The Seattle Seahawks haven’t played anything close to their best football (we assume), and yet here they are at 5-2 and leading the NFC West over the vaunted San Francisco 49ers. It’s been a bumpy road, but after a thrilling 24-20 win over the Cleveland Browns we’ve got a serious division race on our hands.
It was throwback day. The Seahawks couldn’t lose on throwback day or else that’d be a little too on the nose as a 1990’s tribute! This won’t go down as a classic, but it’ll go down as a classic ending in which the defense and offense stepped up in the clutch.
Let’s get to Winners and Losers!
Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jake Bobo
Another week of huge rookie contribution at the wide receiver position. The stats aren’t gaudy but they combined for 6 touches, 62 yards, and a touchdown apiece. Bobo got the scoring started on a jet sweep, Smith-Njigba got the game-winner on a screen (!).
Smith-Njigba has 11 catches for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns out of the bye week, and that YAC ability is showing up! Bobo is essentially the only UDFA receiver doing anything this season, and he has three touchdowns.
The Seahawks had a lot of productivity out of its rookies last season and it is very possible 2023 could be one-upped.
The inefficient statline to Metcalf is not on DK; Geno Smith was making some bad throws his way throughout the game. The 5 catches for 67 yards on 14 targets is only part of the story for Metcalf and why he’s a winner. No penalties committed and then he had the key block on JSN’s touchdown. Those are the little things that help a team win, so as far as I’m concerned DK was huge in getting this W.
8 catches for 87 yards and a classic toe-tappin’ touchdown for Tyler. The Browns have a damn good secondary but they had a hard time staying with Lockett, and he was the most efficient target all afternoon.
Do not discount how important Fant’s 27-yard catch-and-run was on the two-minute drill. You wanted YAC? You got YAC. That’s his best attribute as a tight end and not going out of bounds to fight for extra yards was brilliant.
He needs more touches. The rookie out of UCLA had 64 yards on 7 touches (5 rushes, 2 catches) and really provides a different sort of physical running style than Kenneth Walker (who’s physical himself, mind you). There was also a blitz pickup from Charbonnet in the 1st quarter that was super impressive. Much like JSN, I can see Charbonnet having a larger role in the offense soon, much to everyone’s benefit.
The run blocking was a bit inconsistent but the pass protection was outstanding. Geno Smith was only hit three times and sacked once. Andy Dickerson is a hell of an offensive line coach, isn’t he? Didn’t see many negative reps out of Jason Peters, and Myles Garrett was a relative non-factor even though he had the sack.
Five straight games with a sack for Boye, who’s second-year leap is as real as advertised. Mafe also had a fumble recovery, a tackle for loss, and four additional QB hits. He’s been outstanding this season and it’s the exact thing the Seahawks needed for this defense to improve.
Jamal Adams and Julian Love
This Seahawks defense is not the Legion of Boom, but I’ll be damned if this ain’t one of the more LOB looking interceptions. Adams’ blitz had Walker throwing hurriedly, and Jamal turned into a soccer player with a flicked header into the waiting arms of Love. What a way for Julian Love to make his first pick as a Seahawk, and if nothing else that field position mattered so much.
First pick of the season saved at least 3 points. It was an errant throw caused by a Boye Mafe pressure, but he still had to grab it. Probably should’ve had a second pick to end the game but somehow didn’t make the catch. He allowed one deep ball to Amari Cooper and got hosed on at least one penalty but it was still a solid day for Woolen.
Blitz him more! Bobby’s taught him well, and he had the first turnover forced on the strip sack.
I’m not a fan of Waldron’s situational playcalling (e.g. that two-man route on 3rd and 1 that resulted in a Geno throwaway), but I thought he called a good game and the Seahawks (read: Geno) just generally weren’t executing properly. Considering the talent on that Browns defense, he had Cleveland on its heels early before the Browns adjusted. And for all of the rightful complaints about the red zone offense, they went 3-of-4 (technically 3-of-5, but that’s because Geno’s kneeldown to end the game was taken in the red zone).
The mid-game struggles of the offense felt more like a Geno problem than a Waldron problem, and Waldron must be a winner because look at how many successful screens the Seahawks ran! Three might be a record!
If you could ding Waldron for game script, it’s how pass-heavy the offense was despite leading most of the day. I don’t totally disagree, though, given how inefficient the rushing attack was for prolonged stretches.
Wasn’t that awesome? I know you loved it.
We had a plot twist with Jerome Ford actually playing instead of missing time with a sprained ankle as was initially reported. Cleveland finished with 155 yards on the ground on 40 attempts. Not a single one of the Browns’ runs went for longer than 12 yards but they still had a 43% success rate on all carries, and it’s no coincidence that this happened with Uchenna Nwosu not in the lineup. Darrell Taylor and Derick Hall both got caught out failing to contain the edge, and Frank Clark did next to nothing. Even last week wasn’t all that great, so I dread what’s to come against the Baltimore Ravens.
