BY Art Thiel 08:47PM 10/18/2015

Thiel: Seahawks again had ‘em, lost ‘em; now 2-4

Carolina’s final TD pass to TE Greg Olsen captured the disarray in the Seahawks’ defense, which again blew a fourth-quarter lead, and must recover in four days at San Francisco.

Carolina’s Cam Newton was delighted to put one over on the Seahawks Sunday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Greg Olsen could not have been more alone had he been a gay, immigrant gun control advocate at the Republican national convention. Somehow, Carolina’s No. 1 receiver (seven catches, 131 yards) inexplicably found himself wide open, amid the defense formerly known as the NFL’s most formidable, at the game’s biggest moment Sunday.

Which is the short set-up to explain why the Seahawks are 2-4. They are not dead. But patience is required before detecting fog on the mirror under their noses.

They no longer play defense well enough, long enough to be a credible contender, as the 27-23 home defeat — a startling replication of the previous road loss in Cincinnati — established. Where they used to dominate, the fourth quarter, the Seahawks have been outscored 61-27.

Ahead 23-20 with 2:35 left, they let the Panthers go 80 yards in 1:48 — their fourth drive of 80+ yards, all ending in touchdowns. The final 26 yards came on a pass from QB Cam Newton to Olsen, who found Seahawks safeties playing man-to-man coverage, and the cornerbacks playing zone.

It is a fundamental kind of breakdown, of which the Seahawks have had many.

“We have six games we should have won,” said an exasperated Pete Carroll.  “To be where we are right now, puts us in a position of tremendous adversity.”

They could as easily be 1-5, too, but for an improbable goal-line fumble created by SS Kam Chancellor that preserved a 13-10 win over Detroit. In order to duplicate that feat Sunday, a defender needed to be close to Olsen, yet another tight end who is making bank exploiting Seattle defenses.

To hear FS Earl Thomas tell it, mayhem reigned, which is the sort of thing that happens to middling teams that keep them from being top-shelf.

“When stuff is going on, we got to make the right call,” he said of the Panthers’ game-winner, a tight-end seam route somewhat similar to what the Bengals used with great success in the 27-24 OT win. “(Defensive coordinator Kris Richard) said he called L.A. (a cover-2 zone). (Richard) Sherman was playing L.A. I was playing cover-3 (man-to-man) and Kam was also.

“We didn’t get the job done. It’s very frustrating. Especially when, you know, we had ‘em.”

That they did, up 24-13 with 3:58 left. But that’s when Carolina, which had faltered at times with both run and pass, finished their third 80-yard trip to paydirt, including a 32-yard stunner from Newton to Olsen.

The defense at least had one decent excuse — MLB Bobby Wagner did not play because of a pectoral strain. In addition, linebacker backups Brock Coyle (knee) and newcomer Nick Moody (ankle) were also out. Missing from the defensive front were Frank Clark (hamstring) and Jordan Hill (quad strain).

But the offense? They made one lineup change, benching struggling newcomer C Drew Nowak for slightly more experienced Patrick Lewis, welcomed the return of RB Marshawn Lynch, and finally had a big day from TE Jimmy Graham (eight catches, 140 yards).

But the offense managed just two touchdowns, and twice settled for field goals after interceptions gave Seattle great field position. When it came time to save the game, the offense contributed its standard part to the 2015 pattern of failure — an inability to drain the clock.

After one first down, Lynch was penalized for holding. QB Russell Wilson threw incomplete, had a completion for no gain, then was sacked for the fourth time, giving him a league-high 26. Punt with 2:35 left.

Newton, reviving after a miserable 4-for-12 first half, didn’t need all the time, especially with the Seattle defense giving ground as if it were France at the time of the Louisiana Purchase.

Olsen had a hard time believing he was so open at the game’s pivot point.

“It doesn’t happen that much at this level — especially not that open against these guys,” he said. “They cover so much ground and there’s usually bodies around you when you catch the ball.

“We’ll take it.”

Why not? Everyone else has.

