The Seattle Seahawks got off to a winning start in 2016, defeating the Miami Dolphins by a score of 12-10. The game was filled with mistakes on both sides of the ball, which is to be expected of a week one game. Although in the end the Seahawks were victorious, the game was confusing, frustrating and exhausting; basically everything we’ve come to expect out of this team in the past few seasons. Personally, I feel like I’ve lived three seasons inside those four quarters, so it’s best to get to some talking points.
It’ll be a shame if CJ Prosise misses considerable time with the wrist injury he picked up early on, later reported as just a sprain. The rookie running back is the best receiving ‘back that Russell Wilson has ever had, and we saw a small glimpse on Seattle’s second drive when he took a dump-off on third-and-12 for 13 yards and a first down.
The long snapper blues continue, where Nolan Frese had two bad snaps in the first quarter, then ended the second half by delivering a low snap to holder Jon Ryan on Steven Hauschka’s field goal – getting blown up as Hauschka’s kick sailed through the uprights. Again: The Seahawks will save less than $300,000 by going with Frese over Clint Gresham on a veteran minimum contract in 2016.
The Dolphins defensive line completely and utterly dominated the line of scrimmage today, but it shouldn’t be all doom-and-gloom. Bradley Sowell was pretty much terrible and Garry Gilliam struggled, but the tackles were never going to be the strength of this offensive line unit. Justin Britt and Mark Glowinski both held up as expected, while J’Marcus Webb was awful, also as expected. More games together and the return of Germain Ifedi will help the unit to improve.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the lack of an interior pass rush on Seattle’s defense now that Jordan Hill is all but done for 2016. The Seahawks made up for that today by stunting the defensive ends inside and blitzing Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright through the A-gaps. It was mostly successful, with both Wagner and Frank Clark getting home on rushes from the inside.
Was Doug Baldwin ever great today? Nine catches for 92 yards and the game-winning touchdown, it looks as though we’re in for another season of peak Baldwin. As highlighted during the last-minute touchdown, I don’t think there’s a receiver outside of Antonio Brown that’s as good at creating separation as Baldwin has been over the last ten games or so.
Jeremy Lane was flying around the field today, blowing up two would-be blockers on Miami’s first two drives, while drawing a holding penalty on the game’s first snap. He impressively held his own against Jarvis Landry as well, breaking up two passes intended for the shifty-as-anyone receiver.
Well, it’s that time and we have to talk about it. Earl Thomas struggled today. I counted five bad angles in the open field that led to either whiffing on or completely missing a tackle, most notably on Arian Foster’s 50-yard catch and run, as well as being saved by a brutal Kenny Stills drop. Thomas is greatness and competitiveness personified in a five-foot-ten ball of fire, but man that was a strange performance. It’s the worst game I can remember him playing since the loss to the Atlanta Falcons in 2012, but if his Pissed Off for Greatness attitude tells us anything, it’s that he’ll be the best player on the field next week.
Thomas Rawls actually ended up with just two touches less than Christine Michael – 17 to 15 – but Michael certainly looked to be the better of the two. The near 50/50 split is a good sign for Rawls’ health, but we’re still a couple of weeks away from getting the ruthless tailback we became accustomed to last season, as Michael ended with 30 more snaps than Rawls - 52 to 22.
Wasn’t it great to see Jimmy Graham back out there? Just a handful of snaps for him in either half, but he had his two major contributions during the game-winning drive. First, a wonderfully violent chip on Miami’s right defensive end before Doug Baldwin’s fourth-down catch, then his first reception in his return from injury. Slowly but surly he’ll return to full health, but Luke Willson didn’t look to bad in the meantime.
Last, but not least, Cassius Marsh! It has been said before, but Marsh has become one of the team’s best special teamers, starting a little after the halfway point of 2015. Again on Sunday he had two violent collisions on punt coverage, and blocked a field goal to boot. With both Frank Clark and Michael Bennett playing most of the passing downs inside, Marsh got a good amount of time at defensive end as well, where he eventually got a strip sack on the game’s penultimate play.
A far too familiar type of win for these Seahawks, but a win nonetheless. Get some rest after three wonderfully exhausting hours of football, and get ready to go again next Sunday in Los Angeles against the Rams.