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Rams 36 Seahawks 31: Winners and losers from an agonizing defeat in Los Angeles

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Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks were 35 yards away from defying the long-shot odds and stunning the Los Angeles Rams at the last-minute. They almost overcame a 12-point deficit with five minutes to go.

Almost.

I wrote this line last week, and it repeated itself this week. The Seahawks are competitive with the league’s best teams... they are not good enough to be considered among the best in the NFL. They’re way better than the worst teams (Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders) but they lack both the talent and execution to contend.

Here are the Winners and Losers from Seattle’s latest loss to a team based in Los Angeles.

Winners

Rashaad Penny

With no Chris Carson, this was Penny’s chance to shine, and shine he did. He had 108 yards on 12 carries and his first-career NFL touchdown, which means it’s tattoo time for a popular figure on Seahawks Twitter and frequent producer of bad food takes. Penny showed good vision, some power, cut-back abilities, and while he wasn’t blazing fast, he was able to break into the open field on multiple occasions. Congrats to Penny on a strong performance, and hopefully this earns him more snaps.

Mike Davis

The numbers don’t look sexy, but Davis did contribute 11 carries for 58 yards and the late receiving touchdown. He ran hard, picking up extra yards by driving through contact, and certainly looked better than he did last week. Davis is still a problem in pass protection, though.

Tyler Lockett

With Doug Baldwin not healthy, it’s evident that Lockett is the de facto #1 WR, and he made a spectacular catch for a touchdown to bring his total to seven on the season. He led the Seahawks with 5 catches for 67 yards, plus a remarkable spin move on a jet sweep to gain 16 and has shown us a level of play that exceeds even his strong rookie campaign. I only wish he didn’t give the ball to Floyd Mayweather...

Quinton Jefferson

I’ve gotten on Q-Jeff’s case over his penalty issues, but he picked up a sack on a twist that made the Rams punt for the first time all game, and had some nice moments in run support on a day when the Seahawks looked awful defending the run.

Michael Dickson

Three punts for an average of 55 yards, including one that pinned the Rams inside their 20. It’s a shame this wasn’t a Fisherball era game, or else we could’ve seen Dickson and Johnny Hekker in a punt-off that would’ve been simply orgasmic for Special Teams lovers.

Jordan Simmons

I didn’t hear his named called or see him make any glaring mistakes (edit: oh he totally allowed pressure on a third-down sack in the final quarter), so not bad for his Seahawks debut filling in for D.J. Fluker. This was a surprise development given the Rams pass rush was destined to go after Russell Wilson aplenty, but it turns out it was other offensive linemen who were quite culpable on drive-killing sacks.

Russell Wilson - The Runner

Hey, he’s healthy-ish again! Russell Wilson ran for 92 of Seattle’s 273 yards on the ground, and he looked quick, kept on some read-options, and did some vintage Wilson scrambles where he just bailed as soon as no one was open but he had plenty of green grass in front of him. This is a new development that may change the offense moving forward, and perhaps this form of Russ Magic is back.

Losers

Ken Norton Jr and the entire defense

I can’t stand Ken Norton Jr’s playcalling on 3rd and long. Stop rushing three! The critical 3rd and 15 at the end of the third quarter was an apparent bust in the zone coverage, but there was no good reason to willingly just give Jared Goff all the time in the world to find the open guy. That’s at least the fourth time we’ve seen that happen this season, and I’m sick of it. He seemed ill-prepared to adjust to the screen passes and toss sweeps. Of course, the defense also needs to execute, and they only forced four non-scoring drives all game, and two of them were kneel-downs. They were carved up every which way on the ground and through the air, with only sporadic moments of success. This was always a tough task given the high-flying Rams offense, but they weren’t good enough.

JR Sweezy

Wow he was terrible. Worst game of the season for him, even acknowledging it’s no easy feat dealing with Aaron Donald and N’Damukong Suh. He certainly gave up two of the four sacks, and was physically overmatched. With no Fluker, I figured Sweezy would be more dependable than Simmons... that didn’t seem to be the case.

