BY Art Thiel 08:06PM 09/09/2018

Thiel: Seahawks’ re-make has a ways to go

Given the off-season attention devoted to it, the running game was surprisingly absent from the Seahawks’ opening 27-24 loss in Denver. Or maybe it wasn’t surprising.

Rookie TE Will Dissly had three catches for 105 yards in the first half. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

As has been said around the Seahawks for years, they can’t rely on Will Dissly to carry the team all the time.

Wait. Scratch that. Not even his University of Washington coach, Chris Petersen, said that about his tight end.

It was said about QB Russell Wilson. Was it ever true Sunday in Denver.

Had it not been for Dissly’s three catches for a club rookie-record 105 yards, the Seahawks would still be gathering their scattered parts from the Mile High Stadium sod.

In the 2018 debut of a team rebuilt in part to take pressure off Wilson, he was sacked six times, picked off twice and missed other opportunities. He had some splendid plays as well — including touchdown passes of 15, 20 and 51 yards — but the 27-24 loss (box) to the Broncos was largely a function of having no answers when Wilson is mediocre.

Again. Still.

Coach Pete Carroll owned up to the fact that deja vu was a theme carried over from last season.

And parts of 2016 and 2015 as well.

“We didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted to, and we got sacked a bunch of times. Those are similar issues” from recent history, he said. Even after flushing six assistant coaches and turning over chunks of the roster, some habits are hard to break.

The Seahawks ran only 16 times for 64 yards, of which eight belonged to first-round draft choice Rashaad Penny — in seven carries. Wilson gave back 56 yards in sacks, at least half of which coming when he pivoted into trouble instead of out of it.

Contributing to the woes was Broncos All-Pro rush end Von Miller, who a few times overwhelmed RT Germain Ifedi. Miller had three sacks, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and four QB hits. Next to Ifedi was J.R. Sweezy, a veteran from the Super Bowl days who nevertheless didn’t play a lick in the preseason (sprained ankle) and became a starter because of J.D. Fluker’s balky hamstring.

Not only was the rush stymied, at halftime the wide receiver group had one reception for two yards. Wilson connected downfield only with the surprising Dissly, who evoked some deep memories from Carroll.

“Dissly was on fire,” he said. “I was shouting, ‘Ditka!'”

Part of the paltry production was the absence of WR Doug Baldwin, who in the second quarter had a defender accidentally roll up on his right, or good, knee, from behind, spraining his MCL. Carroll had no forecast for Baldwin, but he already missed the preseason with a left knee injury.

The reason the offensive problems were so odious was that it has to carry the defense this season, particularly Sunday. The Seahawks started two rookies, CB Tre Flowers and LB Shaquem Griffin, among eight defenders who did not start the Seattle opener a year ago.

When Griffin faltered, a third rookie, Austin Calitro, replaced him on first and second downs. The Broncos found short-pass success on their side early and often.

QB Case Keenum sliced up the defense with 25 completions in 39 attempts for 329 yards and three touchdowns.  The first two TDs, a 29-yard pass in the flat to rookie RB Phillip Lindsay and a 43-yard crossing route to veteran Emmanuel Sanders, vexed Carroll.

‘Those are really easy plays to not let happen,” he said. “They were big plays . . . really frustrating. I can see the newness of us. We made some mistakes on defense that are easily cleaned up. We got a lot of work to do.”

True. Yet despite all, the Seahawks led 24-20 inside final 12 minutes after Wilson hooked up with WR Tyler Lockett on an elegant 51-yard touchdown pass.

“I don’t know if you could see a more beautiful pass than that,” Carroll said. “Perfectly handled by both guys and the front. That play should have won the game for us.”

It did not because the Broncos answered with a 75-yard drive that concluded with a four-yard TD pass to WR Demaryius Thomas, one of four holdovers from the Broncos team that was humiliated 43-8 by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seahawks three more possessions, but netted three yards. The Wilson miracles of the past were nowhere to be seen.

The winning drive was abetted when the Broncos, facing third-and-10 at the Seattle 31, completed a 22-yard pass. It reflected the almost game-long absence of a pass rush. The rush has been a worry since DEs Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were not brought back, and the Seahawks did not upgrade the spots in any way that was evident Sunday.

Earl Thomas led the Seahawks defense in Denver. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The best news on defense was the return of FS Earl Thomas. He came back Monday from his futile holdout, started and had the first of three Seattle interceptions, along with five tackles and two passes defensed.

By design, he was taken out of a few series.

“We rested him as much as we could,” Carroll said. ‘We couldn’t play him the whole time.

