There seems to be a bit of an outcry against my "rapid" thoughts on the Seahawks offensive struggles. The best response was a strong fanpost by hazbro24. Go and check it out. I think there is some valid points but I also think there's a bit of chewing the flavor we want to chew.
Let me clarify on what I've observed on the Seahawk offense. I said this once and I'll say it again. Please pay attention to this one word:
Sputtering doesn't mean dead. Sputtering doesn't mean going at full gear either. It means barely getting by.
How many three-and-outs did the Seahawk offense have at what I call "critical junctures" during their past five games? This means when the score was within ten points. There were a few from what I observed. How many "secondary" three-and-outs happened after the Seahawks barely managed to get a first down? If I remember, quite a few.
My problem with the Seahawks offense isn't that it doesn't work. It does work beautifully but on certain "perfect" conditions. Those conditions are -- 1. Lynch is having a beastly day (90+ yards and one or two touchdowns) 2. When Receivers are getting open down field. 3. When Russell has success scrambling outside the pocket.
Nevermind the O-line. I accepted long ago that the O-line is fairly average. Its not going to change. But what can change is the play-calling and Russell Wilson's ability to pass.
From what I've observed, two of those mentioned three conditions have often been removed by good defenses and in response the Seahawk offense has stagnated and sputtered.
Fortunately, the Seahawks have one of the "greatest" defenses and best special teams I have ever seen in this franchise. Think about it. That means lots of turnovers and great field position for the Seahawk offense to work with. That is why I wrote the offense often gets "bailed out" by its defense after the offense gave up the ball again deep within their own territory. Its happened fairly often.
But its playing with fire.
What happens when you come across a teams capable of moving the chains via both aerial assault and ground attack?
Oh, let me think about it. Patriots, 49ers and Broncos. Those teams are balanced and lo and behold, they are in the final four. Including the balanced Seahawks. Let's not kid ourselves. The Saints were not a balanced offense. If you're bringing a passing attack against the Seahawk secondary, then good luck. You just bought yourself a ticket back home.
Going against a balanced offenses puts strain (you can only bend so much) on the Seahawk defense. This may not mean lots of points allowed but it does mean that Seahawk offense will often start deep within its own territory. Hence the need for an offense that can move the chains and at least get back to mid-field. If not, then the defense is always going to start with its back against the wall or on its heels which means they'll eventually wear down by the fourth quarter. Its just too much to ask for from your defense as great as it is.
Now, the offense actually has been able to get to the redzone but it ends up settling for quite a few field goals lately. Again, it gets tougher in that zone but the Seahawk offense has to score more than 3 points. Their redzone TD % needs to go up in order for them to get the wins over these upcoming balanced teams.
I think the majority have agreed that the offense's so-called "conservative approach" is due to Pete Carroll's philosophy and I agree with this assessment but to a certain degree.
I think defenses have adjusted to Russell Wilson and Darrell Bevell. Unfortunately, I don't believe Bevell and Wilson have adjusted to these adjustments. I keep thinking they will but they haven't.
Do you honestly believe that in the final 6 games of the season that Carroll suddenly decided to put the reigns on the offense after so much success in the first 10 games of the season?
I think we all know that this not entirely true. You don't bring in a less-than-100% Percy Harvin if you think conservative is the best approach. Also, opposing teams are now having their linebackers and their D-ends "hedge the edges." This means they are not necessarily blitzing straight at Russell but rather cheating toward his predictable roll-out lanes. Corners are now aggressively playing one-on-one with the receivers. Teams are asking their corners to either jam up on the Seahawk receivers or play way off them and force Wilson to beat them in the short passing game. Additionally, the safeties are either coming in to contain the run or are playing deep halves which takes away Wilson's deep passes. Its not really anything new but I would say defenses have fine-tuned their over-pursuit of Wilson and corners are now sticking that much more closely to the receivers even after the play breaks down instead of coming up to help.
So what do you do when teams are forcing you to beat them from the pocket?
Well you do running back screens, tide-end block and go, slants, draws, five yard outs, crossing routes etc.
But its not happening. I have not seen these type of calls happen at all. And if they do happen, like the slants, Russell misses them. So I am not sure why there seems to be such an upset over me writing that the offense is struggling under Bevell's penchant for the expected hand-off and the play-action and Russell's inability to stay calm in the pocket and hit his receivers in their breaks.
Sure the offense might be conservative right now and so far its worked. But I just look at Manning and those passes he made at "critical junctures" during the final five minutes of the game vs the Chargers. They didn't run the ball like most thought they should and wear down the clock. They went to their quarterback and did the unexpected. They kept passing and they eventually got a back-breaking first down. They ended all hope for Phillip Rivers and his offense.
I get it you play to your strengths. You play to your hall-of-fame QB. You play to your top-ranked defense.
But when rivals come into town and they know exactly what you do and how you like to do it, then sometimes adjustments need to be made. Creativity instilled.
You do the unexpected.
A Superbowl is on the line.