Instant reaction: Seahawks defeat Panthers, progress to NFCCG

Kam Chancellor came to play — and he led the Seahawks to a 31-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers

A lot of players performed tonight — including Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin, Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen. But nobody performed better than Kam Chancellor on another victorious playoff night in Seattle.

Carolina came to play and threatened the major upset in a mind-melting first half (more on that in a moment). But Chancellor’s tone-setting performance — hitting, covering, blocking and eventually scoring — sealed another NFC Championship game for the city next weekend.

Chancellor’s near 90-yard romp capped another smothering second half performance. During Seattle’s now seven-game unbeaten run, they’ve consistently started slow and excelled later. They trailed 6-0 to the Rams at the break. They struggled initially against the Niners. It was closer at the half than it needed to be against Arizona (twice) and Philadelphia.

Today was no different.

This particular first half was one of the strangest of the year. Carolina gave away two turnovers and Seattle dropped two more potential interceptions. Seattle thrived on explosive offensive plays — a 63-yard catch-and-run by Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown. Another 33-yarder to Kearse on a scramble drill. The Seahawks dominated field position early on.

And yet after two quarters, it was 14-10. A four-point game. Strangely, in the middle of all of the Seattle positives, Carolina mustered 14 and 13-play scoring drives. Newton ran and threw, misdirection and the read-option kept Seattle off-guard. Stewart drove through tackles for extra yardage.

Penalties also helped the Panthers. A needless Cliff Avril taunting flag offset a personal foul at the end of the second quarter. It kept Carolina in field goal range after Earl Thomas dropped a pick. Ricardo Lockette’s dumb personal foul for throwing a football at a defender was also avoidable, as was Jeremy Lane’s flag while blocking on a punt return. The Panthers out-ran the Seahawks 87-21 at the mid-way point.

It was the customary first-half toil, followed by a one-sided second half. The Panthers had no answer for a masterful Russell Wilson who finished with three touchdowns and was 8/8 passing on third down. This was the type of display that’ll warrant the richest ever quarterback contract in a few weeks.

Luke Willson had another random big game. When he performs like this — you wonder how good he can be. He’s just so inconsistent. He’s a consistent streak away from being the next dynamic receiving tight end in the league.

It didn’t take any unique offensive game plan today. Just Seahawks football. Wilson appeared to be trusting his receivers more than he has at any point this season. He took shots downfield. Oh for a great ‘big’ target like Kelvin Benjamin. A trio of wonderful touch passes really hit the mark — two others could’ve led to touchdowns (one to Kearse, one to Ricardo Lockette) but were half spilled, half defended. It’s those kind of touch passes lofted into the end zone that a Vincent Jackson would thrive on.

Benjamin consistently boxed off Tharold Simon all night, just using his frame and catch radius to dominate. It made life easy for Newton, who performed well generally in his first visit to Seattle. It’d be easy to express concern about Simon’s performance. He did struggle. But this is what an enormous receiver will do more often than not. I’m not sure Byron Maxwell would’ve had any more success. The Seahawks can be even more dynamic on offense if they can just find their Benjamin. The more experienced and proven the better — which is why a deal for Tampa Bay’s Jackson remains appealing.

The pass rush worked in fits and starts. Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril all had explosive plays, but Newton also had a lot of time too. The Panthers seemed to do a good job bunching up the O-line, taking away the interior. You’ve got to praise the quarterback who was incredibly elusive as usual.

It’s a shame Jonathan Stewart is contracted until 2017 or 2018. The way he broke tackles today — he’d be a perfect replacement for Marshawn Lynch if he does depart or retire this year. It’s a little concerning that he ran so well — although Seattle’s defense didn’t do a good job tackling. In fact they were downright poor at times. It might be worth rooting for Green Bay on Sunday — Carolina controlled the ball in the first half and ran efficiently. That’s been Dallas’ modus operandi all year — and Tony Romo has complimented the run attack with a MVP season too. The Cowboys would be a really tough match-up next week.

Yet whoever wins, they’re still going to find it difficult to beat the Seahawks. Seattle’s stars are making big plays at crucial times. Chancellor, Wilson, Sherman, Thomas, Bennett, Irvin, Avril. They’re getting enough support from the Willson’s, Kearse’s and others. And it’s at Century Link.

Time for another NFC Championship game. Whoever the opponent.


  1. Zach

    Games like this make you wonder how Kam lasted until the 5th round: that kind of athletic ability isn’t exactly common.

    • Mark

      He was injured in his final college season. Maybe a broken leg?

  2. kevin mullen

    Maybe count me in the minority, but I want Dallas to come back. I think we have unfinished business from their last visit, would really like to see what Kam can do in this game. Maybe hurdle their field goal try and finally block it without a penalty. Amazing play, can’t believe they let him do it twice in a row.

    • Kelly Orr

      Same here there is unfinished business at hand. Dallas is by far the scarier matchup but I want us to beat them.

    • Arias

      No doubt about it. I would MUCH rather see them seek redemption from the Cowboys and crush the soul out of Jerry and Christie’s hug orgies.

      At the same time, there’s no doubt that Jordan HIll’s presence was missed tonight or the game would have been more lopsided. All that time Newton had to step up in the pocket and deliver throws. It’s just a good thing he can be such a shitty thrower at key moments, but he looked sharp for most of the night because the DL wasn’t generating the pressure in spite of having two really shit starting tackles that Avril and Bennett were beating. There will be no room for error against Rodgers or Romo, both of whom would step up in the pocket and deliver passes on point if given that sort of time. But Romo has a more dominant line so they’ve got to figure out how they’re going to play better than they did this week to contain up the middle. I’m not as confident as if Hill were playing, but it’s still a matchup I’d much rather see.

    • AlaskaHawk

      I would rather play the odds and take on Green Bay. Murray has gashed our defense too many times. Also not a good sign that they couldn’t get off the field on third downs. Hill is sorely missed, hopefully Dobbs will improve. Loved the way Wilson spread the ball around.

    • Coug1990

      Doesn’t matter to me. I believe the Seahawks will beat either team. The victory and going to the Superbowl will be satisfying enough for me.

    • CC

      I’m with you – bring on Dallas! We’ll play better this time – but with that being said, I think GB might win this game.

