BY Art Thiel 09:15PM 10/20/2019

Thiel: Earl helps expose truths about Seahawks

Earl Thomas, Lamar Jacklson and friends had reason to party as the Ravens, in a stirring 30-16 beat-down, showed the Seahawks that all is not as well as 5-1 made it seem.

Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson exchanged jerseys at midfield after the game. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Looking for a trenchant statement about the events of the afternoon and its impact on the season, we turn to Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett, scorer Sunday of the Seahawks’ only touchdown, although it was one of two TD passes thrown by Russell Wilson.

“The lesson was,” he said, “you can’t get away with everything.”

Well put.

For six games, the Seahawks got away with a friendly schedule, an inadequate defense, light punishment for poor execution by players and coaches, good fortune regarding health relative to opponents’ problems, and leaning heavily on an other-worldly start by Wilson.

Also: The missed game-winning field goal by the Rams’ reliable Greg Zuerlein.

Also also: Letting go of an All-Pro player with tread on his tires and fire in his heart, while lacking adequate replacement.

All of those favorables crashed Sunday, right in front of, and partly owing to, the return of the outcast, Earl Thomas. The Baltimore Ravens’ 30-16 triumph (box) was a far more civil, comprehensive and disturbing statement about Thomas’s departure than an obscene gesture.

As stunned, soaked members of a once-raucous sellout crowd shuffled to the Clink exits during garbage time, Thomas and his fellow defenders danced along the sidelines, then clambered upon the team benches to pose for a  celebratory group photo.

They had come to Seattle and not only convincingly beat the Seahawks, but humbled Wilson’s game, and vaulted their own guy, the remarkable Lamar Jackson, into the position Wilson vacated — leading candidate for the NFL’s most valuable player award.

“Very satisfying,” said a joyous Thomas, who was in on five tackles, including two solos, but had no other stats. “Just to come here where I started, and to get this win like that — we dominated too. It felt really, really, really good.”

As the game ended, Thomas rushed onto the field and greeted numerous former  teammates with friendly words and hugs, then found good friend Wilson near midfield for several minutes of warm conversation and an exchange of signed jerseys.

In the milling crowd, Thomas passed within a few feet of his former coach, Pete Carroll. No glances or words were exchanged. They were headed in opposite directions.

Perhaps as were their teams.

No, the outcome doesn’t mean the Seahawks necessarily are going to crash and burn. But there’s no getting around the fact that they lost decisively at home to the two best teams they have played, the Ravens and Saints, and beat a sliding Rams outfit by a point.

Sunday, they lost to a team playing almost exactly in the style Carroll wants his team to play, and did from 2012 to 2016 — an aggressive, opportunistic defense joined with a run-heavy, clock-eating offense that wears down opponents emotionally as well as physically (as in the Ravens’ nine-minute drive in the fourth quarter for a field goal to seal the outcome). But Sunday, the Seahawks were little match for their mirror image.

The one distinction is Jackson, 22, who impacts a game like no other current quarterback, and only one other in the game’s modern history — Michael Vick.

He was as advertised, only more so. In my time covering the Seahawks, I haven’t heard such astonishment over an opposing player.

“He’s totally unique, and they know it,” Carroll said. “He was phenomenal . . . he’s faster than he looks.”

Said DE Jadeveon Clowney: “He’s on a whole different level. He’s in a lane of his own. He can make anything happen for that team. He was better than us today. He won the game for them.”

DT Poona Ford: “I’ve played against a lot of running quarterbacks. He’s very different. I definitely think he’s a generational player in this league. I see why people hype him.”

LB Bobby Wagner: “A lot of people don’t respect his ability to throw the ball. He’s a really good thrower. Combine that with his running and it makes it really tough.”

Beyond his physical traits, in his second year he’s exuding a command that created the decisive sequence of the game. With words, not deeds.

The game was tied at 13 early in the third quarter when the Seahawks chickened out of a fourth down and three at the Baltimore 35-yard line and opted for a 53-yard field goal in the rain, which Jason Myers missed.

The Ravens trudged away for 10 plays until bogging down at the Seahawks 8-yard line at fourth and 2. As the field goal unit trotted onto the field again —  the first two times, the Ravens’ field goals accounted for their only offensive points in the first half — Jackson said hell no and marched to the sideline.

