BY Art Thiel 12:07AM 10/29/2013

Thiel: Are Seahawks the worst 7-1 team ever?

Hard to take seriously a team that manages 135 yards of offense and 83 lost to penalties. Harder still is that as Seahawks await a return the health, Wilson gets beaten to a pulp.

He’s thrilled with 7-1 but how they got there Sunday night was disturbing to Pete Carroll. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

SCOREBOARD BABY

Seahawks 14, at St. Louis Rams 9

TERSE TRUTH

When the best thing to be said about an NFL offense is that the quarterback is learning how to cover up the ball while being sacked, the conversation is about a dead team walking. But no.

The Seahawks at the season’s midpoint have the best record in the NFC at 7-1 largely because they have a remarkable talent for making something out of almost nothing. Definition of almost nothing? Let’s try 135 yards of total offense minus 83 yards from 10 penalties. AND THEY WON THE GAME because the Rams were slightly more oafish.

The Monday Night Football game in the sparsely populated Edward Jones Dome was, for both teams, a big pile of nothing. But the Seahawks prevailed because they made one good offensive play – an 80-yard touchdown bomb from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate – and one good goal-line stand. Most of the rest can be set curbside in the morning for pickup by the big green trucks.

Stripped bare were Seattle’s replacement tackles, Michael Bowie and Paul McQuistan. Rams defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn each had three sacks, and QB Russell Wilson went down seven times. The Seahawks coaches came up with no credible alternatives to the St. Louis pressure,  leaving the outcome in doubt for the entire 60 minutes.

But, after playing their fourth road game in the past five weeks, they won. Remember this game in late December when it comes time to calculate playoff tiebreakers. The Seahawks are 3-0 in the division, and play Arizona and St. Louis again in Seattle.

Bad game? Yes. Big win? Yes.

FISTS TO SKY

  • Having nothing to lose but the game, the Seahawks took a shot in the third quarter and hit it. Wilson’s pass was airborne for 50 yards before Tate, in solo coverage, worked around a defender and made a leaping catch before running 30 yards free into the end zone.
  • Tate also scored the game’s only other touchdown, a two-yard pass in the second quarter he caught on the goal line and barely broke the plane.
  • The game’s final seven plays came in the Seattle red zone, where the defense denied the Rams seven times, including four from the six-yard line.
  • FS Earl Thomas delivered the hit of the game when he crossed the field to end a scramble by Kellen Clemens that spun the Rams QB 360 degrees and prompted him to come up barking at Thomas.
  • Reliable St. Louis kicker Greg “The Leg” Zeurlein, who was 14-for-14 for the season, missed from 50 yards, even though he kicked it 70. A make would have allowed the Rams on the final possession to win the game with a field goal instead of a touchdown.
  • Jon Ryan punted often and well, mostly.
  • No turnovers.

PALMS TO FOREHEADS

  • Three and out.  Three and out. Three and out.  Three and out. Three and out. Three and out. Three and out. Four and out.
  • Prior to the first Tate touchdown, the Seahawks on first-and-goal and second-and-goal ran the read option, with Wilson keeping both times for no gain instead of giving to the running back. Isn’t he being asked enough?
  • Tate spent the last 30 yards of his TD run mocking the St. Louis defensive backs, nearly getting caught at the goal line, then receiving a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. He was ripped on the air by ESPN analyst Jon Gruden as well as on the sideline by Pete Carroll. Yes, it was funny. And it also embarrassed Carroll on national TV.
  • In the second quarter, Wilson inexplicably dropped back in the end zone to pass, and appeared to be going down for a safety and pulled away to the one yard line.  Bad play call, bad blocking and yet another astonishing play from Wilson.

