BY Art Thiel 07:56PM 12/30/2015

Thiel: Without Beast, Seahawks may be swept

Rams made the Seahawks’ offense one-dimensional Sunday. Without Marshawn Lynch, same could happen against Arizona. Which would leave the Seahawks 0-4 vs. their NFC West rivals.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was sacked twice and hit nine times in the Nov. 15 loss to Arizona at the Clink. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Even if few at Seahawks headquarters will acknowledge it, big change is upon the NFC West. Because neither Marshawn Lynch, nor his talented apprentice, Thomas Rawls, will play Sunday at Arizona, the Seahawks moved closer to a hard-to-imagine fate: Getting swept by those who know them best.

Forget for a moment the seeding issue of whether the Seahawks’ playoff foe will be Washington, Green Bay or Minnesota. An Arizona win means the Cardinals and St. Louis Rams will have swept the Seahawks this season. Oh-and-four, home and away.

The 13-2 Cardinals already are the new NFC West champs, and they are freshly incented — as if paying back Seattle for years of beatings wasn’t enough — by the prospect of getting the home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win Sunday, should 14-1 Carolina lose to Tampa.

The disarray that surprised even coach Pete Carroll in Sunday’s 23-17 home loss to the 7-8 Rams can’t be part of the afternoon against what most pundits consider to be the best team in football — one that, given how events play out Sunday and beyond, Seattle could face again in the playoffs.

The 14-2 Cardinals splattered Green Bay 38-8 Sunday, six weeks after beating the Seahawks in Seattle 39-32.

No wonder the Seahawks are hyper-eager for Lynch. They ran for a season-low 60 yards Sunday, and even with Lynch Nov. 15 against Arizona, his final game before abdominal surgery, they had 117 yards.

Carroll said Wednesday that Lynch remains in Oakland training at Empower Gym, whose trainers have a good history with Seahawks trainers. He could still show up this week, but Carroll acknowledged that Lynch still has discomfort from the surgery, as opposed to merely building strength and endurance.

“He’s not ready yet to be here,” Carroll said. “I would think he can make it back (for the first playoff game). That’s what we hear. It’s really up to that day-to-day kind of progression that he’s making.”

The Seahawks have run for less than 120 yards six times this season. They are 2-4 in those games, and probably should be 1-5 but for an ignored foul on LB K.J. Wright in the final moments of a 13-10 win over Detroit. The one good win was over Pittsburgh, in the wildest shootout of the season.

Besides a potential lack of yards, Carroll is worried about ball security. The Seahawks lost two fumbles Sunday.

“The biggest thing that we’re up against is the turnovers,” he said Wednesday. “They’ve got 33 takeaways at this point, and that can wreck a football game as we saw last week (Seattle was 0-3 vs. St. Louis).

“They certainly were able to do that against Green Bay (4-2), and just threw a game into a lopsided outcome. It’s the aggressive line, the attacking, and their ability to create the turnovers, which has really been a problem.”

Carroll, the coaches and players, are pressing the argument that Sunday’s letdown was an aberration and not a regression to the pre-bye-week disaster that nearly derailed the season.

“After the last six weeks, and you see a game like that, I’m going with last six weeks,” Carroll said. “We were so unlike what we’ve been. We didn’t play very well.”

Assistant coach Tom Cable, asked if something more was lost Sunday besides the game, kept to the party line.

“I don’t think we ‘lost’ anything,” he said. “We just missed it. Our goal every week is to find the best us. And we missed it. No excuses. Not good enough.

“I like to think we’ve broken down a bunch of walls and hurdles (after St. Louis), and I would expect us to be on it this weekend.”

The plain fact was that the several Rams overpowered their Seahawks counterparts.

“You’re always going to have one-on-one matchups,” said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “You know where those problem areas can be, but you try to minimize those. We just really didn’t give ourselves a chance with how we were targeting things.”

More personnel problems crept up Wednesday. J.R. Sweezy was held out of practice for the concussion protocol, which was previously unreported. TE Luke Willson, who was removed from the game, remains in a concussion protocol. LT Russell Okung, who missed the game with a calf strain, was a limited participant. The health setbacks could mean another revamped front.

One guy who is holding his place is Patrick Lewis, the center whose uncharacteristic bad shotgun snaps killed two possessions and produced a teary response in the post-game locker room.

“I just apologized to my guys,” he said Wednesday. “I let them down: ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I let you down.’ That was why I was so emotional.

“It’s definitely correctable. I’ve been working a lot on that. Trying to make it not happen again. I won’t make excuses for it.”

