BY Art Thiel 05:33PM 10/27/2019

Thiel: As for Seahawks’ second half, who knows?

The 27-20 win over the 1-7 Falcons started as a 24-0 halftime lead. At 6-2, the Seahawks have a good record, but are they good? Harrowing wins offer little clue.

Here’s one of 10 receptions for 152 yards by Atlanta WR Julio Jones Sunday in Atlanta. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Sunday in Atlanta, the narrative of the game foreshadowed precisely the season: Good first half, and who the hell knows about the second half.

The Seahawks are 6-2 after the 27-20 blowout-turned-passout triumph (box and video highlights) over the woebegone Falcons (1-7). Yet even The Man of Eternal Sunshine wasn’t kidding himself.

“We don’t have it quite yet,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re not quite there. In one regard, we’re 6-2 and not feeling so bad.

“We got a ways to go.”

The impressive 24-0 first half was followed by a depressive second half.

An enraged Falcons team, belatedly inspired to save the job of head coach Dan Quinn, the former Seahawks assistant, repeatedly slashed the visitors at two-thirds empty Mercedes-Benz Stadium. If not for a goal-line recovery of an Atlanta fumble early in the fourth quarter, which turned into a Seattle field goal and a 27-11 lead, Carroll would be loading and stacking sandbags to keep out the fast-rising turbulence.

Instead, the Seahawks are 4-0 on the road for the first time since 1980, Russell Wilson is 30-7 following a loss — best quarterback mark in the NFL since the 1970 merger — and the Seahawks come home to face next Sunday 2-5 Tampa Bay, whose quarterback, Jameis Winston, made four turnovers in a 27-23 loss to Tennessee Sunday.

“You can talk about all the other stuff, but the reality is, we’re 6-2,” Wilson said. “We can continue to get better. We feel like we could be 8-0.”

As well, they could be 2-6. Besides the Sunday outcome, the only other game they controlled so far was a 27-10 win at then-shaky Arizona. The other four tension-filled wins came versus 0-8 Cincinnati, 2-4 Pittsburgh, 2-5 Cleveland and 5-3 Los Angeles Rams.

The counter-argument is that the same comparisons can be drawn for many teams in the NFL, which is true. But that means that the Seahawks are, like many teams, ordinary at midseason.

The sole distinctive advantage so far is Wilson, who, after a one-game spit-up against Baltimore, resumed his stellar ways by completing 14 of 20 passes for 182 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. But he was part of the woeful, three-point second half, although Carroll was quick to figuratively jump in front of his star to take any bullets.

“I just got to do a better job to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Carroll said. “I didn’t do a good enough job in the transition from first half to second half. We got knocked all over the place.

“We looked like we were a totally different team. There’s a lot of things that take place when you don’t play well.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll greets his former assistant, Atlanta coach Dan Quinn, after the game. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

One tangible handicap was noteworthy — the likely season-ending loss of C Justin Britt, who went down in the first quarter with what Carroll said “looks and acts like” a torn ACL. In stepped four-year backup Joey Hunt, who deserves partial credit for the 130 rushing yards the Seahawks piled up in the first-half blast, as well as two touchdown passes to rookie WR DK Metcalf and and a one-yard TD run by RB Chris Carson.

Carson (20 carries, 90 yards in the return to his hometown) was joined by Rashaad Penny (eight for 55) in creating the attack envisioned in preseason. Ironically, the success could spur some tumult — Penny is speculated as a potential target ahead of the NFL trade deadline Tuesday. The former first-round pick could help solve for the earlier season-ending injury loss of TE Will Dissly. Penny may have been showcased Sunday.

Any trade likely won’t involve a Seattle defender. Because who would want someone from a unit that allowed 512 yards of offense from a 1-7 team, including 460 passing yards from Matt Schaub?

The backup to injured QB Matt Ryan, Schaub is a two-time Pro Bowler who started six seasons with Houston. But he’s also 38, hadn’t started a game since 2015, and has thrown 16 passes in the three years before Sunday. He went to All-Pro Julio Jones 10 times for 152 yards, helping the Falcons out-gain Seattle in the second half 348-82.

“They resolved to keep fighting, clawing and scratching,” Carroll said of the Falcons. “They got physical and took over the game. Fortunately, we were ahead enough to hold them off.

“It was a great testament to Danny (Quinn) and their attitude. Their backup threw for a million yards.”

