Instant reaction: Seahawks dominate, still stressful

Russell Wilson deserves more praise than the uni combo

The Seahawks dominated Carolina in every single aspect but the scoreline today. A 16-12 finish doesn’t fairly represent just how comprehensive this victory was, but the team ensured everyone had the usual Sunday headache with a series of errors and penalties. The first half brought back memories of the Green Bay game in week three – a completely one sided affair with the defense shutting down the opposition. Yet somehow the score was 6-3 at half time and it was all down to the teams greatest enemy right now – indiscipline.

A huge downfield pass play for around 56 yards was called back for a hold by Bren Giacomini. The same player had yet another personal foul flag. Chris Clemons’ suplex on Cam Newton prevented Seattle getting great field position late in the second quarter and instead Carolina drove for their first points of the day. A 17-0 half turned into a 6-3 half, and thankfully it didn’t prove costly.

Compounding the issue was a sluggish start to the third quarter with two turnovers including a pick-six by Russell Wilson. A third turnover followed shortly, with the juggling skills of Marshawn Lynch decidedly worse than his rushing skills. But while the first two were basic errors, the third was a freak event.

But just as it seemed another close game was going to be flushed down the toilet, both sides of the ball stepped up to the plate. Brandon Browner stole the ball for a turnover leading to a smart Wilson-to-Golden Tate touchdown. Another drive led to three more points and when Cam Newton finally drove the Panthers into scoring range – Browner made a vital play on third down to prevent Louis Murphy scoring a touchdown. Carolina went for it on fourth and strangely had Newton throw the ball – and he somehow missed a wide-open receiver throwing into the turf.

Even then the Seahawks had to close it out and thanks to a typical first down run from Lynch and a clever decision to take a safety (making life easy for Jon Ryan) the win was secured. Seattle’s three high profile rookies all had a big day:

– Bruce Irvin finished with two sacks and two QB hits. The first sack was a superb closing burst to tackle Newton by the ankle. The second won the game, forcing a fumble in the process. He’s an impact player, taking his sack total to 4.5 in five games. The Seahawks drafted him to make a big contribution at a crucial time and he did that today. There’s going to be times this year where he doesn’t feature and people will get frustrated, but he wasn’t drafted to be an every down playmaker. This is what he was brought here to do – make key plays with the game on the line.

– Bobby Wagner was immense for the second week in a row. He played the option brilliantly, showed excellent speed on one play to get to Newton on a QB keeper and looks every bit the established NFL starter. He entered the draft a borderline first round pick and went in the second because linebacker is a bit of a luxury pick. The Seahawks made a wise move taking him in round two and found a starter for many years to come. The secondary gets a lot of attention and rightly so, but the Seahawks also have one of the best linebacker groups for a 4-3 scheme.

– Russell Wilson showed tangible progress today and deserves a ton of praise. He’s a rookie starter in his fifth game – and not the typical rookie starter either who was a top-five or even #1 overall pick. Wilson is 3-2 as a starter having beaten Dallas, Green Bay and Carolina – his only two defeats coming on the road in the newly crowned toughest division in football. Sure – the pick-six was ugly. Guess what? Veteran quarterbacks with playoff appearances still throw passes like that. The second interception has no place among his stat line. He completed 76% of his passes and didn’t let the two interceptions get into his head. Is he the finished article? Absolutely not. Is he showing progress as a starter? Definitely. This regime doesn’t need five starting quarterbacks in two and a half years on the résumé. Wilson shouldn’t have to beat the Patriots next week to avoid question marks about his validity to stat. The Seahawks offense is still growing and they made their choice in pre-season. Wilson deserves a chance to show further progress over the next few weeks.

This is the type of performance we expected before the season began. If the mental mistakes and penalties can be ironed out, this is a forceful team who will be tough to beat at home or on the road. It’s up to the coaches now to make sure no more wins are jeopardised by indiscipline. And if they continue to play this way minus the mental mistakes, it’ll help us concentrate on a ‘best player available’ scenario for the draft. Which is a good thing, given the clear strength for 2013 is at positions like defensive tackle.

And oh yeah – not a fan of the blue-on-grey uniforms. My choice would be blue-on-blue and white-on-blue. Not that you care.


  1. Stuart

    Since we got the W on the road today, the blue-on-grey uniforms will be back. This is not a fact but rather a gut feeling. Rob, I love that you started your mock drafts! Many thanks!


