BY Art Thiel 06:49PM 11/24/2019

Thiel: Wilson no longer has to do it all for Hawks

Big moments from Malik Turner and Rashaad Penny, and a second stout effort by the defense, suggests in win over Eagles that the Seahawks may be more than Russell Wilson.

Rashaad Penny stiff-arms a defender on the way to a 58-yard touchdown run Sunday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

A breakthrough.

The Seahawks won a football game when Russell Wilson didn’t display every superpower on the roster of The Avengers.

As likely you are aware, the Seahawks have become so reliant on Wilson that there was talk he might adopt the entire team as dependents. After all, a rich guy like Wilson needs every tax deduction he can get.

Instead, the kids appear to be heading out on their own.

In a gravelly 17-9 win over the Eagles in Philadelphia Sunday (box) , the Seahawks discovered more game-breakers.

On offense, two reserves were prominent — WR Malik Turner made a spectacular, full-stretch grab in the end zone of 33 yards for the Seahawks’ first touchdown. The second TD came on a 58-yard burst from RB Rashaad Penny that, coach Pete Carroll said, “looked like he was shot out of a cannon.”

On defense, the entire unit excelled in a fashion begun in the previous game against the San Francisco 49ers. They picked up five turnovers and sacked QB Carson Wentz four times in holding the Eagles without a touchdown until the final minute.

All without DE Jadeveon Clowney, the NFL defensive player of the previous week who sat out with a sore hip.

Carroll was thrilled that the shutdown of the 49ers — only one offensive TD allowed then too — was not a one-off.

“We just turned the corner in the last week,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you that (then) because it happened just once. To see our guys penetrating like that, we were close a lot (on disrupting Wentz). Clowney was the trigger, but he’s sitting over here with me.

“It’s an exciting emergence that we hope to capitalize on.”

Wilson had little concern that he had, for the league’s potential MVP, a modest outing — 13 of 25 passing for 200 yards and an interception for a 75.9 passer rating. His second-quarter overthrow of wide-open TE Jacob Hollister seven yards in front of him in the end zone dropped jaws around the league.

“Sometimes you miss a layup,” he said, grinning. “I can’t even explain it.”

He didn’t have to, because the Seahawks won. They won for the ninth time in 11 games, and are 6-0 on on the road, best in the NFL and in club history, where the top single-season game mark is 6-2. They also have won 15 of the past 21 games that had a 10 a.m. PT start.

“We rose to the occasion today in a tough environment, cold and windy, out east again, to be 6-0,” Wilson said. “The great thing is, we’re playing great football.

“And the greater thing is, we can play even better. That’s the scary part for the NFL.”

That’s a lot of “great,” and as close as Wilson gets to bragging. He’s entitled.

Sunday he became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a winning record in his first eight seasons (Pats QB Tom Brady didn’t start in his first season, but he’s started with winners 19 years in a row).

The feat speaks to the entire team, because as much as he has carried the show this season, the Seahawks’ consistent excellence in the Carroll/Wilson era is a marvel in the time of free agency, and especially this season. Wilson’s huge contract extension in the off-season was assumed by many to preclude a serious playoff run because there would be too little room under the salary cap to populate the roster with quality talent.

Apparently not.

The ability to get production from down-roster players is essential for any successful NFL team. The Seahawks do it as well as anyone, and on the fly. Clowney, FS Quandre Diggs and WR Josh Gordon were all acquired after training camp began.

Also essential is patience, because some players develop more slowly. Penny, for example. He had a career-high 129 yards on 14 carries, yet was believed by many to have been a draft over-reach after a slow 2018 following his selection with a first-round pick.

Penny admitted he didn’t quite get how to be a pro last year.

“I’m doing way better than in the past,” he said. “I’ve stopped eating at McDonald’s. That was hard for me. I got serious about football.

“I didn’t take my rookie season as seriously as I am now.”

With the help of a nutritionist and advice from starting RB Chris Carson, Penny cut his weight from 238 a year ago to 230 now with a goal to get to 225. Always a burner, Penny had a higher gear Sunday that helped out-run a good Eagles defense.

