BY Art Thiel 09:31PM 10/30/2017

Thiel: Are Seahawks desperate? Trade says yes

While the Wilson-Watson duel thrilled America, the Seahawks’ boiler room was taking on water. Duane Brown can’t fix it all, but he can help bail.

Without Russell Wilson’s scrambles, the Seahawks would have had three yards rushing Sunday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

How loud was it Sunday at the Clink? So loud that we couldn’t hear the klaxons going off in the boiler room. Pete Carroll joined the rest of football America in admiring a fabulous freak show put on by Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson. But below the banquet room, pressure-valve needles were pinned into the red:

DANGER!  Implosion imminent!

When a Carroll-coached team gets five cumulative rushing yards from three running backs, as the Seahawks did Sunday in their preposterous 41-38 triumph over Houston, I am reminded of a legendary expression from Micheal (that’s how he spelled it) Ray Richardson, a loquacious, volatile guard for the New York Knicks.

Asked to describe the 1981-82 team that was headed to last place after a 50-win season, he said, “The ship be sinking . . . and the sky is the limit.”

As you ponder that wrenching juxtaposition of cliches, know that I’m not suggesting the Seahawks are headed to last place. But they are closer to it than the 5-2 record suggests.

The collective record of three of the defeated, the 49ers, Colts and Giants, is 3-20. The other two wins, over the Rams and Texans, were harrowing scream-fests. And the Packers and Titans handled the Northwest visitors readily.

Nothing in the Seattle record so far suggests the modern version of the menance of the Mongols of the 13th and 14th centuries. If you don’t agree, then hear what Carroll said Monday about the abject failure of the running game.

“We got knocked around yesterday,” he said.

Never in his time as Seahawks coach has he said such a thing. Even in the first two years of losing, there was a quality of smackdown to the line play that foreshadowed two dashes to the Super Bowl.

Now, when it comes to the run, the offensive line has turtled. They are on their backs, waiting for someone to tip them upright.

I do not know if Duane Brown is that guy. But I do know the Seahawks are desperate, because there is no other description for giving up second- and fifth-round picks at midseason for a 32-year-old. I will mention CB Jeremy Lane in passing only because the Seahawks had to throw in his $5.25 million salary to make it work under the cap, not because he otherwise had asset value. His Legion of Boom epaulets had been stripped away earlier.

The deal announced Monday with the Texans to acquire their left tackle, who protected Watson Sunday in his first game back from a contract holdout, was surprising, in that conventional NFL wisdom says that blending O-linemen without time in copious amounts normally reserved for Catholic weddings, is foolish.

But this is also not surprising for Seattle, for reasons stated. Rees Odhiambo tried hard, and he may be an adequate NFL guard, but he has no business starting at left tackle in the NFL. He replaced George Fant, lost for the year to a knee injury in August, because the Seahawks had no one else.

Odhiambo’s primary foe Sunday, all-world Texans DE Jadevon Clowney, had four tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and a forced fumble. He blew past Odhiambo so swiftly at times that the toll camera couldn’t read his jersey number. Orthopedists shudder at the carnage that would have taken place Sunday had the Texans’ J.J. Watt been healthy.

The pitiful run results were overshadowed by the derring-do of Wilson, but Carroll Monday recounted in some detail what scared him.

“We were getting knocked into the backfield,” he said. “You have no running game if that kind of leakage is happening. (Success) is being right technically, it’s also being right assignment-wise, and that is identifying things.

“It is very much the same as it is in the passing game (but) for whatever reason, we are ahead in pass protection more than we were in the running game. We got to turn it into being physical at the line of scrimmage. We need to do better.”

He said all that before news of the Brown acquisition broke. But even Brown’s arrival can’t fix left guard, where rookie Ethan Pocic went the whole way in his first start in place of Luke Joeckel, out for a few more weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery.

“Ethan did really well in the passing game and we had some issues in the running game, really kind of across the board,” Carroll said. “We are seeing here over the last couple weeks that we miss Luke. Luke was a big factor. Once you lose George and now Luke too, those are major changes.

“We got to work our way through it.  It’s not exactly the way we had set out for it to be. We thought we would be ahead of this a little bit in the running game.”

