Thoughts on Seattle’s loss & Ryan Mallett interview

Zach Miller scored his first touchdown for the Seahawks in a losing effort

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?


  1. John

    I stand by my claim we need a nickel corner. Tru gets beat way too much.

    But that aside, the fact that Wilson is improving makes me so excited for the future. His intangibles and leadership is something I think this team needs. I think his professionalism and attention to detail will really mesh things better than the looser feel this team has right now. But I think back to draft day, when everyone (myself included) was saying there is no way a sub 6′ QB could play in the NFL, and to reach this point is nothing short of amazing. Keeping in mind that he was still splitting reps with TJack midway through preseason. I just think he is something special and I hated the pick on draft day. Really sad his day gets overshadowed by the defense laying an egg.

    I’m curious about your opinion regarding Wilson’s NC State successor, Mike Glennon. I saw him mentioned on, not that I think they are particularly reliable, but I really don’t know anything about him outside of that article. I’m not thinking about drafting him, but I am curious if you have an opinion on him.

    • dave crockett

      I saw Glennon play this year, early against Tennessee. Uggh!

      Now, in fairness I had kinda the same reaction about Russell Wilson when I saw him the first time. I could at least see it if I squinted with Wilson. I just don’t see it at all with Glennon, but that’s just one guy’s untrained eye.

  2. Colin

    Nice to see Earl Thomas make a huge play, only to give it right back.

    It frustrates me that we seem so uncomfortable running plays that aren’t in the norm- offensively and defensively. We run the same plays OVER AND OVER again, and when it’s time to dig in the bag of tricks, they look lost and uncertain. Swagger completely gone.

    They need some variety.

    • MEat

      Yeah, Hawks used to stop the run well and Jason Jones absent did not help, but they are struggling with runs up the middle. The 3rd downs are a killer and Tru whom I love just is not ideal for that position. I also question the blitz packages….OR lack of! I rarely question play calling as it is hard for a spectator imo to know if it was the play design or the player error but the lack of blitzes is just poor decisions.

      On offense Lynch getting under 10 touches is bad as well. Granted he was getting blown up in the backfield for the majority of the plays, but I blame that on execution and the type of run play called. I am not pleased with the O.C. but I hate the idea of changing it up for a rookie QB. Stability is important but it appears easy to gameplan Seattle on D and O at this point after 8 games. “They are who we thought they are.”

      I am pleased to see Miller utilized! I also think he should be used more in the redzone.

  3. Mtjhoyas

    Rumors of Jared Cook being available. I think Hawks need to pounce on that. Potential Marshawn Lynch type trade. The guy is supremely talented and young. Would add a new dimension to the TE corps and add flexibility during the off-season (ie Zach Miller).

  4. Phil

    Rob – I just watched the game for the second time and agree that the outcome hinged on the Seahawks defense’s inability to stop Detroit on 3rd down, particularly on some drives where they were 3rd and long deep in Detroit’s side of the field. A lesser issue was our run defense, particularly in the first half. But, some of this was just good play on the part of the Lions. They played really well — Broyles and Titus Young stepped up when Megatron was pretty much neutralized. I guess this shows how nice it would be if the Seahawks had 3 or 4 impressive receivers for RW to pick from.

    On offense, Wilson continued to look impressive — particularly when he had a chance to throw with some velocity. But, I’m still not impressed with the Seahawks’ screen passes — once again a bubble screen to a WR ended up with no gain and Wilson completely missed Lynch on a screen that looked wide open. It looked like RW had Rice on a long ball that was a sure TD, but Rice appeared to alter his route slightly and the ball went off his fingertips.

    I think we will continue to see RW mature and, perhaps just as importantly, we will see Bevell and RW coming together to stress the throws that RW likes to make.

    On the Dwayne Bowe trade, I’d be all in if all it cost us was a 4th round pick. I remember what a great addition Joe Jurevicius was to the 2005 Seahawks. He wasn’t acquired in a trade, but was “new” to the team after signing after the 2004 season and his 10 TD catches in the one year he played were a big reason for the Super Bowl run.

    • Rob Staton

      Biggest play of the game for me was the 17-14 touchdown score on 3rd and 11 at midfield. At that point you’re contemplating getting off the field and improving a ten point lead. Instead, bang a big play and its a three point game. Seattle was threatening to run away with it, that one play changed the game.