    • AgentJ

      I hope so. Always hated white as a jersey color.

    • rrrhawkout

      I love the blue-on-grey and white-on-grey both.

      Hate the blue pants with the blue shirts mostly because of the green stripes on the side… it just adds up to too much green on the uni.

  2. MJ

    Great stuff Rob. I too, am getting sick of the whole ‘RW missed a read’ or ‘RW can’t throw that interception.’ The greatest QBs in histroy have made terrible throws, bad decisions, and have missed reads. What gets old with the Flynn crowd, is that somehow (despite little to no experience) he would never make these mistakes and magically Golden Tate turns into AJ Green and Zachary Miller into Rob Gronkowski.

    RW is improving and is simply making plays that Flynn cannot. Flynn doesn’t have the mobility or arm strength. Take out one bad throw and RW was nearly perfect. This is a big step for RW today and hopefully the coaching staff loosens their grip a little more next week.

    It will be a stressful season for fans who are not willing to listen to PC and how he wants this team to play. They need to realize that we won’t be slinging it for 300 every week.

  3. John

    I hope this tempers the Barkley chants a little bit. Wilson’s pick six was bad, but overall his performance was alright. I still get nervous in the redzone and he looks noticeably more timid in the short field but that’ll fix itself with experience.

    That said. Irvin showed up again. He’s hit or miss but I always find myself shouting when our league-hated pick gets to the QB. But I think Breno needs to stay on the bench. Omiyale seemed to do alright and I’m not convinced he’s got it through his head that stupid penalties are unacceptable.

    And what about Carp? He looks like he can be a damn good guard in this league. Two weeks back and he’s really starting to settle into that guard spot. Now it’s just a matter to figure out what to do with the right side which I think still needs work.

    We’re getting ready to head into an extremely tough stretch so it was nice that we didn’t go in below .500. Frustrating win with the penalties. But I’ll take it.

    • Rob Staton

      The next three games will say a lot about this team and probably make or break the season. This was a huge win.

      • Mr Fish

        I’ve thought all along that if they’re .500 or better at the halfway mark, this can be a breakthrough season for them. Now they only need to win one of the next three games to reach that benchmark — and I have a hunch they might win two.

        • John

          I think Seattle needs to win at SF. Going 0-3 in the division would be really bad. And I really believe we can beat SF. Put the game on Smiths shoulders by stopping the run and we can win. It’ll be a super hard game and we can’t afford Breno penalties, but it can be done.

          • BruceM.

            Beating SF at home on a Thursday night after a short week (Pats on the previous Sunday) will be a tall, tall order indeed.

            Pats first, then we’ll see….

            • John

              Not to be a debbie downer, but I don’t think we can beat Brady. At home helps, but Brady is playing so well right now they are just such a disciplined team. I think we are better equipped to beat SF than NE.

    • rrrhawkout

      Benching Breno for a time seemed to work. He got back out there and kept it clean. Just keep that benching option looming over him for the rest of the season.

      • Jim Kelly

        It looked like the whistle hadn’t blown on his personal foul. I couldn’t tell on this one, but the last one he had did come prior to the whistle. I didn’t dvr this game, if someone did, would you check to see if he hit the defender late?

        That holding penalty was horrible.

        • dave crockett

          Breno got a bit jobbed on the PF flag. It was a reputation call. The play was live. The defender was near the sideline, but in bounds.

          Having said that, there’s a reason you get reputation calls. The zebras are looking for you to do something borderline. You have to know better.

          In truth Breno’s hold on Charles Johnson that negated the bomb to Tate was a FAR worse play. He got beat but could have pushed Johnson up the pocket rather than tackle him.

  4. JC

    I was happy(ish) to see some of the failed third down conversions actually come close. Inches close. Without a doubt everyone, save Panther fans, want to see first downs but it’s a damn sight better then the impotent attempts I’ve see the first four games. Better more aggressive play calling and some solid decision making by Wilson.

  5. A. Simmons

    Russell improved his 3rd down conversion rate his game. Now he needs to improve his red zone performance. He’s freezing up down there. The red zone is where he needs to be most decisive. Tightest windows are in the red zone and a smaller field defenders can cover easily. Belichek is going to screw with the rookie. So it will be a good test next week to see how well he can do against a master of defense like The Dark Lord of the Patriots.

