A couple of third down conversions.
Two connections on easy slants.
That’s the difference between a ‘world is falling’ diagnosis of Russell Wilson’s performance and the continued fawning of a blossoming talent.
He didn’t get close to turning the ball over during a rancid afternoon in Seattle. Wind, rain, cold. That wasn’t quarterback weather.
Seattle ran the ball well enough to win. The defense dominated while leaving just enough room to be even better next week.
Marshawn Lynch looked like a man on a mission.
You look at certain members of this team — Lynch, Richard Sherman, Red Bryant, Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor — and you get the impression they’d rather not wake up tomorrow if it meant losing this next game.
“Over my dead body”
And yet all people are doing is panicking about the quarterback.
Crisis, crisis, crisis.
It’s not just Wilson of course. We’re getting the usual, “Darrell Bevell sucks” garbage that always follows a less than inspiring offensive display. Bevell, like Wilson, is just one contributing factor in a large offensive power base.
You better believe Pete Carroll has a huge say in the game plan and in-game decision making. Tom Cable has input. The other ten players on the field have to execute too.
But no, better to complain about the quarterback who’s broken records in his first year as a starter — and the offensive coordinator who never gets any credit for his impossible growth (pardon the pun) in two brilliant seasons.
The Seahawks did what they needed to do on Saturday. They built up a strong lead (16-0), carried it into the fourth quarter and took the air out of the football.
Can Wilson play better? Absolutely.
Does he need to put up 350 yards, three touchdowns and be the entire offense next week?
The Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos scored 23, 23 and 24 points respectively over the weekend and won. Indianapolis scored 22 points and were blown away by New England because their quarterback had four interceptions.
Sometimes being conservative and not turning the ball over is enough.
The immediate reaction last night was to worry about Colin Kaepernick’s current form compared to Wilson’s.
In reality, it might be the quarterback who makes the least mistakes that gets the job done next week.
That’s not guaranteed. Either player might have the game of their lives for all we know. I doubt Wilson will get the chance, because the Seahawks are likely to lean on Lynch (and quite right too).
San Francisco might put the responsibility on a quarterback who is growing in confidence and looks sharp. Yet they tried to do that in their last two visits to Century Link and it backfired big time.
Wilson just needs to execute better, with a few different wrinkles incorporated into the game plan.
I don’t see a crisis.
It’s easy for us to sit here on the couch and say what those wrinkles should be. I want to see the tight ends used more, to chip and break and make up for the way teams are defending the bootleg right.
I’d like to see some of the old favourites from the last post-season dusted off. Use Michael Robinson in the red zone. He scored one touchdown against the Redskins, and was a nice decoy for a Wilson rushing score against the Falcons. Use Lynch as a checkdown option. Make Zach Miller the third down read.
Just because that’s what I think is best, doesn’t: a) make it correct or b) put me in a position where I’m qualified to suggest anything with any authority.
But there is one other aspect I do feel very confident about. Something that could lift the offense and make the passing game dangerous again.
Feed Percy Harvin.
Force the football to Percy.
First things first, we have to wait and see if he’s even eligible to play.
Doesn’t it just feel like groundhog day?
If he passes all the concussion tests this week and avoids having to sit out (the eight day break between these games should help) then it’s time to make him the focal point.
And it’s not even that difficult to achieve.
There isn’t another player like Harvin in the NFL, and it’s why Seattle paid so much money to bring him here. Unlike many other elite receivers, you’re not relying on height, physical domination or route running to force the production.
All you have to do is give him the football. Percy does the rest.
Whether it’s an end around, jet sweep, wide receiver screen, bubble screen or even a good old hand off or pitch — Harvin can make big plays.
He’s elusive, he’s dynamic and he has a little ‘beast mode’ after contact.
One play sticks in my mind from Saturday. Seattle set up to throw a screen to Harvin — and he had great blocking by two other receivers in front.
Wilson looked right at Harvin but for some reason didn’t throw it — instead tucking and running for a minimal loss (it went down as one of three ‘sacks’ on the day).
There was no obvious reason why he didn’t throw it. John Lynch on the call suggested it was a bad grip on a wet ball — a complete guess — and then praised Wilson for the decision (????).
We’ll never know why he didn’t throw it. There was a defender who read the play, but he didn’t seem in a position to stop it happening. The worst case scenario of making the pass was a first down. The best case was a massive touchdown run that would’ve seriously padded the passing stats and made everyone forget about any ‘crisis’.
I sense that the real reason Wilson didn’t throw it was he’d been told to play very conservatively and avoid turnovers. Any hint of a mistake and live to fight another down. That won’t be Bevell’s doing — that’ll be Carroll.
The presence of that defender just put a little doubt in his mind, so he bailed.
‘Better safe than sorry’ they might say.
I’d suggest a slightly different approach against the 49ers.
PC: “Russell, more of the same please. I want you to play safe, control the clock and avoid turnovers like your life depends on it. But by the way, feed the ball to Percy. Get it in his hands. If you’re going to take any small risks, do it throwing to our most dynamic player.”
Even if San Francisco does a first rate job defending Harvin when he has the ball, they’ll need to track him whenever he’s on the field. He’s a sensational decoy. The suggestion anyone actually can do a first rate job defending him seems fanciful.
It’s also harder to knock a guy out of a football game when he’s running straight at you with the football.
Throwing downfield leaves him defenseless. Throwing it to him in the backfield makes him dangerous.
Of course all this depends on Harvin making it to game day.
That’ll be an agonising wait in what already promises to be the longest week of the year.
Is he ready for a big workload? I think so. We saw enough flashes against New Orleans. And to quote Carroll, “If he’s playing, he’s playing.”
It just makes too much sense to feed him the ball if he does make it. If anything, it’s just another example of conservative football. You’re not even giving the defensive backs a chance to get their hands on it. You’re not giving the defensive linemen a chance to sack your quarterback. You’re taking the pressure off Wilson.
Straight from the snap you’re putting the ball in the hands of a guy who had nine catches for 89 yards last time he played the 49ers. He also had a nine yard rush and 74 return yards.
And his team won 24-13.