Let me be clear on this thing. I believe that the Seattle Seahawks should have won this game over the Saints, as bad as the defense played once again.
I believe that the Saints caught two huge second half breaks from the refs that turned the game in their favor. One was on a DK Metcalf fumble when it looked like he didn’t have possession of the ball after an attempted catch, and the other was phantom hold call on Charles Cross that negated a beautiful touchdown pass to Metcalf later in the fourth quarter.
Of the two, the BS holding call on Cross seemed most egregious, as it took points off the board. After the game, Carroll mentioned that defenders are throwing their hands up in the air more these days in order to “sell” a hold to a ref, and that appeared to be the case here.
That said, I also want to be clear about how much I hate using bad officiating as an excuse for why my team lost. The Seahawk defenders could have done a lot better defending Taysom Hill in the wild cat offense NOLA used, and don’t even get me started on what it was exactly that Michael Dickson did on that crazy attempt to run the ball instead of punt. Not stopping an obvious wild cat play, and not using the best punter in the game to punt is a good recipe to lose any game.
Instead of making this a total bitch piece about refs, a horrible Seahawk run defense, and a maybe even worse special teams play, I want to bounce back and forth with some true positives that came out of this game for the Seahawks along with some negatives. Maybe this will be a helpful exercise to gain a proper perspective on state of this team.
The best thing that I can say about this game is that I now believe that Geno Smith looks to be more than just a capable starting quarterback. I think he’s playing like a really good one.
After he won Offensive Player Of The Week honors last week, I heard skeptics such as Hugh Millen on KJR FM say “yeah but he played the lousy Lions.. let’s see what he does against the Saints defense.” Well, okay then. On the road, Geno Smith went a solid 16 for 25 in pass attempts for 268 yard, 3 TDs and 0 INTs against the 9th best defense in the NFL, but that doesn’t even tell the full story.
He should have had another 300 yard game again and 5 touchdowns. He had an easy touchdown grab dropped in the end zone by DK Metcalf, and had that gorgeous touchdown to Metcalf in the fourth quarter taken away by that bullshit call on Cross.
I’m saying this now, having watched him through five games. I think Geno Smith is playing like a guy who deserves to be the starting quarterback in Seattle now, and in the future. In fact, if he sustains this pace through the season, I think it would be foolish for the Seahawks not to lock him into a multi year deal and build around him. It’s obvious he works in this Shane Waldron offense, and I feel it’s likely that the quarterback and play caller are only going to get more comfortable with each other as this season unfolds. The Geno Smith redemption story is becoming one of the best storylines in the league right now, and I am personally happy that it is happening here in Seattle.
Sadly, though, it was horrific to learn that Rashaad Penny injured his tibia and will likely be out for the season. As much as it has been fun rooting for Geno to succeed, it’s been a continual joy watching Penny continue to shine, and build off of his solid play from late last year. I hope he recovers quickly, and continues being a part of this team.
In that, I absolutely think it’s fantastic that Seattle has Ken Walker III on this team, and that big time run he had in place of Penny showed me everything I needed to see as to why Seattle spent a high second round pick on him. This dude is a special, special talent with the ball in his hands. He is now the man moving forward, and for me, that is exciting. Seattle will have to add depth behind him now, but if this guy stays healthy enough, it’s going to make this offense all the more dynamic. He’s a true home run hitter at running back. I’m looking forward to it.
It was hard to watch this defense through much of the game. They held a pretty middling Saints offense to 17 points in the first half, and I suppose that’s okay given how the Seattle offense was performing, but they literally had no answer for Taysom Hill as a running quarterback in the wild cat. It was almost like the Saints should have just stayed in that offense the whole time, and that’s not an indictment on Andy Dalton as the Saints’ quarterback, it’s just a slamming one on Seattle’s run defense right now.
I don’t know what the fix is with this Seahawk defense against the run. Personally, I think they have good players. Al Woods, Shelby Harris, and Poona Ford are all decent interior run defenders. Jordan Brooks is a good run stopping linebacker. Quandre Diggs is a capable tackler at safety. Tariq Woolen is an exciting talent at corner.
I’m not going to pretend to know more about NFL football than Clint Hurtt and Pete Carroll. These two guys could rattle off concepts in seconds that would have my head spinning. What I wonder, however, is if Seattle has the right personnel to run a 3-4 to a high level. Specifically, whether they are deep enough at linebacker, and if they have the right type of defensive linemen.
It’s hard for me to watch replays and not wonder if Cody Barton is overwhelmed and over thinking as an inside linebacker in this style of defense. It’s also hard for me to watch Poona Ford get pushed back.
I also wonder, with Jamal Adams out for the season, and maybe him being one of the big reasons why this team chose to play more 3-4 this year, if they should set aside that look for a return back to Carroll’s tradition 4-3 under. People can criticize Ken Norton Junior all they want, but at least his defenses over the past four years could stop the run. This defense, under Hurtt, thus far, cannot, and that is a demoralizing watch as a fan.
At least if they shifted back to more 4-3, they would run with a four down linemen front that featured Quinton Jefferson at 5 tech, Al Woods at Nose, Shelby Harris at 3 tech, and either Darrell Taylor or Boye Mafe at Leo end. Uchenna Nwosu can continue his solid play at SAM linebacker. This front could at least ease things up for Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton to play freer and more fast.
If I were Pete Carroll on the long flight home from the Big Easy, these would be the thoughts in my mind. I kinda think that if you really want to run a 3-4, you gotta have really great linebackers and capable two gapping defensive linemen.
Right now, it feels like Seattle is suspect at linebacker, and the defensive linemen they have are better fits in a 4-3. I’ve heard KJ Wright kinda intimate this on his 710 Seattle Sports show in recent weeks. He feels like Poona Ford and Quinton Jefferson aren’t being used in ways to do what they do best in getting upfield.
Of course, I have no idea if Carroll would make this switch. I think it could be a pretty big awkward ask for Clint Hurtt to give up on a scheme he believes in after five games, but then again, I think it would be a hard ask for Carroll to sit back and watch this defense continuing to give up this sort of ridiculous yardage on the ground in the hopes of things eventually clicking.
Something feels like it needs to give. Either they adjust the scheme to better fit the talent, or they start looking outside to bring in talent that better fits the scheme. Staying the course doesn’t feel like it will work, not after watching what Hill did to this defense in the wild cat and then watching what Alvin Kamara did on other run plays.
On the plus side, I thought the rookie corners continued to show up. Tariq Woolen now has three interceptions in the last three games and is playing like someone who could now win RDOY. Coby Bryant also created another forced fumble, and played tougher in coverage. As bad as the run defense was, I sense that these two guys are going to get better and better as the season continues.
Also, as bad as this loss felt for my Seahawk fans such as myself, the Rams and Cardinals also lost, and Seattle is in a three was tie for second place in the NFC West. The also share the same record as the Patriots and Bengals, for what that is worth.
This season is not lost. If they can just fix up the defense enough to have these guys playing better ball, they have the offense that will put up the points needed to win games. 32 points on the road to the Saints should have been enough to win for Seattle.
I think Seattle should have won this won, but they didn’t. Now let’s fix the reasons why.