      Either way – we’re going to have to play our best to win – Romo and Rodgers are both very good QBs. But our offense should feel like they’ll be able to make some plays against either D.

      • neil

        agree we will have to play our best, reguardless of who comes in. Look at the stat sheet. The Panthers out played the Hawks in every stat except yds per play and yds per pass. Newton completed 68 % of his passes, with Romo or Rodgers completing that many it will be a tough day for the Hawks. The three turnovers in the game were the difference.

  3. Jon

    Something tells me Malcolm Smith won’t be able to steal a SB MVP this year. Chancelor was so fast and powerful in this game. Wilson went 15/22 260+, 3td, 12.2 ypa and a 149 qb rating. Amazing stuff.

  4. Curt

    Wilson was very good today when the Panthers sold out on the run. I know the panthers D line is very good but I was surprised at how Carolinas O line handled the Seahawks D line during the 2 quarter. Need to really tighten up the D for all the yards they are giving up. Would love to see a Benjamin on this team. Real threat in the red zone. Not impressed with Simon today.

    • CMoney87

      Simon actually seemed to play fine coverage to me. That’s just the advantage to having a huge target like Benjamin, especially in the redzone. There’s just throws you can make to guys with that kind of size that are esssentially undefensible. You can’t really expect any DB to outmuscle or go up over a 6’6″ guy with an even longer wingspan. That’s why Rob and others have been pounding the table for a guy like that and the Seahawks tried to sign/trade for every guy that even had the slightest possibility to be available.

      • Coug1990

        Based on the catches versus the targets Benjamin had this season, Newton and Benjamin played better than they have all season. The talent is there for the both of them, the consistency usually is not. This game it was.

        • Volume 12

          Hands down agree Coug. I may be the only oen besides you that was actually surprised WR Kelvin Ben Jasmin had the type of game he had. If TE Luke Wilson is inconsistent, what is 1st round pick WR Kelvin Benjamin? I question his work ethic. He strikes me as a QB Colin Kaepernick type. Both have all the god given athletic talent in the world, but will they put in the time and effort to get better? And I don’t mean when the shit hits the fan, I.e. Kap working with Kurt Warner this off-season.

          • Volume 12

            Edit should say *Kelvin Benjamin. Damn spell check man

          • Arias

            I’ve seen nothing to indicate Kap is the kind of guy who doesn’t ‘put in the effort’. I’ve followed his progress closely the past few off seasons and all indications are that he’s an exceptionally hard worker who is the first one into the facility in the morning and last to leave. My sense is that he needs better guidance than he’s gotten on what to work on and how best to prepare and grow his game. Because right now he comes across like more of an ultimate workout warrior. He’s fanatical about keeping his body in peak condition, but is a little lost in how best to direct his progress to evolve into a better quarterback.

            Benjamin just seems like he can be a slacker sometimes off the field who relies too much on his talent while on it. His slips of focus reflects on the field too much with his high drop rate, with the drops coming on easy catches. It’s something that can be overcome so long as he’s devoted to improving but he looked great yesterday. Seems like he has no problem at all when motivated and locked in.

      • Arias

        You can’t seriously think that a corner that gave up 10 receptions on 10 targets for 114 yards and two touchdowns played “fine” last night. Tharold Simon was the weak link that Cam exploited repeatedly last night. Whoever Simon lined up across from is where Cam would target as his first read. It was ugly man. And it just so happens that 7 of those catches were to Benjamin making Simon look like a legion of bust while catching for both of Carolina’s touchdowns on Simon’s shoddy coverage. I really couldn’t understand why they didn’t have Sherman shadow Benjamin all game like they did last time when Simon was responsible over and over again for allowing Newton to extend drives.

        • Volume 12

          CB Thyroid Simon did have a bad game last night, I agree, But I think 1 bad game and such a small sample size on Simon this year should in no way mean he’s a lost cause or a bust. Not that your saying that. Didn’t it take CB Byron Maxwell a couple of years to figure things out as well?

          • Volume 12

            LOL. Should say *Tharold.

          • CC

            Exactly right on Maxwell – he wasn’t very good when he first went in for Browner, but got better. With the coaching he’s getting, Simon will too!

            • Arias

              Actually he was. From the moment he became a full-time starter opposite Sherman in week 13 last year against new New Orleans he played outstanding. Because by then he had gotten plenty of playing time that stepping in as full time starter he didn’t miss a beat. Before as a backup he still ended up playing almost half the defensive snaps either in the slot or to spell Browner who also missed the opening two games last year coming back from surgery. Overall Maxwell was much better last year than Simon this year, but also had one more year of experience compared to Simon those year. This was Tharold’s worst game for sure and I have no reason to think he won’t continue to evolve into a better player. I’m just worried he won’t evolve fast enough to handle what Rodgers throws at him next week and I can only hopper Maxwell is back by then to make the point moot.

              • Volume 12

                That was my point I failed to get across. With more seasoning and coaching CB Tharold Simon will be one of the better no. 2 or RCBs in the league. If there’s one position group to not sweat over it should be the DB group or LOB. We all know this is PC’s specialty and he’ll always find his ‘diamond in the roughs’ and keep churning out quality DBs. They do need a little bit better of depth at the safety positions, although they do have Dion Bailey stashed and have Eric Pinkins coming next year.

                One more point on CB Tharoldd Simon. He was kind of just thrown out there. Didn’t expect to start, probably wasn’t a part of the game plan either. No excuses, I know, but something to keep in mind.

  5. CA

    Thought the same exact thing on the Lockette drop, when they find their guy 6’3″+ true number one reciever that’s 6 points. The helfet drop had me longing for max but he made up for it with some difference making blocks. They took care of business today

    Draft wise I’m looking DL, TE, OL, WR as our first four picks in really no particular order. The pass rush looks lke it could use a 1st or 2nd rounder but weapons are welcomed in the passing game early in this draft. I’m against an OL in round one but with trading back and player value ultimately dictates strategy.

    Go hawks

    • Arias

      Helfet dropped two. He was butter fingers tonight.

      • CC

        By the way – Helfet tweeted out that he knew he played badly and appreciated the support from the 12s. Sounds like he’s ready to atone for his mistakes!

