This week we’re going to do things a bit different with our grades. The defense played so many snaps that unfortunately it would take way too long to evaluate , and our offense sucked so bad that it’s just way too depressing to go back and watch that train wreck again.
So what are we going to do? Well how about this: just a few overviews for defense and special teams, and then ... We’re going to take a look at the offensive gameplan and grade Darrell Bevell’s play calling.
The defense: A++++
With how long the defense was on the field for, I kept waiting for the Arizona Cardinals to break off a big run, but it never happened, which is just amazing. Picking up Sealver Siliga this week paid off huge dividends, as he played multiple snaps and they routinely rotated the big guys on the line.
Bobby Wagner: A+ and even gets extra credit. In a season in the NFL where there is no JJ Watt, right now Wagner is the NFL Defensive MVP. And Earl is right behind him.
Kris Richard: A+ Great play calling, outside of a few LB blitzes that were exploited for short throws for first downs. Loved the call to blitz Jeremy Lane that almost got Earl Thomas III a pick-six.
Jeremy Lane: C Beat quite a few times and missed some tackles, but also let Michael Floyd get into his head and lost his cool. On a day that the entire defense was stellar, he was the weakest link. But at his worst, the defense still only gave up six points when on the field for over 56 minutes.
Kam Chancellor: Incomplete We all know how important Kam is to the defense, but he has now missed five of the last nine regular season games. Even though he didn’t play, I feel like he lost against the Arizona Cardinals while Kelcie McCray won. It’s hard to say if the entire game would be any different if Kam played, the only thing I can say with some confidence, is that Kam doesn’t catch JJ Nelson at the five-yard line to save the game. One other thing I have noticed the past few games is that Richard has played McCray as the single safety over the top, allowing him to do different things with Earl underneath. He doesn’t really have that option when Kam is playing.
Special Teams: Special
Tanner McEvoy: A+ He makes things look easy - the smoothest 6’6” guy running in pads I’ve ever seen. Without his blocked punt, the Seahawks lose the game. On offense, I think pretty soon we might see McEvoy start to get more snaps than Paul Richardson as the year goes on.
Nieko Thorp (Tagged “Thorpedo” by Mr. Fraley): A+ How many times did he run down field to cover a punt with the blocker riding him, but he still either made the tackle or forced the returner into someone else’s arms? Great pick up by PCJS after releasing Tharold Simon.
DeAndre Elliott: A+ Consistently was down field on punt coverage with Thorpe as well and made an impact. Keeping him over Simon? Great move PCJS. Also, he’s secretly been active for five out of six games.
John Ryan: B+ 9 punts, 414 yards, averaging 46 yards per punt. Three were inside Arizona’s 20. Only problem was that when they were backed up on their own goal line, he only got a 41-yard punt when they needed one of his 50-yarders, which was returned for 13 yards. He also had a short punt from their own 15-yard line to midfield for 34 yards. Outside of two bad punts, he had an outstanding day, including a booming 58-yarder.
Steve Hauschka: C Ties the game, ties the game again, then misses the game winner. Outside of the missed FG, he had a great game which is obvious, but what not might be obvious, is that every kick off was a touchback. Missing the game winning field gull is a pretty big deal, but without him they also lose the game.
And now last and least is the offense
Let’s get a few things out of the way first.
- Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett are clearly not 100 percent and who knows if they will be for the rest of the year.
- Bradley Sowell didn’t look anything like the competent left tackle that he was against the Atlanta Falcons. Hopefully his MCL sprain is only a sprain. They just don’t have the depth for him to miss a lot of time.
- Despite the terrible play and regression by the offensive line, Wilson was only sacked one time for -7 yards, that almost ended up as a safety. That doesn’t tell the story though, as he was routinely pressured and hit multiple times, but he did a great job of getting rid of the ball early and throwing it away.
Now let’s take a look at the play charts.
The offense only ran a total of nine plays in the first quarter, and they resulted in three 3-and-outs.
Drive 1: 3rd & 1, read option keeper for -2 yards. Russell should have handed this off and not even tried. Christine Michael might get the two yards here. Honestly they need to tell Russell to never run it unless there is absolutely no defender there.
Drive 2: 3rd & 4, short pass to Nick Vannett. Hot bullet to the rookie, who lets it go through his hands. Would have been a first down.
Drive 3: 3rd & 6, short pass to CJ Prosise incomplete. Throwaway. AZ blitzed and stunted right to where Russell wanted to go after his 1st read, that forced the throwaway.
