BY Art Thiel 12:59AM 08/19/2018

Thiel: Seahawks still well shy of red zone mastery

Some explosive plays set up the Seahawks well early, but red-zone maladies compromised the offense again in a 24-14 loss to the Chargers in Los Angeles.

RB Chris Carson had 34 yards in nine carries Saturday against the Chargers. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

Remember last season how the Seahawks had trouble scoring early? How’s six points in first quarter work for you in 2018?

Despite deploying QB Russell Wilson for all six possessions of the first half Saturday night in Carson, CA.,  his teammates on the first unit made just enough key mistakes to evoke a bit of the bad old days in a 24-14 loss (box) to the Los Angeles Chargers that kept the Seahawks winless in the preseason.

The Seahawks had some some trouble scoring in the fake-season opener at home against the Colts last week too.

“Both games have been similar,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We got the ball down there. We needed those touchdowns. We need to get better there.”

The ballyhooed return to the run game produced the game’s biggest gaffe by the best rusher. From the 1-yard line in the first quarter, RB Chris Carson fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it was recovered for a touchback by ex-Seahawk Brandon Mebane.

Nothing in The Book of First Carrollians is a a greater sin.

“We moved the ball right down the field and give up the ball inside the one, which is a horrible thing to do for him,” Carroll said. “They wind up with the ball at the 20 — couldn’t be worse.

“Chris ran the ball really well, but it gets clouded because he gave up the ball inside the one.”

Carson should have had more, but had a 23-yard touchdown run —  breaking two tackles — nullified by penalty. The culprit was rookie TE Will Dissly, who was called for a block in the back when it was more like a gentle shove, and was distant from the action.

“Wasn’t near the play, unfortunately,” Carroll said. “That killed us.”

The Seahawks recovered for a field goal, but produced only two of them for a 14-6 intermission deficit. Perhaps that was why the play-calling was unexpectedly lopsided toward passing — 36 throws and 16 runs, in an attempt to catch up.

Wilson, under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenhemer, flashed his cannon several times — he hit WRs Jaron Brown for 45 yards, David Moore for 52 and Cyril Grayson Jr. for 39 yards.

Moore’s catch was particularly impressive, splitting two defenders who were on him tightly. On the next play, Moore pulled down a jump ball for 19 yards to the one.

“Russell is really good at putting the (deep) ball on guys,” Carroll said. “He’s not hesitant to do that. David is giving him all the reason.

“He’s stronger than you think — stronger, thicker maybe more explosive. He sure shows it tonight. It was a great sign for us.”

The effort may have clinched a roster spot for the second-year pro from East Central Oklahoma, a seventh-round pick. In the temporary absence of Doug Baldwin (knee) and Tyler Lockett (toe), Moore in practice and games has made himself noticed.

Another guy on offense was noticed, for mostly the wrong reasons. RT Germain Ifedi committed no penalties, but he (choose one) fell down, was bowled over, was blown by, or all of the above.

D is the correct answer. He was often against the Chargers’ premier rusher, Melvin Ingram, but he’s going be up against a lot of top-tier guys.

Carroll deferred to the need to study video before evaluating Ifedi, but was generally pleased with the pass protection.

“We got bull-rushed one time, but all in all, Russ was composed and moved when he needed to,” he said. “It was the same both weeks. That’s a good statement for us. We’re much more solid than we’ve been in the last couple of years at this point. We’re feeling the continuity.”

The right side of the line was further compromised by the early departure of RG D,J. Fluker, who dislocated a finger. Had it been a real game, he probably would have kept playing, and is not expected to miss much, if any, playing time.

Except for the opening touchdown drive, a 75-yard masterwork by Chargers QB Philip Rivers, the first-team defense held up decently. For the second game in a row, rookie DE Rasheem Green was large. He had a sack and two tackles for loss.

