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We Were Wrong: Seahawks offense awakens vs Niners, Jets await

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Happy wrongs are the best wrongs.

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks
a misleading representation of the most recent football game between these two teams
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

So much to be wrong about. Yay! But I didn’t go with any of the obvious, easy wrongs in the sections below. You know, such as...

“Tight ends for both teams will be difference makers”

— posted by PickeringPast on Sep 21, 2016 | 2:19 PM

Only one team’s tight end.

“The Seahawks will win the opening toss and elect to receive the kickoff, looking to get off to a quick start. Sadly, this is Bevell’s only offensive innovation and it fails to generate a quick start...”

— posted by BigBriDogGuy on Sep 21, 2016 | 5:21 PM

The Hawks reached the end zone on their third play from scrimmage and again on their 16th play. After 22 minutes, Seattle had almost as many points as minutes played, due to the catch above and Christine Michael’s first two career rushing touchdowns.

“In an ugly fashion, the Seahawks will pull out the win looking like the Browns on offense and well, the Seahawks on defense. Seahawks 13, Niners 10”

— posted by vilanye on Sep 22, 2016 | 11:59 AM

The only ugly part was if you sat Carlos Hyde on your fantasy team, felt smart for three quarters, then not so much. Or if you bet the under.

On the “so wrong it turned out right” side, we also got predictions from qrtrt and MagicJasoni that Trevone Boykin would see playing time. More on that later. To the wrongs!

“The Big Hits Are Gone!”

If we thought so, we were... mistaken.

A common refrain among Hawks fans this year has been to lament the recent lack of punishing hits. As football continues its trek away from violence —

not flagged

— observers have often wondered out loud if intimidating physical teams, like this decade’s Niners and Seahawks, or last decade’s Ravens, would be forced to mellow out or fade away, in the name of player safety.

No mellowing was evident on Sunday.

Thanks to Mike Bar for the video evidence, but that wasn’t Kam’s biggest hit of the day. He also demolished tight end Garrett Celek on the other sideline.

Celek came out of the game but returned later, thankfully.

If you watched every play on Sunday, you’ll know which hit is missing: the DeShawn Shead-Jeremy Kerley collision midway through the second quarter. The one where Kerley fumbles the ball out of bounds on a 20-yard completion after Shead runs straight through him.

Kerley did not make another catch afterward. All the recs, all the Gullbux to any reader who can deposit footage of that play in the comments below.

Physical intimidation is by design. One of the calling cards of the championship-winning Seahawks was their ability to wear you down by the end of the game, to break your will, to inflict pain without seeking to inflict injury. They typically would start early with the punishment.

It already appears as though the 2016 Hawks have the kind of defensive depth their 2013 older brothers possessed. If they’re just as nasty, too? All the better.

Trevone Boykin: It’s not going to be pretty the first time

It’s often been theorized that Boykin would find himself overmatched in his first live action. He’s an undrafted guy with about a hundred preseason snaps, operating behind an inconsistent line. When he meets real NFL defenses, it’s going to be ugly.

Wrong — it wasn’t ugly.

He went 7-of-9 for 65 yards, a TD and a pick. That’s a 94.2 rating and 7.2 YPA, which doesn’t mean much for nine dropbacks. He also rushed once for no gain.

Tell me, in RW’s theoretical absence vs. the Jets, that you wouldn’t take something along those lines, even a little worse? I know I would. Russell’s going to do everything he can to play, obviously. However, he could always have a setback, or the knee could always tighten up in warmups, and then it’s Trevone Time Two: Jetlectric Boygaloo.

Put the ball in Boykin’s hands about 20-25 times against New York, and he throws you two scores and two picks, with a YPA in the vicinity of 7? Pair that with about 30-35 rushes from C-Mike/Collins/Prosise/Magee, and a typical defensive showing? That is the recipe for a road win.

Of course, and this can’t be stressed enough, playing the whoever-coached-49ers in Seattle isn’t the same thing as facing the Bowles-led-Jets on the road. Boykin got handed the softest of soft landings a rookie will ever enjoy. With a big lead, the game in hand, against a foe who was content to run the clock down and get out of town.

So maybe the 7-of-9 is a ceiling. Maybe he locks on to his first read. Maybe he has to hand the ball off more often. But he’s got three more things going for him: he’s mobile, he can take a hit, and he’s coped well with a couple blitzes already. He was drilled on his first completion, a 3rd and 6 conversion Doug Baldwin on a quick out route.

Here he is later in the pocket, as the ball leaves his hands, on its way to becoming his first career TD pass:

Boykin’s protection is... less than ideal, with a LT on the ground, a LG being pushed back toward him, and a free blindside rusher. Still, he delivers the ball on time, right as Baldwin makes his cut. Look at these four sequential shots, noting when the ball enters the picture.

In frame 1, Doug makes his cut; in frame 2 he looks back for the ball. If the pass came out on time (i.e., at the cut), it should arrive in frame 3. That happens. In frame 4, Doug turns the corner and it’s all over.

Less happily, on the interception, Boykin didn’t cope well with a fast defense anticipating the play call. Best case scenario is, that becomes a learning experience. Worst case scenario is it happens again next time, twice even. Even vets make that mistake, though. Just has to be rare.

So maybe it’s unreasonable to expect Meadowlands Boykin to look like CLink Boykin. But you could do worse than to head into Jersey with a Christine Michael to hand off to, a Jimmy Graham to aim for, and a Doug Baldwin to be rescued by on third down.

Doug Baldwin: Due for a reality check

It’s conventional wisdom that Baldwin wouldn’t be able to sustain his torrid pace from 2015 in receptions, yards, touchowns, passer rating when thrown to, targets, catch rate — especially in this offense. I didn’t think so. Neither did most of you. That was a career year! Factor in the emergence of Tyler Lockett, the return of Jimmy Graham, and the advent of a new season in which D-coordinators specifically game plan for him from the get-go, and Doug’s numbers were bound to dip.

Well, so far we are neatly in the wrong.

Not only did Doug

but he also set a career high for receiving yards on Sunday, with 164.

Wondering how that compares to last year? Well, he finished 2015 with a 78-1069-14 line. And now

Let’s be pessimistic, though, and take Russell out of the game this weekend as a precaution, replace him with the rookie, give Darrelle Revis permission to shut Baldwin down. What’s a bad day for Baldwin? How about three catches for 35 yards and of course, no teeders, sure, that’s bad enough.

Doug’s new pace, through four games, including one imaginary bad one, thus moves to 92-1244-8. No matter what, he’s going to enter the bye with numbers that rival or exceed what he accomplished in 2015. Even if he disappears Sunday.

One rung higher on the stat ladder we go.

2015 passer rating when thrown to: 141.0 (led league). 2016: 131.0

2015 catch rate: 75.7 percent (exceptional). 2016: 74.1 percent

All that pining for a true No. 1 receiver sounds wrong now.

Miscellaneous Misjudgments

Many other misconceptions took a hit Sunday as well: the offense’s trouble with scoring touchdowns, doubts around the viability of C-Mike as a feature back, the continuation of serious pass protection issues — but let’s give those a few more weeks to develop, and get proven right or wrong in the long run.

What do you think about the Jets game? Please offer some realistic-sounding opinions on:

  • Russell’s availability/effectiveness
  • The OL’s ability to protect
  • Boykin’s role
  • The defense having its way with Fitzpatrick, or vice versa
  • Stopping the Jets’ run game
  • C-Mike’s continued resurgence
  • Alex Collins’ place in the offense

Just make sure to be a little bit wrong along the way. It won’t be hard.