BY Art Thiel 08:52PM 09/10/2017

Thiel: Bad calls? Yes. Worse O-line? Oh, yes.

Given the bleakness that attended the performance of the offensive line, the Seahawks didn’t deserve to win. At the same time, they can say beyond all question that they didn’t deserve to lose Sunday’s season-opening game in Green Bay because …

Pete Carroll was “disappointed” in how his line was manhandled. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest file

Given the bleakness that attended the performance of the offensive line, the Seahawks didn’t deserve to win. At the same time, they can say beyond all question that they didn’t deserve to lose Sunday’s season-opening game in Green Bay because of two phantom calls on what proved to be the biggest play in another traditionally lamentable Sunday afternoon for Seattle at Lambeau Field.

But lose they did, 17-9 (box), gifting Packers QB Aaron Rodgers one touchdown after a fumble lost at the Seattle six-yard line, and a second on a free play after the Seahawks had an extra man on the field when Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson with a 32-yard pass.

“We can’t give away things as we did when we gave them the ball at the 5-yard line,” said coach Pete Carroll. “In a really tight game against a really good team, that’s how they get a chance to win.”

The destructively generous spirit helped produce Seattle’s eighth loss in a row among the cheeseheads — where Seattle remains oh-for-the-21st-century. But the loss also seemed to Carroll to be, well, cheesy, because of officiating calls that left slack-jawed the football-watching nation.

A stunning, 68-yard interception return in the first-quarter for a touchdown by rookie DT Nazair Jones was invalidated by two penalties, one a punching foul on CB Jeremy Lane and the other a block in the back by DE Cliff Avril.

Replays showing nothing merited either foul call. But the first one came with the ejection of Lane, whose departure impacted an otherwise valiant effort by the defense.

Lane’s primary assignment was WR Randall Cobb, who finished with nine catches and 84 yards and was a primary reason the Packers’ offense stayed on the field for 40 minutes, including the game’s final six.

“It’s such a big call — I’m not talking about bringing back the touchdown, I’m talking about the ejection,” Carroll said. “I’m disappointed that the play would have such a magnitude on the game. It’s such a drastic thing to do. It puts a lot of strain on us. We anticipated playing with (Lane at corner and rookie Shaquill Griffin in the slot).

“I wish they had more cooperation from more than one official to talk about it. One guy saw it, and that’s what they went with.”

What the official saw trailing after Jones was a scrap between Lane and Packers WR Davante Adams, who appeared to initiate the hand scuffle, from which both hit the ground. But no obvious punch was thrown, and it had no impact on the play. Nor did Avril’s shoulder brush of Rodgers, also trailing the play.

The interception stood, but the ball was returned to the 50, from where Seattle went three and out.

“I’m anxious to hear what the league says how it went,” Carroll said. But absent a NFL call for a do-over — which happens as frequently as a Mariners World Series — the Seahawks will remain 0-1.

What is potentially fixable by the Seahawks is the O-line, but how remains the mystery, since they’ve been at repairs for what seems like since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

It’s one thing to be helplessly inexperienced, as was LT Rees Odhiambo, in his first career start in the visitors’ hell of Lambeau. RG Mark Glowinski and RT Germain Ifedi are not much more experienced, and LG Luke Joeckel, while in his sixth year, doesn’t look like he’s up to the task.

But the most dubious aspect is they simply had their butts beat in the man-to-man confrontations, something at which Carroll even hinted.

“I was disappointed that (the Packers) were able to be as aggressive as they were up front,” he said. “It was very hard for us to get the running game going.”

The Seahawks finished the first half with three first downs and 25 yards of offense. And that wasn’t the worst of it.

In the third quarter, the Seahawks started at their own 21 and went backward 10 yards when Wilson was sacked by DT Mike Daniels and LB Nick Perry. After a two-yard rush, Daniels on third down barreled past Glowinski to hit Wilson again and knock the ball loose.

The fumble was recovered by Green Bay at the 6-yard line. A play later, RB Ty Montgomery had the Packers’ first score of the day and a lead it would not lose.

It a matchup of thin margins, the line vulnerability in that one sequence was critical. Even though the second half was better, Wilson’s 40 yards on scrambles still led the team, and among the allegedly deep crew running backs, only rookie Chris Carson,  who started and finished with 39 yards on six carries, looked ready to play. Thomas Rawls was a late scratch because he’s still recovering from a preaseason ankle sprain.

Eddie Lacy’s three yards on five carries elicited no lamentations from Packers fans about his departure from Green Bay. The Seahawks’ 225 yards were the fewest since a 2014 game against Dallas.

