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In which Bobby Wagner cannot do enough and Jamal Adams attempts too much

Seattle Seahawks v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Tre Flowers cannot be expected to defend John Brown one-on-one for over four seconds. I do not know if that qualifies as analysis. It certainly qualifies as common sense.

What interests me most about this pass rush is how effectively L.J. Collier separates from Dion Dawkins and how little he is able to do with that opportunity. Josh Allen is “standing tall in the pocket.” He doesn’t need to get deeper to find throwing lanes. Collier cannot “turn the corner.”

Here’s another picture to give a sense of how far behind Allen he has run attempting to turn the corner. As we can see above, Dawkins catches up with him and the pass rush is over. A wide blindside pass rush is just not in his skill set. Maybe if the quarterback dropped 10 yards Collier would have a chance. Most good quarterbacks do not drop so deep. Maybe practice has produced false positives in regards to who can and cannot pass rush. Wilson and Geno Smith are not your average quarterback, even in 2020.

Brown’s route is playground football simple. He intimidates Flowers with his speed. Once Flowers is on his heels, he turns back for an easy reception. For all his straight line speed, Flowers isn’t terribly quick at changing direction suddenly. His length allows him to make a decent play on the ball, and the pass dies as so many Allen passes do. It’s a pointlessly hard reception made possible by a futile pass rush which, because Buffalo keeps in its blockers, occupies seven Seahawks and three of Seattle’s best defenders.

For the sake of entertainment value, as if I am offering any, I will only repeat myself in brief.

Next play: no pass rush.

(A linebacker’s dilemma: Of little use covering wide receivers; easily blocked by max protect)

Quinton Dunbar is miles deep. D.J. Reed does not get wide enough.

Commonly referred to as a “hole in the zone.”

Next play: Allen throws a YOLO pass incomplete targeting Brown versus Flowers. It’s just inaccurate. Flowers’ coverage is fine. His attempt at the interception is messy. If this were a Bills site, I might explore why Allen cannot seem to throw two throws in a row accurately.

Bills convert the first on a 7-yard run by Zack Moss. I will spare you the wicked cut block on K.J. Wright which springs the run and results in Wright writhing on the ground grabbing his leg. And I won’t break down this play too terribly much because what I could say has been said. Dunbar acquiesces to the block. Wagner cedes yardage to make a tackle on the perimeter.

The next play is awful. This all is verging on the macabre.

Poona Ford jumps offside and is probably in the neutral zone at the moment of the snap. This isn’t flagged. Seattle completely busts coverage on Stefon Diggs. He can be seen throwing up his hand in the universal signal that receivers give to quarterbacks when they’re free to the end zone. He is, and this should be a touchdown.

But Allen pulls a Seneca Wallace and perceives pass rushers from another dimension. He scrambles himself into trouble. Luckily for Buffalo not only is Dunbar not deep he’s not shallow enough to cover Moss either. Yet, as his body language makes evident, this bust is not likely his fault.

The blurs are back and I don’t have time today to monkey with the gif until it’s clear. In recent weeks I feel like I’ve been demoted from writer to gif maker, I swear. But, what matters here, and a still will suffice in showing this, is that Wright is somehow matched against Diggs, and Adams—who seems to guess an awful lot and who seems to be the latest PFF superstar who is flashy but totally unreliable—locks onto Dawson Knox. Here we see Adams finally realizing way too late that Diggs is free behind the safeties to the end zone.

Allen scrambles himself into a worse play. Which is still a 10-yard reception.

Dunbar was doing this all game. As much as I hated this trade, boy do I sympathize with the guy. Not that I would be letting the world know my frustration, but this has to be damn frustrating.

You might be asking yourself: how does this drive not end in a touchdown? Fortuitous injury, my friends. Fortuitous injury.

Seattle finally puts some pass rushers on the field. Alton Robinson titillates with a nice looking stunt.

Which, not pictured, Allen evades. Pressure is part of pass rush, not pass rush. #13 pictured above, Gabriel Davis, is free from Dunbar for about three to four seconds. He just runs and runs and runs away from Dunbar crossing most of the width of the field. 12-yard reception.

But! during the play, right guard Brian Winters is hurt. In the next three plays, Seattle sacks Allen twice. First we get this really nice move by Ford against backup center Jon Feliciano.

Ford deserves the sack but Reed cleans up and is awarded the very valuable stat. That said, to be perfectly honest, Allen pretty effortlessly evades Ford. Our great stat keeping overlords do not award Ford with a hit or even a hurry here. What bunk. Anyway, sack.

Next: Short reception ended by a good open-field tackle by Adams. It’s a minor victory. The target is intentionally conservative, prioritizing the two goals of improving the chances of hitting the field goal and setting up a less dangerous third and long.

Sack.

Busted line read from the backup center—Allen actually points out K.J., but to no avail. He’s too panicked to see Cole Beasley streaking free against Reed.

