Well if it wasn’t nailed on that the Seattle Seahawks are currently a mediocre football team, the loss to the Carolina Panthers has been total confirmation that they are just not very good. They’re better than many had anticipated coming into the season but since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game they’ve looked a lot closer to being the bottom-five NFL team they were widely projected to be.
I picked the Panthers to win and literally everything that I feared would happen materialized. That was not enjoyable and the continued decline of the Seahawks’ home field advantage was on full display again.
Winners and Losers time from Sunday’s 30-24 loss.
I haven’t consistently enjoyed watching a Seahawks WR3 in a good while. David Moore and Freddie Swain had flashes of good play but were generally unremarkable and not particularly high-efficiency targets. Goodwin caught 5 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown (albeit in garbage time) on six targets. On the season he has 24 catches on 33 targets for 377 yards and 4 touchdowns. As the tight end targets have noticeably dipped in recent weeks, it’s worth feeding the ball to Goodwin more often. I hope that he is re-signed this offseason because he has been a gem of a cheap signing.
The Seahawks return game has been so non-threatening that it’s not even worth watching most of their kick and punt runbacks (when they do run it back). Igwebuike needed only one game to be the most formidable Seahawks return option since maybe 2015 Tyler Lockett. Two big kick returns is all I needed to see for him to earn a full-time roster spot and not a practice squad elevation.
Watching Lockett make ridiculous toe tap touchdowns will never get old. He stands alone in Seahawks franchise history with six consecutive games with a receiving touchdown.
I can’t recall Woolen being thrown at and even when he kinda was, he did this.
Seahawks rookie Tariq Woolen can’t finish and bring in the interception, but does a great job coming off his man and breaking up the pass to prevent the touchdown. pic.twitter.com/xUHHxddbml— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) December 11, 2022
That was a massive L on multiple levels. This team looked woefully unprepared from the opening snap and Carroll’s in-game decisions were horrible. He is now 0-for-4 on challenges after the failed attempt to overturn the wild Terrace Marshall Jr catch, and that cost the team a timeout. Carroll then called a timeout at the end of the 3rd quarter to avoid a delay of game, which saved maybe two yards at most. In the 2nd half when you’re trailing, timeout > yards. Even worse is that while Seattle did convert 3rd and 10, the initial play was run in time and Geno had acres of space to run on a read-option keeper.
I didn’t mind kicking the field goal on 4th and 3 down 20-14 but I would’ve gone for it given how bad the defense was. Then there’s the punt down 27-17 on 4th and 8 with about six minutes left and one timeout. What will it take for him to not trust his defense? I’d rather lose trying to score than lose trying to prevent a score while already losing.
And speaking of defense, the lack of talent on this defensive line and repeated breakdowns against the run fall at his feet. This is not just as a coach but also as the personnel man. If you’ve moaned about “Peteball” being too fixated on the running game, it is staggering watching the Seahawks’ playoff chances likely go up in smoke because they can’t run it or stop the run.
Pete’s gonna be here next season. It’ll take another home run draft and/or big free agent signings in order to fix what ails this defense. I’ve praised Pete plenty this year at a time when the criticism was unrelenting but a lot of the goodwill he’s earned has been erased with this losing run.
There’s just not a lot of high-end talent on this defensive line and I stress the defensive line. I can make a strong case that most of the rotation shouldn’t be on this roster or getting significant snaps in 2023. But with what the Seahawks currently have, Hurtt’s unit is below subpar. The entire NFC South swept the Seahawks and all of them rushed for at least 160 yards. All of them exceeded their season scoring average and three of those teams entered this week bottom-ten in points scored.
This is a defense that struggles so badly against the run that the 2017 Seahawks might be able to get 200 on these guys. Maybe they’re being schematically outgunned regularly, which bodes poorly for Hurtt, but I believe a lot of it is having the exact type of talent that was projected to have one of the worst defensive lines in the NFL.
Shelby Harris and Al Woods being out didn’t help but it’s not like we haven’t seen them get barreled over even when they’re out there. The scary part is the defensive line has a majority of the experience on the field.
Maybe I’m being harsh on Clint. After all, look at these stats post-LOB. Pete and John are the constant.