“He and the players handled the return perfectly. He worked real hard, and they embraced him. We knew he couldn’t play the whole game. But we wanted to give him a great chance to contribute immediately, and he did.”

With the pending return of LB K.J. Wright (knee) next week for the Monday night game in Chicago, it’s possible to see an uptick in defensive production.

The offense is another story, especially in the likely absence of Baldwin. WR Brandon Marshall had three catches, including a touchdown, for 46 yards, and may rise suddenly from walk-on to go-to guy.

But somebody else is going to have to block for the run and help protect Wilson. Or was that what previous eight months were about?

 


SPONSORED POST

Support SportspressNW

The idea is simple: Want to help? Please, and thank you. Don’t want to help? Please and thank you for continuing to read. Our content is free to all. No paywalls. No tricks. See the ways you can support SportspressNW.

YourThoughts

  • WestCoastBias79

    Ifedi. Kicking game. Rinse. Repeat.

    • art thiel

      Played at the Clink’s sea level under cloudy skies, Seahawks win,

  • Ron

    I can see the Seahawks possibly getting wins against the Cowboys, Cardinals, and 49ers. The floor is 3-13, the ceiling is 5-11. I’m not the (8-8) optimist that Art is.

    • WestCoastBias79

      Sunshine and moonbeams here. But for all their faults, the Broncos did have one of the best rush defenses in the league last year, now have a competent QB, good skill guys, and one of the best defensive ends in the league, and the Seahawks were a Blair Walsh… er Janikowski away from a tie at Mile High Stadium. I’d place them as firmly mediocre. Yay?

      • Ron

        I didn’t see a competent QB. He was throwing easy picks, three, but should have been four. If you can’t win with four interceptions, who can you beat?

        • WestCoastBias79

          He was better than Trevor Simeon?

          • Ron

            How? He threw 3 (4) interceptions into the face of NO pressure. Other than last year with a good Vikings team, their career stats are comparable.

    • Diamond Mask

      We nearly won in a very hostile environment on the road and we didn’t even play that well. Your estimates are unlikely in my view. Pete Carroll is a competitor.

    • art thiel

      Losing Baldwin for a stretch will be a killah.

      • Ron

        It would be nice if Marshall could pick up the slack, but I’m afraid every time he scores, the play will be penalized/called back for offensive pass interference because he pushes off every time, and doesn’t really need to.

        • art thiel

          I saw him do it once.

  • Matt Kite

    Strange game. As bad as the Seahawks played at times, they still had a shot. Wilson was up and down — but mostly down when it mattered. Same problems as always: lousy offensive line, not-clutch field goal kicker, defense can’t get off the field, lost time-of-possession stat (not even close). Plus new problems: defense can’t get pressure on the quarterback, bad tackling, missed assignments. Wheeeeeeeee! Yet they only lost by three? Is Denver that mediocre (even at home in Sept.), or are we Seattle fans spoiled?

    • art thiel

      It’s one game. You’re spoiled. But as I said above, the pass rush is meager. But if Dion Jordan gets healthier, there’s a chance to be NFL average.

      • Stephen Pitell

        NFL average at pass rush is actually quite good. I know that sounds counter-intuitive or something like that, but it sure seems the average pass rush team we play has names I recognize as going very high in the draft. There are a lot of physical freaks playing DE in the NFL.

  • Tman

    3 and 13 is optimistic, especially if Kaepernick is on the wrong side of the ball when the hawks play SF Twice. Not that Kaepernick is a better qb than Wilson..He’s a lot better qb than Hundley.

    • Diamond Mask

      What?

      • Tman

        Colin Kaepernick will be picked up soon by a team in need. Why not us?

        • art thiel

          That ship has sailed. Carroll has always liked Hundley, and doesn’t need another circus.

          • Tman

            Kaepernick is a quiet man.

          • art thiel

            He said nothing when he sat in protest. Caused a national ruckus.

          • Tman

            The circus is in the other Washington. The Seahawks need the quiet man.

  • 1coolguy

    Good column Art – tellin’ it like it is –
    Dissly – Bow Down the Washington, baby! Ya gotta love it when a local boy makes good. I must admit, I was very vocal in my disgust with Soft Jimmy Graham, and Dissly makes my belief that Graham was a worthless pussy all the more accurate.
    So where was Dissly the second half?? The star of the first half gets forgotten the second half?
    As to RW, he was running for his life the whole time – it’s amazing this guy is still standing.
    Ifedi – does he have the negatives on Pete or JS? Really, why is this worthless sack still on the team, short of having the goods on one of these guys? If I were RW, I would get Pete and JS in a room and issue an ultimatum: Get a worthy O line together or trade me.
    Let’s hope that KJ is back THIS week – I don’t have the stomach to watch the rookies replacements another game – that was brutal. Hello, ever hear the term “contain”??? Denver’s had Griffin’s jock the whole game.
    Jaworski – I doubt he has ever muffed two FG’s the same game. I’d like to know if it was the holder or the snapper? He is much too good a kicker to blow these two kicks.

