At 1-2, it’s definitely not time to worry about the Seattle Seahawks missing the playoffs or anything like that. If you have, however, held the belief that the Seahawks would/should be gunning for the #1 seed, then their room for error the rest of the way is very small. They need to essentially go anywhere between 10-2 and 12-0 the rest of the way to challenge for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Seattle basically has to be like the 2012 Broncos to pull this off.
This is only the second time that Seattle has started 1-2 after three games in the Russell Wilson era, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that it’s also just the second time since 2012 that they’ve started the year with two road games within the first three weeks. Let’s look back at the winners and losers from Seattle’s difficult 33-27 loss to the Titans.
I’d been ready to write him up in the losers column up until the two-minute warning of the 1st half. He was genuinely bad prior to the first touchdown drive, but once he got himself into a rhythm, he was fantastic. After starting 3-of-10, he completed 26 of his final 39 attempts for 4 touchdowns, no turnovers, and he finished a yard shy of accounting for 400 yards of total offense. Wilson was making confident, decisive throws and was aggressive without being reckless. Next step for Russ is to get above 60% completion percentage, as he’s yet to do that in three straight games, the longest stretch of his career.
I’m hoping the groin injury isn’t serious, because there’s exactly one reliable game-to-game receiving option for the Seahawks, and his name is Douglas Dewayne Baldwin Jr. Number 89 finished the game with 10 catches for 105 yards and a tremendous touchdown catch to put his team up 7-6. He’s closing in on 400 career receptions, which would put him ahead of Bobby Engram for fifth-most catches in Seahawks franchise history. He should be able to surpass Darrell Jackson (441) by season’s end, leaving him behind Steve Largent, Brian Blades, and John L. Williams.
TE duo of Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson
Coming off an ankle injury last week, it wasn’t until Friday that we were certain to see Graham play. He caught 7 passes for 72 yards, while backup Luke Willson hauled in 3 receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown. This is the type of production Seattle needs out of its tight ends in the passing game. The red zone issues concerning Graham still need to be addressed, but can we please stop trying to trade Graham away?
C.J. Prosise and Chris Carson as receiving backs
Seattle’s rushing offense was ineffective again, but Chris Carson had a touchdown catch and C.J. Prosise accumulated 65 yards on 3 catches, including a 46-yarder to set up the first Seahawks score. It’s more important than ever to have viable receiving backs in the NFL, so this was a good day for both men.
The entire defensive line
Marcus Mariota wasn’t sacked, wasn’t hit, was scarcely pressured, and then the run defense was torn to shreds in the 2nd half. Above everything else, which irritates me to no end, they committed four offsides penalties, of which two resulted in first downs, and one came on the Rishard Matthews 55-yard touchdown. This is extremely sloppy football and it’s unacceptable. They led the league in offsides penalties last year, and they’re well on course to do it again this year. Cut it out. That goes to everyone from Cliff Avril to Sheldon Richardson.
I praised Wilhoite for a good game against the 49ers last week, but he was awful on Sunday. The touchdown to Jonnu Smith was a terrible busted coverage on his part, and he did a poor job of shedding blockers on run defense. Maybe Terence Garvin didn’t play a defensive snap — he was only on special teams — due to D.J. Alexander’s injury and the fact that he’s also returning from a shoulder problem. Whatever the case, Wilhoite was a major liability.
I’ve had enough of Lane. He was getting worked in pass coverage and he’s a disaster in run support. The Murray touchdown run saw him get blocked by one dude at the beginning AND the end of the play. Shaquill Griffin should be taking Lane’s snaps for good. If it makes sense, Griffin has the “Legion of Boom” feel that Lane has frankly never possessed.
Anyone else a little worried about Chancellor looking lost on these big runs allowed by the defense over the last two games? He was also turned around all sorts of ways by Rishard Matthews on the touchdown. The most positive play Kam made was an interception nullified by Richard Sherman’s pass interference penalty, which caused Sherman to go berserk, and frankly he could’ve easily been tossed for the incessant arguing.
Kind of a broad brush I’m painting with here, but I don’t know how you look at the scope of that game and come away thinking it was a well-coached game. They were disjointed on offense for all but two minutes of the 1st half, disjointed on defense for almost the whole of the 2nd half, and once again the special teams play was uninspiring.
I can excuse the absences of both Neiko Thorpe and D.J. Alexander (plus the season-ending torn ACL for Dewey McDonald on the opening kickoff), but not once did the Titans get pinned inside their 20 on any of Jon Ryan’s eight punts, and on the flip side, Delano Hill committed a silly block in the back penalty to nullify Tyler Lockett’s longest punt return (a whopping 13 yards). The game ended with Seattle having 12-men on the field prior to Tennessee’s punt, thus destroying any hope of a miracle finish. Seattle has had average to below-average special teams DVOA rankings in two of the last three seasons, and they’re headed for three out of four based off this start.
Kris Richard dialed up ten blitzes and I don’t think a single one of them got home. The ease at which Tennessee got a late field goal at the end of the 1st half was not good, especially with the Titans only having one timeout to work with and just 1:09 of game clock.
Tom Cable’s offensive line seemingly protected better, but we’re so used to such incompetent play that anytime Wilson’s sack numbers are below 3, it’s time for celebration. I tend to take PFF with a grain of salt, but the Seahawks pressure rate on dropbacks was 49%, so Wilson was under duress often, it’s just that he either scrambled or was able to hang tough in the pocket (like he did on the Carson TD and the big Prosise catch) and make his throws. There were multiple three-man rushes from the Titans front that got through to Wilson, which is embarrassing. Oday Aboushi may have been better than Mark Glowinski, but he wasn’t without moments like these. Also, this play happened and it’s atrocious.
Some bad football in 1st Half of #SEAvsTEN game. Never this before 5 whiffed cuts & a fumbled snap Tough Times for @Seahawks OFFENSE pic.twitter.com/e3eBJD7j7R— Shaun O'Hara (@ShaunOHara60) September 25, 2017
Yes, the players do need to execute much better than they have through the course of these three games, but the coaching staff needs to be held accountable for a team that looks very much out of sync. You can chalk it up to Seattle’s tendencies to start a season slowly, but as I said in the intro paragraph, if you want this team to go for the #1 seed, then losses in winnable games like yesterday’s do hurt. I believe they need to be no worse than 6-3 heading into the Monday night game against the Falcons, so the time for serious improvement in performance starts with Sunday night against Indianapolis.