Since the time of the ascension of Carroll’s Seahawks teams in 2011, they have never been so disorderly on defense and so feckless on offense. Special teams too, have fallen to ordinariness, due in part to injuries as well as the bizarre car accident this week that caused the suspension of special-teams ace Derrick Coleman.

Now they must turn it all around in four days to play the 49ers Thursday, also 2-4 after their 25-20 win over Baltimore Sunday, on a mess of a Levi’s Stadium field that apparently makes the old Candlestick Park hardpan look like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

After the game, Carroll spoke in an urgent, upbeat manner, much in the way of a ship’s captain who orders the band to keep playing after nicking an iceberg.

“I couldn’t be more proud of (the players), because they’re talking about believing, and believing in each other,” he said. “Believing in what we’re here to do, and believing in the process. So that’s why I come in here talking to you like I talk. Because I can feel them.

“We’re going to get it cranked up to go Thursday night, and we see if we can get a game going the way we want to.”

It was Carroll at his Baptist-preacher best. Fans who have followed his Seattle narrative have learned that he usually backs his rhetorical flourish with substance.

As Thomas said, with stuff going on, they got to make the right call.

Quickly. On the road. In the slop. At night, against a battered rival aching for revenge.

The ground is coming up fast.


  • Love Bullwhips Cracking

    Well, at least the NHL season has begun. Oh, wait, Seattle does not have a NHL team. But our tech-child “leader” does do an excellent job pouting over the fact Seattle will not be getting an NBA team any time soon, to put it mildly. In the meantime, maybe Art and Steve can come out with the true Russell Wilson story. You know, the one where he dumped his wife right after winning the Super Bowl and then ruined the energy of the team with his delusional stance that somehow he deserved top-tier quarterback money. And as for your gay, “migrant,” gun control advocate, that really is too bad that he would not be loved by all.

    • Tha Creek

      How was his stance delusional? Do you believe he would not have gotten similar money on the open market? You realize Cam Newton got a $100 million deal too, right? I’m not going to claim Wilson is a top tier QB but it’s about what the market dictates.

      • art thiel

        There’s about 25 NFL clubs with QB problems that would have given the same money.

        • 1coolguy


      • 1coolguy

        Just wait to see Luck’s contract, then your mind will blow. RW is chump change in comparison.

    • art thiel

      Not sure any of that is the RW story, except that the burden of his salary prevents investment elsewhere. But they’ve known that was coming since his rookie year.

  • Tha Creek

    I hope I’m wrong but at this point the Seahawks are what they are: an average team. When you know you have an issue and you keep making the same mistake. That’s no longer a correctable error, that’s a trend. Shame on those fans who booed the team. They gave you 2 Super Bowls, a title, and an incredible 3 year run.

    • art thiel

      Fans want their fix again, and their dealer is holding out. Can’t blame the dismay.

      • bugzapper

        Fans? More like a buncha bandwagon idiots. Did these clowns really think they were paying premium prices to watch the NFL’s latest overnight dynasty? You can name pro football’s dynasties on less than five fingers, and none of them are Seattle. Hell,you can name ALL pro sports dynasties and none are Seattle.

        Oh sure, some of the disappointees are actual long-suffering fans, but they’re probably not the ones booing. They’ve suffered through enough 7-9 (6), 8-8 (4), 9-7 (8), 4-12 (2) seasons to recognize homegrown mediocrity when they see it. For them this is just back to the normal future.

        Think I’m kidding? The Seahawks’ all-time record is 321-323. That includes playoffs, where they’re 14-13. Welcome to the Definition of Average.

        The O line stinks, the offense stinks because Bevel stinks, the defense stinks because Dan Quinn is busy winning in Atlanta, and the attitude stinks because certain players value their paychecks over everything else.

        But I still save my booing for Alex Rodriguez.

  • Josh Belzman

    Lede of the year.

    • art thiel

      Tip o’ hat.