    • WestCoastBias79

      Actually makes me wonder how good Graham could have been if they used him like Dissly. That said, Jimmy G was a pretty solid no show for the Pack last night. That’s a definite trade I’d like back.

  • tor5

    At least twice — in the 2nd and early 4th quarter — the Hawks had 3rd down and inches. Both times they passed… and failed. I thought Carson was doing ok, but the Hawks just gave up the run game anyway. Then the Broncos focused on pass rush and gave Wilson fits. After an entire off-season dedicated to reestablishing the run game… what happened? What am I missing? Really frustrating.

    • Ron

      Carson was great, hurdling tacklers, until he handed off to Von Miller.

      • art thiel

        Carson rarely fumbled in college. But this was Von Miller, graduate.

    • art thiel

      I think the OC thought his guys were more capable of pass protecting than run blocking. Remember, it was his first full game with this collection, and was done in high heat and high altitude.

      • Ken S.

        And unfortunately the o-line couldn’t manage pass or rushing protection.

      • tor5

        So Shotty was lightheaded? Really, after 8 months of talking about the run game, their first chance at 3rd-and-inches and they wilt and setup in the shotgun. I was appalled.

        • art thiel

          Not a good playcall. Outthinking himself.

          • tor5

            I know I’m overreacting to one play, but I can’t unsee it (as you might say). The symbolism reeked of surrender… not just of the play but of their whole new philosophy. I mean, they took an RB in the first round and they still don’t have the confidence to grind out 3 inches?!

  • DJ

    Thanks Art!
    “Even after flushing six assistant coaches and turning over chunks of the roster, some habits are hard to break” – Nice put. Yes, still much to do. The satisfaction meter still sits halfway between Happy & Disappointed.

    I’d like to see what a non-suffocated Russell Wilson can do on a consistent basis – please! Now we get to listen to theories about the how the SI article might have affected his performance, etc. Not fun.

    You just can’t change football physics – gotta win at the line of scrimmage – that’s our single point failure, on both sides of the ball. Fix that, and everything else that sparks will be even more rewarding make the whole thing shine.

    While negatives exist, yes, seeing the reincarnation of Zack Miller in Dissly, doses of dominance from a bruising Carson, awesome punt distance/placement, and two ball hawking safeties were all pleasant surprises, are things they can build on. Couldn’t hold back the shout of “YES!” when Earl snagged that pass – Classic Earl!

    • art thiel

      The Seahawks were disjointed, not terrible. Most of the mistakes are correctable. But the absence of a pass rush was the biggest void.

      • antirepug3

        They did appear to be somewhat disorganized especially in pass defense. They really need to tighten up on the coverage and leave the loser soft coverage to the other team.

        • art thiel

          Remember they started two rookie and used a third a lot.

  • Diamond Mask

    Yes Saint Russell isn’t quite so saintly anymore. Gone are the heady days early in his career where we just waited for him to Save the Day again. He’s still a pretty good QB though and I’ll wait to see more this season.

  • coug73

    15 more games to get it right. The Broncos corralled Wilson and put steady pressure on him. When Wilson is protected he can deliver.

    How good are the Bronco’s? To early to tell. For the Hawks waiting when the the injured can play.

    The Bears, will the shock stay with them? The doubt?

    • Diamond Mask

      Good game but crushing end. I had to mute my TV because Al & Chris had to call Rodgers HEROIC about every 1.2 seconds. He’s the new Brett Favre. Look at his girlfriend in the stands……oooooh. Danica Patrick….ooooooh. Nobody will ever remember who caught the pass and ran 50 yards for a touchdown because you know AARON ROOOOOODGERS IS SO GREAT AND HEROIC. It’s nauseating.

      • coug73

        It’s understandable, you are suffering from Rodger fatigue. Al and Chris past their prime.

      • art thiel

        You can zip on a hazmat suit and still enjoy the game.

    • art thiel

      The shock will continue Monday when the Bears find no answer for Will Dissly.

  • ll9956

    A disappointing loss to be sure. I recall posting here during the preseason, when the Hawks were killing themselves with penalties, that if that continues into the real season, there will be much “wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth”. And so it was yesterday. Chris Carson made a beautiful 36-yard run that was nullified by a holding penalty. Overall the Seahawks’ total of 45 yards of penalties was an improvement over the preseason.

