The Seahawks built a 24-3 lead against Oakland on Sunday before allowing the Raiders to climb back into the game and make it rather harrowing at the end. Seattle escaped with a win, though, and Pete Carroll had an honest rebuke for those worried about the Seahawks ugly play of late, addressing the comment that it was a challenge to finish Oakland off.
"That's what it is; they're all like that. Every week is a new challenge, a new set of circumstances as the new opponent comes in and we just have to stick to what we do and keep on battling, and find a way. You guys forget, we had 8 games last year that could have gone either way. Everybody forgets that. 3 of them we lose, and 5 of them we won. We could have 8-8 just like that last year. People forget that. I've harped on that more than I should with our team so that they realize how tough it is.
What was the score today? 30-24? We're not going to worry about that. It's a great win at home, we're fortunate to get it. We saw a ton of bright spots, a ton of great things. Our team got better today, because young guys played and did well. So, we'll be better down the stretch, and then here we go again next week. You just get all cranked up and do it again. That's how this is. I know you all like it easier and smoother and cleaner and all that, but it's a battle. So, suck it up."
Even with the Seahawks missing key starters or contributors in Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, Jordan Hill, Malcolm Smith, Russell Okung, Max Unger, Steven Schilling, Derrick Coleman, and Zach Miller, not to mention players already on IR in Anthony McCoy, Cassius Marsh, Heath Farwell, D'Anthony Smith, and Jesse Williams, we all kind of expected an "easy and smooth and clean" game, at home, against the winless Raiders. I did. You probably did. Vegas did.
It did not happen, obviously.
While it was tough to feel great about how things shook out, particularly on offense, I think Carroll's reality check assessment of life in the NFL certainly does provide some much needed perspective. Every week is a battle. Period.
Now, in that spirit, I wanted to take a look at some snap counts and give my thoughts on a few players, keeping in mind a few things that Pete Carroll said --
1. "Our team got better today, because young guys played and did well. So, we'll be better down the stretch, and then here we go again next week. You just get all cranked up and do it again. That's how this is."
2. "We were scrambling with our guys, with our young guys playing. To get the win, get it done, and keep moving forward and feeling really good about how hard we played, we accomplished something good today. I was happy about that. "
Certainly a positive outlook, and that's one perspective that one could certainly choose to embrace. First up, the offense...
Alvin Bailey got 81 snaps at left tackle. Overall, considering, I thought he looked okay out there. Bailey's been a pretty valuable piece for the Seahawks since the signed him as a UDFA guard out of Arkansas, and has played at both guard spots in addition to being the primary backup at left tackle. Having a competent backup left tackle is a big deal, particularly when Russell Okung is your starter. You may remember the fiasco that was Paul McQuistan at left tackle last year so the fact that Bailey did not allow Russell Wilson to nearly get murdered, I'll take that.
Meantime, down the line, Patrick Lewis got the first 68 snaps of the game in relief of Max Unger and Steven Schilling (both injured), and again, he didn't play terribly, considering. His main issue, I think, was from an experience point of view when it comes to timing and continuity with his cohorts, rather than a marked inability to block someone. In other words, I think he might've had a few brain-freezes missed assignments and that led Tom Cable to put Steven Schilling in for the final 18 offensive snaps, especially after James Carpenter got hurt. As Pete said after the game, "When it got where we were so young out there, Tom thought we needed Schilling to go in and just kind of settle it down, and make sure that he could help Garry as much as possible. So, that's why we got a few plays out of him. "
For a while, when James Carpenter when out with a lower-leg injury, the line was made up of college guard Alvin Bailey at LT, college tight end turned right tackle Garry Gilliam at left guard, third/fourth string Patrick Lewis at center, former college DT turned NFL guard J.R. Sweezy at RG, and rookie Justin Britt at RT. Sheesh.
Said Pete, "That's about as hard as you can get. I think Tom Cable said this was the most challenging game he's ever coached. But, everybody came through and played hard and did well enough to give us a chance to win a good football game, and I'm happy to tell you that."
Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin were the main guys again this week at receiver, and Paul Richardson continues to see his snap count and role in the offense increase. Kevin Norwood's snaps went up again this week and I hope that trend also continues. Bottom line, Seattle's mainline receiver corps is made up of these four now.
Luke Willson was the primary tight end in this game, with 60 of the 81 offensive snaps, and Cooper Helfet added 17. Garry Gilliam joined in as a 6th offensive lineman in several sets.
Marshawn Lynch was the focus of the offense, so that was great to see. Lynch had himself a great game and hopefully that will carry over to the second half of the season. I was especially encouraged about how effective Lynch was in the screen game, which is even more impressive considering the injury issues on the OL.
As for his backups, I came away very impressed with Robert Turbin in this one. He had maybe his best game this season, rushing the ball 5 times for 35 yards and adding a 17 yard catch and run. Most importantly, he showed some wiggle and open field elusiveness that he was missing last year as he battled a knee injury. If this is the Turbin we can expect to see when he's healthy, that's a solid backup to have.
As for Christine Michael, the 2nd year running back got 7 snaps and carried the ball on four of them. He grabbed 16 yards. Not bad. New fullback Will Tukuafu got 12 snaps.
DeShawn Shead played a full 60 snaps on defense and held his own, considering it was the first time in his career he got real significant action. Shead mostly played up by the line of scrimmage but also dropped back into cover-2 shell type looks on 3rd and Long situations.
Marcus Burley grabbed 28 snaps, just under half of the defense's plays. Steven Terrell played one snap.
One story that's been pretty encouraging is the emergence of Tharold Simon as a legit player in this defense. On Sunday, Simon was only targeted one time on a whip route on 3rd down. He was beaten on that play, but held his side down for the rest of the game. In fact, per PFF's tracking, Simon has only given up two receptions for 16 yards on 4 targets -- and opposing QBs have a 60.4 rating when throwing his way.
Bruce Irvin again showed up this week and is becoming a mainstay on the defense, playing 54 of the 60 defensive snaps, rotating at SAM linebacker and defensive end.
Pete Carroll was stoked about Irvin's solid play and apparent boost in confidence of late. "He's highlighting it," said Pete. "Last week was a great showing for him. He played really well anyway, but then he makes the big sacks at the end of the game, and that's an enormous play for us to see. And then to finish it and put in the end zone, too, that was great. It's great to see him having the impact. I know his confidence has to be flying, and he's ready to just keep on going. It seems like he's just getting started."
If Irvin can continue to build on this solid play over the last few weeks, hoooo boy. That will be big.
Rookie Brock Coyle got about half of Seattle's snaps at the MIKE spot (base downs), and fared well for his first start. I would have to go back and watch the game closely to tell you much more about the particulars of his game, but considering the Seahawks gave up 2.1 YPC, I would think he was where he needed to be for the most part.
Mike Morgan (14%) and Kevin Pierre-Louis (15%) rotated in at linebacker as well. KPL's on field speed seems ridiculous -- he's "field fast" as they say -- and that showed up at one point when he chased down Derek Carr from the opposite side of the field on a key third down late in the game.
Brandon Mebane was beasting, and Pete Carroll heaped praise on him, saying, "I really think Brandon's having his best season. I think he's having the most impact he's had since we've been here. He just seems to be on his game and causing problems. He knocked the line of scrimmage back a couple of times for big plays for us. It's great to have him. He's been around here a long time, and sometimes you forget about the nose tackle, but he's been a big deal for us again."
Kevin Williams and Tony McDaniel each got 23 snaps in Seattle's "heavy" base packages. O'Brien Schofield got his 19 snaps in at defensive end in relief of Michael Bennett out there. Greg Scruggs got 25 snaps. Outside of Michael Bennett (87%) and Cliff Avril (80%), the Hawks use a nice rotation on their DL. Mebane got 30 snaps, or 50% of the Hawks' plays on defense.
To buy tickets, visit the NFL Ticket Exchange.