BY Art Thiel 09:05PM 11/05/2017

Thiel: No more Seahawks flute dancing, please

Russell Wilson’s erratic passing game and an astonishing 16 penalties opened the door to the Redskins upset, made more ridiculous with the Seahawks’ air flutes.

DT Dwight Freeney closes in on QB Kirk Cousins for one of his two sacks. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

One week after a miracle win, the Seahawks had a miracle loss. That is why teams should stay away from depending on the generosity of the football gods. The deities are a notoriously 50-50 bunch. If the Seahawks are indeed serious about perpetuating their success, they might want to rely more on knocking the crap out of the opponent.

One odd but necessary place to start is by eliminating that little celebratory flute-dance routine following touchdowns. Not saying that that goofiness influenced the outcome Sunday of one of the most dreadful losses of the Pete Carroll era in Seattle. But it’s a bad look when it takes 50 minutes to score a touchdown at home against one of the most crippled outfits in the NFL, then follow it with a tone-deaf celebration that would have embarrassed Pee Wee Herman.

Cute when you’re winning. Atrocious when you’re losing.

Throw in 16 penalties for 138 yards, and it’s not hard to conclude that the Seahawks have forgotten how it was that they were once masters of precision ruthlessness. Starting at the top with Pete Carroll, who was quick to take the fall himself.

“That was a bad day for us,” he said after the 17-14 loss to a Washington team that deployed an offensive line with guys who recently were running forklifts at Amazon fulfillment warehouses. “I totally feel responsible for that.

“We really played against ourselves all day long. It’s really important we find our way.”

After the shop made the in-season investments in newcomer veterans LT Duane Brown, DE Dwight Freeney and DT Sheldon Richardson, it’s the stone cold truth they better find their way. In a crowded field of good but not great teams, the season might be the final shot for Seattle’s core group. They borrowed against the future (draft choices) to win now.

“I’m anxious to go get this thing fixed and us turned so that we can go play against the other team instead of ourselves,” Carroll said. “It didn’t have to be, but it was.”

The biggest reason for why it was, was that teams have figured out Wilson can be pressured into a few more mistakes since the Seahawks no longer have a running game worthy of respect. The Seahawks had no offensive points for three quarters partly because Wilson chose to run sooner than later and missed more than often than usual on rollout/scramble throws.

His numbers of 24 of 45 for 297 yards and both TDs aren’t terrible, there were at least four other passes that were easily obtainable by the Redskins.

“I felt like Russell was off rhythm all day long,” Carroll said. “It just felt like he was moving a lot. Unfortunately, when he’d hit a couple of big plays and scrambles, we would have penalties that nullified those.

“It did seem like it was a little bit out of sync.”

The egregious number of penalties are a bad symptom, but the cause of the dyspepsia often is young players too eager to save the day by jumping, holding and grabbing. Then there is the the psychological error of thinking matters have turned after the spectacular nature of the win over the Houston Texans that some pundits said was the most entertaining game of the NFL season. Players were misled into believing it was something other than a single freakish win.

Some things will get better. Brown, the left tackle, was playing his first Seattle game next to a left guard, Ethan Pocic, in his first NFL season. Then after six carries, RB Eddie Lacy, who was supposed to be the guy Sunday, left with a strained groin muscle of unknown severity. But Thomas Rawls looked in nine carries (39 yards) more like the banger who was once heralded as a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch.

And it’s unlikely that Blair Walsh will again go 0-for-3 on field goals, after hitting 12 of 13 for the season entering the game.

“Those kicks were all on me,” Walsh said, passing on using the wet and sometimes windy conditions as an excuse. “You go out here and you warm up and you see what conditions are, and you prepare your best.”

But his three left hooks combined with so many drive-killing penalties that the Seahawks once again left in peril a defense that mostly was top-shelf in the injury absences of Richardson and FS Earl Thomas. For 59 minutes, they held Washington and its ace QB, Kirk Cousins, to 10 points and 154 yards. But two bombs of 39 and 38 yards against a fatigued defense opened the door to an astonishing slash from a 3-4 team decimated by injuries.

Asked to rank the win among his career highs, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “This is pretty high, to be honest with you. To come here and get a win in this place is a great tribute to our guys. They’re feeling great.”

Conversely,  the Seahawks barely have time to feel sorry for themselves, owing to the annual wretchedness of a Thursday night game, this one in Arizona against the broken-down Cardinals.

But they will have time to consider whether they have the wherewithal to get out of their own way. The Texans and Redskins have established that the Seahawks are not only not formidable, they are eminently beatable. The Seahawks, air flutes in hand, have stood ready to help.




  • juliusvrooder

    We looked past them. You can’t do that in this league. To get where we want to get, we need to pace Philly, and then beat them. Twice. We can’t look past anybody, and we just did.

    • art thiel

      Sort of to your point, I think there was an emotional letdown after the nature of the win over the Texans. Reminded me of the letdown in the ’15 playoffs when they won a difficult game in MIN and had little left for CAR.