“I felt an extra burst,” he said. “I was pretty pleased with myself when I came back to the sidelines. I was ‘wooing’ myself how fast I was.”

Penny’s breakaway with 12 minutes left opened up an an unnecessarily taut 10-3 game that the Seahawks created mostly with their own errors, including 12 penalties for 90 yards, two turnovers and several dropped passes, the latter due in some part to the windy conditions.

One mistake could have been disastrous. At the Seattle 30-yard line, Carson had no idea he was supposed to be the rusher when Wilson tried and failed to hand him the ball. The turnover amounted to naught when the defense stoned the Eagles into a 4-and-out turnover on downs. Still . . .

“We had a naked (bootleg pass) on, and we changed the play to a run,” Wilson said. “I got to make sure he knows, and be really clear on what we’re trying to do.

“I’ll put it on me, for sure.”

More likely is that Carson blew the call. But Wilson has broad shoulders.

Before exuberance among 12s runs amok, the Eagles (5-6) were missing their top three receivers as well as premier RT Lane Johnson (concussion) and starting RB Jordan Howard. And Wentz (two fumbles, two picks) had several unforced errors on his own, suggesting that the $108 million contract extension he was given earlier in the year may have been a dubious investment.

No such concerns in Seattle with Wilson, who may be somewhat relieved to know that he doesn’t have to buy the groceries, cook the meal and clean the table every Sunday.

Carroll certainly sounded like the turn of events were welcome, even when the opportunity for a rout dwindled into tension by their own hands.

“We’re in control of what we want to do with this season,” he said. “These guys know how to get that done.”

Not bad for a team that began the season with the NFL’s fourth-youngest roster. The adoption papers can be put away.

DT Al Woods celebrates with one of the Seahawks’ five turnovers off the Eagles. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest


YourThoughts

  • Matt Kite

    I like being wrong every week if it means the Seahawks keep winning. :) Winning without RW at his best is huge.

    • art thiel

      I think the Eagles’ injuries had an impact on this game greater than I realized during the week. Wentz couldn’t trust his newer teammates.

  • Archangelo Spumoni

    ” . . . on the roster of The Avengers.”

    I am old and bald, so to me, “The Avengers” means the British espionage tv series with John Steed and Emma Peel. Aka Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. HARDY HAR HAR!
    But Mr. Art hits it out again, per usual. This Seahawk team is entertaining and exasperating and I would be sooooo broke if I lived near Vegas. Without Clowney I wouldn’t have given the proverbial plugged nickel today.
    A fun team to watch.

    • art thiel

      I am aware of both. But feel free to keep up, it’s kinda fun.

      I’ve seen enough NFL games that I would never bet on them, Too much randomness.

      • Archangelo Spumoni

        Yes on “feel free to keep up” but there is a problem that I eagerly assume: no instagram account, no faceplant account, no twitter account, no snapface account, etc. I’ll try to survive somehow but keeping up is probably not on the horizon if it involves such dreaded pox-resembling entities.
        But keep up the great work and I am sure the old P-I sportswriter guys and others appreciate it.

        • art thiel

          Understood. And thanks.

    • antirepug3

      Ziggy seemed to show-up for this game. When Clowney gets back hopefully they will put some dread in opposing offenses. DLs did quite well I thought.

      • art thiel

        Ansah had a bit of a breakthrough after re-building strength in his shoulder. Took him way longer than the Seahawks expected, but they got away with it.

  • Matt Kite

    By the way, that was Carson, not Penny, who botched the handoff from Wilson.

    • art thiel

      Fixed. Thanks.

  • Tim

    Awesome win…getting the feeling they could g o all the way….

    • art thiel

      More possible now, but SF with TE Kittle is a different team, as was seen Sunday night.

  • Chris Alexander

    Russ overthrew Hollister in the endzone with no one around him on a play that Russ probably could have run the ball in for the score. Not good.

    Russ underthrew Hollister earlier in the game on a pass that was incomplete but which could have been a long touchdown if Russ delivered a better throw. Not good.

    DK Metcalf dropped 2 passes (one that would have been a touchdown). Not good. Although he did ALMOST make up for it with what would have been a great catch late in the game but, sadly, that one was just out of his reach.

