BY Art Thiel 09:50PM 10/22/2017

Thiel: The trudge is part of the Seahawks’ deal

Sometimes even players get impatient with the Seahawks offense. But Sunday’s game in New York played out the way Pete Carroll has proven works, time and again.

TE Jimmy Graham made up for a ghastly drop Sunday with three catches, including a touchdown. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest file

The Seahawks in 2017 are not unlike Seattle traffic: Aggravating, but if you stick with it, you get where you’re going.

Where the Seahawks are at the moment is 4-2, including four road games. They have an offense that has produced more than 400 yards of total offense three times, a defense that has given up 35 points in its past three games, and solid special teams. Only one team in the NFL has fewer losses.

But in the wake of the bifurcated 24-7 win (box) in New Jersey Sunday against the Giants, most Seahawks fans feel more gaggy than giddy.

A first half pickled with penalties, dropped passes, a lost fumble and a bewildering sequence in which 10 plays from the 10-yard line or closer produced no points, left many Seattle witnesses with stomach acid backing up in throats. Fercripesakes, the opponent  was the 1-5 Giants, whose many injuries caused them to fill the roster with cooks from the Stage Deli.

But it wasn’t just fans flirting with high anxiety. The same apprehensions were also felt along the Seahawks sidelines.

What looked to be an argument between WR Doug Baldwin and assistant coach Tom Cable became pushy for a moment and was caught on TV cameras. Things settled out quickly. But with no background information, it seemed as if the Seahawks were about to come apart.

It looked somewhat like the Atlanta regular-season game a year ago, when Richard Sherman’s angst exploded into a public spat with coaching decisions. Unlike that moment, however, the player took full responsibility.

“I lost my cool,” Baldwin said. “One hundred percent my fault.”

Baldwin explained that he was trying to get his offensive teammates to chill and be accountable for the task at hand and not second-guess the play calls.

“I was really frustrated with the team,” he said. “Not the coaching staff; players. We had the play calls; whether it was passing. blocking, catching, jumping off-sides, we weren’t executing. There’s nothing a coach can say. We have to take accountability.”

Apparently Cable was about to give the same message to players, along with QB Russell Wilson.

“I wasn’t going at Cable,” Baldwin said. “He said what I was basically going to say. I wish I would have done it differently.

“I got a little passionate. Y’all know I love Cable to death. We have one of the best coach-player relationships. I already apologized. He knows how I am.”

Baldwin didn’t want Cable butting in, especially because the six-year veteran understood well that slow, unproductive starts are something of a Seahawks tradition that younger players, and many fans, misinterpret.

“I’m the oldest guy there,” said Doug E. Not-So-Fresh, a ripe old 29. “You gotta be poised.  I can’t say what I said, but the basic sentiment was, ‘What are we doing?’ We have all the talent in the world, everything we need. It’s not the play-calling. It’s not the other team. It’s us. Just settle down. This is a process. Don’t get too excited.

“I was able to instill that message in a less antagonistic way at halftime: We’re good. Still a close game. Everything will work out.”

Turns out he knew what he was talking about. While he wasn’t claiming prophecy, the Seahawks scored three second-half touchdowns and put up 425 yards in 71 plays, including Wilson’s 27-for-39 passing for 321 yards, no picks and a single sack.

Veteran Seahawks fans and players have seen the pattern many times. Pete Carroll’s basic game plan is to try to run the ball out of different formations and personnel groupings to induce defenses to believe they know what’s coming, even when the plan produces sluggish starts.

“With young guys, it takes time” to understand what’s happening, Baldwin said. “We’re going run the ball down your throat, and when you come up to stop it, we go to our explosive passing game. It’s a process.

“It doesn’t matter how crappy you play in the first half. You still have an opportunity to win the game. Fortunately, we have one of the best defenses in the NFL that keeps us in the game.”

That’s the Seahawks formula: Invest heavily in a premier defense that has the capacity to do what happened Sunday — break the spirit of the opponent offense. Then let the  offense, led by a premier QB, work a game-long con until the big plays open up.

Had TE Jimmy Graham hung on to a pass in the end zone and another when he was alone on the sideline, and had Wilson not twice overthrown Baldwin deep, this game would have been 45-7.

The Seahawks lead the cumulative score in the first quarter of the six games 9-2. That’s right; 9-2. In the fourth quarter, it’s 53-9.

Obviously, the plan doesn’t always work; the other teams have plans too. But elsewhere in the NFL Sunday, three teams were shut out, one had a field goal, another had three field goals and two had single touchdowns. The Seahawks are hardly alone in their offensive struggles.

Sure, the rash of QB injuries is part of it, but the Seahawks are missing their original starting left tackle, left guard and running back, and traded their No. 2 receiver in September for a defensive tackle to replace their injured top draft choice.

“We’re going in the right direction,” Carroll said. “I like where we are.”