It’s my wife’s day off and I will just leave it at that. Analysis of the final drive and my conclusions won’t be posted until Saturday. But since I don’t expect to see all y’all around for that, here’s an encapsulation. Middle linebacker and strong safety are not premium positions in the NFL ca. 2020. Both are pretty capable of being schemed out of relevance. Wagner does a ton of things exceptionally well. And like all humans, he is slowing with age. Adams guesses. He’s not a great coverage defender, and the less he’s closing from a zone, the less effective he seems to be. Blitzing seems to be what he’s best at, but teams can counter DB and linebacker blitzes by going max protect, etc.

That creates one-on-one matchups on the outside. Flowers and Dunbar, injured and out of position, are sitting ducks attempting to matchup against a good receiving corps one-on-one outside.

The pass rush is not without potential. Robinson flashes. Rasheem Green flashed from defensive tackle. Carlos Dunlap looks like Carlos Dunlap. But sticking with funky groupings of run-stuffing oriented defensive linemen was foolish to the point of being self-destructive. Collier looks like a situational player. Arguably, so does Poona, but until Reed shows more as a pass rusher, it may be that Poona’s superior performance as a run stuffer should earn him snaps over Reed.

The Seahawks need to take a risk. Preserving an obviously failing unit to honor the importance of practice and veteranosity or whatever hasn’t worked. Dunlap is not a LEO and certainly not a LEO as defined by Chris Clemons. Apart from maybe Shaquem Griffin, who’s tiny, Robinson is the closest Seattle has to Clemons. They need somebody to turn the corner. Given that those players are rarer than rubies, it may be necessary to stack pass rushers even if it costs the run defense.

Rarely ever do teams actually get “run over.” The most run-oriented offense in the NFL that does not rely on a scrambling quarterback, the Vikings, has added 30.66 points through running. That’s less than the 23rd ranked passing attack, the Cleveland Browns. Even with the aid of Kyler Murray, the first ranked Cardinals have not added as many points rushing at the 20th ranked Dolphins have added passing. In fact the difference is almost a touchdown and field goal. It’s a passing league. The offense seems to be overcompensating for this fact. The defense is stuck in 1975.

The Seahawks need to figure out what to do with Dunbar. If he’s this unwell, coming apart mid-game, he needs to be put on IR of some kind and replaced. Somebody on this great green earth could have played better than Dunbar. It’s a simple system. That’s one of Carroll’s virtues. He sets his players up to succeed. But not last Sunday, what Dunbar endured was borderline cruel. If blitzing so much has made the system less simple, more difficult to grasp and more likely to result in blown coverage, ditch the blitzes and get back to using sub-package defensive lines to create pressure. Or stick to simple blitzes which are backed by zone coverage. But there’s no scheme which allows the nominal number one corner to allow completions all day so he doesn’t get beat.

Allen is a good quarterback but he’s a green quarterback, and it’s telling how Nick Mullens, who’s pretty much the opposite (bad but savvy) picked Seattle apart. It was garbage time but the Seahawks were not playing prevent. At all. They were getting bombarded by a backup.

I get that I don’t know what I’m talking about, that I have incredibly incomplete information and am stuck using the simple heuristic of “play the kids,” but play the kids. Invest in Robinson’s potential. Find out what Green can do. Stop ignoring that achieving the fundamentals while creating no pass rush is its own kind of blown assignment. Teams are going to pass on Seattle. Not always in the kind of concerting, unrelenting way that Buffalo did, but plenty. If Robinson doesn’t always set the edge, if Green sometimes is obliterated by the double team, it still isn’t likely to hurt the defense as much as playing solid, run-stuffing players who cannot generate pass rush. The coverage cannot survive. It has not, it’s in decline, and it will not. Seattle’s corners need some easy snaps.

It may be that Seattle’s talent just isn’t good enough. John Schneider, I guess, has made so many bad trades. I like Adams. He hasn’t come close to being worth what he cost. There’s nothing illusory about his struggles in coverage or his propensity to guess. The third-round pick given to Houston for Jadeveon Clowney could be a pass rusher or corner. Either would likely add something this season. Jacob Martin would have added an awful lot to a team desperately needy for pass rush. The fifth given for Dunbar could be a pass rusher or defensive back too. Robinson was a fifth-round pick. As was Richard ShermanByron Maxwell was a sixth-round pick. Seattle has sold the farm going for it this season. Adams is likely to become expensive before next season. The greatest value of the trade is found in this season, before he’s expensive and before Seattle is short a first- and third-round pick. Given how good the offense is and how favorable the schedule, this go for it all today approach was justifiable. It is not being justified.

I know for some that it’s silly to freak out about a team that’s 6-2. But I am keenly aware of how valuable Russell Wilson’s prime is, and how no matter what he wants to happen, how uncertain its length. There is still a reasonable shot at winning a Super Bowl this year. Teams rally. Teams fix fatal flaws. 6-2 is valuable, not just in a superficial way but simply valuable and a great achievement and indicative of this team’s potential. Sunday’s blowout loss is indicative of this team’s potential for collapse. Doing nothing, prioritizing run defense, guessing, and leaving hobbling players to twist in the wind, is how it happens.