12th Man: Week 12 vs. Tampa Bay
I like to challenge myself as a writer, in a number of different ways. For this piece, I will challenge myself to evaluate the Seahawks on their performance in Tampa Bay without using expletives. That…will be tough.
A Bucs player made a comment along the lines of wanting to “hit our guys in the mouth early.” Boy, did they. Just as I ran out of ways to criticize the performance of the Seahawks’ offensive line, they found a new way of getting beaten. Physically. It’s one thing to be outplayed by way of talent or execution. But to lose the physical battle, to a defensive line that’s quite mediocre? It’s an embarrassment. They gave up six sacks, and Russell Wilson was pressured on the majority of his drop backs. That is abysmal. The line didn’t do much of anything in the run game either, with Thomas Rawls struggling to gain just 38 yards on 12 carries. Wilson’s got his running legs back under him, with some keeps out of zone read and a few scrambles to get to a season-high 80 yards rushing. But that would be the sole highlight of this game.
TRENCH WARFARE: As bad as the offensive line was, the defensive line wasn’t much better. Jameis Winston regularly had time to complete passes, and on the rare occasions where Seahawks defenders could get pressure, he had little trouble evading them to make a play, either with his arm or legs. Where the Bucs managed six sacks and 11 hits on the QB, Seattle had zero sacks and just three QB hits. Definitely not close to ideal. Right tackle Garry Gilliam was benched for Bradley Sowell during this game, and it looks like that change will hold up. Also not ideal.
QUARTERBACKING: Nine times out of ten, this is a massive strength for the team, and Russell Wilson has been outstanding this season, even garnering some MVP chatter. The tenth time, however? Not so much. While the offensive line deserves a healthy bit of blame for Wilson’s struggles, he just seemed a bit out of sorts the whole game. He missed several passes and threw a couple of interceptions; one to seal the half (to be fair, this was on the WR), and one to close the game (just not a great throw). While I don’t think there is much to be concerned about here, I’d be remiss in pretending it just didn’t happen.
On the flip side, Jameis Winston looked pretty solid. Made a couple of throws that weren’t ideal, including an interception in the end zone to Kam Chancellor, but aside from that, he mostly played like a QB who wasn’t under pressure all day. Kudos to him!
TURNOVERS: As I mentioned in the preview for this game, the Bucs have a winning record when they win the turnover battle. This would hold true as they forced three turnovers en route to victory, whereas Seattle only forced two (the interception and a fumble on Doug Martin). Aside from the Wilson interceptions, Jimmy Graham lost a fumble on a drive that was gaining momentum. Frankly, every time Seattle turned the ball over, the timing couldn’t be much worse.
All in all, this was a bad game. The defense gave up touchdowns on their first two drives, and field goal position on another (the kick would be missed). They didn’t allow any other scoring opportunities, which they deserve credit for, but the lack of pressure (even when blitzing!) was problematic all throughout this game. Steven Terrell and Neiko Thorpe were respectable while filling in for Earl Thomas and DeShawn Shead.
Jermaine Kearse has been fu- not good. He had a big time catch, gaining 18 yards on a 4th and 14, but aside from that, just bad. He’s caught five of 18 targets over the last three games. He’s not required to fight for jump balls in tight coverage or anything like that. He gets open on these targets, manageable targets, and he’s simply not converting. Paul Richardson should be taking snaps from Kearse at this point, but considering Richardson’s error led directly to a turnover in this game, that probably won’t happen. Pete Carroll’s gonna need an edible to break this film down.
7-3-1. On to the Panthers.