A quick reminder…
In week 15 the Denver Broncos lost by seven points at home to a division rival (San Diego).
They didn’t look very good.
It was a major upset.
At the time it looked like costing them the #1 seed in the AFC.
They won their next game 37-13 and are now in complete control of the #1 seed again.
I just thought I’d mention this.
Admittedly, the Broncos did only beat the Houston Texans — who are currently on a 13-game losing streak. But I think the point still stands.
Just listen to the song above and let’s talk football.
Another reason not to worry too much
Pete Carroll says he arrived at facility at 4:45 a.m. this morning and Russell Wilson was already here. #Seahawks
— Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) December 23, 2013
Running game woes
I’m surprised this hasn’t been discussed more within the media, because for me it’s right at the heart of Seattle’s offensive slump.
The running game isn’t working. Not like it’s supposed to, anyway.
It it the scheme? Is it blocking? Or could it, unfortunately, be about Marshawn Lynch?
He’s averaging 3.28 YPA in the last five games. He only has three 100-yard rushing games this year. His YPA for the season is 4.2 — down from 5.0 in 2012.
Worst of all he just doesn’t look himself.
The scheme and run blocking take some of the blame (and there were plays yesterday where he really had no chance). But is it too soon to wonder if the hard pounding Lynch has taken for the last eight years is finally catching up with him?
Lynch is such a popular figure this might be a ‘hands over the ears’ type of conversation. Nobody wants to hear that he might be on the wrong side of his career peak.
I sincerely hope this isn’t the case. But I think it’s something we should debate, whether you agree or not.
As I mentioned yesterday, he just doesn’t seem quite the same player recently. The first down after Malcolm Smith’s interception was a great example. There was a big enough hole to attack — the blocking was very good on that occasion. And Lynch hesitated, danced a little, and the chance was gone.
He ended up inches short.
A bit of good old north-south running there and I think he gets in. Touchdown.
He’s currently ranked 6th for rushing yards in the NFL — which is still very good. He’s also had a lot more rushing attempts than some of his peers.
DeMarco Murray has 87 fewer yards than Lynch, but he’s rushed 78 less times. Frank Gore trails by 143 yards in the table, but again has 36 fewer attempts.
The NFL’s leading rusher — LeSean McCoy — is one of only two players to attempt more runs (Adrian Peterson is the other). He has 316 more yards than Lynch from just nine extra attempts.
That’s not to say Beast Mode’s numbers are poor. Ryan Mathews is having what most people would consider a productive year. He’s only 59 yards behind Lynch from 17 fewer runs.
But is Lynch’s current run of games the sign of something more than a sticky patch?
It wouldn’t be a total shock — considering his career workload, physical running style and the fact he turns 28 next April.
There could be long lasting implications for the Seahawks if there is something in this. They have to be able to run in the playoffs in the short term. They also need to be able to run the ball beyond this season too.
Lynch provided this team with a true superstar — an identity long before Russell Wilson arrived on the scene. Running the ball to the point of domination is what Seattle’s been about for the last three years. Lose it, and you lose the foundation this offense has been built on.
They seemingly have been preparing for the possibility of Lynch taking a step back. Isn’t that why they drafted Robert Turbin in 2012 and Christine Michael this year? It appears the intention was to bring in some guys to take the pressure off Lynch and try and keep him fresh.
Unfortunately Turbin hasn’t warranted a bigger work load because he’s been so distinctly average. In two seasons he’s on 4.0 YPA and hasn’t scored any touchdowns. His carries are down by ten in 2013 with one game to go, and he has eleven fewer catches.
Michael on the other hand just can’t get on the field. Carroll has been suitably vague on this, merely stating he’s a young guy learning his trade. I suspect there’s more to it. It’s easy to speculate about a possible lack of maturity or work ethic, given his history at Texas A&M.
I’m guessing they wanted Michael to come in and really push Turbin for snaps and it hasn’t happened. Until the light switches on, if it ever does, he probably won’t see the field. Again, this is me just speculating. But why else is an uber-talented, extreme athlete and playmaker not even getting consideration for kick returns — let alone snaps on offense? Especially considering every time he has been given a chance, he’s flashed. Be it pre-season or regular season.
The Seahawks want to run the ball. They want to run it even when you know it’s coming. And they want Russell Wilson to play action the hell out of that football as a consequence.
