True Grit In A Tough Loss: A Review Of The Seahawks 23-20 Loss To The Pittsburgh Steelers On SNF

Not gonna blame this guy for this loss. No way.

It’s hard for me to imagine how this game would have gone had we had a healthy Russell Wilson playing in this one. I understand the sentiment that many fans would have in believing that, if we had Russ playing, we likely would have won this game. Forgive me if I am a little less convinced.

This isn’t to say that Russell Wilson isn’t a significantly better quarterback to Geno Smith, he clearly is. I’m just saying that I have watched every single game Russell Wilson has played as a professional quarterback, and I think I’ve developed a decent sense on what style of defenses he can go after, and which ones are likely to give him troubles.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a dominant defensive tackle and defensive end combination in Cameron Heyward and TJ Watt up front. Defenses that have typically that combo has long made games difficult for Russ. If you have smart and talented edge rushers like TJ Watt, you can contain Russ, and if you have a dominant interior rusher like Heyward, he can easily be flushed into the loving grips of a guy like Watt, if Heyward doesn’t get there first. He’s a short quarterback, who often needs to hang onto to the ball longer to find his open receivers. This is a big part of what Russ is.

So forgive me if I watched and enjoyed a significantly less talented quarterback in Geno Smith often get the ball out quickly to check downs and quick slants against this aggressive front seven of the Steelers defense. Yes, Geno got sacked too, but I have a sneaking suspicion that had we seen Russ playing in this game, the sacks could have been a lot more.

I think this was a good game for Russ to stand on the sidelines and see how things were available to Geno and how Geno found enough success to give Seattle a chance to win it in the end.

I think this is also a really good game for Pete Carroll to see that Alex Collins can be more of a featured back in this league and rookie Tre Brown perhaps needs to be considered that starting left corner for his defense.

Here are more of my thoughts.

The Good

Alex Collins was undoubtedly the star of the Seattle Seahawks on SNF for me. His 20 carries for 101 yard and a score sparked Seattle’s offense in the second half that was very reminiscent of Marshawn Lynch circa 2012. He was quick and decisive hitting his holes and his cutbacks were next level. If Seattle had managed to win this game, there is no doubt in my mind that he would be the player most talked about this week. If Seattle is to win games with Geno Smith as QB1, Collins must be a more focused part of the game plan moving forward.

Bravo to rookie cornerback Tre Brown for flashing on this defense and making an impact when forced to play more after Sidney Jones got injured. I honestly cannot remember in recent history when a Seattle corner made a splash like this. If Seattle had managed to pull this win off, his critical late game third and short snuff of a screen pass would have been talked about all week. His defense of a sideline go ball earlier in the game was sweet to watch, as well. I’m not going to pretend that this dude is the second coming of Richard Sherman, but judging off what I have seen from left cornerback play from the Seahawks over the past three seasons, I will gladly take seeing this guy lined up there more moving forward through this season.

It was positive seeing the offensive line run block with solid success in the second half, especially to the right side of the line. Yes, Pittsburgh finally adjusted their defense to snuff the run out late, but that sorta opened things up for Geno to hit passes over the middle. This effort worked to Seattle’s second half advantage to get back into this game. It was fun to watch.

It was also nice to see Jamal Adams finally being used in this defense more like he was in 2020 as a box safety, and he was finally making some impact plays. I still have a lot of issues about this defense that Seattle is rolling out with, but at least I saw them using one of their best players to play at his strengths instead of being tasked with things that are not. This was a positive step forward. I will take that.

Finally, while many fans will remember the fumble that Geno Smith gave up trying to scramble up the middle in overtime, I will more likely remember his toughness against adversity and doing enough little things to give this team a chance to pull off a miracle win on SNF.

I will be honest, I didn’t give Seattle much of a chance in this one. Seattle played better than I thought they would and they got better play out of Geno Smith that I thought they would get. Yes, there were plays in which he did not look great throwing on a scramble to Tyler Lockett, and this fumble play at the end. But there are also plays were he hung touch in the pocket after play action and delivered beautiful touch balls down the middle of a good Pittsburgh defense. In short, I think he did enough to play within himself to game manage Seattle to an unexpected win.

