BY Art Thiel 09:14PM 09/17/2017

Thiel: Amid ugliness, Seahawks find some hope

A lot of ugly permeated the Seahawks’ 12-9 win over the 49ers, but the last two possessions, carried mostly by the legs of Russell Wilson, offered a glimmer.

RB Chris Carson had 93 yards in 20 carries. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

And you thought the drama in the home opener was in watching the Seahawks season go down the drain with a second consecutive touchdown-free game. Behind the scenes, in the first quarter, the real drama was in the locker room when the escape from the infernal abyss began to come together.

“He’s bleeding, the bone comes out of his skin,” said Doug Baldwin of fellow wide receiver Paul Richardson. “Goes in the locker room, sews it up and catches the game-winning touchdown. I couldn’t be more proud.”

“Proud” is perhaps not the concluding sentiment most Seahawks fans have regarding the dismal proceedings at the Clink Sunday. The 12-9 outcome over the lately decrepit San Francisco 49ers (0-2) met the minimum dictionary definition of a win.

Since Baldwin was unwilling to BS anyone, he came up with another expression for the game itself:

“Ugly as hell.”

That also could have described the ring finger of Richardson’s right hand. On the first series, a ball skipped hard off the wet surface and broke and dislocated the digit, tearing open the skin.

He left the field for the locker room, where the finger was X-rayed, re-set and stitched. Good to go.

“I wasn’t trying to get out there, like, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s tough — he’s finishing the game,'” he said. “I wanted to go make a difference.”

Mission accomplished. With seven minutes left, he and QB Russell Wilson combined on a street-ball scramble for the Seahawks’ first and only touchdown this season, a seven-yard pass that should have been stopped by the 49ers at several moments.

But the only reason it was in place to work was because Wilson earlier in the drive took over most of the running chores as well as the throwing chores. His four carries for 27 yards, on scrambles and option keepers, were difference-makers in going 82 yards for that fancy six-pointer thing.

Was running first his specific intent?

“At the time, yeah,” said Wilson, as always expressing no consternation over the relative lameness of his teammates in running the ball. “Honestly, I don’t try to predetermine. That’s what the game gave me there at the end.”

The drive, and the one that followed to close out the game, may represent the fig leaf with which the offense uses to cover itself after a second consecutive embarrassment. Although after last season’s injuries, any solution that includes significant use of Wilson running the ball scares the hell out of many fans.

Right now, the Seahawks have no choice. Against a respectable 49ers front seven, the offensive line sputtered and stammered as it did in Green Bay, abetted this time by drops from the normally sure-handed receiving corps.

Two came in the end zone, one by RB C.J. Prosise and one by WR Tanner McEvoy. Those potential 14 points were reduced to two field goals that helped keep the inept 49ers offense thinking it had a chance. Wilson was also uncharacteristically inaccurate — 23 for 39 for 198 yards and a QB rating of 80.9.

“I think (Wilson’s passing game) was a little bit rough, but I think that’s caused by the misses that we had,” said coach Pete Carroll. “But more than all that, the way he competed down the stretch (made for) a beautifully played ballgame for us.”

It would seem Carroll and Baldwin have differing views, but it’s possible both are right. The ugliness was plain to all in the crowd of 68,729, many of whom expressed themselves angrily as a punt-fest developed.

But after a 49ers’ four-and-out possession following the TD drive, the offense took the ball with 4:47 left and ran out the clock. Rookie RB Chris Carson carried five times in a row for 41 yards before it was kneel-down time.

“In the locker room, we’re talking about how the offensive line finished,” Carroll said. “(Run) blocking, and protecting to get the touchdown drive, then to take 4:47 off the clock and kill the game.

“In was a solid performance in some ways — with a lot of room for improvement.”

It looks as if the improvement will come with Carson as the starter, although Carroll was loathe to say so. Before the game, the Seahawks surprised with the decision to keep RB Eddie Lacy inactive. That left Carson and Thomas Rawls, who opened but carried five times for four yards. Carson carried 20 times for 93 yards.

“We’re not going to over-work him,” Carroll said of Rawls in his first game back after a broken leg last season and a sprained ankle in preseason. “I just wanted to see how it went, just him playing football again.”

Of Lacy, Carroll said, “You only have so many spots. I hate that he wasn’t out there. I love Eddie, and he wanted to be part of it. But in this match-up with the guys that were healthy, this was the way we had to go.”

But there’s no doubt that Carson, the seventh-round draftee, has created an impression.

“I’ve been telling you all since training camp, he’s the real deal,” Baldwin said. “There’s an aspect to him mentally that’s very hard to find in football players. He has it. He’s going to be a phenomenal running back in this league, for as long as he wants.

“Don’t tell him I said that — keep him humble. He has all the tools in the toolbag.”