The consequence was that the Seahawks converted only a pitiable three third downs on 12 chances.

“That’s not us — we’re so much better than that,” Carroll said. “Third downs are really what haunt you. You don’t get to start the next sequence. We have to do way better.

“And we will be.”

Perhaps the only immediate fix — beyond hosting the woeful 49ers Sunday in the home opener — is to supplement pass protection more often with a back or a tight end. But that takes away Wilson’s pass options. They could also use more of the two-minute offense, which helped produce two of the three field goals.

Wilson was direct in his advocacy of up-tempo.

“We execute in those situations very well,” he said. “Guys made some crucial plays. I think we can do it as much as we need to. We need to do a better job of maintaining time of possession.”

But up-tempo is usable in bursts, not as the default offense. This isn’t college.

Hard place. Good opponent. Bad calls.

All valid points for a loss in a game in which, despite all the futility, the Seahawks were in until the final two minutes.

None of which changes the fact that the O-line, despite all the amending, tinkering, editing and spackling, still looks 32nd out of 32.

 


YourThoughts

  • PokeyPuffy

    I think poor offensive play calling is to blame for this, especially in the first quarter, doomed them from the start. Sticking with the run when it clearly isn’t there is just foolishness. How many three and outs (run run pass) does it take before an adjustment is made? They cant fritter away an entire quarter and expect to compete

    • art thiel

      The running game often is slow early, even in the Super Bowl years. But it sets up the rest of the game’s play calls. Sunday was about talent, not playcalling.

  • Estip

    The guru, Tom Cable, will fix the offensive line. Just like he did last year. Hmm.
    I’m not sure exactly why he’s considered such a great O line coach. Somebody explain it, please.

    • art thiel

      The Seahawks’ starting unit now has a first, a second and a third round choice. But only Britt turned into a good choice, and it took three years to find that. It’s not about Cable’s coaching, it’s about choosing talent wisely.

  • 1coolguy

    Unfortunetly, more of teh same:
    Time of possession: GB 3913, Hawks 20.47
    – HOW in the F can a team win when, due to the total inept offense that cannot produce drives, and leave the DS on the field 2/3rds of the game??? Tim e for the D to have a serious sit-down with the O.
    – Graham is still a soft pussy – The $8mm man had one catch and with his best Shaun Alexander move. He didn’t stiff arm the db’s he confronted, or even more remote, didn’t run into them for more yards, he instead ran out of bounds. I could not tell whether the woos blocked any one during the game, but it was probably his usual middling effort.
    – How many crappy O-line performances do we live with unitl there is a coaching change? Granted, these are blue chippers, but this is looking like another 32nd place rating. Say so long to Cable, he’s had his run, and if the next guy fails, then it can’t be any worse.
    – Lynch gained 74 for the Raiders and they gave him the ball most of the 4th qtr to eat the clock. Sound familiar?
    – The offensive play calling was SO predictable. Ugh – really? More of the same? Only a fool would EVER call end sweeps with this line, or worse yet, deep handoffs. The openings (when they ever appear) are there for a microsecond, requiring quick handoffs at the line. Ugh. Another year of not taking advantage of Wilson, even though there were flashes in the second half. Bottom line: We need an OC who can call a game where we score EARLY and often, not late and rarely. Bevell’s value is zero, as all stud OC’s get hired away, just like our DC’s have been. Bevell doesn’t even get phone calls, let alone interviews.
    This team, as is, is not a SB team,as thre is too much to fix. After watching AZ today and SF, we should beat LA for the West, but it may end there.

    • mrRef63

      Sounds like you should be up for the next coaching job! You seem to have more knowledge that the current group of coaches!

      • 1coolguy

        How about a comment on the game, not on my knowledge? Do you disagree with any of my commentary? If so, point it out and defend it.

    • art thiel

      My guess is you’re not worried about a small sample size being used against your arguments. Fire the coach? At 0-1, when the Packers were favored and the Seahawks weren’t out of it until the final two minutes?

      • John M

        Agreed, Art, it’s dumb to lay it all on the coaches, but D’s the Hawks face this season (again) will be licking their chops over that footage yesterday. I don’t know why they can’t work out an offensive system to use 2-3 TE’s ends (as they started doing yesterday) on most plays to avert the jailbreak situation of D-stunts at the line. I don’t care if it takes away targets for RW – he doesn’t have any targets while prone or running for his life. Once the O-line “develops” or the other team stops focusing on the Hawk line so much they can work back to the cute stuff.