Lots of corrections need to take place because the Cardinals, despite losing star safety Tyrann Mathieu to a season-ending injury, are operating close to maximum efficiency, if holding Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to perhaps his worst game as a pro means anything.

“It was good defense,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said on a conference call Wednesday. “It was good coverage. Guys up front, some guys were doing some good dirty work as far as running stunts. The big thing is we shut down the run, so we got them one-dimensional.”

One dimension. That’s what the Seahawks were Sunday without Lynch, Rawls, Okung and a tight end who can block. RBs Christine Michael and Bryce Brown, willing as they may be, are more least than Beast.

The Seahawks are staring at 0-4 against the Cards and Rams. Hey, a trip the following week to the frozen tundra will seem like a spa vacation.


  • MrPrimeMinister

    The Carolina game is a 10:00 am game Sunday. Our game is 130 pm. We will know, and the Cardinal coaching staff will know by 1pm, whether or not they need to bring their A game, or if they can settle with a B or C game. Personally, I hope the Panthers win.

    • MrPrimeMinister

      have to correct myself. The Tampa Carolina game is a late east coast kickoff, That game will be occurring the same as Hawk game. Darn it. Looking for some angle where the Cards sit Carson, making it easier for Hawks.

    • art thiel

      Carolina game was shifted to 1:25 PT start. Network wanted parallel drama.

  • 1coolguy

    So, on a per game played basis, what did Beast make this year?
    Per rush?
    He needs to get in the lineup asap, as his prospects for next year are looking pretty dicey. You know what they say about 30 year old running backs.

    • art thiel

      The man had abdominal surgery. It’s not like he’s volunteered to lay around the pool.

      • 1coolguy

        His 7 games prior to the injury are: 111 rushes, 417 yards, 3.8 AVG, 3 touchdowns. These are what I’m referring to and IMHO don’t bode well for Lynch in 2016, either being with the Hawks or if so, his salary.

        • art thiel

          He was also playing behind a line that hadn’t made its turn, and was also hurt before he said anything.

          • 1coolguy

            As a Hawk fan I just hope he can come back for the playoffs and give solid performances. Injury notwithstanding, the immediate difference in the rushing game once Rawls started cannot be entirely due to the O-line’s “awakening”. Lewis over Nowak is a clear upgrade and Rawls was clearly much quicker to the hole than Lynch, making it much easier on the O-line.
            If Lynch shows his old form during the playoffs it will bode well for both the Hawks and his chances of playing for the Hawks next year, which at his salary appear slim.

  • Warchild_70

    I’m thinking of a historical event about to happen. The reenactment of the massacre at Little Bighorn! I do hope Coach Carroll has a playbook to die for (pun intended).

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Hopefully Arians deploys Palmer the way Sitting Bull was used. The historically correct version was that he stayed in camp(sitting) while the young braves rode out to the Custer skirmish…..and handled the heavy lifting.
      We had every chance to win that game in Seattle…in fact the running back pass in the flat that resulted in the late 4th Qtr dagger TD was rookie Frank Clarks assignment …in his zeal to attempt to sack Carson that seemed to have slipped the rookies mind. Guessing he will not duplicate that flop of a play.
      There is no doubt Seattle will give maximum effort but Art has a chilling point in Az and their ability to shut down the running game. We lost that game WITH Rawls scooting it…you could be right in Sunday making the ugly turn.
      Hope not. Go Hawks!

      • art thiel

        Palmer will play until the outcome is decided. AZ has to play hard for home field in playoffs.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Yes of course…that was just wishful scribing on my part.

    • art thiel

      My guess is everyone lives, but a broken heart or two may be involved.

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  • SeaRaays

    This is about our O line not the Beasty. This also about our D getting turnovers and scoring like the Rams did to us. The fact PC said ML would be back in a month was pretty optimistic almost crazy in that area. The reason ML does what he does is his core is so strong ..that and his legs allow him to keep his balance and drag people.

    • art thiel

      You’re right about core strength. His trainers in Oaktown know it well.

  • ll9956

    I believe that in order for the Hawks’ to have any chance for victory over AZ, the O-line must play vastly better than last week, the D-backs must not allow more than one or two long completions and the front seven must put a lot of pressure on the QB, whether it’s Palmer or someone else. That’s a tall order.

    I note that it’s 12:00 am. Happy New Year.

    • art thiel

      O-line could be without Okung, Sweezy and Willson.

      • 1coolguy

        Yep and if so, the game may be over very early.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Or they do what Baltimore did to Pittsburgh last week and get the win despite the fact the Steelers had alot on the line pushing them for the victory they came away empty handed with.

  • Oops. :-)