Ugly or beautiful, Carson and his buddies up front came in late and low in the fourth quarter, but they made it. A fig leaf, but it beats the hell out of the nakedness of 0-2.


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YourThoughts

  • Ken S.

    One measly TD in 8 quarters of play? Unless someone or something breaks the logjam of ineptness with the Hawks offense it’s going to be a long season. It’s been apparent for the better part of 3 seasons that the Hawks approach to a decent o-line is not working. Wilson will not play out his contract if he’s continually forced from a pocket that was never quite there to begin with. He’s already had a couple of injuries – and injuries tend to repeat themselves with age and repeated hammerings on those same spots. If Carroll is smart – and I think he is – he’s plenty worried.

    • Bruce McDermott

      He has seemed unusually subdued to me in his press conferences since the Green Bay game. I think he knows all is not well, and I also think he is genuinely surprised at how badly the offense has performed.

      • art thiel

        I was at the City Council arena hearing and didn’t attend Carroll’s Monday presser. When I tuned in on the radio 30 seconds late, I thought something bad had happened, given his tone. I have heard him like that only rarely. You’re right — knows better than all of us how deep he’s in it.

  • Dale

    When a quarterback has to innovate, rather than run called plays, in order to score, what does this say about the offensive coordinator, or about the relationship between the quarterback and the offensive coordinator? I wish we could try letting Russell call his own plays, in practice, and for an entire game. What have we got to lose? The called offense cannot get any worse.

    • art thiel

      Wilson can override when he seeks weakness, and has done so often. But Wilson and Lynch were so good at what they do best that it masked a lot of failed personnel judgments on the O-line. And Fant would have made a difference.

      • John M

        Yes, Fant was ready to play. I was looking forward to his development. Now it’s same as last year in that every DC we face will focus on our O-line until they find a way to stop them . . .

  • 1coolguy

    No other team has interviewed Bevell – wow, I wonder why? Teams have been all over our DC’s, the last two have gone onto head coaching jobs, one to the SB. When an assistant is not even interviewed, it’s time to wise up and realize that person is not in the top 5-10. I believe we need a new OC and with Paul writing the check, I would go for McDaniel at NE, as he has learned Belichiks system well, something that would bring the Hawks up greatly.

    • Diamond Mask

      yawn, yawn, yawn on the Bevell thing. I’m not taking your recommendation over Pete Carrolls.

      • art thiel

        There’s that.

    • art thiel

      I’m not saying a change wouldn’t help. I just wish fans could see that most of the time it’s talent, not coaching.

  • 1coolguy

    I watched the Brady clinic today and Wilson and the receivers should watch this guy. Unreal – his passes were accurate and they scored 20 in the first quarter.

    • Kevin Lynch

      I watched the Matty Ryan clinic last night. THIS is an offense. Maybe the best in the NFL. They come right at you ad look for a potential long gain on every play. Atlanta at Seattle is going to be an interesting match up.

      • Steed

        I wish the Hawks had a couple of those giant scary WRs that Atlanta has. I like our guys, but we have little WRs.

        • art thiel

          How about Kasen Williams?

          • Steed

            Williams, of the Cleveland Browns? Who was inactive for week 2? We could use his catching skills. But I’m talking even bigger, like 6-3 or taller. I can dream.

          • John M

            Right now our top 2 receivers are 5′ 10″ and they’re outplaying the 6′ 7″ guy – and the 6′ 6″ guy . . .

          • 1coolguy

            I don’t know why we off’d him. He will do well

          • John M

            Now that you mention it, Art, every pass Mc’Evoy dropped in the end zone or to secure a critical 3rd down reminded me that they dumped Kasen to keep him . . .

        • John M

          Steed, have you forgotten our giant receiver? Some refer to him as a TE, but he’s a 6-7 receiver that should strike fear into anyone that opposes him. And PC is confident that will happen as soon as the whole team meshes up . . .

          • 1coolguy

            Graham is a total pussy and will never be a Hawk. Another mistake on the order of Harvin. He runs out of bounds like Alexander and STILL has not learned to block. Graham sucks and always will

          • John M

            Apparently my humor was too subtle for you . . .

          • Steed

            I did forget him.

      • art thiel

        Seahawks are paying a heavy price for the big coin on the other side of the ball. All teams are forced by the salary cap into choices.

    • art thiel

      They have heard of him, and made one or two notes. The Pats, however, have a mediocre defense.

