Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Rams, clinch #1 seed

December 29th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

The Rams wasted too much time jawing at Golden Tate -- and lost

The Seahawks are NFC West Champions tonight.

Forget the two defeats against San Francisco and Arizona. Seattle won the division.

First goal, accomplished.

This was an encouraging performance against the Rams, even if it wasn’t perfect.

When the two teams met in week eight, St. Louis ran for exactly 200 yards. Today they managed just 13.

Frankly, they were lucky to get 13. This was a thoroughly dominating performance by Seattle’s defensive line.

Brandon Mebane had possibly his best game as a Seahawk. He was unstoppable. Not just in run defense either. On several occasions he was the one creating pressure up the middle — his move forced Kellen Clemens’ second interception to Byron Maxwell.

Mebane has had a terrific second half of the season and he’ll be vital in the post season if he keeps up this level of performance.

Not to be outdone, Tony McDaniel also had a big day. St. Louis couldn’t block him in the first half. McDaniel has quietly been one of the steals of the season. His cap hit in 2013 was just $605,000.

As a unit Seattle’s defense was scary good — and that is a big relief. More on that later. Some other names I want to mention — Malcolm Smith and Bobby Wagner were both excellent at linebacker. Wagner in particular for me was all over the field making plays. Michael Bennett had yet another sack (have I mentioned he needs to be re-signed?).

The only frustrating moment was the botched interception where Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell all ran into each other. It seemed like Sherman had position. I guess you can compete too much sometimes…

On offense it was also a relief to see Marshawn Lynch back to his best. He ran with more purpose today, looked decisive and deserved the missing three yards he needed to hit 100.

The Seahawks need Lynch. Flat out need him. They need a great defense too.

And here’s why…

For whatever reason, the passing game is going through a big slump. The kind of slump we haven’t see in the Russell Wilson era so far. Golden Tate’s big touchdown late in the day padded the stats, but the reality is this has not been a good couple of weeks.

It’s a relief to see the back of St. Louis’ and Arizona’s superb defensive lines.

Some of the blame goes to Wilson, who just doesn’t look like the ice-cold, super poised quarterback we’ve come to expect. For the first time in his pro-career he looks a little rattled. Teams are keeping him bottled up, he’s trying to extend plays too much and he’s running into trouble.

More of the blame, for me, is the scheme. I’m still a big fan of Darrell Bevell. I believe Pete Carroll has a pretty substantial say in the game plan. As a duo, I think they need to make life easier for their quarterback.

I noticed a lot of people calling for more designed bootlegs, purposefully getting him out of the pocket. I completely disagree with that. But it seemed early on that’s what they tried to do.

From my untrained eye, it looks like teams are toning down the edge rush and having the ends read the play. Wilson is so good at exploiting over-committed DE’s, you can’t afford to let them pin their ears back. Arizona sat and basically let Wilson run himself into trouble.

Players as good as Robert Quinn can do this and still bring pressure on a high number of downs. But it seemed to me St. Louis also toned down the rush — especially from Chris Long — and used the same plan as Arizona last week.

If teams are going to do this, I’d argue the best thing to do is to shorten it up. Get Wilson into a rhythm passing underneath and on shorter routes. He looked at his best today when Seattle chipped away rather than looking for the big plays.

And hey — I love the explosive nature of this offense and I like the fact they want to make big chunks of yardage downfield. But it’s not happening right now.

For the time being, they need to quicken the tempo and shorten the passing game. It worked for a time today. Let Wilson snap, drop and throw. It’s basic, but it might just help him get back into a groove.

If the issues continue in the post season — and that could happen — the running game and the defense has to be there for this team to win. That’s why it was such a relief to see them play the way they did today.

If Lynch is running like this, if the defense plays lights out — the Seahawks can live with Wilson struggling a bit.

My hope is two weeks off to prepare will be just the ticket. They tore New Orleans apart after the bye in week 12 — by throwing the football. With the Saints owning the #6 seed, there’s every chance they’ll be back in Seattle for the Divisional playoffs.

Some other notes from the game…

– The Refs were a total embarrassment today. They lost control of the players very quickly and the ejection of Kendall Langford was a joke. Although there were no game-defining calls like last weeks bizarre bicep fumble, this was about as bad as it gets for officiating.