  5. Brandon

    I’m getting pretty discouraged about this draft class being poor at WR and TE. The Detroit game just underlined for me how awesome an offense can get with lots of dynamic targets. We have Sidney Rice.

    • Rob Staton

      I’d love to see Brandon Coleman in this offense, but I fear he’ll be a player we’re watching at Rutgers again in 2013. And the lack of true great quality at WR is why I’d be willing to trade a little more than most to get Dwayne Bowe. Not a first rounder, though.

      • MEat

        I think Bowe would be a wise decision especially for a 4th rounder.

      • A. Simmons

        I”d trade for Bowe as well.

  6. Darnell

    I am starting to think more and more about the Hawks needing an upgrade at nickle CB.

    Browner and Sherman are, and have been, as good as you could want against the prototype #1 and #2 WRs (Fitz,Calvin,Jennings,Nelson,Bryant,Austin). That is locked down. But it seems that its these little fast guys that produce against the Hawks – Wes Welker, Andre Roberts, Titus Young Sr.

    I think it may be wise not so much to look at guys that fit the “Seahawks CB” mold (J Banks, X Rhodes) but CBs that are built for dealing with the little quick guys. We need some inside CBs with bigtime agility and change of direction. Might be Thurmond, Gorrer or Lane – but it might not be.

    As undersized as they are I think the following should be in play:

    Nickell Robey,USC
    Eric Gordon, Tennessee

    and dare I say buy low on Tyrann Mathieau and Greg Reid.

    • Michael

      I would love to see Tyrann Mathieau playing the slot for the Hawks. Marijuana isn’t the worst thing in the world (he’s no Aquib Talib), and McCoy had a failed drug test before we drafted him, so presumably he is at least still on the board, even if it’s down in the 6-7 round range.

  7. Bobby Cink

    With the injuries piling up at receiver, we should definitely be looking to draft one high in the draft if we weren’t looking to do so already.

    • Colin

      Have to avoid the temptation to draft one out of need. Cardinal sin of the draft.

      • Michael

        haha Cardinal sin… Words are fun… anyone seen Michael Floyd make any big plays this year?

        • Colin

          Another reason why your star receiver shouldn’t be your GM….

  8. Michael

    I can’t imagine a scenario where Bowe is available for a 4th rounder.

    Even if he was somehow, the Seahawks would not be the only ones willing to make that deal. Miami still needs an upgrade there if they wanna continue their early sucess. The Jets, and Chargers have let the WR position go for too long and I could see both of them attempting to right the ship (and save their jobs) with a move for Bowe.

  9. James

    Rob, the more I think back on the season thus far, the more I am disappointed in the play calling and schemes on both sides of the ball. Had Bevell called exactly the same plays in the regular season as he did in the preseason (lots of play action deep strikes, roll-outs, constant movement and aggression, etc), the Seahawks would have won all three road division games. In obvious passing downs (3rd and long, duh), and the whole way against the Lions, this is not rocket science… you blitz the living hell out of them, and confuse the living hell out of them with a mix of zone and man, especially underneath. Just watch what Nick Saban dials up when Alabama has the opponent in third and long. Their opponent is lucky to get off the field without a sack or an interception…forget getting a first down. John and Pete have put too much talent on the field to be wasting it with such lame schemes.

    • Michael

      The Lions final drive was the worst play calling this defense has had all year. Up by three and you just let them complete anything they want underneath?!? In a two score game I could see using this strategy to waste as much of the clock as you can, but not when you’re up by a field goal!

      After that 46 yard TD to Titus Young, they just looked like they were so terrified of getting beat deep again, and were letting anything underneath be completed without contesting it at all. With 2+ minutes left and a 3 point lead I would be dialing up the pressure and trying to keep them out of field goal range for the win. Worst case scenario I get beat over the top for a huge TD pass and go down by 4… but at least if that happens I have a chance to put my offense back on the field for a final drive with more than 20 seconds on the clock!!!

      Instead you could just see it unfolding in the worst possible way. We let them march down into field goal range because of overly conservative playcalls, and then they dink and dunk their way right into the endzone leaving no time for the offense to answer.