      • BAEKota Kai (mojiody)

        old man what you say?

  • Matt Kite

    What are they now? 5-3? Could just as easily be 3-5. The Seahawks have yet to play a complete game, with both the defense and offense firing on all cylinders, against a good opponent. It’s still possible they could find their stride just in time for the playoffs. But it seems unlikely. This year’s team looks less formidable than last year’s, which looked less formidable than the team from the year before, which looked . . .

    • Kevin Lynch

      Totally agree with Matt. There has been a loss of dominance at home. And they have always been a little Jeckyl and Hyde in relationship to home and away, challenged against even just decent teams away from home. They could easily be 3-5. The worst is that the schedule has been super soft. Four of their five wins have been against teams with three wins or fewer. The Ram win wouldn’t have been if the Rams had not turned it over five times. They are going to be challenged in Jacksonville. They have the Eagles, Rams and Falcons still to come, though all at home. But it’s those three quarterbacks from those three clubs that can do to them what Cousins did yesterday. They can each get hot.

      • art thiel

        If the Rams’ Kupp catches the end zone pass at the end, Seahawks are 4-4.

    • art thiel

      I’ve seen enough Carroll teams to not write off Nov-Dec results. The one difference is Wilson’s running for his life so often indicates a real absence of trust.

  • ll9956

    Kudos for another good article, Art. Your statement, ” . . . one of the most dreadful losses of the Pete Carroll era in Seattle” is a totally apt way to describe this debacle, which seemed far worse than the two previous losses. I don’t know the statistics, but the 16 penalties for 138 yards could be a team all-time record (maybe an NFL record?). Whatever, it was about as ugly as it gets. The only flicker of hope is that Carroll appears to FINALLY perceive that perhaps he needs to emphasize drastically reducing penalties.

    Perhaps even more glaring was the nonexistent pass defense during the final two minutes of the game; that was several notches below abysmal.

    It seems that it will be rather difficult for the Hawks to recover completely, mentally or emotionally, in time to be sharp for the Arizona game three days from now.

  • Chris Alexander

    That was NOT a fun game to watch. But …

    * No Thomas, no Lane, no Richardson on defense …
    * 3 missed field goals by a kicker that had only missed one this season coming into the game ….
    * A total of 13 points we didn’t score (the 3 FGs and the two 2-point conversions) …..
    * 2 “easy” interceptions that weren’t interceptions ….
    * A mind boggling 16 penalties, most of them either pre-snap or at HORRIBLE times (i.e. wiping out big gains) …..
    * Graham letting another TD slip through his hands ….
    * Russell “off” for basically the entire game (yet still throwing for almost 300 yards) and then taking a sack when it’s absolutely imperative that he NOT take a sack …

    And yet the Hawks still almost pulled out the win and I would argue that they WOULD have pulled out the win had we gotten to Cousins half a step sooner on his next to last pass (the 31-yarder to Quick). The pass to Doctson was sick – but it wouldn’t have mattered if we had gotten to Cousins before he completed the pass before it. Dude hit 2 deep passes all game; he just happened to do it on his last 2 passes.

    Long story short, the Hawks played one of their worst games during the Pete Carroll era and the opposing team played about as well as they could have and we still only lost by 3.

    I know a lot of people who are convinced the wheels have come off this bus and that we’re going to go down to Arizona and get out butts handed to us on Thursday night. I don’t see it.

    We’re a game behind the Rams in our division but basically control our own destiny since a win in Seattle on December 17th would give us the tiebreaker over them. And the Seahawks, historically, under Pete Carroll, are a stronger second half team (both on a per-game basis, and when looking at the season overall). I still think they’ll go 12-4 on the season which means going 7-1 down the stretch. Not an easy task but … doable. (IMO)

    It all starts Thursday. GO HAWKS!

    • Bruce McDermott

      Not sure which TD you are talking about with Graham. He did let a 2 point conversion slip through his hands, though…

      • Chris Alexander

        Yeah, that one. LOL. I was thinking “dropped a pass in the end zone” and wrote “dropped another TD.” Thanks for catching that.

  • Matt712

    Offense looked like it was out-schemed. Facing interior pressure all day, from a team that appeared to be selling out to rush the passer, it took three quarters to run a short pass play and a zone read. No screen plays, no bootlegs or other designed roll-outs, almost nothing to temper an overly aggressive defense. Looked like the Redskins had Seattle’s playbook on their sideline.

    Is it too much to ask of the Seahawks to have a good game offensively and defensively on the same day? So far the answer appears to be yes.

    • art thiel

      Actually, that pattern has persisted for years, because the defense always gets the greater financial investment under Carroll. But they broke the draft-choice bank with the emergency hire of Brown.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Wow. Here’s an interesting stat…the Hawks do not play the current Top 3 QB’s this year (Brees, Brady, Smith). But they DO play the next 6 top rated QB’s! Numbers 4 through 9 are all on the schedule. They have played 3 so far (1 win, 2 losses) and they have 3 to go. Russell is rated #11. So, soft team schedule – yes – but soft QB schedule? – NO!

