The Seattle Seahawks were victorious in what was a wild four quarters, eventually routing the Indianapolis Colts 46-18. Jacoby Brissett deserves a lot of credit for not letting the occasion be too big for him and keeping an overmatched team in it for a large portion, but a J.D. McKissic touchdown followed by a Bobby Wagner scoop-and-score in quick succession effectively put the game away late in the third quarter.
Despite scoring the most points in a game since Russell Wilson’s rookie season, it was far from a clean game for Seattle. Both the offense and defense are yet to play four consistent quarters in a game this season, and tonight was no exception.
New contributors in the backfield
Thomas Rawls was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career, Eddie Lacy returned to the lineup, and J.D. McKissic took C.J. Prosise’s spot in the active-45. Chris Carson (more on him later) was the lone holdover from last week’s backfield, and he remained the Seahawks’ best running back tonight. Obviously and unfortunately, that’s going to change over the rest of the season.
Lacy looked about the same as he all season to start the game, slow to the line of scrimmage and completely one-dimensional. As the Colts’ defense wore out, his physical style of running became more effective, eventually grinding out runs of 11, 3, 7, 19, 2 and 1 on Seattle’s final offensive drive. Although neither he or Rawls have looked inspiring this season, Lacy’s strong finish to the game likely gives him the first shot at the Seahawks’ now-vacant starting running back job.
In the first half, it looked like McKissic wasn’t so much taking Prosise’s gameday roster spot as he was simply filling out the numbers on the 45, coming in on just two plays. But in the second half, he was given more opportunity and was the spark Seattle desperately needed. Ending with 38 yards on just four carries, the decisiveness and explosion McKissic displayed in the preseason seemed to fully translate to the regular season. And then his receiving skills went on full display, as he made an incredible adjustment to corral a 27-yard Wilson pass for his second touchdown.
Before it was all fun and games, it looked like the offense was in crisis mode. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable were both having their jobs called for, and perhaps rightly so. But I only re-hash this to say this: Neither of them are going anywhere in-season. No matter how bad it gets. For starters, it isn’t how Pete Carroll operates. And, more importantly, let’s say they both were let go tomorrow. Who takes over the play-calling duties? Quarterbacks coach Carl Smith? It’s not going to be an outside hire. So would it benefit the team to fire the only offensive coordinator Wilson has ever had, mid-season, and have him replaced by a coach who last called plays in the NFL a decade ago?
Indianapolis’ improved front-seven was always going to be an issue for the Seahawks tonight, but it doesn’t help when it looks like the tackles are playing at a slower speed than the other 20 players on the field. Play after play, especially in the first half, Jabaal Sheard ate Rees Odhiambo’s lunch. He was beating him with power, with speed and without even getting touched.
Oday Aboushi has been an improvement at right guard since coming in last week, and that should push Seattle to make moves when it’s needed. At the very least, it’s worth giving Matt Tobin a shot at left tackle.
In defense of Jimmy Graham
Maybe it’s because he wasn’t drafted by the Seahawks, or because of his salary, or a mixture of both, but Graham has been a lightning rod for criticism since the day he arrived in Seattle, and it has never been louder than to start this season. Tonight’s win didn’t help, as both Wilson interceptions went off Graham’s hands and into the defender’s. While the second interception certainly should’ve been caught, the first one is on Wilson. Graham had his defender beat, and Wilson threw him back into the play by not pushing the ball towards the sideline.
In praise of the replacements
A quartet of players stepped up tonight; Marcus Smith, Frank Clark, Shaquill Griffin and Justin Coleman. Clark, pushed into starting duty after Cliff Avril left with an injury, was the Seahawks’ best edge rusher all game long, with three pressures in the first half and ending the game with a final pressure on a delayed blitz. Smith became a bigger part of the rotation as well and affected the game, forcing the fumble on Wagner’s touchdown.
After Lane left the game after the first drive, Seattle was back in the position they were in during week one, with Griffin moving outside in base and Coleman coming in as the nickelback. As has been the story all season, Griffin’s performance was an encouraging one. He was picked on, but consistently battled -- Moncrief’s touchdown being a good example of this, as he got his head around a half-second late but still got his hand in to try and break up the pass. Coleman was terrific for the Seahawks, taking an interception back for a touchdown and again giving Seattle great play in the slot.
After trading away Jermaine Kearse, the Seahawks were depending on Paul Richardson to become a consistent, reliable starting receiver for the first time in his career, and he has delivered on that to begin the season. He now has 11 catches on the season for 173 yards and two touchdowns, and health hasn’t been a concern yet. He’s seemingly surpassed Tyler Lockett as Wilson’s second option and deserves praise for his play.
A note on Chris Carson
While the extent of his injury isn’t yet known, it didn’t look good. Wilson rushing to his side before the Colts defenders are even off of him, the replay of his leg getting pinned, an air cast on his left leg, the cart taking him off and a flood of teammates giving him well wishes as he sits on the back of the cart. Every indication is that his 2017 season is done.
Carson had the respect of veteran teammates before preseason opened, and it was obvious why almost immediately. He’s been the best ‘back on the team since week one of the preseason and that form carried over to the regular season. Carson is an incredible example of a Seahawk -- unheralded, he came into a crowded backfield, forced himself into the conversation and ran with the opportunity. Just 23 years old, we can only hope he comes back as dynamic as before.
Odds and Ends
- After losing their backup center early on, Indianapolis and their third-string center got off to a rocky start, in one three-play sequence delivering two false starts and a late snap. From there, Seattle let him get comfortable and into the game. I thought there was a big chance to abuse him by sugaring the A-gaps with Wagner and K.J. Wright, as well as running stunts inside, but there was little of either.
- It makes total sense to have the tight end in the Seahawks’ offense chip the edge rusher before going out on a route, but it’s wasting Graham. The second or so it usually takes a running back or tight end to chip generally makes them the last option on any given passing play - rendering Graham useless when he does chip. If it’s going to continue - which I would imagine it will - it might make sense to start rolling out more 12 personnel (one ‘back, two tight ends) and having Luke Willson stay in-line while giving Graham a free release, and a chance to impact the play more.