The defense had a partial excuse in the injury absences of CB Tre Flowers and safeties Lano Hill, Bradley McDougald and Quandre Diggs, the latter acquired Tuesday from Detroit, where he strained a hamstring that came along with him.

The good news was that strong evidence was offered for why the Seahawks spent a second-round draft choice on Marquise Blair.

 

The rookie started his second career game at free safety and led the Seahawks with 11 tackles, including the biggest one — the fourth-quarter goal-line hit on RB Devonta Freeman, which loosened the ball and ended an 85-yard drive when LB Bobby Wagner recovered the fumble. Freeman appeared to be down before the ball started coming out, but replay review let the call stand, and the Seahawks escaped national embarrassment.

“Every game he’s played, he’s made hits that jump out,” Carroll said. “That’s what we loved about him when we drafted him.

“He’s got a habit of knocking the fire out if people.”

Despite the afternoon fade, Carroll claimed the Seahawks’ tradition will come through.

“We’re gonna finish,” he said, “like this club has finished forever. We’re going to do it again. This story is not written. You guys write the stories, thinking that you know, but it ain’t written yet.”

He’s right that the story isn’t written. From his Seahawks past, he can draw on the history of great Decembers. But from 2019 so far, he has to draw on only a messy pile of question marks.


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YourThoughts

  • Warchild_70

    I’ve discovered a new libation for these games, 4 Rolaids followed by four fingers of the Quacken (sp) then a couple of Michelob’s. With that intake I’ll be ready for the second half.

    • 1coolguy

      Haha – good one! I’ll try it!

      • art thiel

        Let me know what Quacken is, and whether it’s legal.

    • Kevin Lynch

      Let’s be honest. Playoff picture?: pretty good. Some significant questions. As Art spelled out. Division?: Looks tarrible. Unless you plan on sweeping the 49er’s. Right now, IMHO – gotta win that Vikings game at home. Twill be ‘tres dificile’; i.e. not easy. Vikes QB “You Like That?” Curt Cousins, the “worst offensive player on the team” (apparently not), has already beaten the Hawks in Seattle while a member of the Skins. They could be the wild card competitor. Could also be the Packers.

      • art thiel

        I’m not sharing your view of “pretty good” playoff picture. I think it’s 50-50 at best, given the schedule, and the neediness in the secondary. They went after an injured Diggs for good reason.

    • art thiel

      I thought fans sought altered states for the slow first-half starts. Now it’s the second. You’re confusing the bartender.

  • Matt Kite

    Great encapsulation of the game and the season so far, Art. The Seahawks could easily go 2-6 the rest of the way. The second half of the season is going to suss them out, one way or another. Let’s hope they turn a corner just in time for the challenges ahead.

    • art thiel

      Thanks.

  • 1coolguy

    The stats of every QB we have faced explode – We are now experiencing just how exceptional the LOB was – it was an historical point in time, when a unit jelled together and stayed as the best for several years. What a delight, looking back, that group was.
    Never in a million years would he have thrown for 460 against the LOB. These new kids need help, and the front 4 need to step up immediately.
    There is too much talent in the front 4 to not pressure the QB and their stats are more than troublesome. They have a long way to go, which, given their individual accomplishments, is surprising. The DB’s really, really need them to step up and pressure the QB’s. Let’s hope the 2nd half somehow shows a much improved unit.
    As to the disparity in the offense, 1st half vs 2nd half, when will SHOTT call a complete game? It’s so consistent each game that the opposition makes halftime adjustments and the offense doesn’t have a plan, except of course, the “please bail us out again RW” play. Ugh.

    • art thiel

      Blair showed a lot, but Wright’s knees and Ansah’s long layoff are hurting production. Clowney still isn’t at his max. Every opponent OC is going to want to get after these guys.

  • Tim

    I’m looking at historical tendencies for the Hawks and this sets up nicely. 11-5 would be nothing to sneeze at and having winning on the road as a normal occurrence bodes well for the playoffs.

    • art thiel

      The unsettled secondary is a big vulnerability. I don’t see a team with a below average defense getting to 11 wins.