CARROLLING

  • On the win: “We are very fortunate to get out of here (with the win). They ran the ball down our throats. They did a fine job under the circumstances with a new quarterback. The good thing is that for the first time this season, we didn’t turn the ball over.  If we had one turnover, we wouldn’t have won. But we’re at the midpoint of the season and we almost got ‘em all (7-1). We’ve been on the road four of the past five weeks and we survived. That’s a major achievement in this league.”
  • On the rushing-game failure: “We did a ton of stuff and none of it worked. Marshawn got the ball eight times. He didn’t get a chance. He was frustrated. I sat by him on the bench. We both were frustrated by that.”
  • On the defense: “(The last drive) was about as challenging a situation as you could give a defense. In that final drive, they could do anything they wanted to, it seemed. On the last play, we called a very aggressive pressure. And we were one on one in the secondary. It was  a very difficult night but a good outcome.”
  • On the O-line woes: “We got a long haul the rest of the way, and these guys are who we’re going with. We gotta fix them. They’re trying. We tried to help them, and it didn’t work out.”
  • On the absence of turnovers: “Russell did an excellent job of being more aware of when he was being hit. He wrapped up well. It’s not a positive situation (seven sacks) but it was an improvement.”
  • On Tate’s mockery of Rams players: “That’s not the way we want to present ourselves at all. I thought he was more mature than that. He had too much fun at the wrong time. He knew it, and he apologized to everybody. But he still did it. It kind of washes away a really great play.”

WILSON!

On defense’s final stand: “The whole time the defense was out there I completely believed they would stop (the Rams). The defense really stepped up. It’s always a team effort.”

On the 80-yard touchdown pass to Tate: “He was the last guy in my progression (of reads), and he was one-on-one. He waved at the guy, which he didn’t need to do. But he made a spectacular catch.”

On the Rams defense: “They’re one of the best we will face this season. Their ends really brought pressure; how active their front seven are; how they stopped the running game. But not turning the ball over was huge for us. We’ll fix (the protection). Michael Bowie is a rookie going against one of the best (Long) in the game. He and (Robert) Quinn are as good as they get.”

On avoiding sack fumbles: “I was really conscious of it, making sure I got down. We talked all week about, if it’s not there, you have to surrender and protect the football.”

THE CLOSER

The long-known problems on the Seahawks offensive line have settled into a serious vexation that, thanks to two nationally televised games, are known to polar bears on the North Slope. There appears to be nothing immediately to be done about it, because if there were, certainly Carroll would have deployed it Monday night before Wilson gets pulled apart as if he were in medieval prison.

Even with veterans Zach Miller and Michael Robinson in the lineup, the offense was helpless against a very good Rams rush. With Marshawn Lynch held to 23 yards in eight attempts, there was no alternative weapon. The Seahawks had 40 offensive plays and 10 penalties for 83 lost yards.

The goal-line stand to end the game was memorable, but the main reason Seattle won was St. Louis’s offensive incompetence. Backup QB Clemens did a decent job, compromised on both interceptions by receiver failure, not Seattle craftiness.

The 7-1 mark is hard to take seriously when an offense at midseason generates 135 yards, 80 in one play. And while a return to health will help, the wait may cost them Wilson, who is taking a beating like no other starting QB in the league.

The primary salvation is the next three opponents are a combined 3-18 and there’s a bye in there. But they still are NFL teams,  and unless the protection is fixed to help save Wilson, the Seahawks are pretenders.


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    I think the long layoff hurt the club more than helped. They seemed out of synch with one another. How often do you see Doug Baldwin have just one reception? And the defense seemed a bit conservative, playing a lot of zone. I would have thought there’d be more blitzing to keep the pressure on the new starting QB for the Rams. The fire didn’t seem there at times, which might have been Tate’s reasoning for his taunting. But really Golden, if ya gotta do that do it when you’re in the end zone and don’t direct it at anyone. Pretty sure that’s what Pete was saying to him on the bench. (sarcasm)

    Surprised the club didn’t run the ball more, if anything to kill time on the clock. Maybe they weren’t that satisfied with how the O-line was performing but the WR’s weren’t in synch with Wilson either. The few times he felt comfortable in going long they advanced the ball to score a TD. At least now their past the most difficult part of their schedule and have the next 3 out of 4 games at home.

