BY Art Thiel 08:48PM 09/27/2015

Thiel: Seahawks rely on trick and some treats

Slowed by sluggish offense, the Seahawks leaned on defense and special teams against the disheveled Bears, who have a shot to be the NFL’s worst team.

Richard Sherman returned a punt 64 yards in the first quarter by replicating deceit that was pulled on them in St. Louis last year. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The Seahawks established Sunday afternoon in the home opener that they weren’t as bad as the 0-2 record indicated. But in losing 26-0 to Seattle, the Bears established they are every bit as bad as 0-3 says they are. So go light on large conclusions from the result.

If you’re a Seahawks fan, feel free to go at least a little wacky over three newcomers on offense in their Clink debuts: WR Tyler Lockett, TE Jimmy Graham and . . . rookie RB Thomas Rawls, whose surprising 104 yards in 16 carries earned him status as Apprentice Beast, while the senior Beast, Marshawn Lynch, heals from a sore hamstring of undetermined severity.

“(Marshawn) told me to hold it down for him,” said Rawls, an undrafted free agent from Centeral Michigan. “I told him, ‘I’m going to hold it down for you.’”

Hold it down, he did — for the entire offense. On a day when pass protection regressed (Russell Wilson was sacked four times and flushed regularly) and the Seahawks didn’t convert a third down until well into the third quarter, Rawls bashed through the Bears  with a recklessness that Lynch had to admire — as well as a carefulness that former Seahawks RB Christine Michael, one-time heir to the Beast empire, failed to do.

Rawls and the Seahawks made no turnovers, which loomed larger than it usually does because the Seahawks were not out of upset range until Graham hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass with 4:38 left in the third quarter for a 20-0 lead.

“The first half really got screwed up because of the third-and-shorts we didn’t convert,” said coach Pete Carroll. “Normally we’re really good here, and we didn’t get them.”

That’s because the offensive line, with its three members new to the position, still isn’t ready for top-shelf production. Add in mistakes by holdover vets Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy, and the offense managed a single touchdown, doing little to suggest that it was ready for a serious defense.

It was left to the Seahawks own defense and special teams to avert an 0-3 debacle. A bouquet should get tossed in the direction of special teams coach Brian Schneider, who paid homage to an old show business axiom: If it’s good, steal it.

Burned last season by a trick punt return in St. Louis, the Seahawks replicated the deceit in the first quarter. Lockett drifted toward the Bears sideline and pretended to get under the punt to draw coverage. Meanwhile, CB Richard Sherman raced from the line of scrimmage to the Seattle 17-yard line, where, all alone, he caught the punt and took off the the other way.

The Bears’ coverage team caught him 64 yards later, at the Chicago 19.

“They said it was 64 yards, but really, it was 120,” said a smiling Sherman of his down-and-back sprint. “I was gassed at the start of the return.”

The play nearly failed because the afternoon sun was in Sherman’s eyes.

“It was a huge factor because it was right there in front of me,” he said. “I lost (the ball) for a second, but I ended up finding it again, thankfully.”

Lockett was especially pleased with his role.

“I always wanted to be an actor, so I got my first gig,” he said, beaming. Asked if he knew the play’s Seattle history, he nodded: “We stole it from (the Rams).”

Despite great field position, the offense couldn’t get a first down, much less a touchdown, settling for a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

The lead was only 6-0 to start the third quarter when special teams exploded again. Lockett went 105 yards for the longest kickoff return in club history.

“Just a beautifully blocked play,” said Carroll. “He didn’t even get touched.”

Two possessions later, Graham delivered the offense’s lone TD and defused the mini-tempest about his minimal presence in the loss to Green Bay. He had a game-high seven catches on eight targets for 83 yards.

“We seem to be getting something going,” Grahan said, then offered a salute to his new home field after some miserable visits with his old team, the Saints: “Really hearing the 12s, it’s incredible. It’s a lot louder than I remember.”