– The St. Louis Rams should also be embarrassed tonight. It seems to me like they came to play the Seattle Golden Tate’s, not the Seahawks. They spent so much time trying to wind Tate up for his silly taunting penalty from week eight — and what impact did it have? Absolutely none. You can’t let a player get into your head like that.

– Aside from their obsession with Tate, the Rams looked like a completely disorganised bunch who came for a scrap, not to win a game of football. It seemed like they were getting flagged on every play. They out-flagged the Seahawks — the flaggiest team in the NFL. Rivalries are great. But you have to play your game, not the opponent. I’d be frustrated as hell if I were a Rams fan tonight.

– Losing Luke Willson to a high ankle sprain is a major blow. This will have an impact — and they might need to bring in another tight end.

– Nothing about this game made me change my mind on what I’m starting to believe is Seattle’s greatest need — a big bodied receiver. Simply put — it’s a must. Even if Percy Harvin makes a full recovery and they re-sign Tate, they need a big guy in there.

– Kudos to Ricardo Lockette for two of the best special teams tackles you’ll ever see.

We know the Seahawks will definitely face one of Green Bay (#4), San Francisco (#5) or New Orleans (#6) in the divisional round. Three interesting story lines there. A ‘Fail Mary’ rematch, another NFC West showdown or the Saints still looking for Beastquake revenge.

If this team plays defense the way it did today, they have a great shot against anybody at home. If they run the ball well, they have a great chance. If Russell Wilson and the passing game make the necessary improvements, they’re going to be rock solid.

This is a fantastic opportunity for Seattle. Go take it.

85 Responses to “Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Rams, clinch #1 seed”

  1. Stuart says:

    Congratulations Seattle!!! This has been a great season from beginning to end. Now, the real season begins for us. Win NFC West, check, get the #1 seed and HFA, check and check. Two wins and we are in the Super Bowl!!

  2. Cade says:

    Fucking epic defensive effort! Gave them nothing on the ground and almost nothing through the air. How spoiled are we?!?

  3. Colin says:

    There’s a pretty obvious defensive adjustment teams have made to Seattle, and that is they are blitzing the outside linebackers quite a bit, and it’s a great idea. They know Seattle wants to bootleg alot, and the blitz contains Wilson with the thinking interior pressure will kill the play. It’s worked the last few weeks.

    I also get the feeling that Seattle has spent the better part of the last month holding the offense back a tad. If this is true, we’ll have a big advantage in January. If not….. things are going to be interesting, but I just can’t shake the belief that Seattle has not been playing with a full deck of cards recently.

    Get rested, get focused and get ready.

    • Grant says:

      I agree that the offense has been a bit vanilla in the last month, I have this sneaking suspicion that we have a playbook in wait for the playoffs that features more motion, screens, and quick hitters

    • CC says:

      I so hope you are right about the offense! Maybe because they knew they had made the playoffs they backed off.

      • Rob Staton says:

        I’d only believe this theory if the #1 seed and HFA had been secured weeks ago too. You don’t get cute with stuff like this when there’s so much at stake.

        • Grant says:

          Right, I see that. I’m not saying they scaled things back by leaps and bounds, but I think they probably held a wrinkle or two back. Fewer of the change of pace plays, it seems. Maybe I’m hoping, but I see it as akin to how SF held back the read-option late in the year last season and then bludgeoned the hapless Packers with it.

          (sorry, the English major in me comes out after a few beers)

          • Miles says:

            I think this argument holds weight because of what we saw earlier in the season when three-fifths of our starting offensive line was sidelined. Instead of chipping with runningbacks to help the helpless OTs, we left them one-on-one against guys like Robert Quinn, JJ Watt and Robert Mathis. It seemed so obvious to utilize the strategies I just mentioned, but instead we threw our young players into the fire. Maybe the strategy is consistent here, where we want to work on our deep passing game. Thus, we dive right into it even though it’s not working. Perhaps PC sees this team as good enough to attain the #1 seed even if it doesn’t win the first possible game to attain that goal.

    • Bryan C says:

      I think Percy Harvin is being held back. Typical recovery period is 6 months for his surgery. 6 months time would be the Superbowl. I think he will come out and light it up in the playoffs. The IR stuff is just noise.