    • Rob

      I’m still not happy with the red zone play calling. Can’t believe we’re not trying more boots and PA, get the tight end into play and utilise the teams greatest weapon at RB. Seems like a lot of fade and corner routes, with a checkdown option.

      • BruceM.

        Agreed. Although the TD pass to Tate was sharp and decisive, and a good read after looking off the safety. Nice rhythm to it…

      • LouieLouie

        Hey Rob:
        I’m with you on the play calling in the red zone. It is true that Wilson needs to gain more experience in the red zone, but it seems that the play calling in the red zone needs to better utilize his, and the team’s strengths. That can be said about the offense in general.

        • Mtjhoyas

          I totally agree with this. For some reason, they seem to throw away one down in the RZ doing some sort of cute play. Toss sweep, QB option read, etc. Marshawn is not a toss sweep guy. North and South. Furthermore, QB option read just puts more on RW’s plate regarding reads/decision making.

          My biggest pet peeve about the RZ, is that RW is playing not to screw up and honestly, I can’t put that solely on him as it is ingrained to not turn it over.

      • Phil

        Rob – I agree. I was at the game and what impressed me was RW’s apparent unhappiness with the play that was called just before the Seahawks TD. He wisely called a timeout and went to the sidelines. Trying to read lips with my binoculars was tough, but it looked like Pete and Bevell asked RW what he wanted to do and he must have said throw it to Tate and let him make a play.

        It was nice to see the Seahawks throw deep to Zach Miller.

  6. awm

    Hey Rob, might be jumping the gun a bit but could you maybe do an article previewing potential RT prospects coming out? …….Dumb Russian Replacement!

    • Tyler Jorgensen

      awm, I think that’s a great query. I’ve been thinking the same thing…

      We definitely learned with Carp that in some cases LT to LG is an easier transition than switching sides. I’d love to maybe go get the best projectable plug-and-play RT in the draft early in the draft if there is an opportunity.

    • Rob Staton

      I can do it but I’ll no doubt come back to my distinct hatred of spending first round picks on right tackles. It’s a position were nearly every team in the league ‘gets by’ – and it’s ever harder to fill these days given the best college athletes play defense. It’s not going to be a great year for tackles and the prospect of dipping into it again – to spend a third pick on the OL in round one in four years – seems a bit overkill. But I will look into a piece.

      • Tyler Jorgensen

        I remember we went back and forth on the “first round OL” pick when Carp came up, and maybe even before that. I do appreciate your perspective, but I’m curious if the ability of Pete and John to come up with quality defenders later in the draft somewhat changes the equation.

        I just don’t have the same qualms about utilization of picks. Now if the right elite WR talent or some other need falls to our spot, great. But if not, best available improvement from current rostered starters sounds like a great path to improve our chance of success.

        And then, of course, there is the thought of nearly every team in the league just “getting by.” Why “just get by” if you can do better? Why not raise the bar, create a massive differential between your team and the rest of the league? How great would it be to have two upper tier elite tackles to bookend the best 5 man front in football? Because I really think we’re a upper tier RT from having that kind of a line.

        The athlete factor though, that is a point that runs counter to my premise. If they simply aren’t there to be had, then don’t waste a pick hoping to get one… Anyway, looking forward to the piece when it comes.

        And, also, a WR piece. You like DL for early next year, it seems. If Wilson pans out, it seems we’re pretty much out of “needs” aside from continued depth on the lines and in general.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        Agreed. This defense is our key. There are 2 positions/players on this defense that are at this point irreplaceable (Mebane and Thomas). Assuming Wilson allows us to go elsewhere in need based selection, getting a good option to play alongside/spell or be an injury replacement for those two players would be a strong need.

        Considering that there was reportedly strong interest in Mark Barron last year, I’d probably consider S to be a position we would look at if a good fit/prospect were available. Defensively I think Pete would like to run some 3 safety sets or have that ability to run them.

        If defense is what we are best at, then we need to hedge against losing that edge.

        Offensively, I think WR/TE has to be a strong consideration. I guess they will have to see something in one of these guys that is special like they did with Irvin last year to go this route. Since it looks like the options will be meager in round 1 by the time we get to our selection.