Able to get 11 plays in the 2nd quarter due to getting two 1st downs but no 3rd down conversions. This is where it starts to get to ugly 3rd and longs.
Drive 4: Drop by Jimmy Graham changes a would be 3rd-and-2 to 3rd-and-10. On 3rd down, pass is beyond the sticks, DB is all over Richardson, but hits both his hands even though it’s a tough catch to make. Holding on the play even if it was completed. Not a bad play call.
Drive 5: Holding penalty again to force a 3rd & long and negate a conversion. On 3rd down pressure gets to Russell and gets hit as he throws to Graham. Should have been a penalty as Russell was hit below the knees.
Again only 11 plays in the 3rd quarter, but were able to get two first downs while converting their first third down.
Drive 6: Again penalties killing a drive that was moving. Two runs for 7 yards, then a 14 yard pass on 3rd and 3 to get to midfield. Ref calls the ticky-tack OPI on Jermaine Kearse. Then on 1st & 20 they run it out of shotgun. Probably should just have thrown it backed up that far, but I understand that concept trying to get an easy 5-6 yards. Then a false start penalty on Sowell giving them 2nd & 26. This is where it starts to get frustrating.
The Seahawks are terrible at RB screen passes. Doug Baldwin doesn’t get his block on the Honey Badger, and then Mark Glowinski misses him. Then Germain Ifedi decides to block the wrong guy, and just leaves the safety that is closer to making the play and just hones in on the safety that is further down field. Just terrible execution on a play that should be a strength for these guys. I don’t mind the play call and could have been a big gain if executed.
3rd & 26, not much you can do, and this play is pre-determined to go to Prosise the entire way. Graham chip blocks the DE and does a 5-yard out route. Prosise leaks out of the backfield and gets a few yards. They were conceding on this play and just trying to get whatever they can.
Drive 7: 1st down, popular rub route, slant to Kearse, DB all over him. Surprised he even made the catch. second down, good run by CMike. Third down quick slant to Lockett. Even if this isn’t batted down, I doubt Lockett makes the catch. Tyrann Mathieu is all over him and likely breaks it up. I don’t really like this call going to Lockett. Shotgun empty set and throwing to a small WR over the middle who doesn’t have his usual explosion. I’d rather this throw go to Kearse for the quick slant over the middle, but it’s mostly Russell wanting to go there from the get go. Not necessarily a bad play call, again, just not executed.
Ifedi kills Seattle here. The defense gifts the Seahawks with a first down penalty, and he can’t keep his cool in the pile and pushes a guy late.
Drive 8: Bevell calls a play-action bootleg on 1st & 10 after a 1st down and 5 yards after a RO run. Not a good day to be calling slow developing plays when your QB doesn’t have enough time. Russell can’t even complete his roll out after faking the hand off before he has to sort through the trash and throw it away. Then penalty pushes them back again.
2nd & 20, CMike lined up wide right, CB bails deep immediately and linebacker immediately heads to the flat. CMike just takes a couple steps off the line and Bevell is expecting him to beat the LB one on one here, doesn’t happen, he loses 5 yards. Here he should run at least a 5-yard hitch. As much progress CMike has made as a pass catcher, it’s 2nd & 20. Terrible play call as it’s Russell’s second read as his first is covered, he needs better options than throwing the ball behind the line of scrimmage when we have 20 yards to go.
3rd & 25, Russell is pressured. Steps into pocket and flips it to Prosise. Not much they can do here with such a long distance to go and Cardinals playing deep.
Drive 9: 1st down - Cardinals have seven in the box playing man. Shotgun read option look, LB blitzes right to where the run goes. If Russell is healthy, he takes this for a gain of a few yards, possibly much bigger if his WRs get their blocks and he gets to the sideline and turns the corner. I like the play call, Arizona just had a better one. If CMike breaks a tackle at the line he’s going to have a huge gain.
Drive 10: Holding again kills the drive.
1st down, play action, Russell had time at first but doesn’t make the throw, dumps it off to Baldwin. Holding call was dubious to me. Yes he grabbed the jersey, but his hands were inside the pads, and the defender was not going to make the play and it was only for a split second.
1st down replayed, this should have been a touchdown. Russell gets a good clean pocket, steps up and has Kearse open down the sideline with a step on the DB, just over throws him.
2nd down. Good play call, Russell needs to get this ball out a hair earlier and its a completion.
Drive 11: Again holding penalties kill the drive, when they move the ball 25 yards on 2 plays to get to midfield. Without the holding penalties, Russell’s momentum takes them within Field Gull range to win the game, but end up with a 1st & 30 and just run out the clock.