    • Rob Staton

      I completely agree on the blitzing on 3rd down. They just have to be prepared to be more creative there. I know they drafted Irvin and signed Jones as ‘money’ players on 3rd down, but it isn’t happening with a four man rush and our much vaunted secondary isn’t covering well enough to warrant the conservative approach. I’d rather get burned blitzing then get burned wearing two sets of oven gloves.

      • Fudwamper

        They actually do send a CB and safety. I saw two times Earl come down from the edge once late and another time he was picked up.

        I have no problems with their pressure. They made Stafford move in the pocket and out of it.

        Two things I have seen is Kam blowing deep coverages multiple times and playing a pure Tampa 2. With the personnel we have we should be running more cover two man or single high Man, especially on third and long. This way you can send any of the LB’s or Kam and drop Wagner over the middle.

      • Colin

        What I can’t figure out Rob, is if we have such a good secondary and we trust them so much, why not turn the dogs loose? It seems Pete is a bit too attached to the idea of “being good enough to do less” as he said this summer.

    • MEat

      Yeah, I am confused with the packages. I love how SF and Arizone (especially the first couple games) use blitz packages. Use a CB or Kam. Wagner’s speed has shown he can be utilzed in doing this, but I think I remember 2 from the Lions game?! So, is this Pete or Gus?

      • James

        Remember what they say about trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? With Kolb’s drive to win, with Bradford, with Alex Smith’s drive to win, with Stafford’s drive to win… the same thing: no pressure from the front 4, no significant blitzes, your underneath zone gets picked apart by checkdowns. Wake up and do something different….you are getting scouted to death and the opponent has found your weakness….make adjustments, dammit.

        • MEat

          Exactly! It is like the complaints the past few weeks except it was on the Offense. Same type of play calling. What kind of upgrades in free agency or draft are going to help the team if the play callling lacks adjustments. Pete’s presser did not exude confidence in me that they will dial it up a bit.

  10. A. Simmons

    I’ve been saying it on this board for a while. I’ll say it again and again and again. This defensive scheme will not shine until they have a quality pass rush from the three tech position. All this talk of blitzing with linebackers and exotic blitzes completely goes against Carroll’s philosophy on defense. It goes against what he has been taught from Monte Kiffine and practiced for the past 30 years.

    The interior pass rush is what Carroll needs to make his defense work like he wants it. If he doesn’t find his interior guys, we’re going to have problems like we’re having right now.

    Notice we lose Jason Jones and our interior pass rush vanishes. Our entire pass rush is nullfied. Both Bradley and Carroll from the front four school for pressure. I’m not even sure Bradley can change considering that is what he has practiced since college and he learned under Monte Kiffin.

    If I’m John Schneider I’m finally spending a first round pick on a three tech or a wide receiver never year depending on available talent. But I’d stop trying to find 7th round gems to solve my interior pass rush problems. They need someone that can get off the line and make it happen down after down.

    • Rob Staton

      Hard to argue with that and it is a good year at the position. In the meantime though, they need to be prepared to move away from the tried and tested routine. We won’t be able to draft a three technique in the next eight games, so blitzing more has to be the way forward.

      • A. Simmons

        I hope Jason Jones gets back. I’m not sure Pete and Bradley are up to shifting to a 4-3 Jim Johnson blitz system. There seem to be three systems:

        1. 3-4 system

        2. 4-3 Monte Kiffin Front four pressure with zone coverage.

        3. Jim Johnson 4-3 blitz system: Constant disguised pressure from everywhere.

        I’m pretty sure Pete can manage both 4-3 systems. Not sure with Bradley. I’m not sure how much of a leash Pete gives Bradley. We definitely were outcalled yesterday. Our read and react with those short passes is killing us. That has to do with interior pressure, nickel corner, and LBs.

        Good to hear the interior pass rushing class is strong. I hope we can find a guy and re-sign Jason Jones. Strengthen that position from the top to the bottom.

        • Barry

          A. Simmons thanks for posting this. After only being able to listen to the game I have felt the same but a long week and my frustration with the game I didn’t want to come on here and rant on the blog Rob puts so much great work into. After analysis I came to the conclusion that a 3tech DT is needed also, great break down man.

  11. Turp

    Good stuff Simmons. While everyone is focusing on WR as a draft need, a 3tech might be a better fit with the strength of this class.

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