BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 11/05/2019

Thiel: Seahawks fill some needs, only on offense

The Seahawks win Sunday included leaps forward for C Joey Hunt, TE Jake Hollister and WR DK Metcalf. But no one on defense has taken a similar hint.

Rookie DK Metcalf had a career high 123 yards in receptions Sunday. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Besides the win, the Seahawks earned something else Sunday in beating, barely, Tampa Bay: Knowledge that C Joey Hunt, DK Metcalf and TE Jake Hollister can be reliable players, and that there’s room for newcomer WR Josh Gordon in the offense, should he deign to be a regular participant in practice.

What do these players have in common? They’re all on offense. No defenders in the 40-34 overtime triumph made a leap forward. They’re still muddling.

The unit is allowing 25.6 points a game, 22nd in the NFL, and 380.8 yards (25th). In contrast, the defense of the next opponent, the 49ers in Santa Clara Monday night, is averaging 12.8 ppg (second) and 241 ypg (first).

Let’s chat up the offense.

The unit’s most noteworthy season-ending injuries, to TE Will Dissly and C Justin Britt, seemed more than adequately patched, at least against the Bucs.

Hunt slowed his 360-pound opponent, former Huskies star Vita Vea, sufficiently to help create room for the Seahawks to gain 145 ground yards against the NFL’s No. 1 rush defense. Hollister jumped in when Luke Willson, Dissly’s replacement in the starting lineup, stepped out temporarily with bruised ribs. Hollister had four catches in six targets for 37 yards and two touchdowns.

“I thought Joey played a great game under all of the circumstances of his first start in a long time,” coach Pete Carroll said at his Monday presser. ” (We had) respect for the players that he went against in the front. He did a really good job. The communication was great.

“That’s a huge bonus for us knowing we won’t have Justin for the rest of the season.”

Of Hollister, a former high school quarterback in Bend, OR., acquired in April from the Patriots for a seventh-round draft choice, Carroll said, “He had an extraordinary day for the tight end spot. He should have scored three touchdowns — he missed it by a foot. He also made a touchdown by maybe an inch. But he had a fantastic day for us.”

The most spectacular uptick was Metcalf’s. The rookie second-rounder had six catches in nine targets, including four in the final 20 minutes, for 123 yards and a touchdown after a 53-yard catch and run. The accounting doesn’t include an easy catch for a two-point conversion.

Metcalf leads the Seahawks with an average of 18.1 yards per reception, eighth-best in the NFL, but until Sunday had only 23 catches in eight games. And he was still stinging from an unforced fumble in the Ravens game that led to a 39-yard return for a score.

Carroll on his Monday morning radio show on ESPN 710 was particularly impressed with Metcalf’s overtime reception on a third-and-six throw from Russell Wilson for 29 yards and a first down at the Bucs 6-yard line. He caught the ball falling backward with a defender clinging to Metcalf’s face mask, although the foul amazingly went uncalled.

“It was a remarkable play because the guy had a hold of his face mask, his head was turned (yet) he kept one eye on the football and made the catch,” he said. “I was tuned into the missed penalty. And what a great ball by Russell.”

Carroll said he’s discovering that Metcalf, beyond his imposing physique, is an intrinsic competitor, the coach’s favorite kind of player.

“He’s internally motivated to be great,” he said. “He doesn’t need pats on he back. He doesn’t need numbers and standards that come from outside. He’s driven to be a great player because it comes naturally to him.

“That’s how you prepare, how you study, how you maximize the reps in practice. To me, he’s driven from all the right places.”

Which brings us to Gordon, who might be the opposite sort, a great talent with a tendency to self-destruct. He was an All-Pro with Cleveland in 2014 when he led the league in receiving yards, yet was suspended for the 2015 and 2016 seasons for repeated violations of the NFL’s drug policy.

But at 28, he’s still in his athletic prime, and was cleared to play by doctors Saturday. He was claimed off waivers Friday by the Seahawks following his release by the Patriots, reportedly for missing meetings. His first practice will be Thursday (the Seahawks get an extra day off because it’s a Monday game).

“We talked about getting started, no expectations about what’s going to happen, any timelines,” Carroll said.  “Just get going. He’s got a lot of football to learn, he’s got a lot of stuff to show, because we don’t know where he fits in with the group. We’re not going to hand him anything; he’s going to earn what he gets.

“I kinda want to put a kibosh on idea that the whole game is going to turn to Josh Gordon. No, we’re no doing that. Hopefully, he can find a way to help us.”

There would seem to be room. So far, the Seahawks have had a production dropoff after Tyler Lockett (his career-high 13 catches Sunday gave him 59 receptions) and Metcalf’s 29. RB Chris Carson has 24, Dissly had 23, then WRs Jaron Brown has 14 and David Moore 10. Brown wasn’t targeted Sunday and Moore had two.