    Carson fumbled on back to back plays. Really, REALLY not good. Russ can take the blame for the botched handoff but we all know what we saw; that was 100% on Carson. And the fact that it came right after a play where one of his linemen knocked the ball out of his arm (with his elbow) made the second one that much worse. Again, Russ can try to take the blame but he looked absolutely befuddled with Carson at the end of that play and I would have LOVED to have heard what he said to Carson after the play.

    Even with all of that, this game could have easily been a rout (45-3) were it not for the Seahawks’ seeming PREFERENCE for nailbiters.

    Still, a win is a win is a win. And as long as we match the Niners the next 4 games, the Week 17 matchup in Seattle will be for the division title. I’ll feel a little bit bad for the San Fran crew if they come to Seattle with a 14-1 record and go home with the wild card instead of the #1 seed. But not too bad.

    (And I don’t think they’ll come to Seattle with a 14-1 record; I expect they’ll lose one or both of their next 2 games – at the Ravens and at the Saints).

    Seattle has a tough matchup next week with Minnesota coming to town but Carroll isn’t the only one feeling good about this team. They always come on strong at the end of the season and we saw that today …. Turner + Penny stepped up and our D had a great game, despite Clowney being inactive (and Reed missing 2/3 of the game).

    The next 5 weeks should be a blast!

    • art thiel

      Yes, the Seahawks made mistakes, but your itemization seemed a little harsh. For every team in every game, unforced errors marble in with the forced errors because we have yet to invent a good football robot. That is a couple of years away.

      Regarding preferences, this team doesn’t have the talent to dominate yet, but they are growing in the knowledge that they are good. Expect nailbiters. It’s he NFL.

    • coug73

      Your itemization will be communicated by the position coaches. Film study by position coaches and players will communicated the necessary message.

  • 1coolguy

    This is the first game this season I have been confident their O, D and ST all were performing. It was a very nice change and the Hawks are just starting to jell – Even though the 49ers will have Kittle the next game, the Hawks are definitely a team on the upward trajectory and are going to be tough to beat in the playoffs

    • art thiel

      Everyone knew Metcalf was raw coming out of college. His season so far has required training wheels, and he’s still fallen over a few times. Patience needed.

      • Tman

        Metcalf catches the catchable. Every receiver drops a couple in a season. Balls coming to any receiver at knee level while on the run are always tough. If he steps out of bounds in the 49ers game he has a long gain..instead he drags a crowd of defenders to the end zone where one was fortunate to knock it free.
        It could just as easily been a Td.
        If we are lucky, we will all be witness to an unstoppable passing attack over the next eight weeks.
        That is what Carson, Penney and CJ Procise are all about.
        Not to mention the defense.
        Oh boy Oh boy. What fun!

        • art thiel

          The passing attack can be stopped by giving up six sacks, as they did Sunday. There’s upside, but Metcalf has too many flaws at the moment to go over the top. But there’s no charge for dreaming.

  • jafabian

    The breakout game we’ve been waiting for from Penny. That was a Beastmode-like run he had for the TD. Now he’s on the coaches radar along with Shaquem. Though I feel for the players who’s jobs they’re going after the depth they’re creating makes the team that much better. I’m getting more faith that the Hawks will make some serious noise in the playoffs. And they’re making the Niners look over their shoulders.

    • art thiel

      Carroll’s teams have almost always gotten better as the seasons progress. When they didn’t in 2017, he fired coaches and players. This season’s roster is developing much more depth to help when the injuries inevitably come.

  • Alan Harrison

    (It should be “Rashaad” in the subheadline.) This was a remarkably “boring” game – the kind of game that will look huge at the end of the season. Since the Hawks brought in Josh Gordon, the defense has certainly played better! :)

    • art thiel

      A lot of games light on spectacle might look boring, but I think each eam’s effort to overcome error is an under-appreciated virtue in making the NFL compelling entertainment, regardless of outcome.

  • Mark Stratton

    The Niners made it clear that they’re not going away after spanking Green Bay. The Seahawks have managed to play one complete game and they’re 9-2. Should be a great finish to the season.

