The Seahawks can be a frustrating team to watch. Unbeaten at home, they’ve flirted with winning all of their road games too. It’s that little tease that makes it so hard to take. This one was particularly difficult given it was the defense – not the offense – that was most culpable.
In the past it was a strong defense being held back by a stuttering offense. Yet here was Russell Wilson, leading the team and making big plays. Sidney Rice and Zach Miller both scored touchdowns, Golden Tate bounced back after a tough outing in San Francisco. Marshawn Lynch broke off a huge scoring run. The Seahawks scored 24 points – more than enough on the road to get a victory. And here was the defense, unable to get off the field on third down. Detroit converted 12/16 on third down, including the usual issue with 3rd and long rearing it’s ugly head again. Matt Stafford did a good job sensing and avoiding pressure, but he wasn’t completely tested. Richard Sherman backed up his talk (again) and Earl Thomas made a key second half interception but it wasn’t to be.
So what’s the issue? The team’s pass rush blows hot and cold too often. Are they relying too much on pressure from the front four? Can that be excused given their investment on the defensive line and the teams schematic desire to rely on pressure up front. After all, it’s helping the linebackers to make plays and the secondary continues to get rave reviews. It’s a pretty obvious thing to do to call for more exotic blitz packages, but when you see Tampa Bay battering Minnesota (Seattle’s next opponents) with lots of pressure, why not indulge that thought? After all, if you’re going to be burned on 3rd and long rushing four, why not get a safety or corner blitzing anyway?
I’m not convinced it’s an issue that can be solved via personnel, although this does strengthen the case to consider drafting Alec Ogletree. He’ll add an extra dimension to the pass rush from the linebacker position, while having enough athleticism to adjust and cover if needed. Jason Jones was a big miss among the interior and not having Jaye Howard as a replacement was also key. It’s a strong class for pass rushing defensive tackles if Seattle can’t agree an extension with Jones. The Seahawks can perform better and they need to tweak the scheme a little to execute on third down, but there isn’t an abundance of draft options that will solve this problem immediately.
There are positives though. As mentioned, the offense looks better. With every passing week Russell Wilson looks more and more like a quarterback of the future. That’s all you can expect from a rookie – progress. With two homes games on the horizon against Minnesota and New York, they have a shot to be 6-4. That would certainly be progress too – and really the Seahawks as an entity are a bit like a third round rookie themselves. There’s no time-scale on the rebuild and continuing to improve each year has to be acceptable considering where the roster was at the end of the 2010 season. So the sky is not falling this week, as disappointing as the 28-24 defeat was.
One final point on Seattle, Peter King has brought up the idea of a Dwayne Bowe trade again: “If I were Seattle GM John Schneider, I’d call Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, and ask if there’s any way he’d dump Dwayne Bowe for a fourth-round pick. And if he would, which I doubt, I’d be a buyer. You might say that Bowe could be a free agent after the season, and why would the Seahawks spend a fourth- on a guy they could lose after the season? Simple. They’d franchise him if they couldn’t reach a long-term deal, and that would give Seattle one season of a quality receiver (plus one-half of a shaky season this year, depending how quickly he could pick up at least some of the Seahawks offense) for, say, the 115th player in the draft. I’d do it.”
Bowe has at least 2-3 excellent seasons left at his peak, he’s good in the red zone and we saw in 2010 how effective he can be. If you can work a deal for anything less than a first, I’d do it too. The trade deadline has been moved to Thursday. We’ll see what happens.
I was in London yesterday to work on the Rams vs Patriots game. First of all, how did Seattle lose to this St. Louis team? 45-7 it finished. And the Rams will need those four first round picks they’ve got coming over the next two years. I had a chance to head into the Patriots locker room after the game and rather than join the scrum to speak to Rob Gronkowski or Wes Welker, I went over to speak to Ryan Mallett. He made his NFL debut in the game albeit in garbage time, but I felt obliged to go and talk to a guy we discussed a lot on this blog over the years. “It was pretty special, we don’t get to play over here every year. It was my first time and I get to do it in England so it was pretty fun.”
Mallett suffered a bit of a draft fall in 2011. It wasn’t totally unexpected and I remember hearing that only the Raiders were likely to take him in round two. New England was a good spot for him and not just because of Tom Brady’s presence. “It’s been good, I’ve learned a lot and I just try to get better every day and keep working so that’s what I’m focusing on.You pick up a lot of stuff just by watching, just by listening.”
Say what you want about Bobby Petrino in light of his departure from Arkansas this year – and it’s put that team in a real hole – but he’s a fascinating offensive mind. He’s not the easiest coach to work under and he expects a lot, but you know you’ll draft one of his quarterbacks and get a player who understands a lot of pro terminology with valid experience making multiple reads. Mallett impressed a lot of people just by barking out a timeless hard count on Jon Gruden’s QB camp pre-draft and his white board work was extremely detailed. “There’s similarities and differences (between the NFL and the Petrino offense) but playing for them (Arkansas/Petrino)… it definitely helped me prepare for this level of football.”
I suspect Petrino will be back possibly as early as next year and as long as you can accept Petrino the man, you’re getting a quality coach. The situation at Arkansas doesn’t change though and it’s a mess. They lost again this week, moving to 3-5. At the end of last year this was a team with serious ambitions of winning the SEC – and not unrealistic ambitions either. A 52-0 mauling by Alabama in September sums up how much has changed since – that was a game circled as the Razorbacks chance to make a statement. They were destroyed. Mallett has sympathy for his former teammates, in particular quarterback Tyler Wilson. “I know it’s tough. They had high expectations and there just not living up to it. I’m behind them, I’m praying for them to get it turned around. He’s a great player. He’s going to learn a little bit at this level about different things he can do to become a better player but he’s a really good player.”
Wilson could still prove to be a first round pick in 2013 and shouldn’t last deep into the second. The more I watch Dallas’ struggles and knowing Jerry Jones’ background, I wonder if he’ll be the next big hope for the Cowboys?