        Our D got beat up pretty much. Hope they all get back . . .

        • 1coolguy

          the coaches are the consistent thread in this. DO you think the O line has been great? How about the predictable play calling? If teh OC and DC were so great, they would have been taken not by another team long ago

          • John M

            I think overall the Hawks have good coaches. Sometimes Bevell calls plays that you think he shouldn’t have – but play callers are thinking more than one play ahead, so often a play looks obvious on purpose and is meant to set up the next one or the one after that. O-line assignments look similar most of the time, but they’re not and Britt often changes the set at the line according to what he sees. Calling a game, offense or defense, can be complex. I figure by 3 games we’ll know a lot more. Both tackles are starting new positions and they’re only 2nd year players. We can’t call the line a bust yet. But starting off against GB was about as rough as it gets . . .

  • ll9956

    The D played well overall, but they allowed GB to convert too many third downs, like third and 11 and third and 16.

    In addition to Lane’s ejection, I wonder if PC will complain to the NFL about the no-call on pass interference on Jimmy Graham.

    I’d give my eye teeth for the opportunity to ask PC how he is going to cure Michael Bennett of jumping offsides. Bennett has a long history of doing this and did it again yesterday. TWICE!!!

    • art thiel

      Carroll said post-game that the refs told him the pass to Graham was uncatchable. Which was true when three defenders were holding Graham to the ground.

      Carroll has said in the past that he wants to keep Bennett’s quick edginess. the offsides are the cost of doing that business. And Bennett is at the back of a long line of d-linemen that Rodgers’ hard counts have drawn offsides.

  • Steed

    The packers don’t give up pick sixs at Lambeau. When the officials see one happening, they fix it.

    • art thiel

      That’s an interesting theory: Mid-play course corrections. I always thought the fix was done up front.

      • Effzee

        Hasselbeck being called for an illegal block while trying to make a tackle comes to mind…

        • art thiel

          I thought I might have been the only one who remembered one of sports’ all-time absurd calls.

  • Effzee

    I turned it off in the 3rd quarter and salvaged most of my afternoon. Same O-line. Same mystifyingly atrocious play calling. Same inability for the defense to get off the field. Marshawn Lynch made the Pete Carroll and John Scheinder era a success. He made Russell Wilson. Nothing before or after Lynch resembles watchable football. Kris Richard is just a guy. Cable is bad. Bevell is the worst. He is unbearably inept. The Hawks are probably going to beat the bad teams they should beat and make a run at the playoffs. But once again, it’s all going to rely upon RW’s ability to stay not-too-broken and harness the magical powers of Jebus. That’s not what I call football.

    • art thiel

      Can’t argue with the value of Lynch covering a lot of ills. But the coaching staff is not the problem, except to the extent that it influenced the choice of O-linemen who were over-drafted. But if you look around the NFL, I bet there are only a half-dozen teams with a relatively set O-line, and their defenses aren’t Seattle’s caliber.

      It’s mostly about how you invest salary cap dollars.

      • Effzee

        On that subject…. What is Jimmy Graham’s trade value right now? He seems like a big, overrated salary cap black hole. We would be no worse without him, and arguably better using tight ends who can actually block.

        • art thiel

          GB gave him a lot of double-coverage, and Seahawks couldn’t figure a way to beat it. 3 catches, 8 yards.

          • Ken S.

            So you’re saying that the brain trust in New Orleans is better than what the Hawks have? Maybe Graham can learn to block?

      • Bruce McDermott

        And those investments have been eyebrow raisers, no? $8 million to a guard you correctly suggest above cannot handle the requirements of his position, coming off a bad injury? Who Cable said was the best LG in football when he played that position for four games last year for the Jags before his injury? A first round OT who does not have the feet to pass block, or even decent pad level most of the time? It’s talent evaluation first, THEN spending. Both of which are subsumed into “investment,” I believe.

  • Bruce McDermott

    I fear Pete is stuck insisting on playing 2013 football with a 2017 offense. Eddie Lacy is not the solution to linemen who cannot block. That was execrable, painful to watch. This team can beat average to poor teams that way, because of a superb defense. But wins against those teams will simply mask the problem, or give hope where they should not. To win championships, either that line will have to metamorphasize in stunning fashion, or the offense will have to change in approach to rely on the strengths of its skill players. I am not at all sure Pete is willing to see that. We will beat the NIners, and our running game will be better (since it is almost impossible for it to be worse). Pete and Cable will then insist that the OL is “getting better and more consistent” and that the original philosophy is still the best one. And that will work…until we run into a good team again.

