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Cowboys 24 Seahawks 22: Winners and Losers from Seattle’s season-ending playoff loss

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NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

I’m pretty bummed. I don’t like the Dallas Cowboys, and many others at a minimum just hate the Seattle Seahawks less than they hate Dallas. To have a furious second-half push just to make the playoffs end in a largely self-imposed limp offensive performance is disappointing.

The season was a success even without a playoff win. Not being able to get that playoff win still hurts, though.

Here’s the final Winners and Losers of the 2018-19 Seahawks season.

Winners

K.J. Wright

It’s a shame we didn’t get a full season of K.J. Wright. It would be a bigger shame if that was KJ’s last game as a Seattle Seahawk. Nine tackles and an interception that kept the Seahawks in the contest, he was everywhere. Yes, he had a DPI call against him on Dallas’ game-sealing drive, but his overall performance was excellent.

Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett

The two combined for seven catches and 152 yards, and they had moments of individual brilliance.

This was a breakout season for Lockett and if he was in a high-volume passing attack, he’d be talked about as one of the NFL’s best receivers.

JD McKissic

He lives! And he caught Seattle’s final touchdown of the season. I want Seattle to bring him back and have him more involved in the offense, and I’m willing to chalk up his injury sapping him of most of his season as the main reason we didn’t see him get more playing time.

Ed Dickson

One of the surprises of the season was Dickson becoming a viable safety valve for Russell Wilson. Four catches for 42 yards and somehow he’s one of Seattle’s better guys at getting yards after catch, which is damning of this system to be honest.

Frank Clark

He had Seattle’s only sack of the game, and made a tremendous play in which he stonewalled Ezekiel Elliott at the line of scrimmage by grabbing one leg. Clark must be re-signed.

Russell Wilson

His final numbers? 18/27 for 233 yards, a passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown, and no turnovers. It’s hard to think of any real bad plays Wilson had in this game, and the throws he made under pressure to Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett on either side of the half were out of this world.

Losers

Brian Schottenheimer and Peteball

Schottenheimer was atrocious in every way that national TV audiences have previously remembered him. They stubbornly ran Chris Carson into brick walls on early downs. He plays for 3rd down almost all the time. Seattle’s passing offense is not good in obvious passing situations yet they constantly put themselves in those spots, and especially in this game. Schotty did a poor job of not incorporating more carries for Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny when it was obvious Carson’s power was being met with both power and the speed that he lacks. Russell Wilson was scarcely “unleashed” and was effectively gameplanned out of existence for prolonged stretches like he was a scrub QB. That’s unacceptable. As was the chickenshit 3rd-and-long plays that were all about getting better field position for Michael Dickson.

But Schottyball is really just Peteball, and Peteball has effectively been snuffed out by all of Pete Carroll’s former assistants. Kris Richard in this game, Robert Saleh in the 49ers rematch, and Gus Bradley in the Chargers game. All losses. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. They know his tendences, they know how Peteball works, but Peteball is largely predicated on dominating the other team while at the same time being fairly predictable. Schottenheimer should do a better job of adjusting, but he’s likely carrying out what Pete wants.

Shaquill Griffin

Griffin was a question mark coming in due to a sprained ankle, but was taken off the injury report on Thursday. He’s almost certainly not 100% healthy, but I have to put him on here. He was being attacked by Dak Prescott in ways that they basically didn’t test Tre Flowers, the rookie who couldn’t have had a much worse regular season debut.

Shaq gave up six catches on 11 targets, a touchdown to Michael Gallup that proved to be vital in the grand scheme of things, and had two terrible moments in run defense against Ezekiel Elliott. On one play, it seems both him and (primarily?) Akeem King lost contain on a 3rd and 1 that led to the Gallup TD. Another play was just Griffin getting shoved like a lightweight by one of the best RBs in the league. Even on the Wright interception, he badly bit on play-action and that’s what led to Prescott throwing it to Noah Brown in the end zone.

We shouldn’t measure Shaq based on Richard Sherman. To be honest, he’s not getting burned on the regular, but in many ways he is an embodiment of the 2018 Seahawks defense. He seems to be bang-on average and rarely showed signs of turning the corner (no pun intended) towards becoming one of the Seahawks’ better defenders. Maybe year three will be different.

Pass Rush

Dak Prescott was sacked just once and hardly pressured in 33 dropbacks. Turns out the Cowboys OL is a bit better than the Cardinals OL. Pass rush to aid Frank Clark and Jarran Reed is a must in the offseason.

Chris Carson

15 touches for 21 yards. It was not his night. Obviously this isn’t a Chris Carson problem, but he was not only unable to get on track, Schottenheimer stubbornly kept trying to get him on track at the expense of time and valuable downs.

Offensive line

Justin Britt and DJ Fluker committed brutal penalties on Seattle’s penultimate offensive drive, and we know the Seahawks can’t overcome being behind the sticks 90% of the time. The run blocking was also poor, whereas the pass blocking really wasn’t, but they were bullied against a Cowboys team hellbent on stopping the run.

Brian Schneider

A longer post will touch on this, but please fire Brian Schneider. Tavon Austin was barely a factor all season for the Cowboys due to injuries and “being Tavon Austin.” Of course, they just about gave up a 90-yard punt return TD that was called back due to a holding penalty, and actually gave up a 53-yard punt return to him in the 4th quarter. Dallas didn’t score on that drive thanks to KJ Wright’s interception, but the field position flip was a problem in the first place.

You want to talk accountability? Another sub-par ST group — the fourth one over the last five seasons — should be the nail in his coffin.

Russell Wilson

Yes he’s a loser too. Not for performance, but his coaching staff. They failed him miserably and too often took the ball out of his hands with the season on the line. That, more than anything else, upsets me the most.

Final Notes

  • Dak Prescott had a pretty good game and made several key plays down the stretch. The 3rd and 14 run up the middle was an absolute dagger. That’s a credit to him considering that offense and his coaching staff holds him back, too.
  • I hate that GMC Sierra commercial so much and they kept playing it.
  • That Michael Dickson onside kick attempt... what the hell was that supposed to be?
  • Sebastian Janikowski had a successful year given he made three buzzer-beating game-winners... but I wouldn’t re-sign him. He’s old and got an “out of shape old man” injury on that 57-yard field goal.
  • Wishing the best for Cowboys WR Allen Hurns. His ankle snapped badly early in the 1st quarter on a Bradley McDougald tackle and that’ll be a long recovery for him, one would assume. You hate to see gruesome injuries like that happen.
  • The refs weren’t all that bad. Only 11 accepted penalties combined, but I suppose the worst call that went against the Seahawks was Russell Wilson not getting a face mask call on the lone sack he took. That would’ve been an automatic first down instead of another punt. Blech.
  • We’re going to have to accept that the Seahawks offensive philosophy won’t change. Instead, Seattle’s defense has to be elite again. I suspect that’ll be the main focus heading into next season.
  • Enemy Reaction will chronicle the rest of the playoffs, but I’m not doing one this week.
  • Thanks for reading all of these Winners and Losers columns this season. Now it’s time to switch to offseason coverage as the Seahawks prepare to make a bigger push for playoff contention in the 2019-20 campaign.