The one positive today? At least the bye was last week so you don’t have to chew on this for a fortnight.
Seattle walked into the friendliest road atmosphere in the NFL and took on a Miami Dolphins team ‘roared on‘ by a two-thirds empty stadium. A Dolphins team that struggled to reach double figures against two porous defenses in their last two games. A Dolphins team on a three game losing streak, with a rookie quarterback throwing twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. This was the perfect opportunity to prove the road woes were overblown.
So what happened? Seattle walks out a deserved losing team. That was a ramshackle performance from the get-go. The Seahawks started flat and finished flatter. This was an opportunity to steal a march on NFC rivals facing tougher opponents. Tampa Bay were beaten by Atlanta and New Orleans face San Francisco later today. And the Seahawks blew it.
So what went wrong?
- Miami ran all over the Seahawks, picking up big gains at will and making life easier for Tannehill in the process. The defensive line couldn’t get off their blocks and the linebackers struggled to seal the edge. Is anyone else concerned that, especially on the road, the interior defensive line isn’t proving particularly stout against the run, but also offers virtually no pass rush?
- Leroy Hill struggled badly in coverage, giving up a free touchdown to a full back and whiffing on a couple of other occasions too. It’s games like this that really reignite your interest in Alec Ogeltree all over again. In fairness, Hill wasn’t alone. K.J. Wright looks increasingly awkward in coverage situations. At least Bobby Wagner showed up in that regard, even if he was targeted consistently in the running game.
- Pass rush? What pass rush? Tannehill had occasional, modest pressure. Overall, the Seahawks didn’t do anything like enough to get into Tannehill’s head. Bruce Irvin was very quiet – and while he has seven sacks for the year, you’d almost surrender some of that production for a bit more consistency. There was no interior push again, and that’s becoming more and more of a problem. Yet my biggest gripe today is the lack of creativity. We saw the occasional blitz, but we’re relying too much on the front four to create a pass rush. We need to learn from previous games where that hasn’t been anywhere near enough when we send four guys. Tannehill was far too comfortable in the second half.
- I don’t like to go on about offensive play calling, but what happened on that final drive? Russell Wilson found a groove before half time and had back-to-back long sustained touchdown drives. So what’s Seattle’s plan as they drive for the game? They run the ball and punt. That final drive was extremely conservative. When Miami got the ball back, they put it in Tannehill’s hands and asked him to get a victory. They went for the win. And that bravery was rewarded. I’m not saying they needed to try 40-yard bombs down the sideline, but certainly they could’ve been more pro-active on that drive and put the responsibility more on Wilson’s shoulders.
- Run blocking was a big issue. For a team that relies so much on establishing the run, I don’t think any of the lineman came away leaving a positive impression. Carpenter and Okung struggled pulling to the right as Seattle tried to stretch things out in the second half. Unger and McQuistan were regularly driven backwards. I’m surprised they kept running inside despite the continued lack of success and the excellent defensive line work by Paul Soliai.
- For whatever reason, something is missing on the road that exists in Century Link. Blame it on the Tanzania advert if you want, or the home crowd. But for too long this franchise hasn’t maintained the same level of attitude and execution on the road. As mentioned previously, this was the least intimidating road atmosphere you’ll see in the NFL this year. That stadium wasn’t even half full. The locals don’t care about this version of the Dolphins, they’re already thinking about next years draft. And despite Seattle’s very realistic ambitions of the post-season, you let the other team steal the win from you. Could you imagine San Francisco losing this game today? Me neither.
At the very least, Russell Wilson again looked comfortable and showed he’s not the issue when the team goes on the road. However, to blow a 14-7 and 21-14 lead with minutes to go against a struggling Miami outfit is a real review of where this team is. It’s good enough to flirt with relevance but it simply isn’t winning enough of these gettable close games. Arizona, St. Louis, Detroit, Miami. All defeats on the road. You can’t rely exclusively on beating teams at home. You could almost accept it if the problem was your rookie quarterback or the offense – but it isn’t. It’s the defense. The much praised and vaunted defense. The one unit that’s supposed to be getting it done, but didn’t get it done. Again.
This was a reality check day and there might be another one next week. I kept an eye on the Chicago game against Minnesota today and they were extremely impressive. And if the defense plays like they did against Miami, Jay Cutler will have a field day.
As for the draft, where does this leave Seattle’s need areas? You could make a great case today for drafting a nose tackle, a three technique, a linebacker who can cover. I don’t know. This defeat is too deflating to even consider the draft. Meh.