    • Diamond Mask

      I had my concerns at the start about our long layover. We’re never particularly good after a bye. Not as sharp. I’m worried about our next MNF against New Orleans after our real bye. Let’s hope lessons have been learned here.

      • art thiel

        Not sure the layoff was a big deal. Same stuff as a year ago. St. Louis has the perfect DEs to thwart the read option.

    • art thiel

      Rams had a similar game plan a year ago, and won. Nothing new. Outcome nearly the same.

  • ll9956

    This was a real nail-biter the whole way. All the articles I’ve read talk about the poor pass protection, and it’s justified. There’s no doubt that Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie are giving all the effort that’s in them. But the reality is that this is the NFL, where the big boys play, and these two so far simply haven’t measured up to the task. I hope they can improve, but that remains to be seen.

  • tedsfrozenhead

    Seahawks offense rarely shows up for a complete game. Tonight they barely showed up at all. Why the tackles didn’t get some help is all on the coaching staff. The Rams D was in the Seahawk backfield just waiting for Wilson…..

    • art thiel

      He needed blocking help from TE/FB, but they weren’t called upon enough.

      • tedsfrozenhead

        I am surprised that no adjustments were made. Hope this game opened some eyes in Seahawk HQ

  • Jeff Shope

    a bit harsh Art they are missing not only the two starting Tackles but also have starting guard playing tackle they get through these next few weeks and they are on their way saying they are worst 7-1 is kinda stupid

    • Kage McClued

      So is Denver (Missing their tackles). And Manning isn’t getting killed (Hit? Yes. Killed? No.)

      • Diamond Mask

        I guess I must have missed Wilson being carted off the field in a coffin…..

        • Kage McClued

          Check for scaring. It’s there, and it’s a matter of time until something gets broken on him. He’s a great QB, but so was RGIII last year… and what happened in the end?

  • Jeff

    This game was tailor made for Seattle’s resident sportswriter curmudgeon to trash. For the Rams, it was the most dominant loss in NFL history. The headline is a similar question many are asking about the Chiefs at 8-0

    • art thiel

      I quit the curmudgeon role and took the vacancy at oracle.

  • giorgio547

    The Rams exposed the Hawks underbelly to the NFL and wore down the defense in the process. Lucky they didn’t run the ball on the last play! Now what? p.s. Tate is an embarrassment…

    • Diamond Mask

      Right. Tate is an embarrassment. He scored the ONLY two touchdowns in the game. You’ve chosen an odd guy to be embarrassed about.

      We’re still 7-1 and leading the NFC West over the Forty Whiners. The best thing about last nights game was thinking of all the 49er fans who stayed up watching just to have their hearts broken into 49 little tiny pieces. I would have loved to see that……………

      • art thiel

        I think those SF fans are encouraged about the rematch.

        • giorgio547

          No doubt…

          • Kage McClued

            I, actually, have plenty of doubt. Had we played them last night in SF, they would have done to us what we had done to them.

        • Diamond Mask

          Well good. Because they’re going to be disappointed again.

      • giorgio547

        You might change your mind if you owned a Top Pot Doughnut Shop or had to explain his antics to the media. Sure he is good, but who else do they have to throw to these days.
        You’re right, 7-1 is better than 5-3 and they will differently need the best record in order to gain home field advantage. They’re looking way better than the Mariners and the Sonics…

        • Diamond Mask

          And the 49ers…!

      • zigzags

        Tate had a good game. He’s one of the few players who actually showed up. But to taunt the other team like that, especially when he damn near ran out of bounds while doing it? Childish. I’m all for swagger and the Hawks have plenty of it. But when it hurts the team, there is no room for it whatsoever.

    • Kage McClued

      The lack of discipline is the thing. It’s unlikely an undisciplined team will bring home the hardware at the end.

      We were just, flat, lucky. And at this point, luck should not be the determining factor.

      Tate acted like a punk. Those 15 yards of idiocy could have been crucial later.

      These guys get paid WAYYYYY too much to act like this. And the penalties? Are you freaking kidding me?

