Finishing out the first quarter of the NFL season with a 19-13 loss on the road to the St. Louis Rams is anything but acceptable for most Seahawks fans. Although I am a huge supporter of Head Coach Pete Carroll, I am finding it hard to buy into his current offensive play calling. Here are some of my thoughts and observations on the Seahawks performance at the Edward Jones Dome today:
The Good: Marshawn Lynch’s 159 all-purpose yards
The Bad: Onside kick attempt to open the second half
The Ugly: Seahawks Redzone Offense
Seattle’s defense played well but failed to produce any big plays: It’s hard to criticize a defense too much when they keep the opposing team to 286 yards of total offense. It remains obvious that the Hawks defense doesn’t possess the same “pop” when they are playing on the road. This is likely due to the absence of the 12th Man and the energy they provide to this defensive unit. To be honest, the offense could take a significant amount of pressure off the D by producing more points. It felt like the defense was on the field for most of the first quarter and all of the second. It’s hard to ask your D to control a game when they are spending too much time on the field.
Conservative play calling increases late game pressure on Russell Wilson: Ok, so we all know by now that Pete Carroll has said that he will not push the offensive production in order to protect Russell Wilson from making mistakes and allow him to manage the game efficiently. The team’s performance over the past two weeks has put more pressure on Wilson late game due to the Hawks being behind late in the fourth quarter. As a rookie quarterback, isn’t it more stressful to be forced to score a touchdown to win the game on the last drive rather than to face the opposing defense under normal circumstances throughout the game?
If Russell Wilson is going to develop and become better as a play caller the reigns need to be loosened a bit. I get the sense that the coaches are holding him back a bit.
Redzone Offense continues to be atrocious: Coming into this week’s matchup with St. Louis, Seattle was tied for 30th in the league with Redzone Scoring. There was no improvement this week as Seattle had two long drives in the second half stall out in or near the redzone while going 1 for 3 in scoring chances. In order to win in this league and reward the team for long sustained drives, Russell Wilson needs to find a way to score TDs.
Marshawn Lynch shows up; can’t carry the whole team: Lynch rushed for 118 yards on 20 carries, including an 18-yard TD run on the first drive of the game. No one questions Lynch’s ability to control a game and carry the workload of the Seattle offense. However, it is obvious that he cannot win games by himself. At times, it seems that we are pushing the run so often that we only pass when it is absolutely necessary (and obvious to the defense). This puts additional stress on Russell Wilson on those critical passing downs (typically third down). Keep feeding the beast, but I’d be wary of asking him to carry 20-25 plus times a game for sixteen games total. Any back in the league would have a difficult time remaining healthy with that many touches, especially a physical RB like Lynch.
Receiving corp has yet to produce a clear star: Through Week 4, Seattle has yet to have a 100-yard receiving game or a clear number one receiver. Two of Russell Wilson’s three interceptions today could be put on the Seattle Receivers. Doug Baldwin received an off target pass, was unable to haul it in and bobbled it right into the defender’s hands while our TE slipped on the final play of the game after cutting on his route which gave an easy pick to the Rams defense to end the game. I know that the receivers are suffering a bit from the lack of a Seahawk’s passing game but none of them have appeared to play with any consistency up to this point. Out of this group, Sidney Rice has made more clutch receptions than any of the others (minus the Golden Tate TD last week). Going forward, one of these guys has to step up and take charge.
Bad coaching decisions cost Seattle this game: The call to attempt an onside kick to begin the second half was in no way conservative and overly reckless. On that botched onside attempt, the Seahawks defense did their job and forced a three and out but still yielded 3 points due to the amazing leg of Greg Zuerlein. That three points proved pivotal as Seattle was forced to go for a TD on their final drive of the game instead of having the option to kick a late field goal to tie it up. It is plain dumb to attempt this onside with an opposing kicker that has already shown that he can boot a 60-yarder during a close game. Giving the Rams a long field on that opening drive could have made the difference in the game.
Gus Bradley also struggled to find an answer to St. Louis’ Sam Bradford as he was able to make critical third down conversions. The problem is that a few of these were extremely long conversions that were on obvious passing downs. The Seahawks had a difficult time creating a pass rush with three and four men as they did so well against Green Bay last week. Instead of adjusting their defensive look and bringing more pressure with a LB or DB, Seattle sat back and let Bradford pick them apart. This unit should have played much better against this Ram’s offense but were unable to disrupt Sam Bradford.
Did I mention the anemic passing attack? At times, the Hawks produced some sustained drives but inevitably failed to do this with enough consistency. I think Pete has to give Russell the reigns of this offense and let him play his game.
So there you have my preliminary thoughts after the Seahawks loss to the St. Louis Rams. Look for my post on the outlook for Seattle’s Week 5 matchup against the Carolina Panthers!