Having started the season with two unnecessarily narrow victories, the Seahawks needed to clean things up to continue their unbeaten start.
Today, the opposite happened. Things got worse. A lot worse.
Let’s run through the list of horrors:
— Giving up a punt return touchdown for the first time in four years
— Chris Carson fumbling again and seeing it returned for a touchdown
— Failing to convert on 3rd & 1 and 4th & 1, followed by a Saints scoring drive
— An illegal formation turning a missed field goal into an extended scoring drive
— Recover a fumble, give up 15 yards because someone on the sideline ran onto the field
These are just the highlights. I know there are more.
You can’t make this number of mistakes, give up this many cheap points, fail to execute this badly and expect to beat anyone.
Seattle saw a New Orleans Saints’ team minus Drew Brees and brought their own equaliser to the game — a truly wretched performance.
This will be a long week for Seahawks fans. You’ll hear a lot of people questioning this team. People will question Pete Carroll and his philosophy.
Criticism of the staff and the players is fair. Whether it was poor preparation, execution, decision making or play-calling — this was a terrible performance.
Yet this was also, in a perverse kind of way, a classic illustration of Carroll’s message. The Seahawks out-gained the Saints by 250 yards. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 177 yards. The best player on the field was a running back (Alvin Kamara). The Saints didn’t win by throwing it all over the yard. They won because they played three phases of football well and the Seahawks didn’t.
And how often has Carroll highlighted the importance of that?
Little things like being superior on special teams and winning the turnover battle matter sometimes. Especially when it leads to cheap points.
It might be a good thing for some fans to endure this loss. Re-adjusting expectations after a 2-0 start could provide some benefit down the line. They were lucky to be 2-0 and based on what they’ve shown through three weeks, had no right to be unbeaten.
They’ve lost a lot of experience and quality over the last two years. They still have an extremely good quarterback and some other big name players. This isn’t a complete roster though — far from it. There are band-aids and young players everywhere.
And there’s perhaps a greater problem I want to come back to later.
This team will provide some exhilarating wins, just as they did in 2018. They’ll provide some extremely frustrating losses too (again, just as they did in 2018).
This probably won’t be the only game where you’re cursing at the TV or yelling from the stands.
A 2-1 start would’ve been approved by most fans before the regular season. This loss will feel jarring because it was Bridgewater not Brees and the Seahawks were awful. Yet this wasn’t a playoff game and they get to play again next week.
The Carroll Seahawks have always been frustrating early in the season and liable to lose a game or two they shouldn’t. They also improve. They need to improve now.
That doesn’t mean Carroll avoids criticism. Playing this poorly so early in a game will always lead to a finger being pointed at preparation and the attitude of a team. Did a 2-0 start and the knowledge of Brees sat at home in Louisiana go to their heads? If there was any complacency the staff bear responsibility — especially when the weekly message is a determination to focus on going 1-0.
A coach has to have his team ready to play. The Seahawks bumbled their way through the first half and dug themselves a hole too great to climb out of.
That happens sometimes though. So I want to come to the issue I said I’d come back to earlier. For a team so determined to set the tone and be physical, have they remotely achieved that through three games? The running game is nowhere near what we saw in 2018 so far. Statement moments like running in short-yardage situations — the Seahawks didn’t win those battles today.
They’ve gone with a big, hulking offensive line for a reason. Yet their two wins so far haven’t been delivered off the back of a strong running attack.
It’s not just about their running game though. Does the team have enough attitude? Seattle’s Super Bowl team was dripping with intensity. They were loaded with alpha’s who punished opponents physically. This current team seems to have a distinct lack of BAMF’s. They have very talented players. They have players who can be physically excellent. Where are the tone-setters though? Players like Kam Chancellor and Marshawn Lynch? Even a Brandon Browner or a Breno Giacomini?
Are they nasty enough? Are they capable of consistently imposing their will on opponents? Where are the hits, the pressures, the turnovers? Where’s the fear factor, the thing that opponents have to be wary of?
This isn’t to say they’re a soft, finesse team either. Nobody would dare make that suggestion about Duane Brown, Bobby Wagner and others. Three games in though — where’s the physical edge?
— The Seahawks are in a tough spot with Chris Carson. He’s fumbled three times in three games and that doesn’t include the botched hand-off last week. In the first half you’d be forgiven for thinking he was playing in rollerblades the way he slipping around. He’s so important at his best so you can’t bench him but he can’t keep fumbling either.
— Is there a problem with the turf? It was wet today but players were slipping against the Bengals and throughout the pre-season in drier weather.
— Tyler Lockett had 154 yards and a touchdown, Will Dissly continues to make plays as does D.K. Metcalf. Shaquill Griffin played well on the first viewing. Jason Myers is consistent. That’s about as much positivity as I could glean.
— They have only five sacks in three games and only one interception. They’re not forcing errors or creating much pressure. Where are the hits? Why is the tackling so poor? Is there a player currently starting in the secondary you could realistically view as locked-in for the long term?
— This was a weird week in the NFC. Dallas allowed Miami to last longer than they should. The Eagles were poor in a loss at home to Detroit. The Falcons mixed between sublime and ridiculous to lose against the Colts. The Giants, starting their rookie QB, went into Tampa Bay and stunned the Buccs. The 49ers turned the ball over several times but an impotent Steelers’ redzone offense couldn’t capitalise.
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