      They don’t seem to be possessed of a great deal of pride in what they do. And at some point, it’s going to catch up to us.

      And Russell? He’ll be lucky to make it much longer getting pounded like this. Other teams are going to try and hurt him… and then what?

      • giorgio547

        Your comments bring forth the idea of poise, something I never thought would be lacking on a Pete Carroll team? I am sure he will address the appearance of a lack of discipline and as Thiel believes, Tate’s mentors will straighten him out.

        • Kage McClued

          My point is that by now… he shouldn’t have had to.

          I would expect him to act like a man… not like a punk.

          Imagine what would have happened had he acted that way under, say, Vince Lombardi.

      • Diamond Mask

        Tate waved. End of world. No. Is he sorry? Yes. Are you making waaay too big a deal of it? Yes.

        A single wave and the Seahawks aren’t disciplined and can’t bring home the hardware. That’s a leap around the moon.

        Tate waved but he didn’t drunkenly drive into a tree or wave around a gun at a party. A little perspective here.

        • Kage McClued

          I have perspective. Football has likely made Tate a millionaire. He is a professional. He is supposed to act like one, not like a middle school, over-hormoned punk.

          This is PROFESSIONAL football. “Professional is a word that’s supposed to have meaning.

          That this kind of idiocy has gone on so longt… and that the idiocy of the penalty situation has been solved speaks to a teams character.

          Tate was but a symptom of a larger malaise. Up until now, it’s been covered up. The Rams ripped the cover off last night.

          And there’s nothing wrong with my perspective.

          • Diamond Mask

            Yes, they’ve also been cleverly covering their incompetence and lack of discipline with a 7-1 record. I bet some other teams wished they’d thought of it.

            And I don’t think “have a little perspective” means what you think it means.

          • Kage McClued

            It’s clear that you don’t. Believe whatever you like.

            We get in the SB and have another game like this… or another game with 100 yards of penalties… and then the issue of competence will be solved.

            Just not by us.

    • art thiel

      He will hear it from the wiser heads on the team

      • giorgio547

        I sincerely hope so, for they are probably the only people who can make a difference.

        • jafabian

          I bet Golden has a big fine waiting for him from the team’s Kangaroo Court.

          • giorgio547

            Let’s hope that Thiel is right and he subsequently cools his jets.

          • jburnshire

            He was contrite and didn’t come across like it was no big deal. I say let’s see how he does the next time he’s in that position.

  • giorgio547

    In a word, the Seahawks are out of shape…

    • art thiel

      They wore down on the last drive, but every defense would when they are out there for 39 of 60 minutes.

      • giorgio547

        Correct. Without young Mr. Wilson giving the defense a rest they are toast. But, by out of shape I meant out of kilter.

  • Skykomish

    As was Mentioned on the broadcast: the Broncos lost to starting tackles and filled in with perfectly serviceable replacements. Their offense has not stumbled.

    It’s the NFL. You have to have backups, especially in the most important unit on the team. Surprised coaches haven’t taken protecting Wilson more seriously.

    Where where the kinds of plays to defeat an aggressive pass rush? Mainly, draws up the middle. Screens (The one I remember — to Baldwin — picked up at least 10 yards). And frankly Wilson has to run. Get him out of the pocket to throw on the run. Or some zone read when we are in the middle of the field (As opposed to on the goal line). Zone read is deliberately designed to slow down crashing defensive ends. It was when the Hawks deliberately started running Wilson last year that the offense finally started to run. We’ve seen the same thing this year with the 49ers and Kaepernick. Better to let Wilson run and have him finish a play unhit with a slide, then having Giants crash on him in the backfield.

  • Joe Fan

    Bottom line is they won, on the road, on national TV, against a divisional opponent who pulled out all the stops to win. Though Wilson was under tons of pressure, I didn’t see him take any mind-blowing hits. Most were pretty basic tackles. I think with his smaller, stocky frame he’s able to crouch and take the blows better. They obviously need to improve the line, but I think your article is a bit harsh Art.