Drive 12: The offense moved the ball because they executed. Only issue I have is the pass to Graham at the goal line. It was 3rd & 4 at the 18 yard line. Do a higher percentage play here to get the 1st down then take a couple shots to the end zone. This is the first time all year they have isolated Graham out wide to throw him a jump ball in the end zone. I like the play, just not the timing. Get the 1st down first, then take a shot.
Drive 13: No issues with the play calls here.
A Few Analytics
The offense ran a total of 64 plays.
1st quarter: 9 plays, 2nd quarter: 11 plays, 3rd quarter: 11 plays, 4th quarter: 18 plays, Overtime: 15 plays,
Run / Pass Split: 45 pass plays to 19 run plays
Plays by QB alignment
Under Center: 11 plays -5 runs, -6 passes, Shotgun 53 plays -14 runs, -39 passes
Total yards gained by QB alignment (not including negative yard results from penalties)
Under Center: 42 passing yards for 7 YPA. 20 rushing yards for 4 YPA.
In Shotgun: 233 passing yards for 5.97 YPA. 33 rushing yards for 2.29 YPA.
When watching the game last night, I thought Bevell was calling a terrible game, but after going back through the play chart and reviewing some of the ones I thought were the worst, I don’t quite feel the same anymore. I’m not saying he called a good game, because obviously it wasn’t his best, but to be honest, it wasn’t a badly called game. Bevell called some good plays but the problem was execution. The play designs themselves were good, but the offensive line playing bad, a few bad drops, and a few missed throws by Russell along with some terrible penalties, the offense couldn’t get out of their own way. The plays and opportunities were there, they just kept shooting themselves in the foot.
However, I do still have some issues with the overall game plan.
It was clear that Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable wanted to spread the field and utilize the quick passing game to attach the Cardinals defense. There’s only one problem with that: Arizona has the third ranked pass defense in the NFL, while at the same time, their rush defense was only the 13th in the NFL. Why they went into the game attacking the Cardinals defensive strength just baffles me.
Further, last week, when Carroll was asked about the lack of a running game, he said that they want to be balanced between the run and pass and that it just hasn’t been there yet for the opportunities to get it going.
Well Sunday night was the perfect opportunity. Even though it felt like the offense was down by three scores, it was tied for the majority of the 1st half, and then they were only down by three points. There wasn’t a need to be throwing the ball so much.
1st quarter: 2 called run plays out of 9.
2nd quarter: 3 called run plays out of 11.
3rd quarter: 4 called run plays out of 11.
4th quarter: 3 called run plays out of 18.
Overtime: 7 called run plays out of 15.
Obviously, on some of the drives that got backed up due to penalties, you’re going to need to throw more, but for a team that wants to be physical and just beat you up for four quarters ... well that’s not this team right now.
How many times has Pete said that they are going to run the ball even if it’s not working in the first half because they want to beat up and tire out the defense? How many times have they done that this year?
Usually the first drive or two are scripted before the game starts, and they started with calling 25% run plays. With Russell Wilson still not at 100%, I have no idea why they aren’t trying to get the run game going more.
Overall, the play calling in a vacuum wasn’t necessarily bad, and actually would have put points on the board if the offense got out of their own way. So for the actual in game, play calling, I’d give Bevell probably around a B. He definitely should have helped out his tackles more by keeping a tight end in or have them chip more, but overall, he had some good play designs that would have worked if everyone did their job.
As for game planning overall, Bevell gets a C. Not his worst game, but could have done so much better to help Russell out. To go with Bevell’s grade, I’m giving Cable a D. For being a coach that is a run first coach and has his hand in the game planning, for some reason he went with the pass first game plan.
But on top of this, I’m giving Pete Carroll an F for the game plan. Not because the plan was terrible, because it wasn’t what a Carroll team does. By his own admission, they want to be balanced, tough, and beat up the opposition. So unless he’s just saying that and giving us all lip service and the team is now a pass heavy team, this is not what he wants his team to look like.
What my gut reaction is, is that it’s going to remain this way until Thomas Rawls gets back, which hopefully is real soon.
The good news is that the Hawks are playing the New Orleans Saints next week, whose defense is ranked 29th in YPG, 30th in passing YPG, 23rd in rushing YPG, and dead last with 32.5 PPG. That’s the kind of defense Russell and the offense needs to face to get back to form, and to help out the Seattle defense by keeping Drew Brees on the sideline.