        • Arias

          That’s great news!

    • AlaskaHawk

      We need at least one big defensive tackle to plug the middle.

      • Rob Staton

        Mebane can fill that role next year.

        • Volume 12

          Mebane will fill that role next year. Who fills his role if he goes down again? And who fill K-Will’s role when he more than likely retires this off-season? When they set up their draft board and you look at Scruggs, Dobbs, and whoever else they have playing a ‘filler or just a body’ type role, that’s a definite upgrade area.

          • Rob Staton

            I really like Mebane, but for me he’s the kind of player I don’t think they’ll stress about replacing.

            • Volume 12

              I’m in no way saying they should replace Mebane next year. Just need a quality backup for him or a guy that Mebane can groom.

          • Arias

            I agree they really need to address their lack of depth at tackle with Mebane coming back from injury. We really lucked out this year with Kevin Williams signing that happened almost as an after thought. After appearing so ineffectual as a pass rusher out of the 3-tech early season many, including myself, were ready to write him off as done. Instead he’s been a key piece to their Robbins and it’s hard to imagine them playing anywhere near as well without him plugging up they middle as a nose tackle, but next year he’ll be 35 and I think the team would be much better off grooming a rookie to be able to play in Mebane’s spot should there be any fall off in his play.

            With this draft being strong on DL it’d be foolish to bypass talented picks at a positron that will soon be a big need with the chance to get significantly younger and cheaper.

  6. Colin

    The Panthers lucked out a little bit. They needed the fumbles to roll out of bounds, Sherman and Thomas dropped huge interceptions….the Carolina offense knew they had to get creative to beat Seattle. They moved the ball a bit with gimmicky misdirection plays and simple pitch and catch to Benjamin with Simon getting fooled. I personally think Cam has reached his ceiling and that he can be a pretty good, but never great, QB in the NFL. He’s too erratic and inaccurate to be a devastating QB in the league.

    If Dallas wins tomorrow- I’m not sure we’ll beat them. They are perfectly built to beat Seattle. Green Bay is so finesse and inconsistent on the road I wouldn’t worry too much if they came here, but Dallas is the real deal. They can run, they can throw and they play just enough defense to get it done.

    Finally, Russell Wilson is worth every penny he gets this offseason. He’s sensational and does the one thing every franchise QB must: Make the guys around him better.

    • Cysco

      no doubt RE: Wilson. Pay the man. I don’t care what it costs. Th dude is money. He was by far the best QB to play football today and I’ll be interested to see if he’s the best QB to play football this weekend after tomorrow’s games are done.

    • Coug1990

      Disagree somewhat. Yes, Dallas beat Seattle in Seattle. So, it is possible. But, in the playoffs, everything gets magnified. You are looking at it from only one side. What Seattle does is also perfectly built to beat Dallas. Run the ball, don’t turn the ball over and play good defense.

      Plus, Wilson has shown he is money in the playoffs.

      • Volume 12

        All the pressure will be on Dallas.

  7. Cysco

    Man, if the seahawks play any at this level against any team in the league, they win. For me, the team looked a level above the panthers the entire night. It just seemed they were on the verge of huge plays all nigh. (forced fumbles going out of bounds. Interceptions overturned. etc.)

    Our QB played out of his mind. Our skill position players executed. Our defense was other worldly. Our coaches adjusted and closed things down.

    I really think this team is a notch or two above ever other team in the league. It doesn’t matter who wins tomorrow. Whoever comes to seattle next week is going to have one hell of a time competing with this team if they play at this level.

    go hawks

  8. AlaskaHawk

    The offense looked rusty the first quarter, then got down to business. Russell had a great game passing. Lots of key catches by Kearse , Baldwin and Willson. Defense played well except the line often had a gaping hole for Newton to run through. I am worried about strong running teams like Dallas or Denver. Like enjoyed watching the game.

  9. AndrewP

    This guy’s thoughts:

    1) The offense is likely going to do enough on their end to win a championship.
    Run game- They went up against an awesome front-7 tonight, and even though they found it tough going in the 1st half, later on, the holes started opening up. Oh, and Carolina had the toughest front 7 of anyone left (MAYBE save Denver, maybe) and they started gashing them late.
    Pass game- Oh yeah, Russell Wilson… please stop not mentioning this guy as a top-3 QB in the NFL. Hell, besides Aaron Rodgers, there is no one I would hesitate taking Russell over. He is so good, and the rapport he has with his receivers and TEs is just phenomenal.
    The offense is going to be fine.

    Oddly enough, that leaves…

    2) OK, talking about another issue before I get to what really worries me. The run D is going to be fine. Yeah, there were some issues in the 1st half, but, they seemed to clean the issues up after halftime. Thought it was good that KJ called himself and his brethren out on it as something they needed to clean up. That and their 2nd half performance tells me they’ll be fine.

    The HUGE worry going up against anyone that’s left

    3) The pass D is going to have issues. OK, maybe not the pass D as a whole, but the interior push and 3rd down is a huge concern to me. Carolina had way too much success on 3rd down for my liking, and when they go up against a veteran QB and receiving corps… It’s an unnerving thought. Jordan Hill was noticeably absent tonight. His emergence late in the season was, IMO, as big of a factor in the D’s renaissance as ‘the meeting’ and getting Kam/Bobby back. Without his providing an interior pass rush, the 3rd down D is pedestrian, bordering on bad. I’m not trying to be Chicken Little here, but, if there is one thing that is going to derail this repeat title run, the interior pass rush and 3rd down D is it.

    • Arias

      Totally agree on the lack of interior pressure being a red flag going forward. Better pocket passers would have a field day given that sort of room to climb out of distress. Remember the damage Rivers did when he kept doing that every time he dropped back? I had flashbacks of that horror story when I kept seeing Cam able to do that, before breathing a sigh of relief when his pass would sail into the ground or Tolbert or someone else would drop the ball.

      • Amar

        It is hard to rush the passer against a run first team with a VERY mobile qb.

        The defense has to devote a lot of manpower to stop Carolina’s multiple running threats. And because of that it left Simon 1-on-1 in a lot of the matchups.