    • art thiel

      We know they won, and we also know Wilson completed 10 passes and Lynch ran eight times. That dysfunction would have lost 98 percent of the time. Can’t led a freakish win prevent honest analysis.

      • Michael Howard

        Yeah, but you fail to mention how tenacious and great our defense is. You have two starting members out on the OLINE and another playing the opposite position at guard when he’s normally on the other side. We’re a good team don’t worry about us. You’re article fails to mention how bad the rams offense was too. 2 turnovers, under 50% completion rate, under 200 yards passing as well. A W is a W. We made plays when we had to and will continue to. Thanks just thought i’d let you know you’re article is trash.

  • Will

    Harsh article? I don’t think so … what Art saw is what everyone saw … another sloppy game with plenty of O-line problems … if the Seahawks don’t improve their fall from grace will be ugly.

    On Golden Tate … give him one more chance, if he continues being stupid then trade him.

    • art thiel

      The threat to Wilson’s health is high, and solving it is paramount.

    • jafabian

      The Rams were doing a lot of sack dances. To me it’s the same thing as Golden waving at the DB.

      • art thiel

        No. Different level.

        • Jennifer Amundson

          How is it a different level? I would like to have an answer to that question.

  • Diamond Mask

    Pretenders? I think not.

    We came out flat after a break and the Rams defense were playing lights out. They actually are a pretty good defense. Not as good as ours, of course, but pretty good. When you got nothing left to lose, as in the case of the Rams, you can play like there is no tomorrow and they did. But we’re good enough to survive all that even on the road.

    Not pretenders.

    • zigzags

      Normally I’d agree with you — it’s great to win a close game against a divisional opponent on the road. But that performance was putrid. The Hawks had zero semblance of a functioning offense. It was embarrassing enough without Tate’s idiocy. We could have the worst offensive line in football right now, and the formula to beat Seattle has been exposed.

      The only hope we have right now is that the O-line can get healthy, and Harvin can come back. If teams stack 8 in the box and leave Harvin in single coverage, that could be fun to watch. But if things stay as they are, the Hawks won’t be so lucky against better opponents.

  • Matt712

    Midway into the 3rd quarter, I actually found myself sadistically hoping the Hawks would not break 100 yards in total offense, in much the same way they made the playoffs with a losing record a couple years ago.

    Every good team has at least one stinker of a game in them. The loss in Indy wasn’t that game as a lot of things just didn’t go their way. THIS was that game – from front to back and pressbox to sideline. And the Seahawks still won! In the long course of a season, ending up as champions requires a lot of different things at different times. It’s been said that one of the most important of those things is just getting plain ol’ lucky. So, rather than be upset, rejoice Seahawks fans! This is a great sign. You simply can’t ask anything more from the football gods at this point.

    • art thiel

      The win disguises some fundamental flaws. They can’t go on exposing Wilson as they have.

      • 3brettb3

        Of course not. But you also can’t assume they won’t make adjustments to protect Wilson more, whether it be leaving in the TE more to block or utilizing the quick passing game. It was a weird game against a defensive front that happens to match up very well against them. If they similarly struggle against Tampa Bay, then I’ll start to get concerned.

  • jburnshire

    Tom Cable is regarded as one of the best oline coaches in the NFL. I hope we start seeing his magic touch soon. I know the tackles filling in are young. It’s not just them. I’m underwhelmed by our guards at times. Guys staying back to chip and block aren’t doing it at times, or barely touching the player they were suppose to chip/block.

    I’m know expert at all. Just seems like each week the line play and blocking is getting worse. With coach Cable, I thought we’d start to see some slight improvement. I’m just not seeing it anywhere. They won’t make any trades for any oline help, even for a backup to improve the quality of our depth. These kids are it

    • art thiel

      It’s not Cable. It’s the modest talent up front. And you’re right, they can’t integrate new OL talent at midseason.