No points in 10 tries from the 10-yard line will leave a scar, and even prompt sideline disputes. But as with Seattle traffic, if you stop pounding the dashboard and screaming, you’ll get where you need to go.


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YourThoughts

  • ll9956

    The way the Hawks played in the first half was enough to give anybody ulcers, except Giants fans. Thankfully the second half was a wee bit different.

    • art thiel

      Hasn’t that usually been the case under Carroll?

  • 1coolguy

    Do us all a favor and trade the soft Graham – A drop in the end zone and another that would have gone forever – the guy is a woos who has no interest here is hopefully flying back to Florida, anywhere, as Long as its not a few teams that covet him.
    Tell me – what does he do that Willson does not do?

    • Chris Alexander

      While I firmly believe that Graham SHOULD have caught the touchdown pass that he “dropped,” you gotta blame that one on the throw from Wilson. Graham clearly expected the ball to be tossed over his head so that he was the only one that had a play on it, not at his waist where the defender could get to the ball. Replay the play and you’ll see that the throw was off; Graham left his feet and had to reach down to try to catch the ball. If the ball is on target, it’s a catch 99 times out of 100.

      On the other hand, the drop on the sideline (which may have also resulted in 6 points) was 100% on Graham; he just plain flubbed that one.

      • art thiel

        You’re right. I tweeted about Wilson’s low throw and caught hell from some followers. When Wilson throws at Graham’s waist, he makes him just another guy.

  • Jamo57

    Just a couple of random thoughts about the game that aren’t all that deep. LOL

    What a difference in the starts of the past two Hawks games at Met-Life.

    I (and I don’t wish this on any player) began to worry Jimmy Graham had a case of the Yips. Obviously Jimmy persevered!

    Stay away from real time analysis, Jamo

    • art thiel

      Seahawks are 5-0 at MetLife. They played there since the SB.

      And Jimmy is better with two defenders on him than none.

      • Jamo57

        Thanks for the SB correction. The irony of the final sentence is self evident. LOL

  • Buggy White

    Does anybody else think the defensive back reached up and slugged Jimmy Graham in the crotch right as the apparent TD pass arrived? Just a thought…

    • John M

      Out of all the wild moments in that game you remembered that one . . .

  • Kevin Lynch

    It’s been working, the slow starts and then the wide open pass option game. But the softest part of the schedule is over. They have five or six challenging games left on the schedule. However, it’s a wacky year. No one is looking unbeatable and as I said before, it’s possible an 11-5 record could get a bye in the playoffs. The Hawks are definitely looking like they’ll be 11-5 or better. It’s hard to see anyone finishing ahead of them in their conference as the have Philly at home, Green Bay looks finished and Atlanta has fallen off the map. I don’t see Goff reacting well to the noise when the Rams arrive in Seattle.

    • art thiel

      The Seahawks will be favored in their remaining games, and you’re right, no one is formidable.

  • woofer

    An offense that snoozes through the first half is a luxury the Hawks can only afford against an even more crappy offensive team like the Giants. But don’t try that trick against somebody like the Patriots. The Patriots offense can run up the score against anybody, given enough opportunities and decent field position. Then the halftime deficit will become insurmountable, and the hometown boys will be reduced to playing the second half just to make the final score appear respectable.

    • art thiel

      Keep in mind they’re not trying to do it. They want to score on all 12 possessions, But they’re not going to take risks early that can lead to deficits that destroy the game plan. All offenses try to set up defenses for countermoves later on. But Carroll’s “all about the ball” mantra is paramount to a higher degree than most.

      • woofer

        I would be happy if they were trying to do it, because then it would be easier to fix. Maybe they need a more aggressive initial game plan, going uptempo earlier. That would at least get some adrenaline flowing before halftime and unleash Russell’s magic a little sooner. Are you really suggesting that a Darrell Bevell offensive game plan is so perfect that it can’t be improved upon?

        • art thiel

          It’s rarely about adrenaline, or uptempo, or playcalling. It’s almost always about the speed with which a team develops talent. The Seahawks do it better than most, but since they play more young guys earlier in their careers, they’re more mistake-prone in September than December.

  • John M

    Strange football Sunday. After watching some of the “other” high end teams, I think our O-line looks pretty good. And of course Baldwin, both on and off the field, again saved the day. He should just wear a blue jersey with a big S on the front. Every play he makes reminds me of the cocky undrafted free agent that came in and led the team in receptions his first year and rose to No. 1. He earns every buck he gets . . .

    • art thiel

      Every team has significant flaws, and now the Eagles have lost their LT Jason Peters for the season, Lots of teams will finish 7-9, 8-8, 9-7.

  • 3 Lions

    I’m gonna start tuning in at halftime. I would miss the national anthem fiasco & first half futility.

  • Robin & Maynard

    You had me at bifurcate…