Moral victories suck, because they’re not actual victories. They’re losses, and this one will probably prove fatal to the Seattle Seahawks’ chances to reclaim the NFC West title from the Los Angeles
Usurpers Rams. Three games and a tie-breaker doesn’t look like a climbable mountain in 11 weeks’ time.
But Seattle probably beats 28 or 29 other NFL teams with last Sunday’s performance. And that has* to give you hope.
(*no such requirement exists)
Everyone’s talking about the timeout, so before we get to the real under-the-radar plays and topics, a word or 200 on that unfortunate end-of-game sequence:
- Pete Carroll requested the timeout before the measurement to save 30-35 precious seconds. To fail to call timeout before would have been criminal.
- He was given the option to rescind it after the measurement. Had he done so at the 1:39 mark, he runs the game clock down to one minute.
- A timeout is worth less than 35 seconds of game clock when there are only 90 left to play and you need to get in field goal range. Again, call the timeout reflexively, please.
- Obviously if Carroll knew Sean McVay would make the bold call — but clearly the correct call, as QB sneaks on 4th and 1 are nearly automatic —
The QB sneak is 67-of-70 (95.7%) on 4th-and-1 since 2016. https://t.co/ZFYByttyFF— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) October 9, 2018
then he would’ve let the clock run. Maybe. One hopes. But absent an ability to read minds, Carroll opted for the clock-saving choice, and I find it exceedingly hard to blame him for valuing seconds over a chance McVay would gamble.
- There would have been an advantage to letting the clock run and force the Rams to quickly get their offense out, or punt, or take a delay of game and surely punt. But I refer us back to the mind-reading ability, which Carroll has yet to perfect.
Now that that’s out of the way...
Drop kicks: here to stay?
Aussie Michael Dickson uses his Drop Kick Kickoff to perfection... pic.twitter.com/rI5aFPUKbc— Sportsbet.com.au (@sportsbetcomau) October 7, 2018
Week 5 marked the second and third drop kicks executed by Michael Dickson on kickoff opportunities. After big returns on the Rams’ first two possessions gave them average starting field position of the 40-yard line, two drop kicks gave the visitors average starting position of their own 23. That’s more like it.
Field Gulls writer Sean Clement is going to explore the drop kicks in more depth later this week. Just know that a return team that gives the Seahawks fits could find themselves facing more drop kicks from Dickson, if Sunday’s results are any clue. They provide a change of pace, they sometimes bounce, which throws the whole return off, and intuitively you’d like to think they results in turnovers more often. We’ll see,
A costly, costly, costly PI call
Plenty of talk of how the defense ballhawked again, with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. If they do that every week...
However, one defensive misplay cost the Seahawks six points in a two-point game. It’s, of course, that somewhat forgotten moment, between the emergence of Bradley McDougald as Earl Thomas disappears, the revival of the running game, the high-level play of Russell Wilson, the final-drive mistakes and the fateful fourth down — the pass interference on fourth down and 2 that led to a Rams touchdown.
Shaquill Griffin will be a star. He’s no Tre Flowers, but he’ll get there. /sarcasm off. On fourth-and-two, from the SEA 10, first play of the final quarter, Griffin collides with Robert Woods a split second before the ball arrives. First down LA.
Three things to note about the play above.
A) Griffin will time his arrival better; he has before, and he will in the future. It just didn’t work out for him that day.
B) The ball could have been ruled uncatchable. But it was borderline, so it’s hard to fault the referee for making a judgment call.
C) If the ball is even remotely catchable, it was clearly PI by Griffin.
Sometimes a good player makes a bad play. The sequencing just hurt the Seahawks a maximum amount this time. Maybe they’ll escape the same level of dire consequences the next time a DB arrives too early.
We know Germain Ifedi picked a very very bad moment for his only penalty of the game. We know D.J. Fluker outdid him.
Look again, if it’s not too bittersweet, at one of the biggest plays of the third quarter, the catch that should’ve set Sebastian Janikowski up for a go-ahead field goal.
44-yarder to Tyler Lockett courtesy of PA off run look that has worked well all day. pic.twitter.com/8INUgN6NIB— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) October 8, 2018
I mean, it got them to the 27. Damn. Anyway. Play action strikes again. On Sunday, Wilson was a machine — a robot! — on play action.
Russell Wilson on play-action Week 5 -- 12 dropbacks, 8 of 11 for 142 yards, 2 TD, 12.9 YPA, 72.7%, 154.4 passer rating— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) October 8, 2018
Non play-action Week 5 -- 11 dropbacks, 5 of 10 for 56 yards, 1 TD, 5.6 YPA, 50%, 100.4 passer rating
Some analysts cited as many as 13 of the Seahawks’ dropbacks as play action. Others 11. It’s not an exact science. What is, though, is that it works. The team could run it even more!
This isn’t what Brian Schottenheimer’s detractors are gonna want to hear, but... Seattle is doing exactly that.
Through four weeks (note date on tweet):
Russell Wilson has used play action on 16.8% of passing plays this season, which is the 8th lowest percentage out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks.— PFF SEA Seahawks (@PFF_Seahawks) October 4, 2018
Russell Wilson leads the league in play action passer rating (149.2).
Then, the Seahawks went to PA on half their dropbacks. They’re paying attention to what works.
P.S. Item: George Fant
The second Tom Cable converted offensive lineman on the roster (admit it, J.R. Sweezy kinda slipped your mind, so very much water under the bridge) played 12 snaps against Los Angeles.
He was an eligible receiver, as the sixth offensive lineman tends to be, on most plays. He didn’t catch any passes, but then again, neither did Garry Gilliam, until he suddenly did on the biggest stage.
Fant’s return and continued development is another example of how Mike Solari has built actual depth onto this Seahawks offensive line. Yes, quality depth. Joey Hunt filled in at center for Justin Britt and Seattle went 2-0. Ethan Pocic has 11 starts under his belt when he returns. JaMarco Jones could be a legitimate NFL tackle; at the very least, he furnished hope after a strong preseason showing.
A competent offensive line moves like this and looks like this:
Watch Lockett if you want. I’m far more mesmerized by the discipline, precision and tenacity of the linemen, at the end of a day when Seattle rushed 32 times for 190 yards. There exists a strong possibility that the Seahawks have nine competent offensive linemen under contract. When was the last that time that happened?
Don’t answer. Please don’t answer.