  • Bruce McDermott

    That was execrable on every possible level. An abysmal display of football. Even Pete couldn’t polish this turd, and to his credit, this time he didn’t even try. I have this nagging feeling, at least about the OL, that our real problem there is not an experience deficit, but a talent/coaching deficit, in one proportion or another. Ifedi, for example, was a penalty machine last year. Guess what he is this year? Aboushi’s problem is certainly not inexperience, as a 5 year vet. Instead, it’s something else–like talent? Pocic still has potential, but run blocking on the first level is obviously not his thing yet. Brown has immediately become our best lineman, but even Walter Jones, the properly Hallowed One, could not fix that line alone. All this talk about “fixing” mistakes presumes 1) the coaching is correct, and getting through to players who 2) have the talent to fix those mistakes. Jury is still out, but it is headed back in to the courtroom and its faces are dark.

    • art thiel

      On the other hand, it’s reasonable to say one less of the 10 offensive penalties and a drive gets sustained into points. But we can play the if/then game all day; the fact was the game should never have been close enough to pivot on one play or call.

      Execrable. One of my fave words.

  • WestCoastBias79

    The AZ game is now huge. They’re 4-4, if AZ wins, the Seahawks will be third place in the division. Oi Vey.

    Guess the Hawks paid the sporting karmic gods for that Minnesota playoff win they had no business winning.

    • art thiel

      Actually, they had no business win the game the week before.

  • Topcatone

    IMHO that last bomb should have been challenged.. Ball touched ground during catch

    • Bruce McDermott

      It happened in the last two minutes. It was therefore reviewed by the replay officials offsite, and upheld.

      • art thiel

        Agreed. I think it was a completion. Why they were in man and thus vulnerable over the top to a first-round WR draftee, I can’t say.

  • tor5

    Talent-wise, the Hawks have to be better than they’re playing. It was actually good to see Pete look pained and flash some anger during the game. They don’t seem to be optimizing their talent, which is supposedly Pete’s forte. It’s mid-season and this could still turn out well, but not without stopping the bomb, picking up a reliable yard or two on rushing plays, and kicking field goals. That’s not asking too much, right?

    • art thiel

      Playing man coverage on the final series meant the pressure needed to get to Cousins, and it just missed.

  • Williec

    Can’t run the ball, can’t kick a field goal, flags all over the place, and, oh yes, RW again resembling a fly in a jar on a hot summer day…adds up to middle of the pack I’m afraid.

    • art thiel

      Excellent analogy. I may steal it. Thanks.

      • Williec

        No need to steal. It’s on loan. Thanks for your continuing great writing.

  • Michael Galey

    Good summation Art that word y’all used (dyspepsia ) I had to look up and had to ask my wife (an RN) how to even say it. This game had me so wound up I needed a time out before I toss a 73″ LED TV out the second floor of the manor home. Will the Cards give us dyspepsia this Thursday? This guy does wonder.

    • art thiel

      I enjoy it when people visit the dictionary. It’s my favorite book. Everything you need to know is there.

  • 1coolguy

    All the things you point out are accurate Art, but I must go back to what I have brought up before – Until the Hawks move Bevell, they aren’t going anywhere. Every game it’s the “Save our asses, RW” and he does his remarkable best. The Hawks’ offense needs a new playbook – this one is done, overcooked, charred and worst of all, predictable. I must point out, again, that an excellent (that’s what the Hawks are trying for, right?) level of performance will not happen again under Bevell. His is constantly rated in the bottom 1/3 of OC’s, and of course, as we have witnessed from our DC’s, when you are a performer you are interviewed by other teams after the season and hired away. No one has pursued Bevell.
    So, Pete and John, you have blown this season, but do at least INTERVIEW OC’s after the season: The Offense needs a new playbook.

    • art thiel

      I don’t know who rates OCs, but Bevell certainly is the No. 1 whipping boy in SEA. Then again, it is that way in every market where an NFL offense is struggling. Fans love to blame the OC when a play doesn’t work, but never offer credit when a play does work. They prefer to blame the guy dependent on 11 players to do their job each play as they were coached to do — and against 11 guys paid well to stop them.

      Bevell doesn’t cause Ifedi to hold or start falsely. Nor Britt to pound a guy after the whistle. Nor Pocic for being a rookie.

      Bevell deserves his share of scrutiny, but the Seahawks offensive problems are about the players, not the coaches.

  • Williec

    Can’t run the ball, can’t kick a field goal, flags all over the place, and, oh yes, RW resembling a fly in a jar on a hot summer day…recipe for middle of the pack I’m afraid.

  • BAEKota Kai (mojiody)

    i rule this bitch