“I’m like, this time we ain’t kicking no field goal,” Jackson said, “because Russell Wilson is getting the ball again, and if we don’t score (a touchdown), it might look ugly.”

Said Ravens coach John Harbaugh: “I could see it on his face — he was really upset. To get all those yards back like he did . . . I called a timeout. It was a great play. He only goes inside in a critical situation. It was a critical situation.”

Jackson burst over right tackle for the first down, and a touchdown. The score with 90 seconds left in the quarter sealed the game. For the fourth quarter, there would be no Wilson magic.

 

He was frequently on the run and throwing off-balance more often. He finished 21 of 40 for 241 yards for 65.2 QB rating and, most egregiously, his first interception of the season — a horrible, double-pump to the flat aimed for Jaron Brown in the second quarter. CB Marcus Peters, the former Washington Huskies star acquired during the week in a trade with the Rams, picked it easily and went untouched 67 yards.

“Just made a bad play,” Wilson said. “Just disappointed. A good player over there. He made a good play.”

Wilson entered the game with 207 pass attempts in a row without an interception, but this one was so bad any NFL player could have snatched it. But it was one play; a more troubling trend was that he was hit seven times by a blitzing Ravens defense that often had its way with a Seahawks line that had two subs, LT George Fant and RG Jamarco Jones, starting for a second week. The Seahawks also surrendered seven tackles for loss.

“Obviously, Russ got hit quite a bit today,” said C Justin Britt. “We have to do better.”

So does the Seahawks defensive line — after not sacking Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield the previous week, Jackson went down once for a two-yard loss.

Overshadowed last week by the storyline of the return of Thomas were some hard truths about the Seahawks. They have holes, under-performers and needs that were exposed by a quality opponent. For the curious: The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 29.

As the Seahawks prepare to head to Atlanta for another supposed softie, the 1-6 Falcons, beaten Sunday 37-10 by the Rams, Britt tried for positive spin.

“We’re 5-2,” he said. “If we end up 14-2, we’ll be all right.”

They will have to attempt that feat in the time when there is no more getting away with everything.

The Seahawks found themselves behind Ravens QB Lamar Jackson a lot. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest


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

  • Coop55

    Offensive line, offensive line, offensive line.
    What are we at, 3 or 4 years now with an O line that is near or at bottom in the league?
    Reading game summary is Groundhog Day. They squeak out wins against poor or average teams, get beat up by good ones. Over and over. Russ runs for his life. Good blitzing teams kill us. This team will not be elite again until they figure out the line issue (both offense and defense now). I can’t watch Ifedi, and the George Fant experiment has to end.

    • 1coolguy

      Did you miss that Duane Brown, our starting LT (the most important position on the OL) and BEST lineman, and BEST leader, did not play?
      I agree Ifedi is simply brain dead and should be replaced, by frankly ANYONE, and without Dissly, Fant is exposed.

      • Coop55

        It’s not just one game though. We are into our third year of this now. Other teams with salary cap issues seem to figure it out. The Patriots figure it out.

        • art thiel

          There is no three-year program here, Lines evolve on a weekly basis. Solari is a better O-line coach than Cable, and it’s worth recalling the Seahawks led the league in rushing last year and Wilson had his finest season. I’d find a different argument.

    • art thiel

      The Seahawks were missing two starters (Brown and Fluker) and were forced to use Fant away from his TE spot. The line isn’t great, but they weren’t the biggest problem Sunday.

  • Matt Kite

    5-2 but just a few plays away from 2-5. The long season has a way of exposing the truth. I’m thinking anything above 8-8 will be an accomplishment for this team, which can’t win if RW is anything less than spectacular (and even then requires a fair amount of good fortune).

    • art thiel

      I said in Sept this was a 9-7 team, and I’m sticking with it.

  • Husky73

    Let’s not anoint Lamar Jackson as the next big thing just yet. Sometimes in the NFL you’re the windshield, and sometimes the bug. It just wasn’t the Seahawks’ day. Art’s right– some things caught up with them. Let’s see how they bounce back. Final thought— I’d sure like to see more out of Clowney.

    • art thiel

      The No. 1 limitation on Jackson’s future is durability. Even though he runs away from a lot of tackles, he still gets hit more than any offensive player in the NFL. Tha will catch up.