      • jburnshire

        That’s what I thought. Is it me, or has Unger been low snapping the ball? I see RW having to reach low because of the snap pretty often IMO. If so, do you think that’s because he’s trying to cover his end, AND help the other guys on the line more? Just curious

      • http://cine111.com/blog/ Mark T. Ingham

        What about bringing in a veteran free agent tackle — someone like Frank Omiyale? Trouble is, I think the Panthers may have dibs on him at the moment… :/

  • Bryan

    It’s not a good practice for generating interest in an article, but personally I don’t overreact after great wins or bad losses, let alone ugly wins.

    • art thiel

      It’s the threat to Wilson that is the overarching theme through the season, win or lose.

  • zigzags

    Does Bevell have any screens or quick play passes in his playbook? They threw a few quick slants last night that would have been positive plays if the receivers could have hung onto the ball (Tate, Kearse).

    Until the line gets healthy, it seems pretty obvious that Wilson is going to get a maximum of 3 seconds to throw the ball. Might want to look at incorporating some quicker throws into the gameplan. And some screen plays might be a good way to temper the pass rush a bit.

  • Dbldave

    We might have the worst O-Line of any previous 7-1 team but we are not a bad team overall. We still have a very good defense and we are 3rd best in scoring differential (1st in the NFC). The most important stats are points scored, points allowed and W/L record. Having said that, it is easy to think negative thoughts after that horrible game last night!. We better figure out a way to protect Wilson better and get our running game going again. I was very unimpressed with our coaching adjustments for this game. Why didn’t we try changing our protection schemes and moving the pocket around to create some space and time for Wilson?

    • art thiel

      A team can’t be 7-1 and be bad, but Wilson is so valuable and the threat to him so high that they are operating on a very thin margin.

  • Jake Reeder

    well, I’ll take a “bad” 7-1 over a “good” 4-4 any day, but it would be nice to see this team play some better offense than we’ve seen much of this season.

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    Okay, I’ve read all the comments. 7-1 is good. Can we at least agree on that? This game said to me that the Rams took some time to plan a defense specifically to counter the strengths of Russell Wilson. The Rams’ defense played its butt off. Seattle’s offense scored two TDs. Short answer: Seattle’s offense succeeded.

    Seattle’s defense didn’t allow the Rams into the end zone. Seattle’s defense succeeded.

    That is the difference in the game.

    Everything else is statistics. Statistics are for nerds and losers.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Art, one of the many seahawks ironies i cannot reconcile: Carroll preaches ball control and focuses heavily on the run as an offensive strategy. AND YET WE RARELY IF EVER CONTROL THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE (on either side of the ball). I could only imagine Harbaugh watching this game with some amusement, he
    has always payed close attention to this facet of the game.

    Also it is super frustrating to see the lack of adjustments from coaching. This part of last night’s game struck me as not only a blunder, but downright unprofessional, perhaps even more glaring than Tate’s behavior. As Gruden said several times, “this is embarrassing”.

    • 3brettb3

      On the offensive line I agree. But the defensive line has been a dominant unit this year. They’re the second best pass rushing unit in the league according to advanced metrics, and one of the better run stopping units (though they didn’t do well in that regard last night).

  • Raucus1969

    Who cares worse/best! Really!, 7-1

  • Jennifer Amundson

    We will have to wait and see if the formula for beating Seattle has been exposed. The Hawks won 4 out of 5 games on the road, which I have never seen them do in all the years I have watched them. They should be given a lot of credit for that. After this game, it was all about how the Rams offense played sloppy, not about how good the D was. Try playing hard D for 3/4 of a game and see how well anyone does. I agree, the Offense needs to get some things together, something was definitely off tonight, and never more glaring because it is a Monday night nationally televised game. Nobody watches Seattle play, then all of a sudden everyone’s an expert on how the team is not perfect, falling apart, blah blah blah. I don’t believe for one second Seattle is a “pretend” team. I think we all have bad days at the office, and this was one of them for the Hawks. The only “stat” that matters right now, is the number in the W column. Opinions are just that, opinions. And mine is only one of them. But, if you’re gonna support, support. I don’t see any of us out there coaching or playing.

  • Buggy White

    Scoreboard, baby!