The Bad

As impressed as I was with Tre Brown’s effort on defense, along with his mate on the other side in DJ Reed, I was not loving this Seahawk defense again in this game. We can talk about what kind of talent they have on this roster, and I don’t think it’s great (especially at defensive tackle), but for me, the issue still remains with what Seattle has at defensive coordinator in Ken Norton Junior.

My trust is completely broken as a fan of this team, and because Pete Carroll did not seek to replace him this off-season when former coordinators Dan Quinn, Gus Bradley, and Kris Richard were all available to be hired back, my trust is actually most broken by Pete Carroll. It is without a doubt that the Seattle Seahawks have played the worst defense in the Pete Carroll era over the past three and a half-ish seasons with Norton as the DC. While it is possible that not all of that is on Norton, something has to give, and honestly, maybe that is Pete Carroll himself.

In my inexpert opinion, this defense still looks like it is trying to do and be too much. It’s not simplified enough for the linebackers to play fast, and why did we suddenly see Benson Mayowa being used as a drop back linebacker through much of the first have when Ben Roethlisberger was finding most of his success? Who was Seattle thinking they were fooling with that look?

I’m done with this defense. Ain’t no defending these defenders anymore for me this season. Sadly, I also don’t think it’s their fault. I still think too much is on their plate. 4-3 defensive ends shouldn’t be tasked to be drop back linebackers. A talented box safety shouldn’t be asked to play deep coverage, and this team should be carrying more on its roster than three freaking defensive tackles inside. It’s beyond ridiculous.

Do you want to know why Seattle wasn’t using Collins enough in the first half? It’s because Pittsburgh was driving on this defense just like most other offenses have been this year, and that likely made Shane Waldron more compelled to dial up pass plays to try to get back into this game with little time remaining in the first after after long Pittsburgh drives. It’s a nature reaction as an offensive play caller.

So, yeah, forgive me if I continue to throw most blame towards the Seattle defense. Pete Carroll is supposed to be a defensive mastermind head coach, and his defense is continually playing like butt. I’m tired of it. I’m not even angry about it anymore. Just tired. I need change.

Sorry. Moving on.

The Ugly

Obviously the ugliest part of this game was seeing talented second year defensive end Darrell Taylor laying flat on his back on the field late in the game with an apparent neck/head injury. It actually hurt my heart because I have been loving his story this year coming out of nowhere to become Seattle’s best edge rusher, and maybe even the best young defender on the defense.

The news that the CT scans were initially clear at the hospital is a very big plus for him, but who knows how he is going to come back from this and how long he will be out. I have a very difficult time seeing this Seattle defense further turn the corner this season without him. Maybe Alton Robinson comes on more, or Carlos Dunlap will start kicking it in gear, but I’m not very hopeful.

I just hope Darrell is okay and will get back to full health at some point this year. The dude as sooooooo much promise as a player, and I think he’s a dude who you want to root for.

Moving forward

It’s a shame that Seattle wasn’t able to pull off this win. The whole complexion of their season feels shifted after this loss.

They are now sitting at 2-4, and are facing a better team next Monday night at home against the New Orleans Saints. Seattle will have to bring their A game without two of their best players on offense, and with a defense that is still sorting itself out and now has lost it’s best pass rusher.

Personally, I don’t want to see Seattle make any sort of splash trade for a big name defender at this point. I think the hole they are in is too far dug for them to climb out of. If they want to sign someone off the street (cough, cough.. Geno Atkins.. cough, cough), great. I just don’t want to see them trade valuable draft capital for another expensive older player.

In my humble opinion, I think a big reason why Seattle is in this current mess is that they have spend far too much draft capital trading for vets who they think will push them over the top, and the result is that most of those trades have not paid off, and because of all that, the young depth of this team is bad. This is the whole issue in a nutshell for me.

Simply, this team needs a reset and possibly a rebuild, and they need to go back to the 2010-2014 years where they largely functioned as a draft and develop team. I worry that at age 70, Pete Carroll is nowhere close to being interested in doing that, though.

So, I fear that we will see them trade a valuable third round pick for an aging big name corner instead of leaning more into a younger guy like Tre Brown, and just signing a street veteran or two to get better at defensive tackle.

If any trade were to happen, I would honestly welcome a bit of a fire sale, and embrace the notion of a 2022 rebuild now. I don’t see Pete Carroll being willing, though.

So, here we are.

Maybe a win against the Saints next Monday will make us all feel better. I would welcome it.

Go Hawks!


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