Upon intense research and fact-checking, I have confirmed that the Seattle Seahawks are indeed 4-2 and one of just five teams in the NFC with a 4-2 record or better. It wasn’t pretty, but the Seahawks got the job done 20-10 over the Arizona Cardinals. Teams don’t normally win with -3 turnover margins, but the Seahawks pulled that off for the first time since the 2014 NFC Championship Game.
Would you rather win ugly or lose ugly? I know what my answer is. Seattle has won like this many, many times before to some degree, including with better squads than this one. You don’t get bonus style points like this is the college football playoff rankings.
Let’s get to Winners and Losers.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jake Bobo
The two rookies stepped up big time in DK Metcalf’s absence. JSN did all his damage in the 1st half with 4 catches for 63 yards and his first touchdown, while Bobo had a pair of catches on either side of intermission and had a similar stat-line of 4/61/1. Both of his TDs have involved tremendous footwork and boundary awareness.
And the best part? We had a successful screen! With those two!
1st Half Geno Smith
Other than one near-pick to Kyzir White, Geno was sharp in the 1st half and honestly through the opening drive of the 2nd half. At halftime, Smith was 12/15 for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns, and that TD to Bobo was a fantastic pass. The pass protection generally held up and Smith was making quality reads.
First 100-yard game of the season and he had to work like hell to get it. There were not a lot of easy yards to be had in the 2nd half, but he had some physical, punishing hits on Cardinals defenders and some nifty moves in the open field.
We won’t be trashing Pete’s challenge usage for a bit after winning two challenges for the first time since 2016. One challenge resulted in the Cardinals swapping out 4th and 1 for a 4th and 6 field goal attempt, while the other was the Bobo touchdown. Winning moves by the coach!
Jordyn Brooks and Bobby Wagner
Whew! That was some great linebacker play. Wagner had the short passing lanes on lock, and Brooks was all over the field against the run and pass. Officially he had a 0.5 sack, two tackles for loss, and both he and Wagner had 9 tackles. These were not empty calorie stats, and while Wagner has been at this for a decade, Brooks looks great given the context of his ACL tear in January.
I’m going to be a little hyperbolic here but Witherspoon could end up covering like prime Richard Sherman and hitting like prime Kam Chancellor. Did you see this hit?! Props to Rondale Moore for hanging onto this.
He should’ve had a sack and an interception if not for penalties on his teammates. Witherspoon has been amazing. No ifs, ands, or buts. There are no caveats to what he’s done so far.
Mafe leads the Seahawks with four sacks. He got jobbed on the roughing the passer penalty but he had several pressures and took at least 3 points off the board with his sack at the end of the 1st half.
Almost the entire secondary was on point, hence Josh Dobbs was held to just 116 net yards passing on 37 dropbacks. I want to spotlight the ostracized and oft-criticized Adams. Other than missing a tackle on Dobbs on the first possession, I thought Jamal had a quality performance. He was in on multiple run stops, pass breakups, and really a lot of other things that didn’t involve his specialty of rushing the QB. I think this has, in turn, benefited Julian Love and Quandre Diggs’ respective performances. My skepticism about this defense was all about whether Adams and Witherspoon would make that much of a difference. Two complete games together suggest they have.
Darrell Taylor, the pass rusher
Taylor closed out the win with 1.5 sacks, his first sacks on the season, and he drew a holding penalty. Uchenna Nwosu’s injury leaves Seattle’s pass rush in a state of uncertainty, so Taylor will need to step it up when called upon.
Offensive Line (in Pass Protection)
Missing three starters on the offensive line, Geno Smith was pretty damn clean compared to last week. Only two sacks allowed (one of which is less of an OL issue and more of a “Geno fooled no one with the fake toss” issue. After giving up 13 QB hits a week ago, Geno was only hit three times. Some of that was a drastic reduction in DL quality, some of that was scheme to get the ball out faster, and some of that was just the line doing its job and keeping Smith upright.
Do not discount the importance of those two made field goals. We’ve watched too many Seahawks-Cardinals games to know when the kicking game can go horribly wrong.