Whoo boy. I thought this was fixed up. Cleveland had 257 yards through the air on just 16 completions, and at least half must have come on screens. The entire first touchdown drive was just Kevin Stefanski dialing up whatever screen he pleased, and Seattle had no answer. I guess this was the price to pay for having a good screen pass offense.
His first involvement back with the team was to commit a block in the back penalty. His first offensive touch was a -5 yard run which, in fairness, is due to bad blocking. Eskridge had no targets, one 24-yard kick return, and that’s all. Who’s he supposed to be taking snaps off of at this point? If Dareke Young is able to get back from IR soon then I fail to see why Eskridge should still be on the team. This gadget receiver stuff is a joke.
Bill Vinovich’s crew calls a tight game. We can tell because the Seahawks had three extremely iffy penalties called against them in the secondary that extended Cleveland drives, including a 4th and 2 pass interference on Riq Woolen that looked like quality cornerback play. The Devon Witherspoon hands to the face penalty was really questionable, and while I think in hindsight Myles Garrett might have gotten back onside on Geno Smith’s first pick, it certainly could’ve been called. Seattle has to fix its discipline issues for legit flags, but the ticky-tack stuff was irritating.
He gets his own category, because absent the winning touchdown drive he’d have been a nailed on loser. I can’t defend the two interceptions (although the second pick was outstanding big man athleticism by Maurice Hurst) or his generally weird inaccuracy to DK and only DK. Then he had the game-winning touchdown drive for his second GWD of the season. He got the job done in ways he couldn’t against the Bengals.
Smith started strongly to the tune of 8/10 for 136 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3/3 on 3rd downs exclusively to Tyler Lockett. That touchdown to Lockett was prime Russ-esque, and it’s Geno at his best. But his lows are alarming at this point and he needs a higher rate of big plays to totally override those turnovers and near-turnovers. Being turnover-prone in itself is a criticism of, say, Josh Allen, but the over-riding productivity makes him one of the best QBs in the NFL. Geno now has six giveaways in three weeks, and most of them were preventable.
This site’s comments section has had a few clamoring for Drew Lock almost every week this season. I get it even if I disagree. Lock is the younger guy, stronger arm, pretty mobile, and there’s the higher upside presumption. He ain’t getting in unless Geno is hurt or Smith turns into Nathan Peterman.
I will praise Geno for bouncing back from his in-game struggles (including a 11/22 for 66 yards, 2 INTs stretch) because it has to count for something. It’s not like we didn’t witness quite a few of Russell’s game-winning drives coming after a lot of ineffective offense. But yeah, I’m worried about his decision-making because there are not exactly a lot of bad defenses they’ll be facing the rest of this entire season.
Overall, I think Geno is about league-average to at times above-average, and that is apparently the worst spot to be as a QB from a fan’s perspective. If you think he’s one of the worst starters then have a gander around the NFL and ask yourself how many QBs you’d confidently take over Geno.
We have been spoiled by generally elite play for such a long time that anything less than that (even if it came from Lock) feels like a disappointment. I dread to think how we would’ve reacted to almost every non-2005 Matt Hasselbeck season, including the weeks in which he actually got benched. Geno’s future and the future of finding that next elite QB is something to focus on in 2024, but I don’t really give a shit about 2024 right now In the immediate, Geno is the QB, and they’re 5-2 with him being an in-game roller coaster at the moment.
Or, alternatively, you should praise Pete Carroll for having a 5-2 team even with the performance of this offense.
- Entirely possible the Seahawks have a comfortable win if Deshaun Watson had started. That’s how bad he’s looked relative to PJ Walker, who regularly struggles to complete half of his passes but still hung in tough and made some solid throws.
- Three QB hits and several pressures for Dre’Mont Jones. He’s really stepped it up over the past several weeks.
- The red zone defense stiffened up when it needed to in the 2nd half. Clint Hurtt’s group forced two stops inside the 10, turning Cleveland’s only scoring drives after halftime into a pair of field goals. Tre Brown continues to have a strong season, and his PBU on Amari Cooper was superb.
- Devon Witherspoon had a quiet day, and by that I believe the Browns consciously chose to avoid targeting him. That can speak volumes more than those highlight plays we’ve seen over the past few weeks.
- That Ravens game is going to be a tough one. Don’t be too surprised if it’s a hammering, but keep in mind Baltimore already has surprise losses in Pittsburgh and at home to the Colts.
- You’re getting Enemy Reaction, sprinkled in with some 49ers meltdown goodness.