Look, I realize the whole 'good, bad, and ugly' thing is tired but it really is a good way to frame the game and keep me on track. I use it as a launching point to talk about what happened and without that structure I'd probably wander off into some weird tangential stream of consciousness rambling. I don't know, maybe that would be better. I think, regardless, I just like using the posters from that movie, kind of like my short lived "Kelly's Heroes" foray.
Anyway, here we go.
Doug Baldwin is good. He's the kind of guy you want on your team. He plays mad. Baldwin had some nice special teams plays - a blocked punt that led to a touchdown and a downed punt just outside the five yard line - to add to his seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. He appeared again after having a few relatively quiet games and he's now at 45 receptions for 718 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Baldwin is currently 3rd among NFL rookies with his 45 catches, and 2nd in yards (to A.J. Green, you know, the 4th overall pick?). Baldwin leads rookies in catches over 20 yards, and 35 of his 45 catches have come for first downs, or 78% or so. Truly ridiculous for an undrafted free agent. I heard Mitch Levy on the radio this morning wondering aloud if we're witness to the best performance by a rookie UDFA receiver of all time. If you guys have stats on that, let me know, because it seems plausible.
More good from the receiver corps was the play of Golden Tate. Tate and Baldwin got going in the swing-pass game and Golden took an end around for 14 yards. One thing that I perceive about Tate is that when he's playing with confidence and swagger, he's dangerous. When he's tentative and second-guessing himself, he's rough. Putting together the last few games I see Tate getting back to that confidence level that got him the Biletnikoff award at Notre Dame. He's the kind of guy that needs touches to get in the groove of the game, and I see the Seahawks doing what they can to get the ball in his hands four, five times a game now.
Michael Robinson continues to quietly emerge as one of the main leaders of this team. He leads on special teams, exemplified by his touchdown in the first quarter last night, and he leads in the running game as the Hawks stick to their heavy, two-back sets again. Robinson had a few key blocks to sprung Lynch last night and from what I understand, he's a vocal locker room guy that his teammates look up to. Chalk that up to another huge find by Carroll and Schneider as they snatched him up after he was released in final cuts by the 49ers last year.
Now, I'll get back to the stream-of-consciousness - I just went to find some quotes from Doug Farrar from last night on the role Mike Williams plays on this team and here's what Doug said, exactly one minute ago as I'm writing this post:
"Rewatching SEA-STL this morning, and the first thing that stands out: Michael Robinson was absolutely destroying defenders with blocks."
I digress. As I was saying, Doug brought up some interesting points about the role that BMW has played on this team this year - on the surface he's taken a big step back, statistically speaking, but his leadership and humility has apparently been huge for the Seahawks. As Doug pointed out, Golden Tate had this to say about Williams - "Mike's done a great job teaching the young guys -- I actually sit beside Mike in our meetings, and any questions I might have, I can ask Mike and rely on him to give me a very legitimate answer."
Per Dougie Baldwin, on some of the challenges as a rookie: "Learning coverages, and that's about staying in meetings with the coaches, or with Mike Williams. He's helped me a lot at expanding my knowledge of the game and of coverages. I couldn't read the coverages in the first half, and Mike sat down and talked to me..."
Farrar will have a piece up about that today, so make sure to check that out on Shutdown Corner. The other side of this story is that BMMFW actually had a couple of big first down catches in this one and that's encouraging.
On the defensive side, I thought Earl Thomas had another quietly effective game. I thought Kam Chancellor played well, and put a big hit on Steven Jackson to stuff him short of the first down at one point. Chancellor nearly had an interception and K.J. Wright nearly had one as well. This team is doing a good job of putting themselves in a position to force turnovers and this disruptiveness and big-play potential is certainly a nice change from last year's team.
The whole bend-but-don't break philosophy was pretty insufferable last season because the defense struggled to create many turnovers. You can allow big gains as long as you hold strong when it counts and then jump on your chances to take the ball away from the offense. It doesn't work unless you take the ball away. Last season, the Seahawks finished the year -9 in turnover ratio, which was 27th in the league. This season, through 13 games, they're at +4 and 10th in the league.
Guess which teams are at the top of the turnover ratio list. San Francisco, Green Bay, Detroit, Houston, New England, Chicago... It's not a coincidence that the turnover ratio is the NUMBER ONE point of emphasis in Pete Carroll's system. I don't have the stat in front of me but the USC Trojans were something like 1,000,000,000 - 0 when winning the turnover battle during Carroll's tenure there and the Seahawks' improvement in that facet might one of the most tangible ways to measure progress.
Steven Hauschka missed a 38-yard field goal at home. Slightly disconcerting, but taken into the context that Olindo Mare missed a 36-yarder this week and is now possibly on the hot-seat in Carolina despite a 4-year, $12 million contract, I suppose it could be worse. Now, Hauschka is a 26-year old that Seattle apparently plans to develop and work with for years to come so I'm not overly concerned, it's just not something you can chalk up to the 'good' column. He did connect from 42, 23, and 48 so I'll stop complaining now.
I know that a lot of the penalties were ticky tack, but Richard Sherman's taunting penalty really irked me - more for the down and distance he incurred it on. Do that on a 2nd down at midfield, not when your defense is about to get off the field after making a goal line stand. I know his teammates tore him a new one on that so I'll leave it at that.
The second and third quarters. For both teams.
I don't know if there's anything I can really put my finger on about this game, but throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarter I just found myself in a cringe state that I couldn't shake. The sloppy play, the weird play-calling, the penalties... I don't know what it was but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I don't know if it was that the Rams aren't the toughest of opponents at this exact moment or that they're missing soooo mannnnny corrrrnerrrbacks, but I had a hard time feeling that elation I normally do after a win.
That being said, Kingdomer put me in my place when he said, "Buddy, Friend, Meshuga, please don't buy into the national narrative about the Seahawks never winning game, just their opponents losing... Remember John Moffit? Russell Okung? Sidney Rice? Carpenter? Trufant? Walter Thurmond? John freaking Carlson? TJax tore his pectoral only a few weeks ago...
Every team suffers injuries. Whether or not a team is "decimated" by them has more to do with the team, its coaches, its depth, and its desire than with the injuries themselves. With the amount of injuries the Seahawks have had, they could have easily faced a similar result on the year as the Rams.
No excuses. The Seahawks won. They won it pretty, the won it ugly, they won in spite of the 7 billionth questionable call on our secondary.
Just win, baby."
Well, sh*t. Fair enough man, fair enough. A win's a win's a win's a win's a win.