In what resembled an actual football game for seemingly the first time this season, the Seattle Seahawks came up short against the Tennessee Titans losing 33-27. The loss drops the Seahawks to 1-2 on the season, with both losses coming on the road.
Pete Carroll and the coaching staff mismanaged the entire game, while both the defense and offense each had one good half - unfortunately, they didn’t line up with one another. Sometimes football is simply bizarre, and today was one of those days.
What a weird afternoon for Russell Wilson. He began the game poorly, missing receivers and making last week’s sloppiness in the rain look like less of an anomaly. He’s always had a bit of a baseball player’s release - less exaggerated than the severe cases like Blake Bortles - but has offset it with an incredibly explosive release. Through three weeks it was more noticeable and affecting him more than it ever has before. But, because football is bizarre, he got into a rhythm in the second half and ended the game with a career-high 373 passing yards.
Wilson’s second-half improvement after the offense began playing with pace is undeniable, and it’s hopefully something that will be properly acknowledged by the coaching staff and made into a really piece of the offense moving forward. Until they can operate like a traditional offense, changes have to be made, and this change has already proved to be effective.
C.J. Prosise is proving to be a perfect fit for when Seattle goes no-huddle. His role as a chess piece is so important in those situations, as he can be split out wide, line up in the slot, or be ran out of the backfield. A 46-yard reception came late in the first half after the team went up-tempo, and they matched Prosise out wide one-on-one against a linebacker. Those are the type of matchups that the team needs to be exploiting, and they will have plenty of opportunity when they don’t give the opposing defense a chance to substitute.
Prosise actually out-snapped all other running backs at halftime (edging Chris Carson 13-10), and ended up with seven total touches. Still not where he should be at on a weekly basis, but better and improving every week.
Improved offensive line
It started ugly. Germain Ifedi was letting Derrick Morgan turn the corner on every drop-back, and mindbogglingly was still leaving early at least once a drive. But as the game progressed, the line play improved quite a bit. They allowed Wilson time to throw and finally played at the ‘good enough’ level they need to consistently be at to allow everything around them to win games.
The protection fell apart late, particularly on the second-to-last drive, but other than that today was a massively positive stride for them. Oday Aboushi was an improvement over Mark Glowinski, and hopefully that encourages the team to continue to be proactive in replacing those that aren’t performing along the offensive line.
In his first game as the clear starter - neither Thomas Rawls or Eddie Lacy registered a carry today - Carson impressed mightily. Every time he isn’t getting hit in the backfield, he’s proving more and more that he’s the most explosive ‘back on the team. Given good blocking up front, Carson was breaking off four and five yards consistently. He’s not the finished product - blitz pickup continues to be an issue - but he’s certainly the team’s best option.
For a while during today’s game, it seemed like the only way the Seahawks could move the ball was by forcing it to Doug Baldwin. He ended the game with 10 catches on 15 targets, good for 105 yards and an impressive-yet-standard-for-him touchdown. Baldwin was consistently making things happen after the catch and continues to be massively underrated league-wide.
His value to Seattle has been amplified this season, something that was evident when he left the game late with a groin injury, and the Seahawks’ offensive drive ended on a fourth-and-forever incomplete pass.
Two halves, two different games from the defense
It would be unfair to expect Seattle’s defense to sustain such a high level over the course of 60 minutes today. At one point, the FOX broadcast reported it was 108 degrees in the shade at field-level. But after an incredible start, dominating a vaunted Titans’ offensive line and consistently wrecking plays in the backfield - Sheldon Richardson and Michael Bennett looked unblockable - the defense fell apart.
Tennessee broke two long touchdowns of 55 and 75 yards - both of which should’ve been stopped long before that - and consistently were getting chunk runs from both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. In the end, it wasn’t pretty from the Seahawks’ defense: 225 yards and two touchdowns in the air and almost 200 yards given up on the ground.
The situation was incredibly difficult; on the road against a run-heavy team in 100-plus degree weather, but an incredibly discouraging second half from the defense nonetheless.
In the fourth quarter, when the Titans were killing the game off and running it right at Seattle, Jeremy Lane seemed to be their target. Time and time again they would run the ball right at him, and that’s not a fight the stringbean-bodied cornerback is ever going to win.
The sample size is small of course, but I wonder when Justin Coleman will see the field again. Again, grain of salt, but the best play the Seahawks have gotten from their slot corner this year was in week one with Coleman. Lane has been a negative player for Seattle in 2017, and a spot on 2018’s roster is becoming less and less likely every week.
Odds and Ends
- I wrote in my pre-game write up that the Seahawks would be smart to avoid Adoree Jackson in the return game. Down Neiko Thorpe and D.J. Alexander before the game began, Dewey McDonald was then lost for the game after the opening kickoff but it still didn’t make Seattle kick away from the rookie dynamo. It almost cost them as Jackson took a punt back for a touchdown, only for it to be called back due to a questionable block-in-the-back penalty. Dodged a bullet on special teams today, but down three of their very best players it’ll be interesting to follow any moves the team may make this week.
- It will also be interesting to see what kind of fine comes from the league office for Richard Sherman on a late hit on Marcus Mariota. He could’ve been ejected earlier in the game for having his helmet off on the field and screaming in the official’s face, then laid a late hit as Mariota ducked out of bounds. Credit to him for re-focusing after four(!) early penalties, but it was a rough afternoon for Sherman - the kind of game that was becoming a little too familiar last season.
The Seahawks now return home to face the lifeless Indianapolis Colts next week, in Seattle’s first appearance in primetime. With the offense starting to click, primetime at CenturyLink Field couldn’t have come at a better time.