12th Man: Seahawks Midseason Review
At 6-2-1, the Seattle Seahawks are doing considerably better at around the midpoint of the season than they were last year, when they were 4-5. In a nutshell, the Seahawks are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. At their Jekyll, 43-8 in a Super Bowl win. Their Hyde? Six fucking points in an overtime tie. I want to make this piece easily digestible, so I’ll give a quick evaluation of each position group and a grade, starting with the offense:
Offensive Line: At their best? Not that good. At their worst? Apocalyptic. The run blocking has been mostly terrible, a major surprise coming from a Tom Cable coached group. The pass protection has been better than seasons’ past, but a good bit of the credit there goes to a quick-passing offensive attack focused mostly on protecting Russell Wilson, who has been dealing with injuries in some form or another since week one. This unit has shown some signs of gelling and playing a bit better in the last two weeks, but for now? D+/C-.
Running Backs: The Seahawks recently released Christine Michael, due to his regression as a runner. After an impressive few weeks to start the season, he hit the proverbial wall, and stayed there. He always had home run potential with every touch, but never quite seemed to put (and keep) the whole package together. Maybe he can bolster what’s turned out to be a terrible run game in Green Bay. C.J. Prosise has been very impressive with his touches, both as a pass catcher and as a runner, and he will get the bulk of the workload out of the backfield until Thomas Rawls is completely healthy. Alex Collins hasn’t impressed. C.J. Spiller stopped in for a few weeks. Troymaine Pope is back. This group gets an Incomplete.
Tight Ends/Wide Receivers: The big names in this group have been Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham. Doug Baldwin shook off a quiet spell in New England on Sunday, pulling in three touchdowns. Jimmy Graham has been mostly like the Graham of old, which is a testament to his work ethic in recovering from a devastating knee injury, and in building the chemistry with Russell Wilson needed to maximize his impact. Tyler Lockett has been dealing with a knee injury of his own for most of the season, and it’s shown in his presence (mostly lack thereof) on the field. As he gets healthier, he will definitely regain his effectiveness as a receiver. Jermaine Kearse has been… himself. I think he gets a bit more love from the quarterback than he should. Paul Richardson could use more snaps. Luke Willson has been out with a knee injury too (ban knees), and the other tight ends in this group are mostly just blockers at the moment. With that said, this is a group that mostly answers when you call. B+/A-.
Quarterback: Russell Wilson has been outstanding at adapting his game to accommodate physical limitations brought on by injuries, and he’s starting to show flashes of being himself yet again. He could stand to take the easy yards on the ground a bit more often. Trevone Boykin is… someone who I hope won’t need to play any time soon. A.
The defense has slipped a bit over the last few weeks, but I attribute that to them playing way more snaps than they should have to. With time, this group should regain their form, and likely, their standing as the league’s top scoring defense:
Defensive Line: This group has been very impressive, especially with the loss of Michael Bennett to injury. Frank Clark and Cliff Avril have been outstanding, and Cassius Marsh has grown into a playable edge defender. My concern has always been how the players not named Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett perform, as viable depth and variety are crucial to establishing effective defensive line play. Latest addition Damontre Moore has had his name called a lot, and in a good way. I look forward to seeing what this group can do when Moses comes back. They get an A/A+.
Linebackers: Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright have been monsters. Wagner has been all over the field. Wright has always been one of the league’s best cover LBs, but he just seems to be on another level this season. Both players are also blitzing with regularity and finding great success at it, combining for 4.5 sacks. Things get a bit less fun in base defense, where an amalgam of players have seen time at the strongside linebacker position, but it hasn’t been disastrous. They get an A/A+ as well.
Secondary: This group staggered just a bit when Kam Chancellor had to sit for a few weeks with a groin injury, but aside from that, they’ve been consistent. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are still among the elites. Not much to write home about here. A.
Now for special teams and coaching:
Special Teams: Normally I wouldn’t have much to say about this group. They rarely give up big plays in punt and kick coverage, which is good. They also rarely generate big plays on punts and kicks, which isn’t that good. I expect this to change as Tyler Lockett regains his form. However, they have also managed to generate pressure and even some impressive blocks on punts and kicks, which is very good. I still miss Clint Gresham. This group gets a B+.
Head Coach: This team has done as well as possible in adapting to changing personnel and times. With Marshawn Lynch gone and the offensive line play abysmal, they have done well to unleash their quarterback instead of forcing the ball into a wall of defenders up front. Pete Carroll deserves a lot of credit for keeping his team prepared, focused, and motivated to compete week after week. Pete Carroll also deserves a bit of grief for being behind the team doing as little as possible on the offensive line until a year after it became a problem, as he is at the helm of personnel moves. Despite those issues, this team is in a position to win every game, and he is responsible for the culture and the personnel behind that. A.
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell has shown moments of brilliance in adapting his offense to fit his quarterback’s health, adding various misdirection plays to keep opposing defenses honest, and respecting his players’ limitations while emphasizing their talents. He’s also had moments of questionable play calling and play selection. This team doesn’t use no-huddle enough. He gets a B.
Defensive Coordinator: Kris Richard seems to have settled very comfortably into this role. Aside from the occasional three-man rush (those are terrible), I have no complaints here. I look forward to seeing what he can do with a fully healthy and settled defense. A-.
With seven games to go, I look forward to the Seahawks getting everyone integrated and firing on all cylinders. I will especially pay attention to the rookies, the role players on defense and the offensive line. I’m hoping for much more Dr. Jekyll, and a lot less Mr. Hyde.