      • Rugby Lock says:

        If they’d put Percy on IR then his 2014 salary would’ve become fully guaranteed per this article on Hawkblogger
        http://www.hawkblogger.com/2013/12/percy-harvin-contract-explained.html

        • Jon says:

          So what would we be able to get for Harvin in a trade at this point instead of just releasing him. It certainly would not get a 1st back but maybe a 3rd to recoup the one that we lost this year and maybe a conditional 3rd or 4th if he produces next year? I don’t know if it would work or if anyone would give up anything for him, but I would hate to simply give him his walking papers.

          • plyka says:

            I don’t think you could trade Percy at all right now. His contract looks like an albatross. I’m sure if the Hawks could they would probably trade him for peanuts or a practice squad player. But they can’t because whoever trades for him would have to pay his massive contract –all that for a player in name only.

    • plyka says:

      Unfortunately you are right, but in my opinion for the wrong reasons. The offense is playing more vanilla because the coaches are so risk averse. It’s good to be risk averse, but sometiems you take it too far. The ideology of Seattle is: run run run, play extra conservative, absolutely no turnovers, depend on your defense and special teams and attempt to shorten the clock and number of possessions. Basically depend on your opposition to make mistakes and absolutely make no mistakes yourself.

      This is why they have been so vanilla. Against the Saints they let them loose, because at the time the Saints were a great team, one of the best in the NFL. And the coaching staff thought they needed to take mroe risks to win. But I think they always need to play like that.

      We’ll see. Hopefully they will open it up and start taking more risks.

  4. Jeremy says:

    What about Malcom Smith, is there a better backup linebacker in the nfl?

  5. dave crockett says:

    When the hell did Lockette become a damn gunner?

    If he could do that a couple years ago he wouldn’t have been cut in the first doggone place.

  6. Grant says:

    Rob, great take as always. thanks for all that you do, and a happy new year to you, the Mrs., and the lil’ future Hawk blogger.

    I hope to Jeebus that the NFL downgrades this ref crew right out of the playoffs. again, no game changing calls but they lost control of the game and the players knew it. That early dead whistle on the offsides was abysmal (basic call, how do you mess that up????), and to see Willson go down on the next play was sickening.

  7. CC says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been saying for the last few weeks “For the time being, they need to quicken the tempo and shorten the passing game. It worked for a time today. Let Wilson snap, drop and throw. It’s basic, but it might just help him get back into a groove.” I’m thinking basically running a bit of the spread – quick outs – that will keep the Ds off balance. Not a full blown spread, but just enough to get the D off balance.

    I know Kearse was out today so that didn’t help. It seemed like in the second half, the play calling might have been a bit better – mostly because the run was working. The O-line played fairly well today – except for the Okung holding calls. Bummer that Willson got hurt – sucks.

    The D was amazing again today! Malcolm Smith played great as did KJ and McDonald.

  8. Bruce M. says:

    I thought Russell’s game overall was substantially better than last week’s effort. Balls dropped, tipped, plays called back by penalties or bad official calls, etc.

    Not his best, and it started poorly in particular, but overall significantly better than the week before.

  9. Michael says:

    Rob,
    I asked you about Hillis over Turbin and you felt other wise. So I ask about blount? Also why do you believe the hawks run less of a hurry up than could be used with our team and wear down the opposing defense?

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      Are you looking for a power back? I think it’d be best to find something in the draft if anything. That guy from boston college is definitely in that mould. Williams I think his name is.

      The Seahawks try to shorten the game. Keep it out of the other teams hands. Control Time of Possession.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I’m not a big fan of Blount either to be fair. I think they missed a best passing on Eddie Lacy. As for the hurry up, I guess it’s the power running system. It’s designed to dominate TOP and wear a team down that way. Hurry up would go against that.

  10. chris says:

    i think part of wilson’s struggles of late have been the great defenses the hawks have played. if luke wilson doesn’t drop the one pass and the refs dont blow the offsides whistle wilson’s stats would look a whole lot better. pisses me off the refs blew that call then the next play luke wilson gets injured.

    • Nmac says:

      I’m sick of hearing about the good defenses we’re playing. We’re going to be playing good defense for the next four weeks. They need to figure out the third down production and some kind of passing attack. Baldwin hardly got a look. Wilson looks scared in the pocket and has gotten away with several questionable passes that should have been picked. I hate to be a pessimist but they have looked pretty weak the last three games. Hopefully a off week will let them rest and put a game plan together like They did against the Saints.

