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The Tape: 4th Qtr: When It All Falls Down

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A few thoughts, some observations; we'll wrap up this (not quite) abomination (but close) and never speak of it again. Obviously, in a close loss, someone's gonna wear the goat horns, but instead of figuring out how this game slipped away in the 4th, shouldn't we be wondering why it was so close to begin with?

  • Matt Moore is a one-read quarterback. In fact, he stares a hole in his receivers on every play. I really, really, can't understand how Seattle failed to double team Steven Smith and challenge Moore to find someone else. I mean, didn't Seattle pioneer that particular strategy? How Jordan Babineaux ended up in man coverage against Smith is beyond me. Carolina's next opponent is the Cowboys. The Boys DBs are, foremost, ballhawks. That, obviously, has its drawbacks, but from what I saw last Sunday, it will be death for Moore. If he stares down his receivers like he did against the Hawks, the Cowboy DBs are going to mercilessly jump his routes. The results won't be pretty.
  • Mebane had a pretty slow game. He did, however have a nice showcase play where he fell, regained himself, stood up and chased down DeAngelo Williams from behind. You go, big man.
  • On the Morris draw in the redzone: The play call was fine, IMO, but Chris Gray caused a cascade effect that left Morris without a vital lead blocker. 8th play of Seattle's first drive, Hawks break with 3 wide receivers and an I formation. At the snap, Walter Jones, Rob Sims and Sean Locklear control their assignments, Chris Spencer orchestrates a very slick pull block, but Gray is obviously overwhelmed and steadily falling off his block. This causes Leonard Weaver to break from his lead blocking assignment and aid Gray. Morris then has Spencer but not Weaver lead blocking for him, leaving Jon Beason unblocked. Beason tackles Morris. Had Gray handled his block, and Weaver been able to provide a lead block, or at least a pick, Morris has the first and maybe the score. It could be argued that Weaver shouldn't have abandoned his assignment even though Gray was nearly beat, but I don't buy that. Anyway, the hits keep coming with Gray. I wish I could believe anything short of injury would cost him his job, but that just doesn't seem to be the way things are run under Mike Holmgren.
  • Second play, Hawks second to last drive. Kris Jenkins gets under Sims, shoves him out of the way and then closes in on Beck for the sack. Sims is badly beaten, but Beck panics, too. Jenkins isn't fast, Morris is wide open, Beck could have stepped up, bought himself time in a variety of ways, but instead sits back, doubles over and more or less awaits the sack. Beck is too conservative. In a play two plays prior to the draw described above, he threw the ball out of the endzone despite having little pressure and an open Morris. Against Jenkins he accepts the sack, when stepping up into the pocket or dishing to an outlet receiver was clearly possible.
  • Though Morris' gaffe is most evident, poor play calling, Beck panicking, and Jones blocking in, allowing the outside rush unabated to the quarterback are each equally if not more to blame for the, essentially, game ending sack + forced fumble by Thomas Davis. Let's handle those one by one. Seattle takes the field down 3, with 2:55 remaining, all three timeouts and 85 yards to the end zone. This is not pass-only, hurry up time. With the timeouts and two minute warning, Seattle is looking at roughly 4:30 minutes of relative game time to score a field goal or touchdown. Every play of this 6 play drive is run from the same 4 WR, 1 B set. For the first 5 plays, the Panthers line up in a simple 4-3 base formation. On the sixth play, they line up with 3 down linemen, and the outside linebackers shaded up and to the outside. This for the noobs out there is gonna be a blitz. At any point during the drive, a draw, screen, an audible into a draw or screen or even just a plain old run of any kind, could have been called. In fact, as mentioned, Seattle had no reason to hurry, basically, whatsoever. The whole playbook should have been accessible. The Hawks should have been (in sequence): Getting into field goal range, running out the remaining time, scoring a touchdown. When the 6th play rolls around and the Panthers break in a distinctly different formation from the first 5, a blitz must be anticipated. That's when things sort of fall apart. The Panthers rush only 5, but get Davis one on one against Morris. That's because, just as in the second quarter, Jones blocks in, Sims blocks in, and no one blocks out. Morris gets a body on Davis, but Morris is not much of a blocker, and Davis blows through him with little difficulty. Beck doesn't sense the outside rush and attempts the pass at just the wrong time, exposing the ball and suffering the game ending fumble.
  • Rigidity is the hobgoblin of the small mind, right, and for the second time Sunday, Seattle foolishly deployed its 3rd down defensive tackles against a clear running play. The first only cost the Hawks a first down, but the second cost Seattle a score and whatever chance of winning that remained. Obviously, in many circumstances, subbing in Ellis Wyms and Craig Terrill on third down is a smart idea. 3rd and 5, with 1:24 left in the game, is not, not, NOT one of them. Boo whoever made that call.