Shane Waldron’s red zone playcalling
At this point, the red zone woes need to fall primarily on Waldron’s shoulders. That 1st-and-goal sequence at the 1 was disgusting. Two shotgun runs to nowhere, followed by a predictable play-action call that was easily snuffed out. Michael Shawn-Dugar noted that the Seahawks’ rushing attack, even with six touchdowns on the season, has been poor in the red zone. There still has to be some adjustment to that instead of just putting Jake Bobo in motion and handing it to Ken Walker.
Even on the interception by Geno, cutting off half the field on a sprint out option with only two real targets (neither of them named Tyler Lockett) is just a bad idea. Smith should’ve thrown it away, but that’s defeating yourself before you even snap the ball.
The RZ offense is way too basic and predictable.
2nd Half Geno Smith
Well that fell apart after the 2nd possession of the 3rd quarter. Smith was 6/9 for 70 yards, a terrible interception, and a lost fumble on a snap he never fully gathered in. The fumble sucks but that can happen to anyone. The interception was more worrisome because even if his arm got hit, I don’t think there’s any good angle for that throw to be completed. Throw it away and play for a field goal.
For 2.5 quarters, Geno was pretty much on the money. The last 1.5 was arguably worse than the Bengals game.
Darrell Taylor, the run defender
There’s just no way around hiding why Taylor doesn’t get more playing time. His inability to handle zone reads properly largely caused that touchdown run by Joshua Dobbs. It’s like he never knows who has the ball, which makes perfect sense when you realize that awful penalty from the Lions game a few weeks back.
But we’ll probably need to rely on him more depending on Uchenna Nwosu’s injury.
What separates Woolen from Witherspoon is the tackling form. Woolen is not the best run defender or open-field tackler and it showed on the Dobbs TD, as he and Quandre Diggs both missed the quarterback. He also had two drive-extending penalties called against him (one was nonsense but negated a Devon Witherspoon sack). I think Riq has been good since returning from injury but he hasn’t been great when pressed into action.
Needless to say, I disagreed with the Mafe roughing call, and I don’t even agree with DJ Humphries getting tossed for incidentally touching a official while trying to shove Jordyn Brooks (who shoved him first). Tre Brown picked up a PI that, while the pass was caught anyway, wasn’t remotely PI. I already brought up Woolen’s lame illegal contact penalty.
And while we’re at it...anyone else think Tyler Lockett caught that Geno deep ball and had both feet down? It would’ve been moot due to a penalty, but I thought the call was incorrect. Scott Novak’s team was not at its best.
- DeeJay Dallas lost a fumble for the first time in his career, which led to a field goal. He did redeem himself with a 32-yard return that gave Seattle great field position. It ain’t his fault it was squandered off the Geno Smith interception.
- Kudos to the Seahawks special teams unit for sniffing out maybe the worst fake punt play in many years. When it’s 4th and 9, you probably don’t want to throw it 4 yards, but that’s what they did and Mike Jackson Sr and friends were there to sniff it out.
- Dre’Mont Jones didn’t register a sack but he had a couple of QB hits and looked disruptive on the interior.
- The run defense was a little leaky at times around the edges, which gives me pause for the Baltimore Ravens game in two weeks. It still looks like this group is much more assignment sound and improved from last year.
- National Tight Ends Day didn’t result in any touchdowns for our group, but Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson both had 25+ yard catches.
- Much, much better on 3rd down at both ends; Seahawks 7/13 on offense and held the Cardinals to 5/15 at the other end.
- Arizona is bad and I understand if you’re upset the win wasn’t cleaner/bigger. There are some mistakes that need cleaning up, don’t get me wrong. We just had the Buffalo Bills lose to the New England Patriots, who had no home wins and looked atrocious for a month solid. Take what you get with an offense missing so many starters and key contributors, and move onto the next week.
- The Cleveland Browns offense may be iffy with Deshaun Watson and/or PJ Walker out there, but the defense has Myles Garrett. That won’t be an easy game but I think a lot of concerns about this team would be eased if Seattle can get to 5-2 in a weak conference.