  11. Austin says:

    The offense needs a spark and while I say it every week its maddening to not use Michael. Lynch is the guy and should get 70% of the carries but Michael has game changing ability, he can get a handful of touches every week. The offense is struggling and needs a spark. I love the staff but it baffles me that they don’t use him.

    Wilson has looked off and I hope it gets straightened out. I do think he has been slightly better than his stats indicate these past few weeks. He’s had 3 or more TD’s get called back on penalties that didn’t change the outcome of the play. I think he had 2 today.

    Chancellor has played better than people give him credit for. Terrific game from him today.

    • House says:

      Maybe limiting game tape of Michael was part of the plan all along…

      No one has ever questioned/talked down on Michael’s playing ability. Work ethic, playbook retention and assignment when not holding the ball are my suspicions on why he isn’t seeing the field.

      Kam’s intensity is keeping the D fired up. I’m so glad he was extended and we won’t have to worry about his contract for a few seasons. He has cleaned up his tackling (potential penalty calls) and with the exception of the late-hit call, he played GREAT today.Its awesome to see 3 mbrs of the LOB be Pro Bowlers

      • Michael M. says:

        When asked about why Christine Michael hasn’t seen any playing time lately I think Carroll just said something about how he, “is still a young guy” and coach-speak stuff like that. The one thing I found disturbing about his response was the lack of superlatives and excitement in Pete’s voice when talking about Michael. If he is not active for the first playoff game I will be concerned that he is not pulling his weight in practice, film study, etc…

        • House says:

          Agreed. The FO did say several times that “The 2013 Draft was for our future”. I have deemed Williams/Simon to have been Red-shirted this season, but Michael has seen garbage time and has consistently been a healthy scratch. We’ll see what comes of this.

          • JW says:

            Rookies who are good get playing time. No team is so deep that good players don’t play. It’s a bad sign for Michael that he hasn’t played but a few snaps.

    • Rugby Lock says:

      I agree. Turbin shouldn’t be getting the back up RB snaps it should be Michael. Wonder what they see in Michael that stops this? Nemhauser posed the idea of moving Turbin to FB ala John L Williams. The idea intrigued me and I was wondering your thoughts on it Rob (and the rest of you lot of course!)?

  12. Michael M. says:

    Where the hell has Doug Baldwin gone the last two weeks? I generally think of him as the best route runner on the team, and that should be the sort of thing that is slump-proof. Can anyone help me out here and tell me when Doug is gonna start catching balls again?

    • Bryan C says:

      As was commented on earlier, the Seahawks appeared to play rather vanilla offensive schemes for the past 3 weeks. Put out some mediocre game tape and then bam…light it up in the playoffs. Personally, I see Percy being back despite reports to the contrary and some explosive offense coming. We have almost two weeks to prepare an offensive explosion.

  13. Chris says:

    Once again the offense has a pretty bad day. I’m starting to get worried. The offensive line was once again horrible in pass blocking and now with L.Willson down, a very thin receiving corp has gotten much thinner. I’ve been wondering whether or not a very good defense, with a below average offense (which IS the Seahawk offense), can win the super bowl or not. Thank god we have home field advantage, otherwise there is no way this team makes it to the Superbowl. This offense is without question worse than the offense was last year at this time.

    The Percy Harvin trade, which I was firmly against after it happened (unlike most fans, that were almost universally against it before it happened, and then almost universally convinced themselves it was a great move afterwards), is starting to look like perhaps the worst trade in Seahawk history. Schneider has probably been the best GM in the league the previous 2 years, but with a completely wasted 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick last year might have been the worst GM in the league last year. What an enormous waste of a 1st&3rd round pick and complete waste of a huge sum of $ that seriously could’ve been used on players to help this team.

