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All-22 Musings: Eye-catching plays from the Seahawks’ loss to the Rams

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

In an uncharacteristically flat performance, the Seahawks fell victim to poor pass protection and an ill-prepared defense in a quicksand game which resulted in a 28-12 loss. An illegal formation penalty, soon followed by Rashaad Penny’s season-ending injury, set the tone for an evening that was dour from wire-to-wire.

After a game which appeared to be a sizable setback, the focus for this week’s All-22 Musings will be on individual player performances:

[SEA 2-13 SEA 22] (13:49) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short right to J. Gordon pushed ob at SEA 33 for 11 yards (T. Hill)

This was the route that brought an end to my patience surrounding Josh Gordon’s snaps and targets: It’s time he is heavily involved. His burst is apparent, and the way, on this route, he drags his outside foot to threaten the out-and-up is beautiful. As long as the protection holds up, a three wide receiver set of Tyler Lockett-DK Metcalf-Gordon will be very dangerous.

[SEA 3-2 SEA 33] (13:11) G. Fant reported in as eligible. C. Carson right tackle to SEA 40 for 7 yards (S. Ebukam)

Entering 2019, we knew Chris Carson was physical and punishing; we knew he had elite athleticism; but what’s impressed me consistently is his vision to spot cutback lanes (and of course the ability to hit them). Here, Carson spots Eric Weddle coming down into the B-gap, cuts back to the A-gap and picks up a solid seven yards.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 40] (12:28) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short middle to M. Turner to 50 for 10 yards (T. Rapp)

In Week 14, the root of the offense’s problems was pass protection. That simple. For the most part, Brian Schottenheimer had another strong game, and this was an excellent play call. Lockett’s motion and the play-fake to Carson forces the underneath defenders to crash down, vacating space for an easy completion to Malik Turner.

Turner has earned opportunities and he always maximizes them; it would be a shame if the fourth down drop is what people remember.

[SEA 2-10 LA 22] (10:00) (Shotgun) C. Carson up the middle to LA 15 for 7 yards (E. Weddle)

Another excellent block from Mike Iupati, pulling across the line. He has been a highlight reel up front this season. On the other side, D.J. Fluker does well to get up to the second level and get movement, too.

[LA 1-10 LA 25] (8:34) T. Gurley left tackle to LA 31 for 6 yards (Sl. Griffin)

Among the many areas Shaquill Griffin has improved in 2019 is his tackling, which has been superb. For the most part, though, it has been tough and disciplined plays on the perimeter; we haven’t seen him in traffic making a stop; he does so here, and it’s a perfect tackle.

[LA 2-4 LA 31] (8:05) T. Gurley left end to LA 31 for no gain (P. Ford)

If Poona Ford is able to get a step on the opposing guard or center off the snap, he is going to generate a run stop; such is his combination of balance and short-area quickness. He is a run defender perfectly suited for the NFC West’s running games, and he should be in Seattle for years to come.

[LA 1-10 SEA 35] (6:08) T. Gurley left end to SEA 34 for 1 yard (B. Jackson, J. Clowney)

It is a play such as this that makes it a cause for concern when Pete Carroll, asked Monday about Jadeveon Clowney’s status for Week 15, says he “is hurting.” In the two games Clowney has played since his core injury appeared, he has played... well, like above. Fast, aggressive, reckless within the scheme. Whatever level of pain he’s playing through hasn’t slowed him down yet. If it does, that would be a major problem.

[LA 1-10 LA 15] (2:57) T. Gurley left tackle to LA 16 for 1 yard (P. Ford; C. Barton)

Ford simply shuts this run down, in complete control at the point of attack. His push off the snap disrupts Todd Gurley’s path, and allows Cody Barton to get in on the tackle. Excellent play from the sophomore.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 45] (10:20) G. Fant and J. Jones reported in as eligible. R. Wilson pass short middle to DK. Metcalf to LA 43 for 12 yards (J. Ramsey)

Metcalf’s ability as a vertical receiver has the self-proclaimed best cornerback in the league, Jalen Ramsey, bailing off in a hurry. But once again, it’s a good job by Metcalf to keep himself between Ramsey and the ball when he breaks back towards it.