        I felt that Carolina played a GREAT game and a lot of missed tackles helped them. They ran the ball great due to their multiple running game threat, they stopped our running game for the most part (only one BIG run by lynch), hawks dropped multiple INTs – and yet the Panthers found themselves down by 21 at one point.

        • Amar

          And one more thing – no team is GOOD in ALL areas in such salary cap era. Otherwise we’d expect the hawks to win all games by four touchdowns without giving up a point.

          The fact is that this team WILL give up yards and 2-3 sustained drives per game the way the defense plays Cover 1 or Cover 3 most of the time. But, most of the time, those drives end up in mistakes or FGs.

          • Volume 12

            Wow, Amar man I’ve never seen ya on this blog before, but with statements like that… Welcome. My man! You took the words right out of my mouth with concerns on the game. Carolina is a tough out every time, because of the way their built.

            When has Seattle ever played a perfect game? Totally agree as well about the salary cap era and that not every position group can be a position of strength.

          • Arias

            It’s true that Carolina played well, but that doesn’t change the fact that they should have been able to generate more pressure in the interior when Cam had all sorts of room to clinch the pocket on straight drop backs (not the read option) all too often and if they allow Rodgers to do that he will make them pay. Given Carolina’s relatively weak offensive line that should not have been the case. In the season opener it was only after Bryan Bulaga left the game with injury and was replaced with Derrick Sherrod that the DL was able to start generating any pressure. If this defense is going to get exploited by Rodgers that’s the blueprint right there. Take advantage of the space and time given to him in the pocket and pick on the cornerback that allowed Cam Newton a 153.8 QB rating when targeted the week before. With two dynamic receiving targets and a strategy that will surely include not making the mistake made last time of avoiding Sherman’s side of the field he might end up doing it unintentionally anyway if Tharold Simon is manning they other side.

            • AndrewP

              This. Not saying I expect perfection, just that if the Hawks don’t improve the interior pass rush defeating the likes of GB/Den/NE will be tough.

              • Rob Staton

                Worth noting, it looked to me like Carolina sold out to protect the interior, using misdirection on a ton of plays to confuse the edge. The CAR O-line (on first viewing) almost seemed bunched up to protect the middle, feeling like as long as they kept Cam clean he’d make plays. The other teams left don’t use the read option and won’t be able to use misdirection in the same way. If they bunch up like that they’ll get killed off the edge.

                • AndrewP

                  It wasn’t so much about the push up the middle on running downs, rather obvious passing situations. I did not notice Carolo a going max protect in the middle, so maybe that was a factor.

                  To be honest, the two teams that scared me the most were eliminated today. A gimpy Rodgers should be containable, and he will likely not be able to find the windows he did today. Ironically, the team I might be most scared of now is Indy. They have convincingly beaten two good teams, and NE would make it three. Luck is the last QB that could really expose a lack of interior pass rush, and the Colts will have confidence they can beat the Hawks, as they did it ‘just’ 15 months ago.

                • Arias

                  Yeah just to emphasize what AndrewP said the lack of interior pressure on the plays I’m talking about wasn’t when Cam was running the read option. Instead It was on obvious passing downs where to avoid the collapsing pressure from the edge record as the pocket collapsed, he could simply dodge them by stepping up in the pocket and delivering his throw. who is the distinct lack of pressure in the center front of the pocket which gave him room and space to work in to calmly climbed the pocket to escape the immediate edge pressure. Whereas normally I would have expected jordan hill to be at least occupying space p
                  near the top gap at the front of the pocket and deterring the qb from considering climbing the pocket. If they do come into his proximity he had learned to pounce as they approached and wrap them up. If they paused they’d get sacked by Bennett or Avril. That interior pursue jihad once again MIA as far as the eye can swear with no Jordan Hill or Clinton McDonald in earshot.

                  • Ulsterman

                    I agree to some extent on the interior pass rush, but I noticed on some plays they only rushed three and kept one back – usually Irvin – as a spy on Newton. They shouldn’t have to worry about that next week.

  10. CC

    The Panthers O line played pretty well and gave Cam time to make some throws. While Simon was getting picked on, he’s still learning and I remember last year many of us saw similar issues with Maxwell. Benjamin is a tough receiver to deal with – even Sherm had his troubles. So, let’s not be too tough on Simon – there were a few issues that the D will have to do this week to tighten things up.

    The Panthers ran the ball very well and had some good schemes – a tip of the hat to the Panthers. Their D also played the run well and Russell came up big. The scheme to stack the line and stop Marshawn went pretty well, but Russell passed the ball brilliantly today – beat the blitz several times and had some beautiful touch passes.

    We have played some of the best defenses tonight and over the last games of the season – the ones that lay ahead are not in that class, and I expect that Russell will be getting into a groove going forward. DAL/GB are okay defenses – but not up to STL/AZ/CAR or SF. They’ll likely try to do the same thing, stop Marshawn and the offense have to be ready to go.

    Let’s hope that Max Unger is okay this week and that somehow PRich can heal up quickly! I like his speed.

    Let’s get ready – another trip to the SB is within reach!

    • CC

      Oh and Bevell’s play calling was a little suspect, but our O line played better – things were working together.

      • Arias

        Can’t really fault Bevell’s play calling from what I saw. Some were dissing him for running too many screens, but a part of the strategy for running screens is keeping the defense honest and prevent them from overpursuing. So even if a screen doesn’t gain the yardage we’d like to see for a first down, it’s still an effective way to neutralize defenders by keeping them on their heels. Seeing how effective the passing game was on the other throws and even on some of the screens, it’s hard for me to fault him.

        • AlaskaHawk

          Two bubble screens in a row, both defended well. Why would we do that? That was the only error I saw in play calling.

          • CC

            I hate the bubble screens!!!

            • Coug1990

              Think of them like a pitcher throwing high inside heat. Then you throw the curve for a strike while the batter is bailing out. The Seahawks use them to set up other plays. People get too caught up in the individual minutia of play calling. Play calling is more a chess match where there is a lot of strategy going on, it is not a game of checkers.

          • Volume 12

            If OC Bevel doesn’t call the 2 or 3 screen plays in a row I’m not sure if the downfield or splash plays would have been there. He’s thinking one or two steps ahead.