    For the love of god, I hope next game we don’t RUN RUN PASS PUNT, RUN RUN PASS PUNT, RUN RUN PASS PUNT, on the first 3 series like we did this game. I’m seriously getting sick of Bevell. How in the world is RW suppose to get into any kind of rhythm whatsoever when every team on the planet knows that in the first few possessions the Hawks are going to run on the first 2 downs, leaving RW with a crappy 3rd down pass attempt (which half the time is horribly designed, and the other half has defenders in his face half a second after the snap). Then 10 minutes later after we’ve punted and eventually gotten the ball back again he finally has another chance to throw a pass on yet another 3rd and long? Let the guy get some DAMN ATTEMPTS and work himself into a rhythm. It feels like this offense is playing as conservatively as the first 2-3 weeks of RW’s rookie season. Through most of the game today I was on my knees PRAYING for a normal 8-10 yard pass route on 1st or 2nd down. It happened maybe once in that game. The only improvement I saw this game was that Bevell apparently figured out that the team can do things like throw screen passes, but he still has yet to learn that short to medium range pass attempts on downs before 3rd down actually exist. I hope he gets hired as a head coach next year. The guy calls 2 or 3 good games a year, that’s it.

    I know this was mostly all bitching, but after the last quarter of the season I’m realizing this team is actually no better than the 49ers or the Panthers (we’re worse than the 49’ers actually). The Seahawks have to be the favorite to make the superbowl out of the NFC, but at this point it’s because of home field advantage. All else equal, if the 49’ers, Panthers, and Seahawks all had to play on the road to get to the Superbowl, I’m not sure I wouldn’t put Seattle 3rd.

    • bigDhawk says:

      Teams have had to sell out to take away our physical running game and deep pass game. The cost for that has been leaving the short/medium route wide open, and we have yet to make defenses really pay that price. I agree that the lack of Bevell calling plays to simply take what the opposing defense obviously gives you is excruciating, but I wonder a little bit how much PC is responsible for this in terms of the overall philosophy that dictates the scheme.

      Baltimore was faced with a similar situation last year. They felt they had a real SB chance – which proved correct – and that their OC at the time was not up to the task. So they made a switch at OC with only a couple games left in the season and we all know what happened. We have an even greater SB chance than Baltimore did last year and no hint from PC that our present course at OC might put that chance in jeopardy. So we can only assume that PC approves of how games are being called on offense, at least enough to not to make a change, which would jibe with his philosophy of beating opponents into submission with a punishing run game the explode on them deep through the air.

    • Rugby Lock says:

      Take a step backwards off the ledge… :)

    • plyka says:

      The 2000 Ravens had a much worse offense with Dilfer as the QB and they won the superbowl. Of course they had a much better defense as well. The best defense, in my opinion, in the history of the NFL. Then came the 2002 Bucs who were in the same position. A worse offense, and I would say a better defense than the Hawks of today.

      All that said, this offense is a capable one. They only lack a good OC, lol. They also lack confidence from Pete. I don’t understand his calls. He was so much more willing to take risks when he was at USC. He allowed those teams to open it up.

      I’m thinking we give USC a call and ask for a switcheroo between Bevell and their new head coach. Or what about someone give a call to Norm Choi and wake that guy up. It seems to me that Pete Caroll needs a real OC, someone who will engender the confidence from Pete, someone who will have some pull with Pete. Norm Choi had that pull. Bevell definitely does not. Pete probably tells him to just play for the punt and let the defense do the winning. I’m not sure if this will succeed in the playoffs, but we will see.

  14. Madmark says:

    The defense is playing lights out and they seem ready to start the game and to play it to the end like that. Unfortunately the offense doesn’t feel the same way. Against penalties set the team back. I have a lot of concern about this receiver corp since we don’t have that player that stretchs the field with speed. To give an example, when was the last time you saw a receiver catching a pass in stride and running to the endzone. I seeing to many back shoulder throws or the receiver cutting underneath to grab a pass. Its evident that we have work for the offense in the off season.
    I’m happy for the season and all we accomplished but I’m a little disappointed in our offense doing just enough to win these games. Superbowl teams get hyped up when they get a turnover from there defense and they usually score points. This offense either goes 3 and out and punts or they score 3 points. GO HAWKs

    • bigDhawk says:

      Baltimore’s first SB was won with a historic defense and a pedestrian offense. That might be our exact model this year if we are to win it all.

      • Chris says:

        It unfortunately might HAVE to be our model, as it seems we can’t do much better than that.

      • Alex says:

        I couldn’t hold my breath. That Baltimore team is a tad overrated (though the Defense was still Top 10 All Time) because of the dearth of QBs at that time. Peyton Manning & Brady weren’t quite on the scene yet and the previous generation (Elway, Young, Marino) just retired. This has been something publicly verified on TV by both Brian Billick and Trent Dilfer (on separate occasions).