    • art thiel

      The game against the Niners was hardly complete, unless you consider a barn fire complete.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Credit to the dogs that did enough with the opportunities given them to win the game. it’s been rinse and repeat all season. Close games. But the team has had enough belief. As Sidney Poitier once said, “opportunities are hard to come by. It’s what you do with them that counts”. Still…Wentz looked like a totally different player than two years ago. It’s hard to know whether that had more to do with the Hawks defensive line push or the porous Eagles line. Injuries have wracked Seattle’s opponents this year unlike any I can ever remember seeing. That makes perspective difficult to obtain. I do believe line play, for better or worse, will determine the next 49er/Hawk matchup. And the Niner defensive front looked killer against an 8-2 Packer squad last night.

    • art thiel

      Fair point about opponents with major hurts. It’s remarkable. The Seahawks have had injuries too, but none like the 49ers missing TE Kittle, or the Eagles missing 3 starting WRs and the top RB. If Kittle is healthy for the rematch, Carroll will need a different plan.

      • Kevin Lynch

        The other issue, apart from opponent injuries, though still aligned with it, is the opponent QB rating. The Hawks have played just one QB in the current Top 10 – Lamar. They get the #1 rated QB Monday – Cousins. But they have played FIVE of the bottom seven QB’s so far. Allen at Carolina might make it SIX of the bottom eight! Tough to gather a solid perspective from the 9-2 start except that Seattle is playoff bound as all playoff leaning teams in the NFC have a three game lead (excepting Dallas/Philly).

  • tor5

    Did I see that right? It looked like Penny was faster than the safeties and corners. So much fun, and so easy to like these guys. Wilson can be a cornball, but his character in always taking responsibility for mistakes, always supporting his teammates, always positive… I could go on and on… it’s not to be taken for granted! It’s a special time to be a 12.

    • antirepug3

      I think he was clocked at 20+ mph on that run. At any rate, he was scooting!

      • art thiel

        I believe Penny clocked a 4.4-second dash at the combine.

    • art thiel

      This season for Wilson was what it was like watching Ken Griffey Jr. at his apex in the 1997 MVP season.

  • Mark Thurston

    Art I had the Seahawks going 12-4 before the season started. . and yeah I’m generally the more optimistic type but my track record is pretty good all the same. . . .and well at worst maybe its 11-5 , I just can’t see the Seahawks losing at Carolina with a rookie quarterback or banged up Can Newton at best. I also think that Jimmy G is fools gold and will be exposed when they play the Hawks and/or any other team that plays the run well. . Mark it down. . you heard it here first! Go Hawks!

    Art I originally made this comment 11/01/19 (Your Column :”In the NFL when it goes, it goes fast”. . . Your reply was “the Seahawk Defense isn’t exposing anyone except itself”. . .and well. . lol. . hate to say I told you so . . but. . .lol

    • art thiel

      No, you don’t hate to say I told you so. You love gloating!

      I said 9-7, and I’m on the money as of this week.

  • Kristafarian

    @20 — “‘I’ve stopped eating at McDonald’s. That was hard for me. I got serious about football . . . . . I felt an extra burst … I was pretty pleased with myself when I came back to the sidelines. I was ‘wooing’ myself how fast I was.’” –‘Cannon Ball’ Penny
    That stiff-arm/shrug-off was pretty sweet, too…

    Seems like you owe McDonalds* a hearty ‘thank you!’

    And thanks, for coming to Seattle!
    *in the rear-view mirror

    • art thiel

      I’m sure McDonald’s is enjoying all the free pub.

  • Warchild_70

    With the Eagles missing in action their key players I fell into the “This will be easy.” mode. WRONG! The game shouldn’t have been close but they’re mitigating factors, the wind was swirly like, wet footballs hard to grasp?? Com’on man y’all got those gloves that stick like suction cups. I’m just glad they’re 9-2

    • art thiel

      If Wilson completes the bunny in the end zone to Hollister, the tenor of the conversation changes completely.

  • Husky73

    And then, I watched the Ravens tonight…..wow.