Russell Wilson and the offense couldn’t finish on a day Seattle’s defense struggled
This was a typical Seattle loss. A couple of units didn’t play great (defense, special teams). It felt like a long day after Kansas City’s long opening drive for a score. And yet at the end of the fourth quarter there they are with a chance to win the game.
They’ve lost four times this year all by single digits, three on the road. Three of those teams have winning records. The team that doesn’t, St. Louis, beat Denver today. It’s a tough break, but the Seahawks are 6-4 after this latest heart-breaker.
So often since 2012 they’ve found a way to win in these situations. Now they’re in a hole. The margin for error is almost non existent the rest of the way. What’s left: Arizona (H), San Francisco (A), Philadelphia (A), San Francisco (H), Arizona (A), St. Louis (H).
Look at that schedule. If they want to make the post-season, they’re probably going to have to win at least one — maybe two — of those road games. They’d also need a clean sweep at home.
The NFC West might be gone already unless the Cardinals suffer some sort of unlikely collapse. The 49ers won’t go away either. They’re up to 6-4 with two key road wins in New Orleans and New York.
It’s going to take a heck of a rally to make the playoffs with that run in. The Seahawks couldn’t defend the run today and every single one of those remaining opponents run the ball particularly well.
Right now 9-7 doesn’t seem unlikely — and it’s unlikely to be enough. It also wouldn’t be overly surprising. This isn’t a bad team, but it’s a team that’s had to deal with avoidable drama (Percy Harvin), injuries to key personnel and a drop in defensive talent. None of these are ingredients for a Super Bowl run. The good news is they’re good enough to bounce back. The bad news is — it might take an off-season to re-load.
Thoughts on the game
You could look at this two ways. On the one hand, even an average defensive performance could’ve won the day for Seattle. The Seahawks moved the ball efficiently, but Kansas City were like a hot knife through butter attacking a weak defensive front.
And yet on offense they get a 1st and goal with a chance to go ahead. The result? Zero points. They get the ball back at midfield and fail to convert on 4th and 1 to extend what could’ve been a game-winning drive. Again, zero points.
So while the defense and special teams will concern people the most after today — the offense missed two great opportunities late on to finish.
The most frustrating thing is how one-dimensional Kansas City were. Alex Smith was a passenger in this game. He was akin to a postal worker delivering a ball-shaped package to Jamaal Charles. It’s rare to see a team fall back on one element so prolifically against Seattle. Smith went 11/16 for a mere 108 yards. He was never pressured, never broke sweat apart from a slightly nervy possession on the Chiefs one-yard line. He wasn’t sacked and he didn’t take a single QB hit. Charles on the other hand ran against a defense that knew what was coming — and still put up 159 yards on 20 carries.
He’s an exceptional talent, no doubt. But the Seahawks had no answer. Most of his best runs included missed tackles. It seemed like the Chiefs had an easy seven yards on every first down. They were barely ever in third and long. The Seahawks never forced Smith, Charles or anyone on the Chiefs offense into a truly uncomfortable position.
The defense also forced two key turnovers and had two more key stops to give the offense a late chance. So it wasn’t all bad. But when it mattered, Seattle couldn’t make that game winning play — whether it was having an answer on defense after going up 20-17 or finishing one of their fourth quarter drives to re-take the lead.
Adding to a frustrating day was this tweet before the game:
Ian Rapoport continues to insist Seattle will move on from Marshawn Lynch in the off-season. Today was another day where you just have to ask, “Why?”
How can they not make this work for at least another year? Lynch was terrific again today. Even on a bounce-back day for Russell Wilson, he remains the key weapon on offense. His departure will create a huge avoidable hole that’ll need to be filled. Rapoport also continues to hint at big interest in Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Spending a first round pick to replace your best offensive player when you have other big needs just seems, well, backwards.
Are the Seahawks even going to be in range for Gordon?
