Instant reaction: Seahawks destroy Saints, reach 11-1

December 2nd, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

Mr. Consistency had another productive day

What a truly satisfying night of football.

There’s been a lot of talk this week. Brandon Browner’s suspension. Walter Thurmond’s suspension. Percy Harvin’s injury status.

In pre-game, Trent Dilfer questioned the legitimacy of Seattle’s defense.

There were plenty of doubters. I’ll admit I wondered whether all the talk would be a distraction.

Well, that was some statement to the critics.

Let’s cut to the chase — Russell Wilson is the second best thing to ever happen to this football team. Right behind Paul Allen buying the franchise and keeping it in the city.

I’ve been following Gregg Rosenthal’s NFL.com series ranking the quarterbacks. Every week he lists Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers in a class of their own (Brady is consistently way down the list, although I’m not sure why).

Gregg is going to have to make room for Wilson at the top table.

He doesn’t have as many touchdown passes as Manning and co, but it’s purely by design.

Tonight was a masterclass.

He wasn’t totally flawless. He probably should’ve been picked off in the first half on a downfield throw to Golden Tate. He missed an open Doug Baldwin in the third quarter.

And that, my friends, is about the grand total of the struggles Wilson ‘endured’ against a supposed top defense.

On a night when Marshawn Lynch was held in check, the quarterback put the team on his back. He ran. He threw. He improvised. He notched up twice as many yards as Brees.

League MVP? Why not?

Seattle has the best record in the NFL. Wilson is the teams best player. Seahawks fans should celebrate every day the decision to draft the 5-11 quarterback so many teams were sceptical of.

They should also celebrate the teams offensive coordinator. Darrell Bevell will be coveted in the off-season. Big time. And while people love to complain when things don’t go swimmingly, this really was a genius piece of game-planning tonight.

He constantly kept the Saints guessing. Bevell used all his weapons and found a way to get Wilson rolling without gimmicks or tricks.

I’ve always been surprised by the grief Bevell receives from some fans. He gets no credit for Wilson’s quick rise to prosperity. When things go well he’s rarely praised. And if you run through a list of currently active offensive coordinators — who would you swap him for?

Seattle gave Bevell a pay rise last off-season to make sure he stuck around. It might be time to start writing up a new offer.

Elsewhere — the pass protection issues are in the past following the return of Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini. Doug Baldwin is making it very easy to get over Harvin’s hip injury. And Zach Miller really is Mr. Consistency. While a shiftier tight end probably walks into the endzone on the 60-yard play — Miller once again provided a reliable target for his quarterback.

Back to the defense — very few teams shut down Drew Brees. They made the New Orleans offense look positively ordinary.

Going into MNF, Brees was on a 43-game streak of 200-yard passing games. The NFL record is 45, held by Dan Fouts.

That run ended tonight with a 147 yard effort.

I’ve had the opportunity to watch the Saints a few times this year. Every time their screen game stood out. It was fearsome. Teams knew what was coming, and they couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

K.J. Wright and the Seahawks made it look like a piece of cake, something nobody else has done this year to my knowledge.

Time and time again, Wright identified the screen, shed a block and made a play. His performance was completely understated on a night when others got the plaudits.

Earl Thomas has achieved Luke Kuechly status. By that I mean — every tackle is lauded by the commentators, he’s constantly talked about as an MVP candidate and any mistake is quickly glossed over.

Cliff Avril continues his march to becoming Seattle’s most effective pass rusher. Another strip-sack today — his speciality — led to Michael Bennett’s early touchdown. These two have had a major impact this year. Avril is signed up for 2014 — but they need to find a way to keep Bennett too.

Byron Maxwell had one bad play by my count — a slightly slow recovery to a Jimmy Graham inside slant for a first down. Apart from that? A really encouraging display.

Seattle held New Orleans to seven points. Seven. Points.

I started this blog in 2008, anticipating a rare opportunity to cover a top-five draft pick for a competitive and injury-hit Seahawks team.

By the end of 2009, it became apparent this was actually a major rebuild. All those dreams of winning a Championship had vanished. Seattle was old, injured and going nowhere fast.

Now, we almost take for granted this is an eleven-win team with four weeks to go in the regular season.

Life is good.

Now go beat the Niners.

50 Responses to “Instant reaction: Seahawks destroy Saints, reach 11-1”

  1. Beanhawk says:

    Well, that was fun. Thanks for the write up, Rob.

  2. MichaelW says:

    I thought that the oline looked pretty darn good in pass protection and the use of extra blockers was well utilized for the pass plays drawn up on rob ryans d. Great game plan both sides of the ball tonight. Go Hawks!

  3. kevin mullen says:

    Maxwell stepped up, big time. That pass deflection in the endzone was just beautiful. I hope for more to come from him.

    • Barry says:

      I can see Max getting a pick or two in the following weeks. This game you can tell he was playing it safe and by the rules, still reacting. More time he gets and as things slow down more for him that read peal on the Graham break up is a pick later on same for the endzone. Great game for him.