KJ Wright

He didn’t look right and the post-game press conference confirmed as such. Wright looked sluggish, off the pace, missing tackles and looking... well, not like KJ Wright. I wouldn’t be against him sitting on Thursday, because a hampered Wright proved to be a liability.

C.J. Prosise

Gets one carry, swallowed up for -3 yards, effectively killing a drive. To be fair, there was no good reason for him to be getting the ball on 2nd and 2, when he’s clearly better off as a third-down back.

Time management and the two-minute/hurry-up offense

Holy shit, they are so slow on offense that they took a delay of game AFTER A TOUCHBACK ON THE KICKOFF. How is this possible? The end-of-half scoring attempt was a nice job in theory of denying the Rams the ball again, but they basically played for the field goal despite having all three timeouts while in Rams territory with under a minute to go. That’s unacceptable. They have no effective passing game for two-minute situations, and whether that’s on Russell Wilson or Brian Schottenheimer, it’s hurting the team. The next completed pass that leads to a stopped clock because it was along the sidelines might be the first.

What happened down 36-24 with 5:43 to go? They couldn’t score until after the two-minute warning, which is the same thing as blowing a free timeout. Willingly running the ball with under four minutes to go on 1st and 10 was mindboggling. This is the second week in a row we’ve seen this occur. I also question spiking the ball on the game’s final possession with :37 left and it’s 1st and 10 at the 35.

Elite offenses have these issues figured out. The Seahawks are fundamentally inept at operating in two-minute drills and/or quick-score situations.

Brian Schottenheimer’s playcalling

The Seahawks scored 31 points, racked up 29 first-downs, 414 yards of offense, and 273 yards on the ground. I hated most of the offensive playcalling. Russell Wilson didn’t eclipse 100 net yards passing until well into the 4th quarter. They were genuinely trying to win the game throwing as infrequently as humanly possible, even though the Rams secondary had been carved up several times this season. Schottenheimer plays for 3rd down, which means the Seahawks are constantly in obvious passing down situations if they don’t have successful rushes on 1st and 2nd down. Seattle was 2/9 on 3rd down conversions, with Wilson sacked all four times on this particular down.

I love the revival of the run game, but if the Seahawks continue to be a run-first team in a pass-first league, such that Wilson essentially does not throw a majority of the time unless he absolutely has to, then the Seahawks have a decision to make: Suck up and move on from the current offensive philosophy and put Wilson in a system that will make him thrive more as a passer, or move on from him after the 2019 season. I sure as hell would rather see a soon-to-be 30-year-old Wilson running a Sean McVay-style offense than commanding a system that is the antithesis of how to succeed offensively in the modern-day NFL.

Final Notes

  • Sebastian Janikowski is now 2 for his last 36 onside kick attempts. I don’t hate the spirit of the onside kick “surprise,” but not under these new rules with a kicker who is totally unreliable in these situations. A Michael Dickson dropkick may as well have been worth a shot, but don’t let Seabass do these.
  • Nick Vannett caught his second touchdown in as many weeks in tight coverage. He’s coming along as a safety valve and red zone target for Wilson.
  • Russell Wilson’s 4th quarter heroics from 2017 have largely been absent this year. In fact, he’s committed five turnovers in the 4th quarter, and three of them were essentially game-enders. I thought he played well for the most part, but it’s evident that the Seahawks won’t be able to win close games unless he’s on his A-game and mistake free.
  • Frank Clark got a .5 sack to improve his total to 7.5. Dion Jordan added a 0.5 sack to finally get off the board.
  • The 3rd and 15 play to Robert Woods might have been a Shaquill Griffin error. I’m sure film experts will help me out, but Griffin appears to be getting picked on for at least one big play per week over the past several games. It’s somewhat discouraging, as Tre Flowers has seemingly outperformed him, but Griffin is the CB 1.
  • The wild card race isn’t over, and in fact several results broke Seattle’s way this week, but the Seahawks have no more room for error. Beat the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers to end the month and things will look up again. Lose either one of them and it becomes Mission Impossible.