        If we go with the assumption that Wilson is going to be the guy for at least the Pete Carroll era, and we concede that our ability to keep his interior pocket clean is a bigger need for us than other pro teams — would you see a scenario where they may look to get an elite RG talent to form a tough interior wall with Carpenter/Unger? I scoffed at this idea and it’s still kind of out there. But if we assume that the WR/TE options are lean — would this kind of odd investment now make sense? Particularly since we value the interior run so heavily and we have a distinctly unique liability/need in pass protection due to Wilson’s size.

        Obviously, I understand we passed on Decastro and he wasn’t considered. I never felt like we should have taken him and said so repeatedly. Our pass rush was significantly deficient and there was no other unique need that warranted taking him. He was entirely a luxury prospect in 2011 with little expected return or improvement for the investment.

        But in 2012, may our *specific* needs have changed signficantly enough where that investment has more value? If it came down to a player like Kawann Short or Jonathan Cooper and/or Chance Warmack — that would seem like a tough pick to let slide. Particularly Cooper since he looks very strong at pass protection.

        If Cooper and Warmack are unique talents, and the need for quality at the RG spot is now even more important than it was last year when we were only considering it’s value in the running game — would the position have more viability this year? Particularly with the promising early results of Carpenter at LG? I’d wonder if better quality protection in Wilson’s face would result in better passing improvement than the WRs we would expect to be available.

        • Rob Staton

          Even if Carpenter plays lights out this year… I would struggle to pass on Chance Warmack. And Jonathan Cooper is right behind him. 10+ year starters from week one.

  7. awm

    2nd thru 5th round would work too! Another thought…… i wonder if Cable could groom JR Sweezy to play RT? He is supposed to be a very athletic guy.

    • Mtjhoyas

      Was thinking the same thing. Why not? Sweazy is the best athlete on the line and he is still learning. He can always move back to RG.

      I would absolutely hate drafting a RT in round 1. Only O-lineman I would accept in Round 1 is Chance Warmack, but that’s because he is elite.

      • Mike

        This is a year I think the team is in good shape to move up in the draft. There are few free agents. The biggest needs are WR, OT and DT. DT is a possible need because both Branch and Jones are FAs. I personally like McDonald and Scruggs but are they ready is the question. Before you use a 2-4th rd pick to move up in the first round, I understand this has to be the player you are completely sold on. Atlanta is quite happy with Julio Jones.

        I have concerns regarding Okung’s injury history. Have these injuries slowed him? Is he possibly a better choice to have at RT, and look for a high pick for LT?

    • Rob Staton

      I’d be interested to hear Cable on that exact point – I’m not sure to be honest, but if he can move from DT to OG… why not RT?

    • Attyla the Hawk

      From a measurables standpoint, Sweezy is short and not long limbed. This will make it more difficult to transition to RT and be a mainstay.

      I don’t doubt he’d have the athleticism to do that. But he’d be a departure from what Cable has opted for in his tackles in the past. Then there is the whole assignment thing. It is a whole lot easier to put Sweezy in between two veterans to hold his hand. But at RT, he’s kind of out there exposed. That would be a real tall order for him to improve that greatly after having just moved to the OL this year.

      That would really make him a project. Intriguing. But I think it’s too much to ask and may not even be what Cable ultimately wants anyway.

  8. Daniel

    Personally, i believe that the blue and gray was the best combo we’ve seen so far. But i guess that is a subjective matter ;p

    • Jim Kelly

      I like it. too. It harkens back to the uniforms we had until ’01.

  9. Cougfanstan

    Rob. Please forgive my fellow posters for suggesting we draft a right tackle in round 1. Why don’t we check on some explosive playmakers who could possibly score some cheap points in Seahawks blue….I’m thinking speed on the outside. Prospects?

    • Rob Staton

      Haha – we’ll have plenty of time to look at a lot of positions so it’s all cool. But yeah… I think we need some speed outside. I just hope we’re picking in the 20’s (or early 30’s) to max out where the values going to be at WR this year. But I guess they could always trade down if the situation dictated.

    • Attyla the Hawk

      I’d have to wonder aloud if that’s the way they will go. I mean let’s face it, all first round picks are not created equally. Explosive playmakers generally aren’t found in the latter half of round 1. At least not guys that don’t have significant question marks and risk.