(An aside: The Seahawks went with both George Fant and Jamarco Jones eligible on a few plays on this drive, and it gave them a real spark. Look at the time and pocket Wilson is afforded here; completely maddening that they went away from it.)

[LA 3-10 SEA 48] (13:05) (Shotgun) J. Goff pass short right intended for R. Woods INTERCEPTED by Q. Diggs [Sm. Griffin] at SEA 45. Q. Diggs for 55 yards, TOUCHDOWN

Quandre Diggs’ pick-six was simply an elite, ball-hawk play. He was locked onto Jared Goff from the snap, knew exactly where he needed to be, and broke on the football with tremendous speed. Diggs’ play since entering the lineup, and this play in particular, reminded me of what I wrote about Tedric Thompson in January:

Pete Carroll spoke of Thompson as though he’s the long-term plan at free safety. Importantly, he also consistently spoke of how important it was for Thompson to have confidence in his game. The message from Carroll, particularly in training camp, boiled down to: Thompson produces in practice, sees things so well, but he isn’t reacting accordingly. That idea of reacting slowly showed up in games, as time and time again his game speed appeared to be deficient.

Diggs, like Earl Thomas before him, has the confidence, the intelligence and, crucially, the play speed to make the plays he is seeing.

[LA 3-5 SEA 37] (9:56) (Shotgun) J. Goff pass deep right intended for B. Cooks INTERCEPTED by Q. Diggs at SEA 3. Q. Diggs ran ob at SEA 3 for no gain

The second of Diggs’ two interceptions against the Rams didn’t require any kind of amazing read, but the range he showed—starting his break as the ball is released—is fantastic.

[LA 1-10 SEA 32] (7:35) J. Reynolds right end to SEA 22 for 10 yards (Q. Diggs)

When Seattle acquired Diggs, I was told by someone close to the Lions that he was an outstanding tackler—we see that at every level of the defense. Diggs has a willingness, takes great angles and is quick in pursuit.

[LA 1-10 SEA 22] (7:03) T. Gurley left tackle to SEA 19 for 3 yards (J. Clowney)

(Putting aside the overhanging dread that Clowney’s injury could slow him down for a moment to say) Jadeveon Clowney pursuing a running back from the backside will remain one of the most entertaining things in football for as long as he plays.

[LA 2-7 SEA 19] (6:30) T. Gurley right guard to SEA 19 for no gain (B. Wagner)

Whatever one may think of Bobby Wagner’s play in 2019—I maintain he has been excellent—his play defending the run hasn’t wavered. This is just a wonderful run stop, controlling Tyler Higbee and defeating the block to stop Gurley for no gain.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 37] (10:03) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short middle to T. Lockett to LA 44 for 19 yards (E. Weddle)

A well done, savvy route from Lockett here: Adjusts his route to come inside of the underneath defender after initially looking back to Wilson, finds space and a gets the easy completion. It’s fair to expect a big game from Lockett in Week 15.

[SEA 3-22 SEA 44] (9:04) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep left to DK. Metcalf pushed ob at LA 21 for 35 yards (E. Weddle)

Metcalf has such a good understanding of what to do when the play breaks down, and his connection with Wilson is very real—crucially, it shows up both inside and outside of structure.

The endzone angle of this completion is very kind to Wilson’s pocket movement, and the throw:

[SEA 4-18 SEA 10] (3:06) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass deep middle to J. Gordon to SEA 33 for 23 yards (T. Hill)

Another reason to desire more touches and snaps for Gordon: Whatever injury he was carrying earlier in the season is gone. The fluidity and burst Gordon has moving downfield is phenomenal, and another vertical threat for Wilson is entirely welcome.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 33] (2:43) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to DK. Metcalf to SEA 42 for 9 yards (J. Ramsey)

Though the drive came to nothing, this throw and catch is encouraging. Wilson releases the ball prior to Metcalf making his break, and Metcalf is able to find it low and back shoulder. It’s a route born out of trust and timing, and these two dynamic forces have it.

The Seahawks will now head to Carolina in Week 15 to take on their pseudo-division rival Panthers, closing out their away schedule for 2019 and attempt to lock up a playoff spot.