  • PokeyPuffy

    One of the few positive ways of looking at this: The Hawks have lost to 3 unbeaten teams, two of which were on the road, one of which was in overtime. Bengals/Packers/Panthers may all be for real this year. And Packers and Panthers both have had their own tragic losses at the hands of the Hawks.
    If the Hawks can somehow get it together, they really only need to worry about the Cards. At 2 games back from them, its still not the end of the world. Yet.

    Effort is there, just need to keep after it.

    • art thiel

      As Thomas said after the game, “We don’t suck.” They have lost to good teams, and have been in all. But the Legion is in tatters, at least temporarily.They miss Dan Quinn.

      • Eric K

        It could be the churn in assitants is having an affect.

        While they in theory can still win the NFC West since they are 2 back of Arizona with 2 games against them (and Arizona has only played two decent teams and lost to both of them) at this point I think the rest of the season is about getting the defense fixed for next season

      • bugzapper

        As in all things, there are Boom cycles and Bust cycles. Which one do you think we’re in?

    • Tha Creek

      You’re right but here’s the thing: most NFL games are close and the difference between a good team and a bad team isn’t that large (Denver is unbeaten but needed OT to beat Cleveland).

  • Gerald Turner

    Let’s see, not in any order of importance. Beast Mode got hurt, Jeremy Lane was not able to claim the second DB spot, hurt. Cam. Cam Cam Cam. Paul Richardson out, still lack of speed at top 2 WR. New DC. Two back to back Superbowl runs. Tired. (How did the Bills do 4? Never gonna happen again.) Traded away the glue at center that held the youngsters together. My gripe? Did not draft CB or OL with the number 2 pick. Would post some positives, but the hurt inside right now is all I got.

  • Doug Johnson

    Remember how we used to gloat about how we always came back from behind in the fourth quarter? Nature loves a balance, and now we’re getting it!

    I think Wilson’s and Kam’s greedy holdouts have cost them dearly. Really, almost $22M a year!?! Ya ya, market, etc. Once you talking that kind of money, things get surreal. The best public school teacher you ever had in your life worked a whole career for around 10, maybe 15% of what Wilson’s getting for 1 year, win or lose, play well or poorly. Are these guys providing that much more of a valuable service? Pro sports are now tainted beyond belief. I find it interesting to read how these overpaid kids respond to their position in society, and was really impressed with Wilson until his hissy fit holdout. He ruined his status as a team good guy, leader, etc. (My opinion). And it’s showing up on the field. I don’t even watch them now, just check in with the phone to see how much a lead they will be giving up in the fourth quarter and then read about it later.

    BTW, the Louisiana Purchase reference is a great piece of writing! As usual.

    • Matt712

      Doug, Wilson didn’t hold out. Only Kam did. I understand where you’re coming from with the salary thing, but you might as well throw in Tom Cruises’s salary for making a movie or lament the fact that Paul Allen has three yachts.

      Perhaps to your point, it does beg the question of how hungry can one be once he’s been paid.

    • 1coolguy

      Teachers choose their profession: If they wanted to work for more money, the jobs are out there. While you are at it, go and check out the NBA salaries: Your head will explode.

  • Matt712

    It’s a lot of little things. But it all starts with a glaring team weakness. The offensive line represents a profound fundamental imbalance sufficient to drag the overall excellence of the team down to average. The time of possession and inability of the offense to put a game away leaves the defense gassed in the fourth quarter, unable to get to the QB, which, in turn, creates a zero tolerance situation for the secondary where anything less than perfection costs them the game. Voila! 2 & 4 (5, 6, 7….)

  • 1coolguy

    It’s the defensive coordinator, Richard.
    Time for Carroll to take over the defense.
    The only significant change from last year on defense is Quinn, the DC, left and is doing very well as Atlanta’s HC. Like Bradley before him, Quinn brought much outside experience to the position. Richard has none: He is a Carroll prodigy, never having coached anywhere else, and learned from Carroll, Bradley and Quinn, BUT has never been “the guy” until this year.
    This year we are allowing five (5) more points per game on D (21 vs 16). The offense is averaging two (2) PPG less. 2014 rank: 10th, 2015 rank: 17th.
    Blaming the offense under the fairly average OC Bevell is not all that wrong: The offense should be picking up the slack, scoring a few more PPG and holding onto the ball longer, yet to expect a homegrown DC to be the imaginative, very high level DC that Bradley and Quinn were, is just asking too much. This goes all the way through the D: How they practice, the game plan, the in-game adjustments, the one or two critical adjustments during crunch time.
    That performance is why Bradley and Quinn are head coaches. Richard is clearely not HC material and try as he might, he’s not a DC of his predecessors quality.
    At this point, the ONLY solution is for Carroll to take over the defense, especially during the game.