The rest of the afternoon was mostly left to the defense to complete the shutout. The feat was enough to get new defensive coordinator Kris Richard a Gatorade bath along the sidelines, but the truth was the Bears offense was so disheveled and decrepit that the Seahawks defense rates only a golf clap.

QB Jimmy Clausen, subbing for injured starter Jay Cutler, was predictably awful. He was 9 of 17 for 63 yards and never went deep once. After the Seahawks blasted RB Matt Forte early in the second half, he was mostly done. The Bears never reached field goal range, crossing midfield once.

The defense did it without a big contribution from SS Kam Chancellor, who statistically helped on one tackle, and was out of the game in the fourth quarter.

But he did receive a rousing ovation upon his introduction, suggesting at least those in-house were forgiving of his 54-day holdout.

“I loved that the fans responded as they did,” Carroll said. “He played good, tough football all day long.”

Given the state of the Bears, good, tough football wasn’t required. They were vanquished by Apprentice Beast, so hold the roar for a more appropriate foe.

Noteworthy

Carroll said the reason Lynch wasn’t in warmups or on the field to begin the game was he couldn’t get his back loosened up. “He was going through the process of getting comfortable and he couldn’t quite make it at the start. This has happened a number of times in the past,” he said. Lynch carried five times for 14 yards and caught one pass. He didn’t play in the second half because of the hamstring, which Carroll described as “nothing to be alarmed by” . . . DE Michael Bennett on getting the best of his younger brother, Martellus, the Bears tight end who led Chicago with four catches and 15 yards: “Big brother always wins — just like the government.” . . . DT Brandon Mebane left the game in the second quarter with a strained groin muscle.


YourThoughts

  • MacPhisto92

    Mebane pulled something? Big surprise there. I’m worried about Lynch…multiple injuries on top of lingering back problems. Good/expected win today. I hope they keep opening up the playbook for Graham, what a deadly weapon they have in him.

  • 1coolguy

    6-0 at halftime, predictable running plays all through the first half.
    I can only wonder what this offense would be like, even with this O-line, with a top coordinator. It’s brutal to watch the plays called. The defense plays close to the line, as they know there is little to no concern Seattle will throw a pass over 20 yards. Their crowding the line shuts down the running game, as we have witnessed with Lynch’s low numbers.
    The only solution I see at this time is the replacement of Bevell after he season. Meantime, expect a tough season.

    • art thiel

      Two-time defending NFC champs have a “brutal” OC? C’mon. It’s all about the new kicks (not) on the blocks.

      • 1coolguy

        Art – you know as well as I this team is built on defense and depends on the D to hold the opponent to a low score, allowing the anemic offense to pull out the win. The defense the past few years not only has allowed very few points but has been a leader in turnovers, giving the ball back to the offense.
        Obviously the formula has worked the past few years, yet what is the point of not having an offense that puts up points and takes some of the pressure off the D? This is all with the understanding this O-line is as poor as it is. I suggest there are plenty of routes open to a three step drop that are high percentage alternatives to running the ball.
        The positives I saw in this game were Rawls’ running and the bubble screen was used I believe only once.

        • John M

          I’m wondering how much of the play calling is Carroll’s influence. For all his rah-rah Carroll is a conservative guy, which is pretty standard for coaches with a lot of experience after being burned enough for their moments of flamboyancy. Maybe a different coordinator with a stronger will could convince Carroll to be more creative, but I agree at this time it’s maddening when I know where most of the plays are going and I’m just an armchair critic. If I know the guy that runs the cemetery backhoe knows . . .

  • Dale

    Bevell is death to offense; does he have to make it through the whole season?

    • art thiel

      See above.

  • Gerald Turner

    Bevell is alright. I have seen far worse offensive coordinators. There are few deep passes because the offensive line cannot hold the blocks that long. Do you want to get RW killed? If Bevell had the Cowboys offensive line there would be at least one bomb to Kerse a quarter. And another to Tyler L. And hey, he restrained himself to calling only one bubble screen all game if I remember correctly. Did you see Frank Clark swirling in behind Jimmy in a pickle? That man has a certain Menace about him. Has to have a QB hearing footsteps. Except Arron Rogers of course. He is an alien.