    But penalties were far from the only problem. The pass protection was about five steps below abysmal. OK, I realize that Von Miller is practically unblockable, so it’s not shocking that poor Mr Ifedi got beat more than once. I strongly suspect that Denver deliberately lined up Miller opposite Ifedi. Altogether, the Hawks allowed six sacks, three of which were by Miller. I wonder why PC or Schottenheimer didn’t assign a running back to help with pass protection. It would have meant one less receiver, but if they could have given Russell another second to throw, some of those sacks might have been avoided and changed the course of the game.

    Of course the missed field goal was, uh, unfortunate, especially considering Janikowski had two chances to make it. I’m sure the poor guy is kicking himself severely.

    Even with all the problems, the Hawks gave a better account of themselves than I expected, so I have some hope for better things to come.

    • art thiel

      RBs were the checkdowns on numerous pass plays, but I think FB Tre Madden was under-used. 11 snaps.

  • BLBeamer

    Art, you’re just a pie-eyed optimist! I would love to see an 8-8 season, but given what I saw against Denver I think we’ll be lucky to get 7 wins.

    Griffin looked really out of his element at LB. I counted at least three times Denver ran the same play at him and he was snookered all three times.

    • art thiel

      That’s why another rookie, Calitro, came in for him on first and second downs. He’s not ready to start at LB.

      • BLBeamer

        Agreed. Can’t wait for KJ to come back.

  • woofer

    Not sure that Wilson hasn’t lost a little of his once surreal quickness. No magical pirouette escapes this week. He would surely be fine with decent protection. But can that ever happen with Ifedi on the field?

    • art thiel

      Broncos had months to prep the D-line for the angles to take on Wilson’s reverse pivots.

  • jafabian

    Hawks have their work cut out. They’re still having issues with the Offensive Line and don’t have much of a pass rush if at all. Wish the Hawks would go with. Two TE set more to help the running game but instead as usual they typically opt for a 3 WR set. You can tell Russell doesn’t quite trust them yet. If the Hawks won Dickson would have been Player Of The Game and that’s not good when the punter is the star. Earl looked good initially but he still was out of position several times. It’ll be awhile before he’s up to speed. The secondary has gone from a strength to being okay. Don’t see how Schneider can do much at this point,

    • art thiel

      As long as Thomas/McDougald stay intact, the secondary has a chance to be OK. Tre Flowers made rookie mistakes in his first start, but he has Sherman-like gifts, although few can read an offense like Sherman.

  • Howard Wells

    Thank gawd we weren’t rebuilding this past off season otherwise we would’ve looked awful yesterday. At least the quotes from the coaches over the last 6 months said we are NOT rebuilding. Bring on Da Bears next Monday Night Football! ugh possibility?

    • art thiel

      Re-set was the term Schneider used. I don’t know what that meant either.

  • Ken S.

    Contributing to the woes was Broncos All-Pro rush end Von Miller, who a few times overwhelmed RT Germain Ifedi.———————————No surprise there. If the Hawks manage an 8-8 season they had better buy lotto tickets on their way out of town for vacations. As usual the o-line was anything but offensive. I don’t see them getting any better if they don’t spend some money on the o-line. And Ifedi sucks. The guy can’t manage to side-step to stay on a block. All it’ll take is one screwup by the o-line to send Wilson on the IR rooster. Or maybe a permanent vacation. As for the defense, well, a not-too-good Denver offense managed to hang 27 points on them, so that side of the line looks rather bleak as well. 6-10 season? More like it.

    • art thiel

      First game, Ken. First game with new coaches/players. And the O-line is all first and second-round draft choices, They just paid Brown a ton and gave a second contract to Britt. The one lineman circling the drain is Ifedi.

      And they were ahead in the 4Q in a place where the Broncs have won 18 of their past 19 home openers.

  • Effzee

    This is year three of Pete professing that he wants to get back to establishing the run. Its up to him to get the message across to his play-caller. If he allows his newest former-QB play caller to abandon the run all year (again), then that’s on Pete.

  • Archangelo Spumoni

    Watched the supposedly-not-yet-in-football-shape Khalil Mack against That Baaaaaaaaad Man this weekend and the Seahawks’ staff shrink has work to do if anybody on the o-line wants to get any sleep this week.
    Game plan play #1: avoid Khalil Mack
    Game plan play #2: try to find something while being terrorized about Play #1.

    • antirepug3

      Mack pushed Bulaga straight up right into the face of Rodgers. I think the Hawks are in trouble…

    • art thiel

      Think one-step drop passes.