So Plan A for the O-line has failed, and there is never an in-house Plan B for the O-line (J’Marcus Webb, anyone?). So they broke the unofficial rule and traded for a veteran lineman.

Brown, an offensive captain with the Texans, is likely to be a good fit in the locker room, where he will find numerous kindred spirits with similar outspoken ways.

Just back from a contract holdout, Brown strolled into the whirlwind Friday after team owner Bob McNair’s quote from an owners meeting (“we can’t let inmates run the prison”) made him the NFL’s political controversy of the week. Brown helped avert a player boycott of practice, but was neither happy about McNair nor his compensation. So he is likely to be a little more content in Seattle, even if has to help save the savior almost before he knows where the bathroom is.

Draft picks are always expensive, but it would be far more costly to depend on a weekly miracle from Wilson over the next two months. Somebody has to turn off the klaxons.


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YourThoughts

  • PokeyPuffy

    Art i appreciate your opinion, as most folks seem euphoric over yesterday’s win. I’m guessing Pete was not real happy to win in a game where his team gave up 38 points and rushed for 3 yards (exclusive of RW). Silver lining , the D closed out their last two series with 3 and out and an INT to clinch. And that INT looked like Watson drastically underthrew his target, so maybe he was finally rattled a bit.

    • art thiel

      The final two possessions were doomed. On the first one, Texans coach admitted he screwed up not putting the ball in Watson’s hands. On the second, Seahawks could tee off on the pass rush without worrying about the run.

  • wabubba67

    An interesting article This trade had to be made…for now, and the future. Line looks much better in 2018 with Fant back (RT). For now, does Odhiambo move to RT, Ifedi to RG (or LG since Aboushi seems to be adequate)….or is this just Brown at LT with Odhiambo now serving as backup utility lineman?

    Editing review: McNair’s quote was “inmates running the prison”, not “prisoners running the prison”.

    • art thiel

      As far as is known, Odhiambo will return to backing up. I doubt Carroll wants to shuffle the right side while getting Brown and Pocic used to each other.

      Thanks for the fix.

  • 1coolguy

    “He blew past Odhiambo so swiftly at times that the toll camera couldn’t read his jersey number. Orthopedists shudder at the carnage that would have taken place Sunday had the Texans’ J.J. Watt been healthy.” Both are classics Art! Thank you for another good laugh and both need to be additions to your undisclosed, forthcoming book of “Art’s Best”.
    As I listened to the talk shows and read the plaudits in the papers, all were so euphoric I wondered whether they watched the same game we did.
    You have described the embarrassment of an O-line Pete and JS have assembled, so ’nuff said.
    We played the closest copy of RW I have ever seen and he made our D look like they had never played RW in practice – it was an embarrassment. The kid is in his 7th (?) game and made us look completely confused. Hello, anyone recognize the second coming of RW???
    The other aspect to point out is the continued PATHETIC offensive calls (Bevell- ugh) in the red zone. Again we had to settle for field goals after twice being denied. Did both possessions have first downs inside the 5? Disgusting. We spend $8mm on soft Jimmy Graham and Bevell STILL hasn’t figured out a play for him at the goal line? Here’s one: Graham to the goal line, turns around, Jumps with his hands up to what, 11 feet? and RW tosses him the ball over the 5.10 DB – I’d like to know the difficulty here – maybe Jimmy is just too soft to battle for position? How about a roll-out option for RW? pitch out, throw to the end zone or RW runs – I like those odds, even with a crappy O-line.
    I saw a team that has real problems in several areas: I hope for the best, but this group has real problems.

    • “The other aspect to point out is the continued PATHETIC offensive calls
      (Bevell- ugh) in the red zone. Again we had to settle for field goals
      after twice being denied. Did both possessions have first downs inside
      the 5? Disgusting”

      Exactly.

      “We spend $8mm on soft Jimmy Graham and Bevell STILL hasn’t figured out a
      play for him at the goal line? Here’s one: Graham to the goal line,
      turns around, Jumps with his hands up to what, 11 feet? and RW tosses
      him the ball over the 5.10 DB – I’d like to know the difficulty here”

      Spot on.