    • John M

      I like Richard’s intensity and dedication, and as a backs coach he was popular, but he seems to have messed up game time communication somehow. When Kam, Earl and Sherm look at each other and point back and forth after a blown play, something is fundamentally wrong. Of course about 70% of the passes seemed aimed at Williams; now how could that be?

      Also, there are now about a half dozen players getting half the cap. They can’t afford top O-lineman anymore. They’ve hit the crying wall of parody . . .

      • 1coolguy

        We are averaging only two (2) points less per game this year compared to last year. The offense sucks, but the defense is what the team is built on and we have the same D players as last year, only the new DC is different.

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  • Illuminati Doomsday

    The last couple of years the Seahawks were always saying they played with a chip on their shoulder. Not this year. Watching after game interviews with Sherman and Wilson it is apparent that they got big contracts and are fat, rich and happy. Losing games doesn’t seem to upset them in the least. Why should it? They blew the Superbowl and people were still fawning over them. After they miss the playoffs, Carroll should change his catch phrase to “All about the Money” not “All in”. And beast mode has become the Hello Kitty Mode. Might as well change the uniforms to black with flourescent pink stripe to match the new motiff.

  • Talkjoc

    How can two Pro Bowl players not be on the same page? Agree with Matt712 on the O-Line and the Offensive’s 3 and outs leaving the D gassed. No real running game. Receivers only seem to get open when RW scrambles. When he stays in pocket it’s “Down goes Wilson.” Injuries and free agency have thinned the Hawks at CB and elsewhere. Cary Williams is from Washburn College. How appropriate…Washed up and burned. Football in Seattle these days is a real bummer. BTW, Art, Love your Twitter humor during the game. The only that is making sense these days.

  • rosetta_stoned

    A cheap, partisan political shot in the first sentence.

    • Joe

      Not cheap, but funny.

    • dingle

      Eh. Touchy.

  • WestCoastBias79

    Brain drain from the coaching staff and talent drain from the roster is seeming to catch up. They probably have to run the table to have a shot at the division, maybe lose only two more to even get the Wildcard. Both are looking unlikely. Super Bowl is very unlikely.

    They won the turnover battle, and even utilized Graham. It’s baffling. However, once again, they get maybe one or two more third down conversions in the 4th quarter, they likely win the game. The D isn’t what it used to be, the offense needs to keep the ball.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    To borrow the wellworn phrase yet again, just as ric and ilsa had paris, hawk fans will always have that bitter cold, but sunny day in February on the streets of downtown.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Defense had great pressure all day .3 sacks and at least 8 Qb hurries. Jimmy G had 8 catches for 140 yards. Won the turnover battle. Led almost the entire game. Yet lost. A really strange season.
    Most of us would expect our D to stop an 80 yrd drive with 2:20 to go. This season not only hasnt been in the stars they havent even seen any in the sky for this hard luck club.

  • Warchild_70

    I have but one word, (ahem) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ll9956

    Based on everything I’ve read, it sound like on the critical pass play two different signals came from the sideline. Sherman covered according to one and Kam and Thomas played according to the other, which combined to cause the disaster. Somehow they have got to make sure this never happens again. If everyone had been on the same page, the TD likely would not have happened.

    So many if-onlys. One more first down, etc.

    One thing is for sure: This is not how championship teams play. I’m having trouble picturing the Hawks going to the playoffs let alone the SB.

    Despite all this there are at least a couple of positives: Michael didn’t commit any off-side penalties and Jimmy Graham had a breakout day–finally!