The nature of Sunday’s win may be the template for the tough sledding in the remaining  seven games: Heap responsibility for the outcome on the offense and Wilson’s capable shoulders, and hope the defense can grab a ballcarrier’s shoelace on the pass-by.

 


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YourThoughts

  • Talkjoc

    Art, you probably have more insight on this but we see the offense pass more when the run defense is stellar but we never see changes to the defense. We stay in the base defense regardless ,never get any pass rush, which means our young Corners have to cover for a longer period of time, which is a recipe for disaster regardless of how good they are. What’s up with Ansah? Is he a bust or a result of scheme? And when will Collier return from MIA? Alot of questions, I know, but the Defense hasn’t been able to answer any of them. Thanks.

    • Chris Alexander

      It looked to me like they DID make some adjustments on the D this past weekend, just maybe not the ones you’re wanting them to make. They still seemed to be in their base defense a lot but when one of their linebackers came out of the game, it was often K.J. Wright and not Mychael Kendricks. May have just been for this one week but … ???

      What kills me about the D is the mix ups in zone coverage. There was the one obvious play where both of our DBs went toward the sideline and left Mike Evans WIDE OPEN in the center of the field near the goal line. But that was far from the only case. Bobby Wagner pointed out that there were a number of “blown assignments” and he’s 100% right. HOPEFULLY, the D will round into form like it often does as the season progresses. If not, the team may end up “wasting” Wilson’s best season (and potentially cost him the MVP award).

      • art thiel

        Wright’s knees are on a fade, and Carroll wants to get Barton scrimmage action because he’s destined to start next year.

        The blown assignments are partly a function of Blair in his second game as a starter. They miss Earl, who knew everything about every offensive tendency.

    • art thiel

      They like their base D because of how Kendricks plays the run, but when he’s out for a DB, it’s Taylor, who so far hasn’t been good. Hence the trade for Diggs, a better slot cover.

      Ansah doesn’t seem all the way back, especially regarding conditioning. He missed all of camp and preseason. Collier has played so little it’s hard to say, but clearly he’s a disappointment. He may be a healthy inactive Monday.

  • WestCoastBias79

    They’re turning into the Holmgren Hawks. I’ll also do something I’ve never done, praise Schotty. Instead of running the ball, for the sake of running the ball, into the teeth of the best run defense in the NFL, they attacked their weakness by unleashing the best QB in football. I’m also happy they’re recognizing that and doubling down, instead of trying to fix something that probably can’t be fixed this year. They’re going to have to outscore people.

    The defense is what it is, a good linebacking core, one good edge rusher who is actually having a monster season (Clowney’s lack of sacks is completely due to Ansah being washed and basically being an escape valve for the QB), and a bunch of low paid youngsters. That said, what can be fixed is a secondary that often seems confused in assignment. I trust Pete and his staff will get that sorted with the parts they have.

    • Effzee

      The thing I like about what they are doing is they are switching it up game to game, to attack the weakness of the defense they are facing. I like that. Its not like Holmgren or Bevell where they had a specific thing they were going to do, come hell or high water. This is more like the Patriots, where you don’t really know what’s coming week-to-week. Its an evolution and I’m all for it.

      • art thiel

        I think Carroll may have learned his lesson in 2017 when the run game collapsed despite his best efforts to will it otherwise.

    • art thiel

      No major medals yet for Schot. TB’s pass D entering the game was ranked 29th, and their best CB went down early. No genius activity detected.

      The secondary, with Blair starting and Diggs destined for slot corner ahead of Taylor is as fixed as it will get.

  • Effzee

    I betcha the Patriots would love to have that draft pick back that we traded up for in order to draft Metcalf.

    • art thiel

      Pats could have had him earlier, but they seemed to have recovered well with San from the Falcons.

  • jafabian

    With the addition of Gordon the Hawks remind me of the Houston Oilers of the 80s. Run and Shoot. Many weapons on offense, an okay defense. But this defense has a lot of potential and could reach it next year once the key players regain their health and the other players get some experience and familiarity with one another.

    • art thiel

      At 7-2 they are all about the now. If Collier could help them, he’d be in there. They’ll bid for Clowney, who’s been good against the run and double-teamed a bunch on the pass rush.

  • Mark Stratton

    I hope the 49ers wear long, thick shoelaces

    • art thiel

      Shanahan has ordered floss.

  • Husky73

    Is now the time to wonder about the last two #1 draft choices?

    • art thiel

      Any time is a good time to wonder. Especially Stevie. Writing’s on the Wall.