            • AlaskaHawk

              The bubble screens are defended by linebackers, the rest of their secondary was defending the big play. Even when we had Harvin the bubble screens weren’t working. They are a wasted play for Seattle and don’t set anything up. Stick to read options and throw downfield.

              • Amar

                You think highly paid coaches would run those screens and bubble screens and keep running them if they thought they were “wasted” plays? C’mon man! Those plays are essentially run plays.

                Look at the Luke Willson TD again. His first action and step was that of a bubble screen and then he turned upfield when the corner stepped up.

                • Rob Staton

                  A lot of what Seattle does in the first half on offense is setting up for later. And for the most part, this has worked to perfection for the last three seasons.

  11. Adam Schwartz

    Hey Rob

    Could the rust from the bye have anything to do with the interior pass rush problems? I can’t imagine it’s all due to the loss of Jordan Hill.

    • John_s

      Hill was the only interior rush guy they have. Tony McDaniel and Kevin Williams are run stoppers not rushers

      • Coug1990

        Bennett often slides to the interior.

        • Volume 12

          I’ve been saying for a month now, Seattle need another interior rushers. A guy who can play some of the 5-tech role, but mainly line up as a 3-tech. A guy with some length like K-Will and Tony McD have.

          • Amar

            They have been playing King and Tukuafu in that role on some downs. Tukuafu got like 9 defensive snaps yesterday and King got 5. Also, Dobbs can rush the passer from the interior – he was playing well before he got hurt and this was his first game back (I believe since the Thxgiving game vs. 49ers, in which he had a sack or a TFL).

            • Volume 12

              Exactly my point. King and Tukuafu? That’s not really a reliable interior rush duo. I would think that strikes no fear or concern in the opposing teams. Just as they know they need that big target by trying to get TEs Fleener, Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron, etc. They know they need a high upside interior rusher. Having interest in Easley, trying to sign DT Earl Mitchell and Henry Melton in FA, and then picking up Dobbs, King, etc. off the waiver wire.

              • Amar

                I agree. But, where’s the money? Once Wilson and Wagner are resigned, there is NO money leftover. Even for a TE like Fleener (forget about Julius or Cameron). We will have to let Maxwell go.

                Cassius Marsh will help outside (and inside some) and Jordan Hill will help inside next year.

                I think the team will resign Carpenter to keep the OL together and then extend Sweezy in 2016. Both of those guards are coming together.

  12. tony

    While like most here, I agree that there are some concerns going forward. Interior pass rush, 3rd down defense. But Carolina is no joke. Possibly the hottest team in the league outside of us. This is the most physical team left in the playoffs. And while it was tight until the 4th, who here was thinking loss? U knew the Seahawks got stronger as the game went on. This team is battle tested and knows how to win.

    Opposing D’s are going to have there hands full. RW is hitting his stride. And all those weeks facing top defenses are paying off. He is going to feast on Dallas or GB. Stafford was terrible vs Dallas, missing open receivers, bad reads, inaccurate, no pocket awareness. Russell will light them up. And if we meet NE in the SB, God have mercy on there rush D.

    This team is ridiculous. I love this blog, but we nitpick here. And it’s because this young amazing team isn’t going anywhere and has very few holes to fill. A big target, sure. A better OL possibly. But we are lucky, our laundry list was miles long 4 years ago. This team is stacked.

    • CC

      Good points – we’re lucky that we get to watch this team!

      • tony

        I’m a lifelong Seattle fan. I never thought I’d see a championship. Let alone a chance at a dynasty. This is everything we have ever hoped for as Seahawk fans. So while we list what we need, we gotta be thankful for what we have. Every other fanbase wants to be us. We are on top whether it ends next week or not. We will be here for years. Just can’t express how amazing it is to watch this team grow.

    • tony

      Oh and last time we faced Dallas, we had a limping Kam, hurt wags, no lane, hot-headed Percy and a bickering team. Oh and Demarco Murray had 300 fewer carries and 2 good hands. Murray also was explosive, where now he’s physically wearing down. All game there was a sense that something was off on offense. No commitment to run, forcing to Percy, no rhythm. There were very few smiles. Now? This offense, while still being frustrating at times, looks explosive from anywhere. Who knows who is gonna break off a huge play? Dallas got the last fading glimpse of Seattle with Percy. We lost our identity. Now I can’t imagine Dallas holding us on offense.

      • Amar

        Maxwell also got hurt in the game in the 2Q. So, no maxwell, lane, or simon.

        • AlaskaHawk

          Maxwell is key, no defense will play well without a good middle linebacker.

          • Volume 12

            Let’s also not forget that if Maxi picks off that pass in the corner of the end zone against Dallas, I think it was in the 1st quarter, the game would have 17-0 and the rout would have been on.

            Also I keep going back to what PC said after that game, it was something to the effect of ‘we under-estimated Dallas’ Won’t happen this time around if it comes to that, bet on it.

  13. EranUngar

    Yes Rob, Benjamin did abuse Simon last night. (He didn’t abuse Sherm when he played on the right side of the offense)

    I should have known that it would be used to support the mantra that what we need and must have is a big reciever even when our cap won’t allow it.

    It doesn’t.

    It supports the obvious conclusion that Simon is not the Sherm duplicate we were looking for. With Maxi probably gone due to the same cap restraints that prevent signing a high caliber receiver, we need to think about drafting a quality CB candidate not later then the 4th round.

    Our offense did not display a need for that extra WR yesterday. They did very well with the current crop of pedestrians. Our defense displayed a need for a big physical corner.

    That’s just my simplistic view.

    • tony

      Simon had a rough game. But hasn’t he flashed at times this year? I do think we should draft another corner but I thought Simon has done ok at times. He is inconsistent and is hot headed at times. But I thought yesterday was more of a bad game than him being exposed. It seems he has trouble on comeback routes this year too. It’s hard for me to tell with the last few years being spoiled by exemplary cb play.

      • Dave

        Simon did separate his shoulder just 2 weeks back, didn’t he? That’s going to have some effect. Especially when trying to cover a big, physical target.

        I think Simon will be just fine, rough game but it will allow him to work on some things. Another week to get healthier and he’ll be fine.