For all intents and purposes, the LOB ended in 2017. That's five years for Pete and John to build a defense.— Nathan Ernst (@NathanE11) December 12, 2022
2022 (not counting Carolina): 20th
No more screens, Shane. No more screens. He was hamstrung a bit with the running back situation but watching a critical series wasted on two plays to Tony Jones Jr was mystifying. The failed screens to Jones and Noah Fant symbolize this team’s ineptitude running normal NFL plays that are used to punish overly aggressive pass rushers. Down 20-14 and in the red zone he dialed up a weakside Travis Homer run in 13 personnel. That’s wasting a down. Carolina blitzed relentlessly and it felt like the Seahawks weren’t equipped to counter that in ways they were against the New York Giants. Not one of Waldron’s better days.
First time I believe I have put him in the Losers column this season. Or maybe I did for the San Francisco 49ers game. Whatever the case, this was the first real clunker for Geno all season. On the surface, 21/36 for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns thrown to 2 interceptions isn’t awful, but a good chunk of those stats came after the game was out of reach. His decision-making was sketchy and having only two interceptions (admittedly one on a clear uncalled offsides) was perhaps kind to him. Smith’s outstanding accuracy was shakier today than it had been in any other game all year.
It’s hard to ignore that Smith’s officially been charged with 8 turnovers over the last five games. He’s been very good overall and I’m not going to micro-analyze Smith based off ten years of Russell Wilson, but I am worried that the combination of teams scheming away the Seahawks’ strengths—notice that boot game wasn’t effective at all today—the lack of a running game, and turnover luck starting to work against Smith is bringing him back down to earth. Smith is an NFL caliber starting QB but when his stats normalize it makes the 2023 quarterback situation quite complicated.
I’d support Smith as a bridge quarterback before handing over to the QBOTF. I’d be on board with a franchise tag. I’m not sure I’d commit to Smith long-term on a huge contract. I also don’t know if the Seahawks are positioned to contend with a rookie QB at the helm who may not be good to great right out of the gate. On the other hand, cost-controlled top QB prospect is too much to resist and we’ve experienced that before. There is no easy answer here and especially when it is so clear that the main problem with Seattle is on the defensive side of the ball.
Stinks. Carolina didn’t even have a run longer than 26 yards and only one of their running plays lost yards. This is not just the defensive line—hard to justify Poona Ford’s salary at this point—but Jordyn Brooks in particular was missing a ton of tackles. Brooks is 2nd in total tackles but has just two TFLs on the season. Cody Barton had one good run stop I can recall but essentially the whole team got put in the weight room. There is no fix for this group in 2022.
The Seahawks have given up 961 yards rushing in the last five games combined— John ️ Fraley (@johndavidfraley) December 12, 2022
Never had a chance. The blocking is atrocious and Travis Homer and Tony Jones Jr aren’t meant to be every down backs. I’ve praised Andy Dickerson a lot for the performance of this offensive line but they are a bad run-blocking unit and without an exceptional running back the odds of making something magical happen are slim and none. There needs to be a retooling of the interior with Austin Blythe and the rotation of Gabe Jackson/Phil Haynes. They’ve got the pieces at tackle and Damien Lewis at left guard has been a net positive, but Blythe and the right guard revolving door are a weak spot.
I know the probability ranges from the 40s to the 60s depending on which site but I think they’re cooked. I don’t expect the Seahawks to win another game until maybe the Rams finale in Week 18. Maybe.
- Darrell Taylor recorded a sack. So did Bruce Irvin. Those were cool plays but watching them against the run is a different story.
- The officials botching the offsides on Geno’s interception was compounded by a fictitious horse collar flag on Uchenna Nwosu. They weren’t anywhere near the reason the Seahawks lost.
- I thought the pass protection largely held up without being anything dominant. Abe Lucas looked like he got beat badly for a sack, though.
- DK Metcalf had a touchdown but a brutal drop on what would’ve been a first down grab when Seattle was backed up near its goal line. That is his 7th drop of the year according to Pro Football Reference. Maybe this is just taking the good with the bad but I really do not like that we’re in year four and he still drops gimmes.
- Just three catches for 30 yards for the tight ends today. Noah Fant put up a goose egg in the box score.
- This team has categorically no chance against the 49ers with the way this defense is performing and with how shaky the offense has been with turnovers and injuries. Just keep the score close and I’ll be satisfied. At this point it’s time to focus on the big draft needs. Seattle has a lot of pieces to be great again soon, but they’re a ways off from being elite.