Football is a fun game. There can be a ton of nuances to its schemes, and strategies, but it can also be a very simple game.
Here is one simple truth about football from the dawn of leather helmets to today’s game of Microsoft tablets and helmets with ear phones; the team that is best at running the ball and stopping the run usually wins the game.
In this game against the lowly Raiders (who came into Lumen Field with a defense that hasn’t been great against the run or pass), the Seattle Seahawks could not run the ball and they could not stop the run, and they lost another winnable game because of that. I could end my review here with this simple statement, but I choose to go forth.
It is now two games in a row where Seattle has lost to a team with a worse record in the exact same, brutal sorta bone crunching way. Sure, I could blame refs for taking away a clear fumble recovery from the Seahawk defense that could have saved this game for them, but I don’t want to do that.
Seattle should have been able to establish the run in this one, and they should have been more able to stop the run. These were pretty much the words of Coach Carroll post game.
Apparently, they went into this game with a plan to take away Vegas’s top receiver, but that scheming made the defense susceptible to being gashed by the run. Wildy, Clint Hurtt made little to no adjustments to the heavier packages the Raiders put out against his lighter defensive line fronts, and Vegas was more than happy to take what was there.. just like Tamp Bay did two weeks ago in Germany.
As for why Seattle couldn’t get its run game going with Ken Walker III (K9) for a second game in a row, I think that could be a bit trickier. Maybe defenses are more determined to take him away, and have Geno Smith beat them, but to my naked eye at this game, I noticed K9 taking a lot of extra steps instead of just hitting a hole and plowing forward. It sort of looks like he’s trying to find the home run (at times) instead of settling for the potential four or five yard gain. That’s not going to cut it in this league, and maybe he is victim of his first early season success.
This is where I think having another proven veteran work horse back to mix in with him would have been ideal for Seattle, and him, as well. I am positive that Carroll’s vision of his running attack this year was to have K9 mixing in with Rashaad Penny. I think Seattle sort of views Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas more as third down backs, otherwise we would see them mixed in more.
After this rough outing for K9, which saw him run a ridiculous Russell Wilson inspired reverse course of direction for about a ten yard loss on a play, I half expect Seattle to take a look at Melvin Gordon, who has now found himself on the market. Maybe Gordon is a guy who can come in, spell K9 on downs, and impart wisdom on this young talented rookie who is seemingly trying to do too much these days, much like Adrian Peterson did for Penny last year.
This game against the Raiders was a lot of things. It was fun at many times, and it was also stressful at others. There were a number of Seattle players who made big time plays, but then oddly had screw ups, as well. Quandre Diggs picked off Derek Carr twice that gave Seattle’s offense opportunities for points, but he also whiffed on a few key tackles by not wrapping up. Geno Smith had another great statistical game, made some thrilling plays, but he also threw a costly pick, and there was a weird fumble exchange with the back late in the game. Jordyn Brooks was a monster tackler but didn’t appear great in coverage.
K9 had two spectacular touchdown runs, but danced around too much at other times for little to no gains. This was honestly one of the weirdest games I’ve seen from a Seattle running back, and it was stunning that it came from this guy, who everyone thought was the top contender fro Offensive Rookie Of The Year. He won’t be if he continues these sort of outings.
There were also guys who this team is heavily relying who didn’t really show up. Abe Lucas, who we all love at right tackle, had a rough day against Maxx Crosby who is one of the best edge rushers in the league. Lucas was sick over the weekend, and there’s a chance he wasn’t fully healthy, but if you put the pads on, you gotta be better than that. Also, Seattle’s entire edge rushing group was quiet for a second game in a row. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Darrell Taylor be quiet, I have doubts as to whether Hurtt’s scheme suits him, but seeing Uchenna Nwuso make this little of an impact as an edge rusher in back to back games is a disturbing trend.
In the end, I felt Lumen Field with a really gross feeling in my stomach. I hate it when my team’s defense cannot stop the run, and it doubly sucks when the DC is putting forth fronts in order to get his pass rush going and defense is managing neither aspect. After a great four game stretch where they were doing just that for the most part, this defense has badly regressed. I’m not sure it’s on the players either. I think it could be on coaching, and the scheme right now.
By showing more 3-4 looks to disguise coverages, Seattle is rolling with lighter defensive fronts than in past years. I think the reason Carroll always preferred more of a 4-3 philosophy is because that style is better at taking away the run.
People were all over firing Ken Norton Junior last year, but at least in his time as the DC in this town, Seattle was decent at stopping the run. With this defense yesterday, they couldn’t do anything, and Vegas managed an absurd 576 yards of total offense, which made this one of the worst defensive efforts in the history of this organization. I can’t imagine that sitting well with the Coach.
Therefore, I wouldn’t mind seeing Seattle going more back to more of Carroll’s 4-3 philosophy again. Most of the teams that they will be facing in December prefer running the ball. Most of those opponents look beatable if Seattle can shore if their run defense more, but can they in time?
I think they better, and I suspect Carroll will do what he needs to do as head coach to make sure they do. These two back to back losses have got to sting him. He has been beaten in ways in which he prefers to win with.
It’s fun to use terms like “being multiple” these days in this modern game of football. It’s a trendy thing with a lot of defenses to show a variety of looks, but football is very cyclical. These multiple style defenses largely bore out of college where offenses were spreading the ball around with multiple receiver sets. The trend found itself in the NFL over the last several years, but I see more offenses starting to shift back into traditional running attacks to counter these looks. San Francisco is doing it with great success, but so is Miami, the Jets, the Giants, Washington, Dallas, and other teams in playoff contention. There’s a pattern here.
So, screw it. Let’s just get back to running the stinking ball, and let’s make stopping the run the priority again. Know who you are, and be who you are.
Maybe what Seattle needs to do in these final six games isn’t to over think themselves with being “multiple” and just simplify the game to two basic fundamental truths; run the ball, and stop the run, and let the chips fall where they may.