        Does anyone know anymore about Unger and Richardson?

      • AlaskaHawk

        First few games he was grabbing a lot. I didn’t see that last night. His coverage was loose but he made tackles after the catch.
        Also a note about Earl Thomas drops, many are catches that would be difficult for a wide receiver and were only possible because of his speed.

      • CC

        Simon is still learning – he’ll learn from this and get better. Benjamin is a man! He is a tough guy to defend. We will need all our DBs in good shape next week to defend either offense – Maxi, Lane, Sherm, Simon all will have to be at their best.

    • EranUngar

      I agree with you all. Simon did show potential and this was just one game.

      Still, someone that will compete with him to be that 2nd CB and be the backup in case someone gets hurt suddenly looks like an urgent need to me.

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      I agree completely with EranUnger on both points.

      With all due respect to his protractors, Simon didn’t have a bad night just because he was covering a bigger WR. He was constantly out of position, most often because KB juked and jived Simon right out of his jock. Credit to Benjamin for running some really crafty routes and making some nice grabs. I’m really hoping it was just an off night for Simon because he has flashed at times earlier this year. But right now I think the right CB position is in peril. Maxwell likely will cost too much to keep next year and I just don’t see Simon ready (if even capable) of taking over if Maxie does leave.

      BTW, why didn’t Maxwell play? I saw him on the field for special teams even after the announcers said he was experiencing “shortness of breath”.

      Also agree with Eran that a big WR is simply not necessary, crucial or even a need. This team won a SB – and they’re on the road to winning a 2nd title in as many years – without such a player. What more could a big WR possibly add? To quote Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) in Wall Street – “How much is enough? When does it all end, huh? How many yachts can you water-ski behind?” Would y’all feel better if all of SEA’s wins were by double digits, or if they went undefeated? Does that really matter when you’re World Champions?

      Willson and Helfet demonstrated this team’s true offensive need – TE. One was fantastic and helped secure the victory; the other had an off night and was utterly anonymous. The offensive identity of this team isn’t centered around a big WR like Benjamin because SEA is a run-first team, and as long as PC is at the helm, I highly doubt that will change. This doesn’t just make a big WR somewhat of an unnecessary luxury, it makes a pro-bowler TE all the more valuable because such a player checks 2 boxes (blocking and receiving). Indeed, the right TE could be that highly coveted big WR.

      • Rob Staton

        The point is not that Seattle ‘needs’ a big WR to win any more games, it’s that having one would help the team improve in the red zone and on third down. For long stretches of the season, both situations were problematic. You don’t think those lofted touch throws by Wilson will be a real threat with a 6-5 receiver who can box out a defender and gain leverage? If you don’t we’ll have to agree to disagree. For me that would be a thing of beauty for this offense, yet another dynamic that is currently missing.

        This is a team with very few flaws, very few areas where it can improve. It’s not about trying to go unbeaten or being unsatisfied with the performance or results of the Seahawks. It’s about looking at areas where they can get even better still. And clearly the team at least shared some of that feeling, given they asked about Julius Thomas, Coby Fleener, Jordan Cameron and Vincent Jackson during the season.

        • CHawk Talker Eric

          Agree to agree about how nice it would be to have such a target.

          But you do realize that 3 of the 4 players you mention are TEs?

          • Rob Staton

            Sure — but I’m after a red zone threat. If it’s a dynamic TE — perfect. If it’s a box em off receiver — that’s good too. I think there’s a role on this offense for an 750-yard, 8-10 TD receiver or TE — being most effective in the red zone and short yardage. And I think it’d take the offense to another level.

    • Rob Staton

      No need for the attitude, EranUngar.

  14. Alaska Norm

    One really positive note was how much better the O line looked. Fox showed a interesting
    stat that compared the offensive production with and without Unger in the lineup. Amazing difference and it showed last night. RW actually had time to throw and was able to hit his receivers in stride. Amazing game from both sides of the ball. Other then Simon having a bad day not a whole lot of weak areas. This game to my just reiterated the draft needs I have been wanting all along.

    1- TE/big WR
    2. DL big run stuffer/pocket collapser
    3. DL pass rusher/LEO depth
    4. OL

    • Ho Lee Chit

      First, we will not see many teams that are as big as Carolina. Newton and Benjamin are huge dudes. Colin Cole is not Star Lotulelei but he does go 330 like Pot Roast. We won because we are much faster across the board but that also means being a little smaller. Our big receivers are at the TE position. Get Miller back and we would be fine. So for my money here is my projection:

      1. Sammie Coates WR/KR or Cameron Erving C/G./T
      2. Christian Covington DT
      3a Jamal Golden FS/KR
      3b Tre Jackson OG

      Shop for a TE in free agency.

  15. Phil

    Another big game for Willson. I think he’s going to continue to mature and he’s going to be one of the league’s top TEs in the future. I know he’s inconsistent, but I think RW and PC can work with him to improve his focus and, I hope, minimize his drops. Sure, draft another TE to compete, too. And see if we can find the $$ to pay Zach Miller for another year.

    I’m not sold on the idea of signing V. Jackson or some other free agent WR. I’d rather use the $$ on “our own guys” and focus on the draft to address areas where we need more depth. I think that drafting a WR with kick returning skills would improve the team almost as much as a big red-zone target.

    • CC

      I agree with you Phil – draft a tall WR playmaker and go from there. We’ll also need the cap space to get RW and BW signed.

      • Volume 12

        I agree Phil. I’m not very high on VJax myself. Draft 2 WRs. A big WR, and that small, shifty WR who will become our new KR/PR.

  16. smitty1547

    Could really tell we miss Hill and Mebane in the middle.
    Kam was an animal and tone setter all game, glad we have him locked up for a few more years
    Wilson big plays more than make up for some of his inconsistent drops
    I want no other QB (luck, Peyton, Brady, Romo or Rogers) with the game on the line than the one we have and that’s right now and right here not just because he’s young and what he will be here for awhile.

  17. JeffC

    I don’t know if anyone watched all the post game coverage but one segment had three mothers interviewed and one of them was Marshawn’s mother. All three were shouting re-PETE and Marshawn’s mother said, “I LOVE Pete Carroll!”