      “How about a roll-out option for RW? pitch out, throw to the end zone or RW runs – I like those odds, even with a crappy O-line.”

      We need 1coolguy as our next offensive coordinator!

      • crastapow

        sounds great from sitting in the stands, however every DEF knows this and has a plan to stop it. As it sits right now, DEF think, no need to worry about run, pound the QB. That may not be constantly effective, however by the end of the season Russel will be beat up (which is not good)

        • art thiel

          Your point is good. To win this game without a rushing attack was nearly impossible, and Bevell pulled it off.

      • art thiel

        See above answer. 1coolguy is many things, but I would not favor him as OC. Bevell called a good game.

    • art thiel

      Carroll gave much praise to Bevell for his playcalling Sunday. Keep in mind that when a play doesn’t work, it isn’t necessarily because it was a poor call. Defenses pay their guys too, and the Seahawks were often simply beaten physically. That’s why they picked up Brown.

      Thanks for the good words.

  • Steed

    I had to google Klaxon. I’m imagining the Klaxon that went off on the original Starship Enterprise when there was an emergency. This time, Captain Pete called down to the engine room for more blocking, and Engineer Cable said “sorry Captain, that’s all we got” and he wasn’t kidding for once.

    The “inmate” comment is one thing, but this owner is also the guy who called his team into a meeting after Obama became President elect, and told the team he was very upset by it. Can you imagine any employer forcing his employees to go to a meeting to listen to a political screed? Ridiculous. I’ve worked for very conservative companies for years, and they never did anything like that.

    • art thiel

      Going to the dictionary is always good exercise.

      McNair is like many of his contemporaries: Tone deaf to his employees’ genuine concerns.

  • Kevin Lynch

    It’s a gamble. He’s a good tackle and a significant upgrade at that position but he was also the same guy that left his team by the side of the road for 6 games this year. The Hawks are going to need everyone dialed in, committed, healthy, focused and fighting to get the best record in the conference and stay home for the playoffs, the only way they can make a Super Bowl.

    • art thiel

      Brown’s foolish holdout was the same as Chancellor’s. no one gained anything. But no long-term damage resulted from Chancellor’s mistake. Same for Brown, especially on a new team.

  • John M

    Surely was a hair-on-fire move. Matches up well with the apparent plan for Rees to handle Clowney alone in space. I seldom criticize play calling because so much goes into it that we don’t see, but the runs between the tackles were so obvious the bartenders in the club section called them for those too bleary to lift their heads . . .

    • art thiel

      The play calls weren’t wrong; the execution was lousy. Bevell finally abandoned them in 4Q and was fortunate to escape.

  • Jamo57

    Forgive me for going big picture here but these contracts with retired or veteran players might increase the rate CTE scores being seen later in life. Can’t deny that concerns me.

    • art thiel

      CTE is a clear and present danger to every player in football. But signing any one player over another one is not an issue of brain health, it’s talent.

  • WestCoastBias79

    It was a high price, but a necessary trade. I think they know they have maybe 2-3 years left in this window with the defense as constructed. With Zeke Elliiot suspended again, and Aaron Rogers out, the NFC is wide open. No one in the conference scares me. This is a win now move for a win now team. Plus, the 2nd Rounder would probably just become another lineman project that wouldn’t be good until his contract year.

    • art thiel

      I don’t blame them for the trade; but the circumstances that set up the need goes beyond injuries to the misjudgments of O-line talent.

  • woofer

    As desperate moves go, this is probably not a bad one. Brown is an upgrade at LT and allows other linemen to slide into roles more suited to their talents. So he is better and has the potential to make others better. As for the locker room, my guess is that he will be a good fit and buy in to the Carroll system.

    • art thiel

      A move can be desperate and it can also be good. To win Sunday with no run game was hugely improbable.

  • jafabian

    It’s desperate in that it’s going to take Brown the rest of the season to simply learn the offense. The O-Line is a difficult position to learn but at least he’s a veteran. At the very least he’ll contribute more than what Lane was. Hope Jeremy gets more playing time in Houston.

    • art thiel

      Brown is able and experienced. But the guy to his left, Pocic, is not. It’s going to be clumsy there for awhile.