. Coming off of a game in which Dallas Cowboy defensive tackle Trysten Hill tried to twist him like a pretzel with a dirty alligator tackle, Carson ran with power and grit against these Dolphins. I fully believe that Seattle could have ran at will against these Dolphins as much as they wanted to by mixing in rookie runner DeeJay Dallas with Carson. We can speculate whether they were passing more to let Russ cook, or they were passing more to rest Carson who was coming off a knee sprain, but it was clear that every time he touched the ball, Carson made the Dolphin run defense look pathetic. I came into this season thinking that Seattle should let him test free agency in 2021. This gritty performance against Miami has me considering that perhaps they should reach a deal with him as the season progresses. He just feels like a heartbeat player who offers so much in attitude and production. These are players to build off of.
I was flirting with giving my game ball to linebacker KJ Wright. While I was annoyed that he dropped at least two interceptions, he made splash play after splash play against the run and pass. For me, he was the best defender in the game.
Bravo to Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Junior for adjusting the defense to allow for an effective “bend don’t break” defense that forced Miami into field goals, and turnovers, instead of allowing explosive plays for easy scores. I’m the first to admit that Bend Don’t Break isn’t the most inspiring style of defense to play, but I believe that this is probably the best way for Seattle to go about it this year. For another year in a row, they are likely not going to be a quality pass rushing team. It is what it is, so far. By blitzing more and playing with more aggression, it is going to hamper coverage. Therefore, I think it is best to play coverage. I think KJ Wright had a great game because Carroll had the linebackers drop back more, and he was able to better play coverage and diagnose what was in front of him. Even though Seattle didn’t get a lot of sacks, they hurried Fitzpatrick into passes that were more easily to defend and pick off. I hope Seattle stays with this philosophy when star safety Jamal Adams get back.
For back to back games, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and safety Ryan Neal both grabbed interceptions. Both players played well, but Ryan Neal is making a case for himself to stay on the 53 man roster for the rest of the season. He looks and is playing like a Seattle Seahawk safety, and that is a good thing. He is perhaps an important reminder to Twelves that Seattle is still a develop from within club. It takes time to develop the techniques that Carroll demands from his defensive backs. Neal feels the next development player now starting to emerge. This is a good thing.
Right corner Tre Flowers had a horrific outing against the Cowboys last week, and bounced back better against the Dolphins. He did nothing flashy, but he didn’t play like a total liability in coverage. I’ll take it.
While Seattle didn’t generate multiple sacks, it was fun to see run stuffing defensive tackles Brian Mone and Anthony Rush combine for the lone sack against Fitzpatrick. Both guys weigh about 350 pounds. Good God, that’s 700 pounds that piled on Fitz. I don’t know if I’m more impressed with the mammoth run stuffers or the bearded gum chewing middle aged passer to took that punishment. That play would have likely killed me in half.
Look, I get the whole Let Russ Cook thingy. He’s the best player on the Seahawk roster, and the offense should go more through him. It just makes too much sense. However, going back to that red zone series in the second half when he forced that interception on third down in the end zone, Seattle had opportunities to continue running the ball down there, and yet they chose to throw three times in a row. Had Russell thrown a touchdown instead of that pick, I likely wouldn’t be writing about this, and I am the first to admit this. However, part of my semi reluctance to fully embrace letting Russ cook, it that it could lead to chasing stats instead of calling a smarter game. The Dolphin defense was on its heels against the run in the third quarter. Seattle’s offensive line was being the bully. They could have called one run play down there in that specific series. That is all I am going to say about that. It would have been smart, in my opinion.
While I love that the defense adjusted to play a much better game against the Dolphins, I don’t love that they are continuing to not generate much sacks, and I especially don’t love that KJ Wright dropped a couple fairly easy enough interceptions. Bend Don’t Break works partly because it can lend for turnovers. Like the offense left some points on the field, the defense left some turnovers out there. I want to see that change. Grab those picks for goodness sake. Grab them.
Ryan Fitzpatrick in an extremely likable player. He’s gutsy, and highly intelligent with that Harvard education. He’s a natural leader, and best of all, he’s a character with goofy beard and gum chewing, included. I’m a Ryan Fitzpatrick fan, but good lord, he physically looks someone who should be mowing football fields, not quarterbacking on them at the highest level. I couldn’t help but chuckle every time the cameras zoomed close on him breaking huddle. I feel bad putting this in my Ugly category, but now at 1-3, if I’m a Dolphin fan, I think I’m calling for Tua. Fitzmagic had a nice run, there’s a lot that he can hang his hat on, but let’s see what the young guy with major upside can do. Go Fins.
For the last few weeks, I have been a broken record about bringing in defensive tackle Snacks Harrison and pass rusher Clay Matthews. I will continue beating this drum.
While Brian Mone and Anthony Rush are showing better than expected depth behind Jarran Reed and Poona Ford, a healthy motivated Snacks would likely bring enough early down it-factor stuff to rest Jarran Reed more for obvious passing downs as Seattle main interior pass rusher. This cannot be underestimated. Reed is the best interior rusher and he is playing too many snaps on all three downs.
Likewise, Seattle needs more than Benson Mayowa as the main edge rusher with Alton Robinson, and Damontre Moore rotating in. Robinson had another key run stop behind the line of scrimmage and is flashing his upside, but he is not all there yet. Clay Matthews could come in this week, and he would likely be Seattle’s best edge rusher. That’s significant. That’s worth $5 million for me. Why Seattle hasn’t done this yet is curious to me, to put it nicely. Maybe there are trades that they are monitoring, and are playing a game of patience.
Needless to say, my patience is getting continually being tested. With Ryan Neal’s splashy play, is there a need to carry Lano Hill at safety? With Lockett, DK, David Moore, and Freddie Swain all flashing at receiver, do they need to carry Penny Hart on the roster right now?
If Seattle continues to play adequate bend don’t break defense, it could be enough for them to maybe win the division and advance a bit more in the playoffs. If the cards fall right, maybe it even takes them to the big show, but as we all know, injuries happen, and Seattle simply needs better depth on it’s defensive line. They are depending too much on Benson Mayowa and Jarran Reed to stay healthy. Adding two quality vets on the defensive line would huge for this team. Huge.
So, I am going to say this again. Go get Snacks. Go get Matthews. Do it this week, John Schneider.