  • jafabian

    I’d hate to see Penny given up on halfway through his second season. I’m puzzled that he isn’t used on kick returns since he had great success doing them in college. I feel as though eventually it will be him and not Carson as the long term solution at RB. I’m also not confident they could get what they need for him: a sack master. A proven sack threat for an underachieving backup RB? The injuries to the OL might change that. If Schneider sees after the Ravens game that the secondary needed help and took care of it who’s to say what he’s thinking after this game?

    • art thiel

      Lockett is so good on the return game that they don’t want to change. Penny is good, and they may not move him, but if TE Dickson doesn’t come back 100 percent, they are short at the the position.

      • Kristafarian

        So much exposure…
        Gotta wonder what’s the career-span of a reciever/kick returner?
        How many car wrecks can a guy endure?

        (Here’s to hoping Science can get him an all-new body when he’s ready to retire.) (Can’t they grow new limbs etc for him over at the U of Dub?)

        • art thiel

          If the services were available, we’d be seeing Doug Baldwin on the field.

    • tor5

      I also want to see Penny get his chance. But I see inklings of true greatness in Carson.

  • 1coolguy

    Art – My guess is 42-27 is Ryan played, with close to or more than 600 yards. At this point, maybe playing a guessing game is all one can do. What’s your guess?
    With an ugly game like this, what the heck?

    • art thiel

      It’s also possible the second half was a one-off. These Seahawks have never had such a lead and didn’t know how to act. The first half showed their max capabilities. Remember, this is the fourth youngest team in the NFL.

      • Kristafarian

        It’s gotta be good to get this one out of their System.
        As Pete says, thank god for the lead…

        • art thiel

          You’re sure it’s one then.

          • Kristafarian

            While the odds are long, it’s the Hawks.
            When they think their backs’re against the wall
            they’re pretty dang hard to beat.

            So, not Las Vegas sure
            more like cocksure.

  • Kevin Lynch

    What’s really amazing is how the Hawks dodged three HOF QB’s in the first half of their season. All wound up injured by the time Seattle played their teams. That’s definitely been a factor in the 6-2 start.

    • art thiel

      It’s an important point. The Seahawks’ inability to make teams pay much for having to play backup QBs is remarkable. It was first games for Bridgewater, Rudolph and Schaub, and they all did relatively well, absent serious pressure.

  • WestCoastBias79

    This season is weird. The Patriots look crazy good, but have basically played a Big Sky conference schedule. The rest of the AFC without Mahomes is whether or not Lamar Jackson can be Randall Cunningham or not away from being a joke. The team from Santa Clara looks good, but it’s looking more and more that their crazy expensive QB is just along for the ride, he’s not driving it, and you don’t fear him–Harbaugh Kaepernick was terrifying, Jimmy G is not. There’s a glaring flaw in every good team. Like Russ insinuated, they’re probably a pick 6 and a pregame football to the face from being 8-0. But as you said, they’re a few other bounces away from being 2-6. You could probably say that about every other winning team right now outside the aforementioned two.

    • art thiel

      I think the 49ers are real. They have game-breakers on both sides, as was apparent Sunday vs. CAR. Jimmy G doesn’t have to be great for the Niners to be very good, much like the 2012 Wilson.

      • antirepug3

        And I think the 49ers and the Vikings are going to put the Hawks in the L column for those games.

  • Matt712

    The Seahawks’ base D scheme is a failure. It has taken the best linebacker tandem (Wagner and Wright) in football and has rendered them almost mediocre. Kendrick’s being used like a nickel back while the other two are forced to drop back into space far too often – getting matched up with receivers. It leaves just too much space between the line and the backfield to stop a modern offense. And it’s gutting what should have been a formidable run defense this year. ‘m not a fan of this scheme. I like each of the linebackers, I just don’t think they should all be on the field at the same time.

    • art thiel

      A big part of the problem is that injuries and inexperience in the secondary have compromised the whole defense. Carroll trusts Kendricks to avoid mistakes, which isn’t the case with the DBs. That’s why they traded for damaged-goods Diggs. When Thompson erred on the long pass vs. Ravens, he violated the prime directive. The Seahawks reacted with deep help vs. ATL, which Schaub exploited by throwing underneath primarily to Jones, who extended plays with his always effective YAC.

  • tor5

    Can’t argue with your analysis, but I’ll see the glass as half full. I’m anxious to get Blair, McDougald, Shaq, and Flowers on the field at the same time. I bet that would take things up a notch.

    • art thiel

      Could be. If the front 7 can lay some wood, much pressure is relieved on the back.