        • Alex says:

          *wouldn’t

        • plyka says:

          Wow, that defense is being underrated here. It was the best defense i’ve ever seen. It’s a possibility that some defense I haven’t seen is better like those Steeler defenses of the 70’s.

          But you’re right regarding the offense. It was the worst offense in the entire league in my opinion. They really just had a RB that could run and was punishing. But their pass game was just pathetic.

  15. Stuart says:

    Wont happen but it really feels like to me that Michael could play the Flanker like Harvin was supposed to. He is explosive, we all know that. Does anyone know how Michael’s hands are? How him returning kickoff’s? Our D is world class but our O is avg at best.

  16. Donovan says:

    Michael Bennett’s sack dance. ‘Nuf said.

  17. oz says:

    I’m not a Bevell fan at all.. He certainly isn’t Mike Holmgren. Not even close.
    They need a quick hitting attack, 1-2-3 the ball is gone. I noticed there were times when Russel had a clean pocket that he could have stepped up into butt was already bailing out. To me he seems skittish.
    I’ve noticed that had he stepped up there was a lot of turf he could have exploited. He had a lot of runs up the middle last year. Not so much this year.
    The passing scheme is very vanilla.

    • Rob Staton says:

      People complained all the time about Holmgren too. Full back draw on third down anyone?

      Bevell gets way too much criticism. So much good has come from this offense the last two years.

      • Barry says:

        I agree its easy to criticize, but I have to say the offense has really struggled to get into any rhythm the second half of the year. The second half of the year is when you expect your team to be coming together if your not having to add or subtract significant players. I just haven’t seen that and in fact it seems the opposite.

        • Miles says:

          I’d say the offense has struggled not for the second half of the year but for individual games respective of the rest of the season. If you’re saying the Seahawks struggled the second half of the season, then you’d be deducing that the Seahawks’ O played poorly against the Saints and Vikings. We played well against both those teams on offense, and weren’t exactly stellar in the rest of our games. Only in a couple of games, however, was the offense completely ineffective.

          What we must remember is that prior to the Saints game, the Seahawks had their second-worst outing of the season against the Rams. When the Hawks came back to take on the Saints, they had tweaked the passing game to be centered around short passes. Since then, It seems they have gone away from that, perhaps with the expectation that the running game would pick up the slack. With the passing game struggling through the air, I would expect the Hawks to return to a short passing game philosophy in the divisional round of the playoffs, and perhaps do some things we haven’t seen much of through much of the regular season. And, although it seems Christine Michael has fallen out of favor with this coaching staff, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him take the field and be used to spell Marshawn a few times. I think this could be just a piece of the additions Seattle makes to its offense in midst of a crucial next couple of games in this franchise’s long journey toward a championship.

        • Rob Staton says:

          In fairness though Barry — the best offensive performance we’ve seen this year came in week 13 against the Saints. And after that Seattle has come up against some fantastic defenses — San Fran, Arizona and St. Louis.

  18. oz says:

    Somebody mentioned Williams from BC. He is the closest thing I have seen to Beast Mode, only faster and more elusive. He is going to be a steal in this Draft. He is playing in the Senior Bowl I believe. Don’t miss it, a must watch…..

  19. andrew says:

    There seems to be a whole lot of pessimism after the game. While I agree with a lot of the points being made I want you all to think back to 2008 and thank our lucky stars for the season we just had. The playoffs go through seattle and while the team is not perfect what team is? No AFC team really scares me match up wise and I don’t see us getting beaten at home. Let’s get excited Go Hawks

  20. casey says:

    Congrats to the Hawks. #1 team in NFL by stats, sure the offense isn’t what we’d hope but we’re in a position to get to the SB…that is all we could have asked for at the beginning of the season. things are looking good, although they could always look better.

    Offseason questions:
    – Would taking a chance on the often-injured Kenny Britt or Hakeem Nicks (I believe they are both FAs in 2014) and potentially re-signing a very discounted deal with Rice (assuming this can be done) meet the need for a big bodied receiver? As much as I’d love to move up toe get Evans or Coleman, maybe our draft capital could be used elsewhere. Given the front 7 of SF, Rams, and Cards is so stinking good and will be for some time to come, maybe we need to get Cable some better athletes on the line? No doubt our line has had its issues (some injury related) but for the long term and continued success of the team, which is so dependent on a dominating run game and time given to Wilson, should we focus on getting some Rd 1 – 2 talent on the O-line?