      • 1coolguy

        Allen needs to write the big check for McDaniel and emulate the Pats’ offense. Bevell is just more of the same

  • Effzee

    I was dubious when Bevel was hired. We won the SB in spite of his efforts to stupid it away, like he did with the second SB we should have won. I was hopeful that he would be hired as a HC, but everyone else was too smart for that. I complained about the play calling during the entire Marshawn Lynch era, when #24 was making Bevel look less-than-terrible. He is lucky to still have RWIII on his side to harness the powers of Jebus and win games by magic. I don’t want to hear about how “average fans” find it “easy” to focus on the offensive coordinator because we don’t really know what is going on. I’m don’t want to hear about “what if the plays were executed properly.” Why can I not surmise that seeing the exact same thing, year after year, with the same lack of execution might, juuuuust might, have something to do with his coaching abilities? I just hate the plays we run, and I hate the way he calls a game, I hate his offensive philosophy. I hate having to watch Bevelball.

    • Diamond Mask

      Then don’t watch please. Nobody is holding a gun to your head.

      • Effzee

        I’m watching less and less. Turned it off in the 2nd quarter. Listened on the radio intermittently as I went about my day. Hurts to do because I’ve been a fan since 1977, when I was 4 years old and my parents got season tickets. This ugly brand of offense is painful.

        • Bruce McDermott

          I went to the game and watched. You are right. It was painful. Glad I stayed to the end, though.

          • art thiel

            I suspect since there have been 22 of them, you have have seen Wilson work up a 4Q comeback now and then.

        • art thiel

          Oh, c’mon. If you’ve watched since ’77, you’ve seen far worse. Even in the Carroll era, they’ve had at least one terrible offensive game each season, often more. Look around the league and you see defensive domination because colleges don’t train linemen in the pro style.

          • Effzee

            Not only that, but the shortening of training camp, the limited off-season hitting, etc., leaves the offenses way behind the defenses at the beginning of the year. It is a league-wide thing, for sure. And yes, I spent a few years paying very little attention, pre-Holmgren, when the team was legitimately not hopeful. The difference is now I’m 44. I’m not as willing to sit through the ugly as I used to be, especially since it can get so repetitive and predictable. You have to admit than when the offense gets ugly in the Carroll era, it tends to be the same ugly over and over and over again, not unlike the movie Groundhog Day.

    • art thiel

      You hate the results. The plays work in Seattle and everywhere else. The same plays in the second half of 2015 that put the Seahawks atop the NFL production numbers are the same that aren’t working now.

      The line, as with the lines of 20+ NFL teams, are terrible early until they get used to hitting again. It’s far more about talent than coaching, especially when these coaches are proven.

  • Diamond Mask

    A lot of “glass is half empty” folks here. In Russell and Pete I trust and you all need to learn this “it’s not how you start it’s how you finish!”

    • Steed

      1-1, AND WE AINT DONE!

    • art thiel

      This team traditionally has owned November-December. But it’s still instant-gratification September.

  • tor5

    Thanks for your relatively optimistic spin on it, Art. Yes, Carson is a great find and we should celebrate it. But that was a hard win to watch, and reading the posts here I’m pretty confused about the offensive woes. How much of it is OL struggles that no coordinator can make go away, and how much of it is the inability of Bevell to find the formula?

    • art thiel

      Bevell can only call plays his players can handle. If they are overmatched against Buckner, the play has to go away from his gap. If Graham can’t hold an edge block, they can’t use that side. Etc.

  • David Michel

    Biggest problem is still a pathetic line, we won’t pay for good players on it. Play calling becomes an issue because of the line. Get Wilson out of the pocket more. Should not have to use 7 guys to block for him on pass plays!

    • art thiel

      Wilson can run into more trouble when defenses plan for it.

  • Zeno

    Super Bowl contenders or Super Bowl pretenders?

    • art thiel

      Look around the league — 32 pretenders.

  • jafabian

    For the second weekend in a row Seattle did not have the expected results. Might as well just play during the week if that’s the case. For the second week in a row Jermaine led the Jets in receiving even though he barely knows the plays.

    • art thiel

      Are you suggesting the Seahawks have the Kearse curse?

  • Matt712

    On the one hand, being a 12, I’ve grown somewhat accustom to these slow starts, so no, the sky is not falling and I believe the Seahawks will win the division. On the other hand, winning the division no longer seems to be enough (as was the case last year), and given that more recent history along with the talent level and health of this team, I think it’s quite alright for us 12s to expect some urgency this early.

    Sure, I’ll take the W. Any win in the NFL is a good win. However, it is confounding how, year after year, the Seahawks stumble out of the starting gate. At some point, there has to be some accountability for it, and the buck stops at the coaches.

    • art thiel

      Slow starts are fairly normal here, but getting little from the O-line and nothing from Graham and Lacy puts a huge burden on the rest. That’s when resentment kicks in.

  • Husky73

    Fortunately, for the Seahawks, the 49ers were without Colin Kaepernick.

    • art thiel

      He may be available for the rematch, unless other te . . . oh, wait.