      • Richie Rich

        Exactly right. Isn’t that a significant part of Wilson’s legacy so far: his enduring performance and durability? Panther and Colt fans are envious.

  • ll9956

    Two catastrophic mistakes that resulted in TDs and the margin of victory was two TDs. Hmmm . . . What more can one say? Just as the Ducks out-muscled the Dawgs, the Ravens out-muscled the Hawks. Not a good weekend for the Puget Sound football community.

    I wonder if Jackson’s all purpose total of 259 all-purpose yards is an NFL record. At the least, I strongly suspect the Hawks have never given up that much by one player.

    • antirepug3

      The Ravens played their usual smash-mouth, slobber-knocker kind of football…and it showed.

    • art thiel

      I think a few RBs caught long balls too against the Seahawks. But yes, teams rarely win giving up two defensive touchdowns.

  • jafabian

    Like they did with the Saints the Hawks were out-coached. The Ravens wisely stuck with the run in the driving rain while the Hawks not only went with the pass they targeted rookie DK Metcalf the most of any of the Seahawk receivers. It’s bad when an armchair quarterback like myself sees the Ravens in a 4th and 2 and I go “I bet Lamar runs it in for a TD because on the last play he ran the ball and the defense couldn’t stop him.” And sure enough that’s what happens. The defense could not adjust on the fly.

    I agree with Britt that Russ got knocked around more than he had a right to. Back when the legendary Rick Mirer was a rookie QB for the Seahawks and they were playing against the LA Raiders (Boy that team gets around.) Mirer found himself one-on-one with future Seahawk teammate LB Winston Moss. Mirer, unknowing rookie that he was, put his head down and charged into Moss who gleefully took the challenge. Both went down and Mirer angrily popped right up, upset with Moss who was ready to throw down with the rookie. In comes OL Ray Roberts who shoved Moss to the ground and yelled at him to never mess with his QB. I don’t recall if Ray was ejected but I do remember that the Mirers took care of him. Rick paid his fine and the next day Ray found a package of homemade baked good from Rick’s wife with a note thanking him for protecting her husband. I want see that kind of mentality from the O-Line. DJ had it last year but the line seems to have lost that edge this season.

    Drama thy name is Earl. Not only was he trolling Coach Carroll after a fumble by the Hawks to where Bobby Wagner had to push him to the Ravens sideline but he gave Carroll the cold shoulder after the game. Per herosports.com the Seahawks gave him $56 million and yet Pete Carroll disrespected him. Not John Schneider. Not the Seahawks board of trustees. Not Paul Allen. Pete Carroll. Love ya Earl but man, get your facts straight and move on.

    • art thiel

      Quite the pull on the Mirer anecdote. I don’t believe I retain any Mirer anecdotes.

      The Seahawks did spy Wagner on Jackson occasionally, but that’s a mismatch in the open field. Jackson’s TD run was embarrassing, because that was straight ahead behind the RT.

      Regarding Carroll, final calls on personnel rest with him, and Allen sometimes got a hearing on the most controversial. I understand Thomas’s anger, but Carroll’s decision on what was best for the club’s future. Still, this one stung Carroll.

      • jafabian

        You have to recall when Rick, Eugene Robinson and Cortez Kennedy got fined for ordering some hot dogs and chowing down on them during a game. In their defense it was an exhibition game and they weren’t going to play in the second half but a memorable story IMO.

        • art thiel

          I do recall that episode. Caught on TV, I believe.

          You’re first on list for Mirer Memories Night.

  • Kevin Lynch

    There are multiple issues. I’d really like to see what happens if Russ gets to call his own first quarter plays and plays gunslinger. I’m not going to say “they are who we thought they were” yet. They could easily be 7-2 in two weeks. But then a brutal five game stretch that gives them four games away (49’ers, Rams, Panthers, Eagles) and a tough home game in the middle (Vikings). The Eagles will not be easy in Philly. Vikings QB Cousins is on a big roll. Rams will want revenge. Niners D is mega. Panthers on their home turf could be rough. We’ll see. Those five games will tell us if a division crown is still a possibility or not.

