This was a rout. One of those games with a deceptive scoreline — even at 36-16.
The quick-tempo offense Green Bay installed played right into Seattle’s hands. Pete Carroll wants to avoid conceding explosive plays and force turnovers. Chipping away on short passes he’ll take every time. Bend but don’t break. The scheme helped convert a few 3rd and 5’s but they never truly tested the secondary.
Rodgers, one of the best deep throwers in the NFL, barely took a shot.
The most explosive play the Packers had all night was a 44-yard pass interference call against Bobby Wagner. The second most explosive was an avoidable Earl Thomas muffed punt.
They tried to establish the run but the Seahawks tackled well and plugged gaps. Eddie Lacy left the game with concussion symptoms after a 12-carry 34-yard evening. Rodgers didn’t fair much better with 189 yards a score and a pick.
Green Bay’s gameplan was predictable. To beat this team, particularly in Seattle, you need more. You need a quarterback like Colin Kaepernick who can do the unexpected and run around to make plays. You also need to avoid the seven interceptions Kaepernick has thrown against the Seahawks. It’s tough. But in a game that was essentially Rodgers vs Seattle, the Packers never took the training wheels off.
It wasn’t a flawless display by the home team and that has to be concerning for the rest of the NFC. This, if anything, was a classic loosener. There’s room for improvement and they still won by 20 points.
First let’s get into the stand-out positives after one viewing…
James Carpenter had a sensational performance. He always had talent. Big time talent. In fact given Mark Ingram’s issues in the NFL so far, you almost want to go back and give him an even higher grade. He jumped off the screen for Alabama and tonight he jumped off the screen against Green Bay.
On virtually every productive Seahawks run Carpenter had either a key block or just dominated his opponent. Seattle could run to the left side with ease picking up huge chunks of yardage. At one stage Lynch was averaging around 10 YPA. Carpenter destroyed every opponent he faced on an over-matched Packers D-line.
Tom Cable tipped him to become one of the best guards in the NFL along with J.R. Sweezy. On this evidence tonight, they’re already there. They’ll face tougher match-ups but Carpenter is almost certainly Seattle’s best offensive lineman right now. What a turn around and fingers crossed he stays healthy.
They fed Percy Harvin a lot — seven catches for 59 yards, four runs for 41. He could’ve had more but for a brilliantly executed flop by Clay Matthews drawing a flag and bringing back another big run. He also had a 31-yard return.
If you gave him 300 total yards tonight it wouldn’t tell the whole story. Stats will not define Harvin this year. His greatest characteristic is his mere presence on the field. Green Bay had to account for him every time. As a consequence every skill player on the field became more dangerous. Time and time again they ran Harvin on a fly sweep to one side of the field and he carried the defense with him. He’s so explosive over the first 5-10 yards he was eating up downs without breaking sweat.
When he did have the ball he was explosive. The only thing missing was a score. They’ll come in good time.
When has Seattle ever had a player as exciting as this?
If there is one criticism — on more than one occasion he stumbled and lost his footing. Given he was the only player with this issue, he probably needs to look at his footwear for the next home game.
Byron Maxwell got all the attention as Rodgers avoided Richard Sherman like the plague. The volume of targets he’ll receive plus the scheme means he’ll give up some plays in 1v1 coverage. Nobody should be surprised that Jordy Nelson made a few catches against Maxwell. Yet he maintains the ability to create turnovers. He had one interception tonight and a superb downfield pass break-up on Nelson. Don’t underestimate that play — he showed superb technique to avoid a flag and a huge penalty. On the next play Rodgers was sacked by Cliff Avril on 4th down, forcing a turnover.
The pass rush had a quiet first half but found it’s rhythm in the second. Avril, Michael Bennett and O’Brien Schofield all had sacks — no mean feat given the up-tempo nature of the Green Bay offense. There’s still work to do here but against such a prolific passing game this was a reassuring performance.
Zach Miller deserves a mention. He had an acrobatic red-line catch, several key edge-blocks, drew a holding call over the middle and defended a certain interception all in the first half. He ended the night with three catches for 42 yards.
Marshawn Lynch showed tonight why he’s still the key to the offense.
Now onto the not-so-great stuff…
What was Earl Thomas doing on his three first-half punt returns? The first should’ve been a fair catch, wasn’t and nearly led to a nasty hit/turnover. The second should’ve been a fair catch and did lead to a nasty hit/turnover. The third he allowed to bounce inside the 10-yard-line and again — should’ve been a fair catch. If he’s going to keep this role he has to make smarter decisions. The costly muffed punt turnover put seven points on the board for Green Bay. At half-time a one-sided affair was closer than it should’ve been at 17-10.
Stats can be deceiving. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was credited with a sack on a play where Russell Wilson ran for the sideline instead of throwing the ball away. He lost an inch or two on the ‘run’. How that is recorded as a sack I’ll never know. But no doubt there’s an analytic’s website somewhere willing to blame Breno Giacomini for that play.
Seattle was very creative on offense and it worked. But there were a few times where they went away from the run for no apparent reason. On the first drive after half time they drove up to midfield behind Lynch and Turbin and three passes later they were punting. I’m nitpicking here.
The Seahawks are going to take some stopping. Green Bay are far from a bad team and they were made to look very ordinary tonight.
#Seahawks Sizable Gap. Rest of NFL.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) September 5, 2014