  4. glor says:

    Damn nice write up Rob, and I agree about Bevell.. I must say, they dialed up a damn good GP today. You need someone to bitch about when things aren’t stellar.. well here’s hoping Bevell sticks around, paul, open up that checkbook, we need another assistant head coach.

  5. Colin says:

    If this isn’t the year, I don’t know when it will be. The Hawks are simply bigger and better than everybody.

    Next weeks game is irrelevent. SF wins? Big deal. Let them feel good about themselves. It won’t last long.

    It’s Super Bowl or bust.

  6. Austin says:

    Also, we shouldn’t forget Wilson threw a beautiful ball to Kearse that would have been a touchdown had it not been dropped. Such an amazing game by Wilson. The o-line finally coming together is really giving him an opportunity to shine again. I have to think that if the o-line play had been good all season that all the major talking head’s would be mentioning Wilson as one of the league’s top MVP candidates.

    • Nolan says:

      As much as I like Kearse and I know that Sydney Rice is prob not coming back can’t help but think he makes that catch

      • CC says:

        Kearse should have caught that one – and I think he will the next time. It happens, he’s still learning and he’s made some other big catches, so I’m not going to get down on him.

        • Barry says:

          Agreed should have made the catch, but was cool was watching him wave his had and break to the outside to give Wilson the opportunity to make the throw. Smart play just need to come up with the ball next time.

  7. Tomahawk says:

    Rob, nice write-up as usual. I always go directly to this site after every game to see your thoughts. I’ve got two young kids and am so excited that they will get to grow up watching Russell Wilson’s brilliance both on and off the field. This is a special time to be a Hawks fan.

  8. Derrick says:

    KJ Wright’s performance wasn’t “completely understated.” Gruden lauded his play during the game and awarded him (over everyone else) his Gruden Grinder award after the game!

    • Michael M. says:

      Isn’t the “Gruden grinder” an under the radar player by definition?

      • Derrick says:

        No, it’s a player whose influence can be recognized on film vis a vis stats. Gruden and others (see Twitter) have clearly stated KJ had a great performance tonite.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I don’t have access to the post-game stuff over here. He did highlight Wright, but spent a lot more time discussing Thomas and Wilson. I wanted to give Wright some serious props for arguably his best game as a Hawk.

    • CC says:

      KJ played on fire last night! Wagner was a bit quiet, but you know he played well too. The LB crew played great pass and run D – the coverage on Graham and the other TEs and RB was essential to the win!

      • Barry says:

        KJ defiantly deserved the highlight. But I think its made more evident due to lack of great play in more recent weeks. But as one of our original late round pick guys who really showed up (and we will pry lose to FA) I love when he has a big game.

  9. OakHarborHawk says:

    Utter domination this game. Hard to believe that this team can actually get better after this game. Even if Harvin has a limited impact on offense once he returns just having someone who can return kick-offs will have a huge impact. Leon Washington is the former Hawk that I’m missing the most this season.

    A win next week clinches the division, and a Saint’s loss against the Panthers will clinch the top seed. I hope we don’t rest the starters the last week of the season want to stay 8-0 at home.

    • Alex says:

      I’m only fine with resting starters to the extent that there is a lead and you give the remaining time to the backups (for development and rep purposes to build up depth). Otherwise, I’m in favor of playing the starters because historically, the team that wins the Superbowl is the hottest team going into the playoffs. The last three Superbowl winners all caught on to a hot QB (Flacco, Eli, and Rodgers all played lights out in 2013, 2012, and 2011).

      Believe it or not, momentum is a key factor. The Texans last year started strong, but then Matt Schaub suddenly fizzled at around game 10 or 11 and they slumped into the playoffs. Plays that were working at the beginning of the year suddenly didn’t work.

      Besides, if the Hawks do take one of the the top 2 seeds (almost guaranteed now), they would already have an off-week during the Wild Card.

      • Barry says:

        The whole thing though is home field advantage, thats why this game was so hyped. We get two games at home in the playoffs what do you think happens? As much as i understand you making the comparison, Alex, Schaub has always been a game manager with a big arm he no Wilson, not athletically and not mentally.

  10. Chris says:

    That throw to Golden only should’ve been a pick because Golden slowed down in his route. If he’d kept his speed it would of been a toss up type ball.

  11. Ben says:

    My only complaint was the run blocking at times, and that was partly because of constant 8-9 man boxes. The Saints chose their poison, and they chose wrong.

    • CD says:

      Great game. I was nervous going in, but in a weird way, I think that was a good thing. It always seems like the game ends up the opposite of what I think its going to be. I haven’t watch the Saints, but figured they were a good offensive team, we had the distractions of Thurmond/Browner, long lay-off, none of that mattered which is rearlly refreshing. Road games at 10 am, games after the bye, we shouldn’t worry about those things anymore.

      My only complaints about the last few weeks has been Turbin and Clemons. Turbin seems to panic when a pile is in front of him and he just leans forward, puts his head down and runs into the pile. There isn’t much effort to avoid the plie.