    • 1coolguy

      I’m not big on Shott – It seems he doesn’t take advantage of RW’s skill set, even though Russ has had great numbers. I would like to see where the Hawks stand as far as offensive production by quarter. My money is on one of the worse for the 1st qtr, while one of the best in the 4th.

      • art thiel

        That’s how the Seahawks have rolled since Carroll arrived. Plays that fail in the 1Q work in the 4Q because the OC uses misdirection, particularly when the defense tires.

    • art thiel

      Well, yes, playing out the schedule usually provides the info needed to determine the division winner. But forecasting ahead in the NFL is hard because each week’s injuries change a team’s ability to play to plan. And it’s often small stuff. For example, Duane Brown’s absence means more than filling his spot. George Fant has to leave his eligible TE spot to play LT, robbing the Seahawks of a jumbo-package weapon. Carroll often laments its absence from the run game.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Egad! Opponents for the final seven games of the season have a combined record, currently, of 31-14-1. Wow! Only Philly at 3-4 has a losing record at the moment.

    • art thiel

      While you’re looking ahead, look back to Carroll’s record in December.

  • Rupert

    To me, the biggest difference in quality was in the two secondaries. Teams have not had much difficulty throwing on the Hawks all season. Receivers are usually open with a good yard or more of cushion, allowing an easy pass (since the qb is rarely under pressure).

    Contrast this with what Russ was trying to throw into yesterday. Their coverage on our pass routes was so tight as to merit PI cries from every fan on many, many plays. But replay showed that the contact and stickiness of coverage was legal or close enough to legal that refs kept flags in their pockets. Basically, Russ rarely had an open receiver all day and his completion percentage showed it (INT notwithstanding).

    This and the fact that Peters scored on a stupid play by Russ (but Peters made a great decision to track back for the ball) really put in stark relief the difference between a quality secondary and the marginal (at best) one the Seahawks put out there.

    • antirepug3

      JMO, when teams play the Hawks with tight man coverage but the Hawks return the favor with loose zone coverage, the only outcome can be…Hawks lose. BTW, I am not a fan of zone coverage in case you didn’t notice.

      • Rupert

        Agreed. Their man coverage really limited RW, and our guys couldn’t get open.

      • art thiel

        It’s easier to play man when your men are Sherman, Thomas and Chancellor. The secondary has been a vulnerability since April. That’s why they drafted Blair in the second round. They need him to work.

    • art thiel

      Well, that’s why today they traded for Detroit’s starting strong safety. Also remember that Bradley McDougald and Lano Hill sat out Sunday with injuries.

  • Chris Alexander

    The second half was rough (just like the second half in the Huskies game was). But take away the pick-six and have Russell complete 75% of his passes in the first half (instead of 48%) and it could have easily been a 21-6 or 28-6 lead at halftime instead of a 13-13 tie. That said, while I’m not ready to anoint Lamar Jackson as the next coming of anything, watching him run through us and around us while completing improbable sidearm passes definitely made me appreciate what other teams have had to contend with in when playing the Seahawks since 2012. He was definitely Wilson-esque …. on a day that Wilson wasn’t.

    • art thiel

      I think most non-blowout NFL games are a few plays of if/then to change an outcome.

      Jackson a day-long force. Imagine if his tight end McAndrews hadn’t dropped three passes.

  • woofer

    In the 4th quarter before hordes of howling Twelves Lamar Jackson took over the game. You don’t see that too often. That’s what domination looks like. Jackson’ potential is off the charts.

    • art thiel

      Michael Vick had a similar capacity, but I think Jackson is faster and quicker. Remarkable.

  • antirepug3

    “They have holes, under-performers and needs that were exposed by a quality opponent.”

    Well said, Sir. Well said especially the “…exposed by a quality opponent.”

    • art thiel

      Thanks.

  • WestCoastBias79

    I’ll offer a simple explanation. No Duane Brown.

    • art thiel

      Hard to argue.

  • Mark Thurston

    Since 2012 The SeaHawks are 26-6 during the second half or final 8 games of the season. . this shows that each team has always been a work in progress. And Progress is something we can expect with each season as long as Pete Carroll is head coach. . My guess is that a 2nd half decline in win percentage (say 500 or less) would indicate Mr. Carroll is finally ready for retirement. . .until then stay optimistic my fellow 12’s ! ;-)