    – Does the defensive line free agents help keep the market price low in trying to resign Bennett, McDonald, etc. It does seem like we went from a really good D, to the best D once we were able to get inside pressure. I’m curious with Melton and Starks once again FAs (it appears) does this help keep the price down on our guys? Does the draft look strong for the D line? Or can we expect a drop off next year in our D because we won’t be able to reload? Hopefully Hill will pick it up and J Williams knees just needed time (doubt it…but we can wish).

    • Madmark says:

      The only receiver that’s a free agent that I would even consider would be Rilley Cooper from Philadelphia. In defense for my brother, he thinks Larry Fitzgerald will be let go for cap casualty and believes he come here for less money to win a Superbowl.

      • Belgaron says:

        ‘Hawks are going to need all of their cap to sign their own guys. I don’t see them going after any free agents who don’t come to them with an offer to take a pay cut or play for the minimum for a year (like Bennett did last year).

        New blood is going to have to be about the draft and talking UDFAs into considering making an attempt at making a very tough roster.

  21. Charles says:

    The Superbowl will come down to officiating. When Sea and DEN line up it must be understood that the game’s purpose is to officially crown King Peyton. Remember the last time Sea made the trip? “The Bus” needed a ring. Really expect anything to be different? The officials have learned this year that they no longer need to deny their actions…just say “Whoops.”

  22. Austin says:

    I think all this talk about the offense being bad is a little overblown. We had a long TD called back on a bad call and another TD to Tate called back on a holding that wouldn’t of mattered. In fact Wilson has had like 5 td’s called back with stupid penalties. In spite of all this they are still a top 5-8 offense while playing some tough defenses. I think the offense will be fine.

    Bevell finally showed the short passing game. Linebackers are keying in on Wilson and that leaves a gap. They can’t stop both. I hope Bevell continues to do this in the playoffs.

    • Belgaron says:

      People forget that Carpenter is still playing into shape after not being able to run last off season. In order for the offense to really click that o-line needs to really be on top of their game both physically and as a cohesive unit. Having the guards dinged up and coming back for the Rams showed. The unit could use better depth and more luck on the injuries.

  23. Belgaron says:

    The power of the lowest seed sets up New Orleans as the most likely next opponent for the ‘Hawks. If they win their game, the outcome of the other game doesn’t matter (in terms of Seattle’s next opponent). In the other game, the 49ers will most likely be playing for the opportunity to go to Carolina where they will most likely end their post season. Without any upsets, its looking like a Saints and Panthers will be booking trips west. A Green Bay or Philadelphia win could make things interesting.

    • David Ess says:

      I can still see the eagles taking the saints, Philly in winter, not good, its a night game, and its supposed to be around the 20’s so we’ll see im not sure who i want to play out of the 3, i woudnt mind the 49ers to hopefully get them out of the way. I’m psyched for whoever we play its been a few years since we hosted a playoff game.

      • Belgaron says:

        Yeah, all of these teams don’t make the playoffs without being capable of winning and I agree that Philadelphia could pull it off. If they win, the ‘Hawks most likely opponent is the 49ers. The only way the ‘Hawks play Philadelphia would be in the NFC championship round. That would be really fun to watch.

        • David Ess says:

          Yeah I wouldnt mind that, that would be cool, but i dont see them taking out Carolina, but who knows, heres to the Playoffs and go Hawks!

  24. Connor Jackson says:

    A lot of the chatter is focused towards the anemic offense and with good reason… but with reports coming out today that Dan Quinn (DC) is being pursued by the Browns (and I’m sure other teams will follow) I think this could be argueably the worst news of the offseason. His strength is w/ the D-Line and he works so well with PC that I think it would be a huge loss to see him go. More so then Gus in my opinion. But that’s down the line… for now, I too would like to see this offense get going. With the way our D is playing it’d become a sight to marvel at. Going to be a tough matchup regardless of the team we see in the divsional round. I’m going to sit back and continue to enjoy this ride. Go Hawks!