With Gurley out with an ACL, we can only guess where he’s going to go in the draft. Gordon’s stock might be on the rise after a record-breaking display yesterday (running for 408 yards) and Gurley’s agonizing injury.
More than anything Seattle has issues up front on defense. They lack depth and quality. They also badly need a big target for Russell Wilson. And yet there’s this idea that replacing Marshawn Lynch is actually going to be a thing.
Although it’s curious that Lynch didn’t head into the locker room at half time, choosing instead to stay outside in the cold. Pete Carroll was asked about it afterwards. Lynch, apparently, felt it was better to stay outside. Are we speculating too much to ponder whether there’s more to this?
There’s no way a team’s run defense should collapse in such a dramatic fashion minus one player. That happened today. Brandon Mebane is great — but his loss is emphasized by the lack of talent around him. Kevin Williams and Tony McDaniel, after a bright start to the season, just look decidedly average. Jordan Hill has never really got going in the pro’s. And beyond that…?
Kansas City didn’t have to work for their points today. It was Nebraska-esque (see: Gordon’s record breaking day yesterday).
A big part of it was a lack of quality and depth up front. It was also down to bad tackling and botched assignments. The linebackers struggled to read the Chiefs all day — Malcolm Smith appeared lost on several plays and ultimately out of position. K.J. Wright didn’t look comfortable after moving inside to replace the injured Brock Coyle (replacing the injured Bobby Wagner). Bruce Irvin didn’t have his usual ‘big play’ and also had a couple of key missed tackles.
Yet it’s much harder for a group of linebackers to make even basic plays when the defensive line is getting pushed around to the extent we saw today.
It was costly on a day Seattle’s offense moved the ball.
You couldn’t call it a flawless offensive performance, however. We touched on their inability to “finish”. At 24-20 in the red zone Seattle ran Lynch twice but also had two throws to Doug Baldwin including a fade on fourth down. It’s easy to say in hindsight, but a fade to a 5-10 receiver? It just didn’t play to the strengths of this team. It’s a low percentage play given the personnel on Seattle’s roster. And yet the big run up the middle on 4th and 1 moments later had ultimately the same result.
There were two big red zone plays that impacted the game. Jermaine Kearse also dropped a touchdown pass that would’ve given the Seahawks a 17-13 lead at half time. Seattle missed out on eleven points.
Justin Britt is struggling at right tackle. On one play today he failed to even lay a finger on Tamba Hali, who duly sacked Wilson on a 3rd and 8. The rest of the offensive line played well overall. You can forgive a few rookie errors, but Britt needs help on his side. Max Unger left the game with an ankle injury and could be done for the year. That would be a titanic blow.
Almost every week we hear about the impressive rookie class of wide receivers and the impact they’re having this season. Is it unfair to question why Seattle’s top pick in the 2014 draft — a receiver — is struggling to have an impact? They had to yank Paul Richardson off kick-returns early in this game. He isn’t providing a needed deep threat. Is he offering any different dynamic to the group?
It’s too early to write him off but after watching Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, Martavis Bryant, Donte Moncrief and John Brown — all players drafted after Richardson — is it time to wonder if Seattle either a.) made a mistake or b.) just doesn’t know how to make the most of his skill set? The fact he’s even on kick-off’s looks a little bit like a team trying to force a role on a young player.
Receivers usually need time to settle into a new offense (see: Golden Tate). But the fact is — those other rookies are having an impact. Seattle’s not so loaded at the position that there’s any reason to hold him back.
Let’s not forget, they traded down twice all while targeting Richardson. Jordan Matthews went between 40-45 (after Seattle’s second trade down) and he too has managed to make an impact. Richardson has 72 yards and zero touchdowns with six games to play. It’s not the offense either. In comparison, Doug Baldwin had 788 yards as a rookie and four touchdowns.
The Seahawks look like a team that needs another receiver. And that’s frustrating after spending a second round pick this year, plus a first and third pick on the Harvin trade. It’s right up there with the needs on the defensive line. Why are they considering moving Marshawn Lynch again…?