Before I comment on the Seahawks, how about the 49ers losing — no, collapsing — against the Colts?
Following Seattle’s demolition of San Francisco last week, I referred to Dallas’ week 2 defeat at Century Link last year. The Cowboys left Seattle a broken team — physically and mentally drained. They never recovered, and frequently talking about the impact of the game on their season.
I’m not about to write off the 49ers (that would be foolish). But they didn’t half look a lot like the 2012 Cowboys today.
Broken, soulless and beaten.
Colin Kaepernick hasn’t got anyone to throw to and continues to struggle to get beyond his first read. Patrick Willis left the game through injury. Reports suggest Aldon Smith cleared out his locker after the game (he’s heading to rehab, according to Peter King). They were already without Vernon Davis.
Next up is a trip to St. Louis to play a division rival who went 1-0-1 against the 49ers last year.
Tough times for Jim Harbaugh.
I suppose the fact we’re discussing San Francisco is in itself a review of the Jaguars game. We didn’t learn a great deal today.
All of the minor problems coming into week three pretty much still exist. The offense is still rusty. Russell Wilson — despite scoring four touchdowns — is still not playing at his absolute best. The run blocking was generally poor for Marshawn Lynch and the pass protection will get a lot of debate too.
Wilson had two turnovers on the day. The first was a fumble on a scramble after Jacksonville collapsed the pocket. I want to see him throw that away. It’s easy for me to say that from my sofa, but he’s holding on to the ball a lot in the first three weeks. Sometimes it’s better to punt.
On the pick, he again tried to do too much. It’s surprising given the way this team preaches to protect the ball. A punt out of the end zone is better than giving possession away on the one yard line.
I’m not sure he’s taking advantage of blitzes yet, which is one area I expected major improvement. We saw last week how he can use a blitz to his advantage (the Lynch touchdown) but today the Jaguars rushed their linebackers with a lot of success. Whether it’s play design or a learning situation, the Seahawks have to notice the blitz and have some calls that allow for quick hitters over the middle. The gaps will be there. Wilson has to call it and execute.
The offensive line didn’t have a great day. Lynch barely had any running room apart from a couple of big plays. It was surprising to see Jacksonville match up so well in short yardage situations. Max Unger has had a sloppy start to the year and that continued today (again, surprising).
On the Jason Babin sack, Breno Giacomini just got beat off the edge. Babin was stood in the neutral zone and should’ve been flagged. There was no flag. Even so, Wilson just hesitated enough to eat the sack. Maybe he expected more time with just a three man rush, but it kind of just encapsulated Seattle’s rustiness on offense. Wilson holding on to the ball to long, the offensive line getting caught.
On the plus side, Paul McQuistan didn’t appear to have too many problems at left tackle and the blowout nature of the game allowed Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey to get some time on the field.
The next two weeks will be a big test for the offense. They have to sharpen up. Shutting down Houston and Indianapolis — both at 10am — won’t be easy. And the offense won’t be able to toil like it did in Carolina and still escape with a victory.
It wasn’t all bad, of course. It’s quite encouraging that even at 3-0 this team is still yet to peak.
The first team defense was superb (again). Michael Bennett already looks like a fantastic acquisition (how soon can we discuss an extension?). Clinton McDonald has been an underrated performer in the last two weeks. The secondary handled everything until the game was out of reach. Bobby Wagner had his best game of the year too.
It was a little disappointing, however, to see the backups allow Jacksonville to march up the field a couple of times. I kind of felt afterwards that this team shouldn’t be coughing up 17 points to the Jags — even if seven were a gift courtesy of the Wilson interception.
Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell both struggled to get a handle in coverage late on, but they weren’t helped by a middling pass rush. I still don’t see what all the fuss is about with John Lotulelei. On Jacksonville’s second touchdown he showed minimal athleticism to get off a block and it left a wide open lane for the running back to exploit.
Going back to the positives (it’s easy to nitpick), all the receivers played well and contributed. The chances are Seattle is going to lose a good receiver they would ideally keep in the next 18 months.
We had our first regular season glimpse of Christine Michael — and he again reminded us why he simply has to have a few touches every week. Luke Willson also took a major step forward and could be set for an increased role over the coming weeks.
And it was good to see Chris Clemons back on the field and looking sharp. It’ll be even better seeing Clemons, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin (after week 4) rushing the passer over the next few weeks.
At 3-0, the Seahawks have already accumulated a two-game lead over the rest of the NFC West. It was a miserable day for the NFC with defeats for San Francisco, Green Bay, Atlanta, Minnesota and Washington. The Seahawks were the only team from the 2012 NFC Playoffs to get a victory today. The combined record of the other five teams is 3-12.
The Seahawks need to use their good start as a platform. The next two weeks will be a real test.
And for your amusement, here’s the Tweet of the weekend:
The Oakland Raiders will be unveiling a new mascot. Here he is: The Raider Rusher pic.twitter.com/XERNYh6xMV
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) September 22, 2013