If they can’t get the run game going with Lynch, this offense is going to keep struggling. I think it’s as simple as that. For the last five weeks the pure running game hasn’t been great (not including Russell Wilson’s scrambles) and they’re 3-2. In the three wins, Wilson made it happen. Lynch had 54, 45 and 47 rushing yards respectively.
So as much as third downs and execution in the passing game was an issue yesterday — if Seattle is going to challenge for the Super Bowl this year, they need to find a way to run the ball a heck of a lot better than they have been recently.
And long term — if Michael can’t get on the field — they need to find the next Lynch. It’s at this stage I’m at liberty to remind you they passed on Eddie Lacy to trade down in the 2013 draft…
For what it’s worth, I think they’ll get the run going again when it matters. But it’ll be interesting to see how Lynch fares in 2014, presuming he remains the lead back.
What to make of Seattle’s receivers
Few teams in the league can afford to lose their top two wide outs. Percy Harvin has pretty much missed the whole season. Sidney Rice is almost the forgotten man.
That the passing game hasn’t ground to a complete halt is testament to the depth Seattle has and the guys who’ve stepped up to the plate.
Even so, there are some big decisions coming up.
Golden Tate is a free agent in the off-season. Ideally you’d keep him. But the market for receivers in free agency is unbelievable (see: Mike Wallace).
If you lose Tate, he needs to be replaced. I’m going to assume Rice gets cut due to his hefty salary and recent ACL injury. You can’t lose both of those guys and just carry on. You’d need to find a quick contributor there, probably within the first couple of rounds of the draft.
Doug Baldwin is also a restricted free agent and should be relatively safe for next season — but he too could easily be gone by 2015.
It might be time to start planning ahead.
I like Seattle’s group. Baldwin, Tate, Kearse — they’re all competitive, hungry players. But they’re all pretty similar too.
You really need one or two guys who are just a pain in the ass to cover. That means height and speed. The ability to go up and make a play, or consistently get separation.
Harvin can be a true X-Factor, but until he’s put a run of games together he’s going to remain nothing more than a cock-tease.
Yesterday we saw plenty of deep shots, and guys just not making enough plays. Passes were dropped, spilled or just went through the hands.
It was crying out for one receiver to go up and make a big play or two. A bit like Michael Floyd did at the end…
Like I said, it might be time to plan ahead. Receivers traditionally take a year or two to adjust to the pro’s. Tate is a good example of that.
The 2014 draft is a good one for receivers. There are one or two bigger wide outs who would look good in wolf grey and whatever else they’ve chosen to essentially call ‘Dark Blue’ and ‘Neon Green’.
If they can keep the band together on defense (aka re-sign Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas — while keeping Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane) that looks like the biggest priority for me. That and the offensive line — and thankfully this is a good year for offensive tackles too.
Mike Evans still looks like a great pick if they can get anywhere near him. His stock will depend on his forty time. If he can run in the 4.4/4.5 range like VJ in TB, he goes in the top-15. Anything less and he’ll fall a bit. The Seahawks don’t need the fastest big man on the planet — but it sure would be nice to have someone who can go up and dominate in jump ball situations.
Especially when, like yesterday, they’re taking lots of 1v1 shots downfield to combat the blitz.
Please, no more guard talk
I noticed last night the usual clamour for a new guard that seems to follow every defeat.
The blocking was fine for the most part. Even Paul McQuistan had a fantastic block against Calais Campbell on a Lynch toss to the left. Michael Bowie wasn’t great standing in for J.R. Sweezy, but I thought it confirmed Sweezy’s value and growing reputation.
Whatever your views on the situation, here’s the biggest reason we shouldn’t be talking about guards early in the draft next year…
This isn’t a great class for the interior offensive line.
Don’t believe me?
Read this piece via Bob McGinn — one of the best sourced beat writers in the business.
He spoke to three different league execs about the 2014 class — and I might dip into this valuable piece again later in the week.
This is the info he received on the guards:
“I don’t think there’s any great players inside. It’s not like last year.”
And finally, somebody speaks the truth about Mr. Yankey…
“Stanford junior David Yankey (6-5, 314) might not be physical enough.”
The Seahawks need better depth on the offensive line and might need to replace free agent right tackle Breno Giacomini.
But a guard in round one?
Not for me.
I’m going to try and get a Christmas Eve mock draft out tomorrow, to keep up with tradition. Stay tuned.