12th Man: Week 2 vs. L.A.
After watching that travesty against the Rams, my first thought was to open a new word document, crack my knuckles, and thoroughly disembowel the Seahawks in print. Instead, I decided to trust my instincts and breathe. Stretch. Shake. Let it go for a couple of days. My instincts were right – losing to the Rams, much like taking a shot of 151, feels the worst as it’s actually happening. There were a lot of things to take from this game. Highlights may tell you this loss was sealed when Christine Michael fumbled late in the fourth. Not quite. This game was lost before then.
The offensive line... this is where my perspective benefitted the most from taking some time away from the game. The line play certainly was not great, but it was worlds better than it has been against the Rams in recent history. The line surrendered a shocking amount of pressures and hits, but only managed to sack the hobbled Russell Wilson (still recovering from a high ankle sprain) twice. This is in stark contrast to last season’s series against the Rams, where Wilson was sacked ten times in two games. The line struggled substantially in the run game, failing to get any real push. Thomas Rawls, still trying to regain form, struggled immensely (-7 yards on seven carries) before leaving with a leg injury. Christine Michael managed to carry the run game to an extent, gaining 60 yards on ten carries, but he found himself evading defenders in the backfield far too often.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had been the target of my ire for years, until his offensive adjustments played a major role in Russell Wilson’s hot streak last season. It was at that point that the Seahawks finally began to run a legitimate passing offense that established a rhythm for the quarterback, and it was mesmerizing at times. HOWEVER. His play calling on Sunday left a lot to be desired. There were the pass plays with the 280-pound fullback Will Tukuafu being split out wide, subbing out Christine Michael for fourth-stringer Alex Collins and calling consecutive run plays (for 0 yards), after Michael ripped off impressive gains (16 and 10 yards), and the damned read option. Why on earth would you call a read option play when your injured quarterback can’t protect himself? Those decisions helped kill a number of drives.
On the bright side, the defense was outstanding, save for a couple of explosive pass plays (36 yards to Kenny Britt and 44 yards to Lance Kendricks) surrendered to the mighty Case Keenum. Deshawn Shead had a rough outing, struggling to contain Kenny Britt. Feature back Todd Gurley didn’t enjoy the same freedom though, gaining just 51 yards on 19 carries. Suffice it to say, the run defense was amazing. The pass rush was not as disruptive as the week before, but guys showed up at important times there. Michael Bennett had a sack, and Frank Clark added two more. Cassius Marsh had another sack that was wiped away with a (questionable) facemask penalty. That aside, it was truly great to see Marsh contribute for another week as a pass rusher.
Going forward, it is absolutely crucial that defensive linemen outside of Bennett and Cliff Avril make consistent contributions against the pass if Seattle is to enjoy another deep postseason run. On the offensive side, Germain Ifedi seriously needs to make a complete and speedy recovery (I guess that rhymed). J’Marcus Webb is clearly not the answer at right guard, and Bradley Sowell is absolutely not the answer at left tackle.
While Seattle’s offense was painful to watch this game, I truly did not see anything to be concerned about long-term. There are players well below 100% on offense (Wilson, Rawls, Graham, Ifedi), and in-game injuries (Baldwin and Lockett) that muddied the waters, and the on-field product. Expect this offense to look much better after the bye, when everyone should be at 100% and fully integrated into the action.
Yes, I said the Rams suck. They do. And yes, they beat us. 1-1. On to the Niners.