    • art thiel

      You are correct, sir — it’s a a crappy O-line that can only get better.

      • John M

        Regarding the, uh-hum, O-line, nobody heard my screams last April . . .

        • dingle

          That’s because we were too busy preparing for the first-ever World Series appearance by Your Seattle Mariners.

          And those of us who weren’t were to busy trying to drink away the memory of Super Bowl 49.

  • Effzee

    Bevell has so many toys at his disposal that he forgets about things like smash-mouth football. Its just too boring for him. Too bad its so successful. He needs the whole Whiz-Bang thing in order to be happy. Ugh.

    • art thiel

      The leading rushing team the pass three seasons forgets smash-mouth? Talk about short term memory . . .

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    So what if it was 6~0 at half time?Its tough to beat any NFL team~period.Its a W despite the offensive flaws.Next monday is no given either. The Lions will be fighting for their season.
    There were a couple of fun things about this game. First back to gain 100+yards besides Beast in 3years. A successful maneuver in the “Ram deception”play not to mention I think this was the 1st time Jimmy Graham has won at Century Link in his career. Hay Bennett?Jimmy wasn’t soft at your building this time. Glad to see him contribute to 7 catches. Tied with Kearse for 2nd place in receiving now.Good Hawk win.

    • art thiel

      Good that someone noticed they won.

      • 1coolguy

        Let’s not forget they dropped their first two to good teams: Some college teams can beat the Bears.

    • 1coolguy

      You weren’t watching the same game I was: ONE (1) touchdown by the offense against this Bears team is not a reason to celebrate. This was a miserable offensive display by any measure.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        As Art said?did you notice they won? That Bears Team with Mcmahon and the stifling defense that won the Superbowl?Their offense often sucked too. They are famous by the way.
        If you noticed last year they had a few regrettable games before they got untracked. This may be a similar year. If we end up in the SB again I will take similar.
        I was frustrated at halftime too. They were way better than Chicago and yet…6~0 wasn’t proof in the pudding.
        Then the team proved they have multiple ways to beat you when Lockett took the kick off to the house.
        I guess I must be old school. I still count a 3~0 win as a great day for the defense and a W is always reason to be happy. So 26~0?Just cant bash them too much. Hopefully they (offense) jell soon for all of us. We have to catch Green Bay in the home field thing.

  • Bayview Herb

    If the other team knows you are going to fun, they stack up the line of scrimmage. They then blitz on 3rd down. The first half the coaches played it too conservative, didn’t allow Wilson to loosen the offense up. If they continue to do this they will lose a lot of games.

    • art thiel

      They’re throwing more now they they ever have under Carroll.

  • 1coolguy

    Here are the first 3 OC ranking sites I pulled up:
    Bevell is not in this ranking
    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000498248/article/todd-haley-norv-turner-among-top-10-offensive-coordinators
    Bevell is not in this ranking
    http://www.sportingnews.com/list/4635405-2015-nfl-power-rankings-offseason-race-super-bowl-50-patriots-seahawks-cowboys-steelers
    Bevell is ranked #9
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1673538-ranking-every-offensive-coordinator-in-the-nfl-today/page/24

    I suggest given what we see every week and the results of these 3 rankings that Bevell simply does not fit the Hawks as a top performer. Why he is still with the organization I do not know. The Super Bowl teams were led by the defense, not the offense.

  • Warchild_70

    A win is ah ah a WIN!! Regardless how the OL let Russell get dribbled like a power forward on the Celtics does to the Basketball I like how he responded by feeding Rawls and catching the Bears napping with Kearse and Graham. I know it was Da Bears but they did hold us to two kicks from the deadliest kicker in this century so how bout mixing it up some more Derrell? After nap time the Hawks finally worked up enough sweat to run over those hapless Bears. Bravo Zulus to no-e on the return, Rawls 100 yarder and welcome to the CLINK Jimmy, now ya thinkin’ with yer dipstick, Jimmy!! GO HAWKS!!