    • art thiel

      Fair point. I think Wilson missed a few chances to make the Packers’ rush pay by running himself. But that is stop-gap. Joeckel and Glowinski may not be athletic enough for their jobs and Ifedi is simply not a first-round talent. I think Odhiambo still has upside, but what a brutal place to make one’s first career start.

      • tor5

        Ouch. Only Britt escapes your analysis unscathed. Is it too soon to panic? Some preseason play had me excited about Pocic. And Carson looks like our back. Eddie was horrible, but it might not have been a fair test.

        • art thiel

          Pocic may soon be part of the answer, and yes, it’s way too soon to panic.

      • DJ

        Yep – Zach was a stud blocker

  • DJ

    I know it’s just the first game of the season, but it’s years into Tom Cable’s O-line experiment, and I think I’ve finally had enough. Why he won’t admit that he’s got a weak front and give them some help? Even dominant O-lines, such as Oakland’s, will put out an 8-man front to run the ball, which by the way is very impressive to watch. I listened to the game on radio and understand that GB went to double tight ends for extra protection during passing downs. It seems that Cable thinks that his line should be forced to make the plays without help, otherwise they won’t properly learn. Well, Tom, it’s all about winning games. I would appreciate you accepting the “training wheels” approach – otherwise you have no chance at controlling your team’s destiny to this years Lombardi

    • art thiel

      Not sure that admitting something would make a difference. And the Seahawks have used double TEs and tackle-eligibles a lot over time. But only if they have the right personnel. Clearly, they don’t have a Zach Miller blocker-type at any of the three TE spots.

  • Kevin Lynch

    It does seem like they need more run and gun, rollout, read/option earlier in the game, maybe on the first possession. The more conservative play calling early seems to be allowing the defense to set up. They may need to throw to set up the run. Peyton did a lot of this on first possessions. Seattle has the receivers to succeed. What they don’t have is the WILL of Marshawn Lynch to create his own opportunities coming out of the backfield. Can’t blame the backs though with the lack of running lanes.

  • Ken S.

    Ejection calls should be a mandatory review from the brain trust in NFL central. Leaving it to the near-blind refs on the field is not a great idea, especially after seeing — WHAT? Nothing flagrant – which is what the ref that made that call supposed he did see. As for the o-line? Quit trying to cobble together a decent o-line and protect the 21 million dollar man like every other team protects their investments. Looks like a fourth season in a row that Wilson will be scrambling for his life. And if Bennett can’t get off his ass and start respecting this country’s flag like every one else I’m done with the Hawks until he’s either off his fat ass or gone. And I’m not particular in which happens first. As a US Vet (Viet Nam) I put myself in harm’s way to protect the rights of all Americans. It galls me to no end to see these aholes disrepect our country. I don’t like that sports is now politicized (what isn’t these days?) – it’s ingrates like Bennett that can’t seem to see past their own problems – real or perceived and understand what a great nation this is. Don’t like it? Move — PLEASE!

  • WestCoastBias79

    I’ll find some silver linings. The Seahawks O-Line played like hot garbage, but if it wasn’t for the refs, they probably would have still won. The zebras took at least 10 points off the board with the pick-6 called back and the non PI call on Graham in the end zone. I’ll even hazard a guess the Hawks could have scored a TD with 1st and goal on the 1.

    Tom Cable has a lot of work to do, but that D is Super Bowl worthy. Trent Dilfer and half a Peyton Manning won rings with D’s like this. That said, they all might be injured by week 6 if they have to stay on the field that long routinely.

  • Hey I got a idea, let’s trade away a probowl center for a tight end and never throw the ball to the tight end! Sound good kids?

  • Harlan Thacker

    I thought after the interception that was ruled a game winning catch several years ago, the Seahawks and their fans were banned from ever whining about a referee call for the rest of eternity.

    • Ted Bates

      Why? Apparently even after getting all the calls in a win, opposing
      fans can whine and cry about a singular call that happened “several
      years ago”.

  • DAWG

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b1927cc792109d2d88a691c67be64b98b42799864fb2481e77a6fd5d1a67a6e8.jpg A Very Pretty Picture ! Smash mouth football. You need both a defensive line and OFFENSIVE Line.

  • John M

    One last word – it only lasted a second, but the footage before they switched cameras was Lane getting his neck snapped around by the face mask by the guy he then had on the ground. The zebras conveniently didn’t see the foul . . .