      I am so glad we have Avril and Bennett. Clem just isn’t getting it done. I know his snaps are down and they are dropping him off the line some, but when given the chance, he just isn’t getting to the QB.

      I am guessing Clem and Rice are not around next year.

    • Rob Staton says:

      They sold out to stop Lynch — and Wilson destroyed them. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady — they thrive on teams blitzing and selling out to stop the run. Wilson is in that company now.

  12. Jim Kelly says:

    I am so Happy.

    Go Hawks.

  13. Hawk Bangkok says:

    Being life time big fan of Pete Carroll from USC…and following seahawks since 09..This is a really building team to win…

    This year really win big…Just feel bad that pete is now the second oldest coach…just wish he will be more 10 years younger than now so that he could build the long run dynasty here…Go Hawks!!!

  14. JeffS says:

    Thansk for these. always a great read.

    Depth at WR a concern?

  15. Hawkspur says:

    All hail John and Pete!

    I don’t know enough about NFL history to be able to say so for certain, but surely this rebuild must be bordering on unprecedented. Having reached 10-1largely without the help of their best 2-3 o-linemen as well as their 2 top-rated receivers, as well as boasting a ferocious front 7, they can now also completely shut down one of the league’s premier passing attacks with the depths of the DB depth chart playing an important part. As you say, this difference between this team and the one they inherited is as unexpected as it is spectacular.

    Although the Exec of the Year will no doubt be awarded to Elway for his genius move of taking a risk on the little known Peyton Manning, or Grigson again for drafting Luck, surely there is only one horse who should be in that race.

    • RJ says:

      Been watching football since 77 and the best parallel I can remember is the Cowboys in 90-92. I think when it’s all said and done were talking Dynasty here gentlemen.

  16. Phil says:

    Bevell deserves credit for a great game plan, but it’s time to give a shout out for Dan Quinn and his defensive game plan too. Gruden was gushing about PC’s Seahawk defense and didn’t mention Dan Quinn once. Sure, PC is a defensive-minded head coach, but comparing this year’s defense to last year’s shows how the defense has improved under Quinn. Remember back to when this blog was full of complaints about the Seahawks’ lack of an inside pass rush? Remember all the 1st downs we would give up on 3rd and long?

    While we are at it, how about kudos for Steven Hauschka and Ryan, too. One missed FG this season, and 15yds. of total returns against the Seahawks!

    • Rugby Lock says:

      Gus didn’t have Bennett or Avril last year to be fair. Clem was the only real consistent pass rusher we had last year. Now they have a plethora of them.

      • Connor Jackson says:

        haha C’mon Phil you can’t talk about the coaching by D-Cord. Quinn and then talk about special teams w/o giving credit to Coach Brian Schneider. Talk about a guy that never gets any credit. That man has had the Seahawks Special Teams as elite ever since he got here with Pete. Sorry I have to show him praise (family friend)!

  17. dave crockett says:

    No complaints at all about last night, but an interesting dilemma going forward. Will Seattle make a move at guard or continue to rotate? There were not many poor performances last night, but McQuistan and Sweezy did not appear to play well. I’ll have to re-watch the game, but at first blush they were bad. The few successful runs we had tended to come with Carpenter in the game, and Wilson dodged a lot of pressure on his own.

    • oz says:

      Carp was frustrating to watch.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I didn’t notice them apart from one play McQuistan whiffed on. I will re-watch the game tonight.

      My biggest concern right now is replacing Breno if he departs in free agency — so underrated at right tackle.

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      I saw Sweezy miss on one play where he pulled to the left. But other than that, I thought the guards looked good in pass pro. Nothing much they could do vs the run against 8-9 in the box. Also, there was that one 4th down conversion late in the game where PC went with Bailey and Carp at G and they pretty much bulldozed the Saints’ Dline.

  18. AlaskaHawk says:

    Nice to see the offense playing better. They even got a few catches from Lockette and Kearse. The big three Tate, Baldwin and Miller had some great over the shoulder catches. Running game was tougher but still good for 3 yards or to keep them guessing. Okung had his hands full last night, sometimes with opponents helmet.

    Defense played well except for a few penalties. Seemed like there was space for Brees to pass but the Hawks closed quickly on the receivers. Lots of holding calls shows our defense was overwhelming their line.
    Dominate game against a top five team.

  19. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    It’s been very satisfying watching Irvin develop his pass coverage skills this season.

    • House says:

      Irvin looked good. I loved the play when he blasted Graham in the back and the ball popped out. Irvin played Safety in HS and to see those skills still be present was awesome.

      • Miles says:

        For anyone curious why Irvin left the game he got his thigh banged up when he was cut-blocked by a runningback. He tweeted his thigh is fine. :)

    • Elijah says:

      Yeah Irvin has been great. Seeing him roaming around making huge plays gets me so pumped

  20. Elijah says:

    I was really impressed with the play of Byron Maxwell. I hope he keeps it up over the next few games and solidifies what has become a somewhat unknown position group for us.