    So I don’t know if this supposed dislike between Carroll and Lynch is true, or they’ve patched things up. I doubt his mother says that if they hate each other as the rumors were out there.

    • Rob Staton

      I think Lynch’s body might be the big issue regarding his future, not any relationship between PC and ML. He’s been spelled before but nothing like we saw the last few weeks of the regular season.

      • HOUSE

        Lynch’s body is failing him… Most RBs only last to 30 and he isn’t most backs. The dude takes a beating… Most plays just to get back to the LOS vs losing yds. His pride, quality of life and him getting to go out on his own are all terms I’m sure he’d like to have control of. No one could ever say “he didn’t play tough or play with heart”.

        Coming from his upbringing, he’s got more money than he’d ever need and the “riff” w/ management was about 90% irresponsible media conjuring.

        The guy has an opportunity to leave the game relatively heath, rich and on top. If he stuck around and his game dropped, people would badmouth the sh*t outof him. We as fans have to realize these guys are people and not just objects of our affection.

        I respect the dude and all he’s done. If he chooses to retire, best of luck to him in future endeavors and next man up… Even if that is EXTREMELY difficult to fill those shoes

        • Volume 12

          If Lynch does retire or whatever, Seattle almost has to take a HB with their first overall pick in this year’s draft. He’s too dynamic, too much of a weapon for this offense to mess around with. If that’s the case I’d be more than happy with Gordon, Ajayi, Gurley, or Coleman. I think HB TJ Yeadon could be a wildcard as well. He’s a better fit for a RBC aka Running back by committee.

          I’, kind of hoping HB Melvin Gordon slips a little due to the fact he stops his feet at the LOS more often than not. He may be a great fit for a ZBS team, and with only 2 or 3 teams in front of us who run the ZBS, he might. I stress the word might.

          Originally I wasn’t a huge fan of HB Todd Burley, but the more I watch of him, the more my jaw hits the floor. He could essentially be our 3rd HB his first year, and then as he gets healthy and more acclimated, could take over the HB1 duties. Burley seems to be the type of runner that Lynch is, and what I mean is, you may have to put him on a ‘carrie count’ and limit his involvement in practice’s like Lynch.

          • Volume 12

            Edit should say TJ *Yeldon not Yeadon. And should say *Gurley not Burley. I’ve really got to fix my spell check. LMAO.

        • Rob Staton

          Well said House.

      • Volume 12

        Yeah, this guy appears to be seriously hurt and or injured. Kudos to you Marshawn Lynch, you are definetly the last of a dying breed. And I don’t just mean HB wise, but a guy who plays hurt and doesn’t sit games out and make excuses or complain.

        • JeffC

          If this is true and it’s his last year, he probably doesn’t make the hall of fame because in the past few decades they focus more on total numbers. But he SHOULD be in the hall of fame because of his impact on the game has gone so far beyond the numbers it’s ridiculous.

          He is the Edgar Martinez of running backs statswise. Seahawk fans will never forget him and he will be in the ring of honor.

          • Arias

            He’s already had a big disadvantage working against him when it comes to making the Hall of Fame due to his contentious relationship with the press and their select members that vote on who gets in.

            But if it comes to choosing between the Hall of Fame or being able to walk when I turn 40 I would choose walking without blinking an eye.

  18. Ed

    Starting posting about the negatives and almost hit send. I’ll talk about that and the draft after the season.

    For now, let the D dominate and O contribute next week.

    Go Hawks

  19. smitty 1547

    one more thing that concerened me, the first time we see Prich stretch the feild and he ended up hurt, can’t be a good thing. Also hope Unger injury at the end was minor.

    • Volume 12

      That was not the first time P-Rich stretch the field. His legs got tangled up it looked like to me.

  20. Volume 12

    Hey Rob, I know you said that WR Jaelen Strong strikes you as a WR Terrance Williams type WR, but I’d say that would be a pretty good get right about now. I know Dallas is more of a high volume passing attack, but when Des is neutralized this guy steps up. Plus I think Jaelen Strong is more of a gritty type guy.

    • Rob Staton

      I’m just so underwhelmed by Jaelen Strong. I actually sat down last night and watched two Arizona State games again. I just can’t get excited about him. I don’t think he’s as big as listed. I don’t think he’s as fast or sudden as a lot of people seem to think. His father I believe is a former basketball star and I think he’ll jump a nice vertical/broad combo at the combine, he has the wingspan. But I think he’ll be a mediocre runner and he’s admitted he couldn’t do a single rep on the bench press at 225lbs before last year. He’d never lifted in his life. I think he’ll need time at the next level and the best way to find quick progress is to land on a team that throws a ton with 2-3 existing options. By year two he’ll possibly be playing at Williams’ level as a nice complimentary option. But on a team that doesn’t throw much I think there’s every chance he’ll struggle to make quick progress and he could end up being a Kevin Norwood in year one. For me I’d just like to see a bigger receiver than Strong, a more dynamic 1v1 catcher with greater stature — or an uber athletic red zone tight end. I’d rather go more proven — V-Jax for example. If I’m taking Strong I’d want it to be late second with the acceptance he’d be a slow burner. I want our first rounder playing early and often.

      • Volume 12

        Didn’t know that about him, in regards to his bench press/weight lifting issues.\

        Oh by no means was I talking him up as a possible 1st round pick. I’m just not a big VJax fan, we can agree to disagree on him.

        Yes, I would rather them take a bigger WR as well. I keep banging the table for this guy, but Georgia Tech WR Darren Waller is a stud. He’d be a little bit of a project, but man what a red zone weapon and a ‘move the chains’ on 3rd down type of guy he’d be. And that’s his floor I’m talking about. He’s got that GRIT that PC loves in his WRs

  21. Volume 12

    Watching the game last night a few things stood out to me.

    1. On every single drive, except for maybe 2, Carolina should of turned the ball over. 2 dropped picks, 2 fumbles bouncing out of bounds, Kam blocking a FG that put 3 points on the board for Carolina. And I have to wonder if Maxi was out there on that last TD throw to WR Benjamin, it wasn’t very accurate, if he could of tipped that to CB Lane who was running to it in the flat.

