This team keeps you guessing.
Last week, a demoralising defeat in Miami that should’ve been a win. This week, a fantastic road win against the Bears. Yet despite comfortably deserving the victory, Seattle still found a way to freak everyone out. The game was over with just over 20 seconds to go. Golden Tate and Russell Wilson had won the game. And then the defense put on a red suit, found a sleigh and delivered a great big early Christmas present to the Chicago Bears.
For the most part the defense did OK. It was very much ‘bend but not break’. Once again the front four failed to get anywhere near enough pressure and that has to be a concern. Anyone expecting a sea-change in scheme will be disappointed – Pete Carroll wants to create pressure with a four man rush to maximise the opportunity to create turnovers. Yet there’s still too much reliance on Chris Clemons in the base. If the Seahawks can’t get pressure with a four man rush, it’s going to be a long day for the secondary. We saw that at times today, although credit Jay Cutler for keeping multiple plays alive.
It’s getting to the point where it shouldn’t even be a debating point anymore – the team’s number one need is an early down, pass rushing defensive tackle. They need a legitimate three technique. It’s not necessarily something that has to be addressed in the first round of the draft in the off-season, but they have to find an answer there. Randy Starks is a free agent in Miami and the Dolphins might struggle to re-sign both Starks and left tackle Jake Long. If he hits the open market, I suspect the Seahawks would be among his suitors.
If they can’t get at a player like Starks, it puts the emphasis back on the draft. Last week I mocked Sylvester Williams to Seattle in the first round. It’s way too early to make any kind of legitimate projections, but the depth at defensive tackle this year will present an opportunity to solve this issue even if the Seahawks make the playoffs.
There is one player who looks almost too ideal for this role. Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson has the attitude that fits this defense. He’s sparky, he’s a relentless player. How many defensive tackles sprint to the sideline to make a tackle on an extended play? I’m going to do a longer piece on Richardson tomorrow. His tape from the Florida game was outstanding. This is the kind of player the Seahawks lack right now and could make this a more consistent defense going forward.
More on the draft tomorrow… let’s concentrate on a great win.
Russell Wilson is playing at an elite level right now. Why try and play it down? The two drives to put Seattle in position to win the game were befitting anything Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are capable of. Yeah, I said it. I watched back the final drive and realised I’d seen it before. I’d seen it for about ten years in Indianapolis and New England. That situation where there’s nothing you can do but watch the slow death of one team at the hands of a quarterback. He was ice cold. Nobody was taking this game away from Russell Wilson.
He had one risky throw against a Bears defense adept at taking the ball away. He lofted one pass a little too much in the final drive and Major Wright probably should’ve had the interception. In fairness to Wilson, he was hammered just before releasing the ball. It proved costly, as it was Chicago’s only chance to win the game late on. He converted on fourth down with the game on the line. He made big time third down completions. Wilson looks like a seasoned vet. These are exciting times for Seahawks fans, because by rights he’s only going to get better. There are no gimmicks here that’ll be found out with tape during the off-season. The insane work ethic is paying off and the game is slowing down. Put a red shirt on the guy and he’s back at Wisconsin.
Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are benefiting greatly from Wilson’s development. Zach Miller and Doug Baldwin aren’t matching the production, but they’re making key plays on crucial downs. I still watch the offense and wonder if there’s room for one more great weapon. Going back to the draft (briefly) – if the likes of Brandon Coleman or Zach Ertz are off the board when Seattle picks, there’s probably going to be good options in round two. Markus Wheaton and DeAndre Hopkins are two of the most underrated players in college football and there’s a chance both will last beyond the first 32 picks.
A word of praise too for Darrell Bevell. He’s an easy target for fans when the team doesn’t win. The conservative play calling in Miami last week was more a product of Carroll’s vision for the team than anything else. Bevell called another good game today and some of the criticism he’s faced this year has been incredibly unfair. Wilson isn’t playing this well on his own. And one of the worst things you can do to a young quarterback is change the coordinator every year. Time to give credit where credit’s due.