    • Belgaron says:

      Gus would have had similar results if he had had a chance to coach Bennett and Avril. Assuming they can find a way to bring the D line back or improve upon it, they will make any D coordinator look good.

      This off season will be about the battle of attrition. Extending Thomas and Sherman, and signing Bennett and Tate will be job 1. They’d also like to bring back Hauschka, if possible. This will require some contracts to be reworked in addition to ending the Rice deal. The draft has to be about receivers and the improving the quality/depth of the offensive line assuming they don’t have additional holes to fill.

    • adog says:

      yeah i thought Quinn might be a candidate for a head coaching job. I would think that based on their success, another team would reach within this organization for a head coach and perhaps a gm. Not so sure Bevell will even get an interview this year with the way his offense looks. Cable makes sense, i think he would be a good fit for the Vikings. Also if i was searching for a new coach, i would take a long look at the Seahawks special teams coach.

      • Belgaron says:

        I don’t think organizations would make Cable the face of their organization, so Seattle is in a great spot to have a guy capable of being a head coach working his magic on the run game.

      • Connor Jackson says:

        Without a doubt… if Quinn does leave PC can tell the successor “hey look the last two guys that have taken the DC job here have taken HC jobs shortly after.” That will definitely appeal to coaches and should help get whoever they want. You mentioned the Seahawks special teams coord. that’s Coach Schneider. He has kids in high school and would have a hard time picking them up and moving them again. Likes where he’s at

  25. plyka says:

    Good post by the author. I agree with almost all of it. Bevell and Pete, who work in tandem, need to work together on the scheme. They did much better against the Rams, at least in teh 2nd half. They even did better in the first half versus Arizona last week.

    But there is no doubt that the passing attack is the Hawks’ weakness. They need to take what the defense gives them instead of trying to do what they do regardless of the defense. Last week against Arizona the defense was playing to stop the run and soft man to man to take away the deep routes. What did the Hawks do? Well, they decided to run run run or throw it deep –the two things that the Arizona defense came out to defend. This week they did much better. The Rams came out with the same sort of defense –take away the long ball and stop the run. The Hawks changed their game –they threw bubble screens, they threw to their backs, and most importantly they threw short and intermediate routes to their WRs/TEs, even, surprise surprise, in the middle of the field.

    But it still was not good enough. This offense is not good enough at adjusting IN THE GAME. They need more diversity. Thank goodness they ran it a few times on 3rd down, but not enough, especially on 3rd and short to medium. More surprise. More diversity. Take what the defense gives you.

    • Robert says:

      I totally agree. We must attack the middle of the field with quickly developing plays. This will get the chains moving and allow RW and offense to find a rhythm. It will also cause the LB’s and SS to hesitate and confirm the hand-off BEFORE aggressively attacking the running lanes. This hesitation will open up our Beast game and our entire playbook. We will also control TOP while keeping the opposing offense on the bench. I wish they had attacked the Cardinals with our TE’s releasing over the middle. This is a known Cardinal vulnerability and we completely ignored the opportunity. I also wish we would help out our T’s when they are struggling. It is very effective to deploy our TE’s to double team the opposing DE’s. That will give RW more time AND targets as they chip and release at random. This constraint play strategy ALSO opens up our Beast game when the LB’s and SS must now make it their priority to defend the TE’s from releasing to the middle of the field behind over-aggressive LB’s intent on stuffing our run game. Zach Miller in the Atlanta game is a good example of how explosive this strategy can be. Go Hawks!

      • SunPathPaul says:

        Agree w u 2 completely…and as I read this, I wondered “what if” they also get this, but maybe have been playing down in order to simply give no tape and to bait opponents into not seeing what is coming…?!

        Sounds funny, but if we have been playing Percy off as done, and he somehow just play in the playoffs without REAL warning to the opponents??? Killer move!

        Just hoping…we can be more versatile AND win by lots, instead of playing to have a close grinder game.
        Why not just win BIG if you can??

  26. Darnell says:

    Amongst all the major mistakes and awful downgradeable performances by referees this season I don’t think Mike Carey has been involved in any of them.

    Which is unfortunate, because Carey is likely working in the playoffs then and he always screws the Hawks.

  27. shamus mcgee says:

    Wondering who likely candidates would be for the coordinator positions should they leave… Would Cable be a good OC?