    2. Of course CB Tharold Simon was going to get targeted, they threw at Sherm what 3 times? I INT, 1 incomplete pass, 1 thrown away. Simon is fine. He’s a little immature and still a little raw, but I saw no complaints before he suffered that shoulder injury when they had him outside and Maxi in the slot. He’s got the length, the attitude, sticks his nose in there on run plays, and most important, he’s got that CB Brandon Browner ability to just flat out mug guys. Make no mistake, PC loves that in his RCB. Simon is after all only a rookie.

    3. How amazing is SS Kam Chancellor? Is there anyone in the league that is that size with his athleticism? Enough said.

    4. Seattle’s defense does need a couple or few more pieces on defense. One more edge rusher, another interior rusher, and a big run stuffer. I’d expect them to take one early, one in the mid rounds, and one late. Missed tackles were really the only thing that kept Carolina in this game. Otherwise it would have been ugly combined with the potential 6-7 TOs Seattle should of had as well.

    5. I’m a big proponent of keeping this defense as historic and dominant as possible, but last night really struck me as, ‘yeah, Seattle may need to go offense early and often in this year’s draft.’ They need a big WR, a small shifty WR who returns kicks and punts, one more TE, at least one more OL, and another HB. IMO Seattle’s draft should look something like this. Not necessarily this order. (A lot will change between now and after the combine and FA, not that I’m expecting Seattle to make any splashy signings in FA. Maybe just a couple depth guys, or under the radar/up and coming types)

    HB (if Marshawn retires)
    WR(one with size)
    OL (a guy to plug in at LG if Carp isn’t re-signed. I’d expect a LT to be drafted and then moved inside)
    DT (a 3-tech)
    TE (fully expect Zach Miller back next year, PC always speaks highly of him. Seems to value him.)
    OL (a swing tackle type/highly versatile)
    DT (a run stuffing/nose tackle type)
    WR (small, shifty, and most importantly a KR/PR
    LB? Or S? (I’m leaning more toward a LB. A guy who can play MIKE and SAM)

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      IMO the 2 biggest needs on D: LEO and RCB.

      LEO – Schofield has performed better than expected considering he was traded if not for a failed physical. But he’s not the long term answer at LEO.

      RCB – As discussed previously, Maxwell will probably leave in FA, leaving Simon as the starter. We can prognosticate all we want whether or not Simon has the chops to become a legit member of the LOB. But the empirical evidence suggests, at the very least, “not yet.” Johnson backs up Kam, Lane and Burley cover the slot. That leaves RCB as the weak spot.

      After that, remember the talent either injured or sitting on IR: DL – Mebane, Hill, Marsh, Scruggs and Smith. LB – KPL; DB – Johnson and Burley.

      • Volume 12

        Agree with you on the LEO position. CB Simon will be fine. This is his first year starting. Seattle will continue to do what’s worked for them in the past, and that’s take the ‘diamonds in the rough’ in the 5th or 6th rounds. Wouldn’t expect them to take one higher than the 4th.

        As for the DL, I get they have Mebane, Hill, and Marsh coming back. Did you see how gasses that DL was last night? They had 2 interior rushers last year in Hill and McDonald, but Hill couldn’t stay healthy. Scruggs, Dobbs, and D. Smith are JAGs. And the interior run stuffer is a guy to sit and groom behind Mebane. Use him if you have to. If I remember right, didn’t Seattle really want DT Beau Allen in the 7th round of the 2014 NFL draft? Philly took him right before our pick.

        Seattle need to replenish some of their lost depth. It’s better to address a potential need a year or two from now then it will be then, when it could become a problem. Seattle isn’t going to have a ton of money in FA.

      • Rob Staton

        I’m not overly concerned about RCB. If there’s one thing this coaching staff and front office has shown — it’s that they can find productive starters at corner. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if they just find another starter in rounds 4-6, work Simon into a productive starter or just grab a free agent they can fit in there.

        On the extra LEO — for me that’s a bit of a luxury position given they’ve already paid Bennett and Avril. Irvin provides a dimension as a pass rusher. I’d like another one, but I’m not overly sold on it needing to be a first round pick to replace the role O’Brien Schofield currently has.

        Such is the depth of this team the biggest needs IMO are probably WR, TE and extra depth on the OL — with the caveat that if a great LEO is there in R1 you can pull the trigger.

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      On offense, as much as I’ve been arguing for a TE, Rob is correct that the biggest need is a big WR. Unless Lynch doesn’t return (for whatever reason). If that happens, then RB becomes the biggest need.

      Just like with the D, SEA has some TE talent sitting on IR. Miller fits the offensive scheme nearly perfectly, if only he could stay healthy. Not an easy thing to do at 29 with a history of injury problems. Nonetheless, he’s on the roster. So is McCoy, even if we don’t yet know what he’s worth.

      I’m not sure what to think about Carp. He’s a good LG. Not necessarily worthy of a R1 pick, definitely not worth R1 money. Yet David Hsu thinks he’s worth around $4mm/year, or about 3x what he makes now. I just don’t see that. Give him a pay raise to $2mm/year, but that’s it. Otherwise, replace him in the draft.

      • Volume 12

        Agree that a big WR is a need. Just because you don’t need a certain position doesn’t mean you don’t draft one. Whatever happened to BPA? With a big WR being a need, you can till fill those needs in the first 3 sometimes the first 4 rounds. Seattle isn’t going to reach or take a big WR just of the sake of it. If the talent isn’t there, or a player doesn’t fit your scheme, address another area and take one later on.

        There’s nothing wrong with taking a TE or a big DT and grooming them, stashing them on IR, or red-shirring them. It’s a much more sound strategy of having in-house options.

  22. CHawk Talker Eric

    PRich tore his ACL?!?

    • Cysco

      Yep. Crap!

      Norwood! Come on down!

      Oh, and bring on the Packers!

    • Volume 12

      Damn that’s his 2nd one isn’t it? Well looks like Seattle will be taking 2 WRs in the draft now.

    • David M

      Yeah, same ACL he tore in college as well.

  23. Ukhawk

    DT has to be a priority. Lucked out not having to play any run heavy team for the rest of the way. Even Lacey will cause problems

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