“Three and a half sacks in two games  jumps off the stat sheet,” Carroll said. “He looks aggressive and very skilled in his rushing. His sack are technique-oriented. He’s great with his hands, and got them free. That’s a real positive — it’s hard to do that at any time (in a career) for anybody.”

But the Chargers managed to flip the game relative to the Seahawks — 37 rushes and 19 passes, including 176 yards on the ground. The Seahawks’ first team subbed out quickly in  the second quarter, but that is a lot of ground regardless of the names on the jerseys.

Perhaps Seattle’s most surprising play was in the fourth quarter when third-string rookie QB Alex McGough lofted a teardrop, 12-yard fade into the back of the end zone to rookie WR Malik Turner for Seattle’s second touchdown. He followed it with a two-point PAT pass to Grayson.

“That was beautiful,” Carroll said. “It was a difficult time (behind and late), and we needed to take some shots. He was aggressive and seemed like he hit everything (9 for 12 for 97 yards), It was a great sign for him. He was under pressure and had to express his ability.”

Heading into Minnesota Friday for the traditional dress-rehearsal game, the rest of the Seahawks might be under a tad more pressure to express some ability too.



  • Effzee

    This is driving me nuts. Brock said it during the game, Pete said it after the game, and here I see the mantra repeated that Dissly’s block was away from the play and distant from the action. It wasn’t. Watch the highlight. He shoves the linebacker in the back a couple of yards ahead of Carson, and Carson runs right up the lane the LB would have been occupying if he wasn’t blocked in the back. It was a good call by the ref.

    • art thiel

      The call wasn’t terrible, but more of a 50-50 decision that often goes uncalled away from the ball at the moment it happens.

      By definition, a deep ball can’t be a laser. Any shot of more than 25 yards has to allow the receiver to run under it, so obviously a DB can close on it too.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    Horrible run defense last night , that has to improve . The special teams gaffe was the turning point ; Delano Hill whiffed a tackle after Ryan’s punt had a full second less hang time than Dickson . It seems likely Dickson unseats the oldest tenured Seahawk and makes the 53 . It also seems certain Mr. Moore has earned himself a roster spot , although I said the same thing about Kasen Williams a couple years ago too ..

    • art thiel

      Good observation about Ryan’s punt out-kicking the coverage. Dickson has a remarkable ability to deliver high as well as long, and directionally. The 56-yarder that went high and then OB was, as Carroll put it, a perfect punt.

  • ll9956

    Great piece, Art. I picked “all of the above” with Ifedi, which you promptly confirmed. The D needs to figure out how to do better than allowing 176 rushing yards. And the DBs were sliced up by Rivers.

    Carson of course has to avoid dwelling on his fumble, but I bet he had some bad moments at the time.

    • art thiel

      Carroll post-game said the first-series defense was vanilla, and Rivers took advantage. In the second drive, they had added disguises that helped slow down Rivers.

  • woofer

    It is misleading to suggest that all of Seahawks World was disappointed with Ifedi’s play. George Fant, for one, was delighted.

    • art thiel

      They’ve been practicing him at LT behind Brown. That may have to change.

      • woofer

        Like many things in this strange era, it may well come down to the intangibles. Anyone married to Chastity Gooch certainly has my vote.

  • Ron

    Glad we didn’t trade away a second round pick. Alex McGough looked like a good back-up QB last night.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art!
    Sure miss a big run stopper like Brandon Mebane! I’m sure the Chargers love him.

    I’d sure like to see Brandon Marshall on the field with Lockett and Baldwin. It might force the defense to give him some separation space. He’s a feel good story that might not pan out. Liking David Moore though.

    Carson is The Man, huh? Great combination of power, gap timing, agility and speed.

    • DJ

      Correction – I think it was Jeron Brown, not David Moore

  • Alan Harrison

    In 2017, according to Bryan Knowles in the “Football Outsiders Almanac,” Seattle running backs carried the ball 20 times inside the 10, and managed negative-three yards. Says it all.