      Every team can use more explosive playmakers. Those guys go early. And what are the chances you’re getting an AJ Jenkins or a Jonathan Baldwin? Pretty high. The 2009 class really is an outlier of success rates amongst WR picked from 21-32 (playoff team selections). In a year without some alpha receiver prospects, it may be difficult to predict. It could be similar to last year where there are 8 or so prospects all kind of middling around that are fairly indistinguishable from one another between picks 15 through 64.

      Just because we have a first round pick and share a need that all 32 teams eternally share, doesn’t mean we’re likely to resolve it with a first day pick. It’s probably not a coincidence that GB picks up a WR in the 2nd and/or 3rd round of nearly every draft. Scout well, roll the dice often and don’t waste day one picks on WRs that have virtually no better prospects of being a playmaker as a day 2 pick.

      Since we’re just entering a phase of good roster health, it could be time to start emulating GBs more mature model.

      Personally, I would think a TE prospect such as Tyler Eifert may be more suitable as a day one pick. We are a team for whom double TE sets are used more. Teams are constantly looking to double up on TE talent. And the rate of return on the first TE selected is generally pretty good and also likely to drop into the bottom third of the first round.

      It’s still way early, but I tend to agree that WR is probably the main need. And since good picks can be made in the 2nd round, I can see Seattle moving into the 35-45 pick range to get closer to the 10 picks per year that they always like to acquire.

      I still love the prospect of Cooper in Blue and some 2nd/3rd round WR roll of the dice.

  10. Darnell

    Maybe I like the WR prospects more than some, but to me it is potentially a very talented and electric group: Allen,Woods,Hunter,Patterson, T Williams …. I think any of those guys could make a significant impact for the Hawks. Tavon Austin is extremely intriguing.

    I think it is a better class of offensive playmakers than it gets credit for.

    • Rob Staton

      I would argue there’s a ton of depth without that elite one or two guys at the top of round one. Guys like Woods, Patterson and Austin are explosive, but not true #1 guys. Allen and Hunter are more rounded but I’m not sure they’re better than Sidney Rice.

      • Darnell

        True, there definately is not an AJ Green or Julio Jones caliber prospect in this class and we probably won’t see that type of prospect until Green-Beckham is eligible but I feel there are a handful of guys that are every bit the player that say, Crabtree or Blackmon are.

        I felt very strongly that Hunter was an elite, top 15 prospect before the injury and I think he is still is that guy the further removed from the injury he is.

        In terms of Woods, I think the lack of bigtime triangle numbers will cause some short sightedness and a smart team will be very fortunate to land him. Sometimes guys break the mold and become bigtime #1 WRs just because they know how to play the position as opposed to being 6’4 track stars – such as Reggie Wayne,Torry Holt or Greg Jennings. I am sold that Woods is one of those naturals.

        • Rob Staton

          I like Woods a lot… I wish he was more consistent and not so boom or bust. But he’s an enticing player who has the talent to be a top-20 guy. Being a skinny 190lbs at just over 6-0 is the concern though – if he was thicker and 6-0 then it’d be easier to take.

  11. Wes

    The blue tops/grey pants are by far their best combo. I was stoked when I saw them pre-game and have been waiting all year for them. This should be our standard home set. The Chargers seem to like the combo as well. 😉

    • Rob Staton

      I really like the all-blue look at home…

  12. Jim Kelly

    If the wide outs and Russell Wilson start to pan out, the Hawks may look at best player available.

    As it stands right now, DE (depth for Red Bryant), WR, and safety are the biggest needs. There’s really no depth for those positions right now. If Red, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, or two of the WR’s went down, the season could be screwed.

    I’d love to see pro-bowl, book end tackles, but that seems more hit and miss than anything else that the NFL does. Teams keep trying to draft them, but rarely succeed. So, I’ll have to do the hardest thing that a fan will ever have to face; have faith in Pete Caroll and John Schneider, and wait for them to make their move.

  13. Phil

    Rob – forgive me for repeating myself, but it was great to see the Seahawks throw downfield to Zach Miller. Who are the really athletic TEs coming out this year? If it’s not a great year for drafting impact WRs, then what about drafting someone who will eventually replace Zach Miller?

    • Rob Staton

      Unfortunately it’s not much better for TE’s. I like the two at Stanford – Ertz and Toilolo. Ertz is a bit like Coby Fleener but a little less athletic, Toilolo is about 6-8 and big and makes plays downfield. He’s a real intriguing player. Eifert at Notre Dame is OK. There are two guys at MSU and Bama who also provide solid mid-round value.

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