This season has been an absolute disappointment for the Seattle Seahawks thus far. The anemic offense seems to be bulldozed at the line of scrimmage on every play and Russell Wilson’s injuries aren’t allowing him to escape the pocket, hindering his effectiveness. The defense, while stout, is unable to force turnovers and can’t make mediocre quarterbacks look like mediocre quarterbacks. All in all, this team just doesn’t seem to have it.
Aaaaaand scene. That was my attempt to replicate the bullshit spewed by mainstream media over the last few weeks; Smut that was disproven point-by-point on Sunday against the New York Jets.
The offensive line did a great job preventing Wilson from taking many hits, allowing essentially one sack (the other came intentionally as Wilson went down to keep the clock running instead of throwing the ball away). Wilson shredded the Jets from the pocket, while still showing a bit of mobility when necessary. While they faced an elite defensive line, the Seahawks still managed to run the ball when they needed to the most. The defense forced four takeaways. (How that fumble was called an incompletion is beyond me.)
This Seattle team looks special. Russell has more weapons than he has ever had. There is tremendous depth at running back (Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael, C.J. Prosise and C.J. Spiller? Come on now…). The offensive line looks much improved. Justin Britt, Mark Glowinski, and Germain Ifedi look to be an awesome interior trio, while the tackles are getting by.
Sunday’s score of 27-17 isn’t indicative of the beat down that the Seahawks put on the Jets, even with a pretty solid showing from Ryan Fitzpatrick. There was just no way that Seattle was going to lose. A few performers stood out above the rest.
I’m not afraid to say it and you shouldn’t be either: Wagner has been the best player on the Seahawks in 2016. The dude has locked it down in coverage, run support, and pass rushing. His savvy when running delayed blitzes is what really sticks out as a major improvement this season. He looks a step faster than he has been since late in 2014, and it shows when he hunts down quarterbacks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hunting down the Shredder:
Wagner doesn’t show blitz until Fitzpatrick takes the snap under center. Garrison Smith rushes inside on the left. The center punches him initially but slides over to aid the left guard in blocking Ahtyba Rubin. Wagner runs into Smith’s backside initially, a spot where Matt Forte can’t see him coming. Kam Chancellor has man coverage on Forte, but the back runs forward to block the safety anyways. Wagner slides through a crease to the left of Smith for an easy takedown of Fitzpatrick.
When I spoke to Earl Thomas a few weeks ago, he told me that Wagner had been the hardest worker of the offseason. It shows. If Bobby continues playing at this high of a level, there’s no reason why he won’t be recognized as a First Team All-Pro for the second time in three seasons.
I had forgotten how nice it is to have a reliable cornerback opposite Richard Sherman let alone two. The Seattle corners are looking really good so far in the season, save for facing elite quarterback Case Keenum. That is, of course, an understandably challenging task.
I will give props to Fitzpatrick. He honestly played a decent game. His throw to Brandon Marshall on the touchdown was really nice. There was very little Sherman could do to defend it.
The matchup between Marshall and Sherman was so much fun to watch. While Sherman was beaten badly a couple of times early, he locked it down for the rest of the contest, recording two interceptions in the process. Matching up against Marshall was very important with Julio Jones next on the docket.
The man who really stood out to me was DeShawn Shead. While we know that Sherm is as complete a corner as they come, Shead has enough safety in him to fly downhill and make impressive tackles. Last week he nearly decapitated Jeremy Kerley. This weekend he made an awesome shoestring tackle of Matt Forte.
Shead’s best play of the day, though, occurred on a critical third down, late in the 3rd quarter:
The wide receiver stutter steps and releases outside, getting over the top of Shead. Fitzpatrick slightly under-throws the ball, but it is still quite catchable. Shead, while still a step or two behind, sticks a hand into the receiver’s breadbasket and disrupts the reception just enough to knock the ball out of possession.
While he was picked on in Los Angeles, Shead has looked fantastic three out of the four games the Seahawks have played in 2016. Like the Panthers, I’d be alright with 15-1. Let’s just hope he doesn’t melt down in the Super Bowl.
The Jimmy-Russell Experience
It seems like Seattle’s newest rockstar collaboration has gained footing.
How dominant do Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham look together? While we were just beginning to see the tendrils of trust take root in 2015, an injury disrupted the growing chemistry and delayed the process entirely too long. Well it seems that hard work pays off and there is a whole lot of trust going on between the two.
Backed up on his own goal line, Russell made this throw right over the shoulder of Graham:
Right after receiving the snap, Wilson looks to the left sideline to focus on Graham’s one-on-one matchup. The ball is placed a little further outside of where it should be, but it doesn’t matter. Graham reels it in with one hand. Poor defensive back. Graham’s catch radius is ridiculous and it seems like Wilson is beginning to realize that.
He’s also quite adept at being open when he’s not actually open:
Darron Lee is matched up against Graham, who runs towards the left boundary. Lee, who can fly, has great coverage and runs step-for-step with the tight end up the sideline. Wilson sees that, shrugs, and drops a dime over the top of Lee’s outstretched limb. Graham spins around and makes the contested catch before getting a knee down in bounds.
Those who called the Graham trade a bust are those who love narratives. While a few great performances don’t classify the move a success, it sure is looking like a good decision. All great on-field relationships need reps, and it seems that Russell and Jimmy are getting theirs. Nathan Ernst put it best:
When Russ trusts Jimmy on this throw is when that trade will be worth it pic.twitter.com/UDKnvSwAg4— Nathan Ernst (@NathanE11) September 20, 2016
While the last video above isn’t quite as dangerous a throw as this would’ve been, the concept of Graham always being open seems to be less and less a foreign concept for Wilson every game.
There has never been a receiver in Seattle history to gain 100 yards three games in a row. There is a very real possibility that happens in Week 6 against a questionable Falcons defense that just lost Sean Weatherspoon for the season.
I sure as hell am excited to observe these two elites continuing to build a rapport.
–K.J. Wright is still one of the most underrated players in the NFL. He’s just so damn consistent. There’s not a whole lot to say other than that.
–I’m happy that Earl got the interception he did, because that pick-six he alligator-armed was pretty inexcusable. He more than made up for it, though, by hijacking the referee’s microphone. Earl forever.
–It’s a bummer that Jarran Reed didn’t get to play, but he’s still a stud. That is all.
–Cassius Marsh needs to cut it out with his nasty habit of drawing roughing the passer calls. Obviously they’re unintentional but, against a better team, that’s going to really hurt down the road. I like that he’s getting after the quarterback, but a little more discipline is necessary.
–Russell’s touchdown to C.J. Spiller was incredible. Just incredible. A bullet between two converging defenders to a running back signed 70-something hours beforehand.
–How did the Seahawks get C.J. Spiller as a depth back? Marshawn was a talented back that disappointed in Buffalo as well. We’ll see what happens when Prosise gets healthy. Unreal pickup nonetheless.
–The bye couldn’t come at a better time. Russell is obviously banged up. Tyler Lockett has a PCL tear. Doug is nursing a knee sprain as well as sustaining a massive hit that put him through concussion protocol. It will be nice to give Germain Ifedi some time after playing in his first game back from injury. Jarran Reed and Nick Vannett should get back.
–The Seahawks are getting into their groove. The scary thing for the NFL is that they’re just going to keep getting better. I don’t expect them to go 15-1, but they seem to be in the upper echelon of the NFC and there is a very short list of teams that frighten me currently.
–Atlanta comes to town after the bye. Sherm vs. Julio will be epic. Getting healthier will be key. 1-0 every week – yes, even on the bye week. Go Hawks.