BY Art Thiel 12:49PM 12/25/2019

Thiel: Christmas film that tells Seahawks tale

The hype around the return of Marshawn Lynch obscures the fact that the Seahawks’ most critical vulnerability is the wounded, reeling O-line.

LB Chandler Jones’s success against LT Jamarco Jones was devastating. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

This week’s pop-up carnival that is the Marshawn Lynch re-hire certainly is entertaining. I mean, his first practice was on 12/24, fercripesakes.

Seeing him hug it out at VMAC with Dave Pearson, the Seahawks’ longtime PR chieftain, after years of annoying each other, was a splendid attempt at sincerity. No one was buying it, but hey, it’s Christmas and the 12-3 49ers show up Sunday. All hands on deck.

Throughout the region, the inevitable question, “What did you get for Christmas?” has been replaced by, “Do you think Marshawn has anything left in the tank?”

It’s a question nobody can answer, including Lynch. But the sheer audacity of the ask makes for compelling theater.

Unfortunately, regarding the game outcome, the answer is secondary to the answer to a more crucial question: “If the Seahawks couldn’t block the Cardinals, what the hell are they going to do against the 49ers?”

Lynch could return fit as his 2012 self, when he gained a career-high 1,590 yards. If the wounded Seahawks line can’t get in the way of kittens, much less rookie demon Nick Bosa, no one could tell.

Against Arizona, last in the league on defense, the Seahawks had a season low of 224 yards of total offense, a season-worst third-down conversion count of one for 12, five sacks of Russell Wilson and no touchdowns in the final 55 minutes.

Obviously, the losses to injury of RBs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise were large. But the more significant injury was to LT Duane Brown, who was held out of the game and had arthroscopic knee surgery Monday. All went well medically, and there is some hope he could be back in a couple of weeks. The question is whether there will be a season left.

Rather than sub in George Fant at left tackle, where he’s played before but would cost the Seahawks his tight end spot in the jumbo package, the Seahawks gave second-year tackle Jamarco Jones his first career start at the position.

Mistake. The NFL’s leading sackster, LB Chandler Jones, did the Christmas pinata thing with Jones. Even coach Pete Carroll had to publicly acknowledge the trauma, albeit with qualifiers.

“It was hard. It was hard,” he said Tuesday. “He went against a great guy, and it worked him the whole day.

“He did a lot of things that were really good. The sacks that his guy had weren’t all on him. It didn’t all happen because of his protection. He was tested. That was a real test. Chandler is an amazing player.”

Which is a long way of saying they have to do something different Sunday. Asked whether it’s personnel or scheme, Carroll was notably terse.

“Well, we’re going to go about it,” he said. “That’s underway.”

The problem extends beyond Jones.

The Seahawks are still operating with a backup, Joey Hunt, at center, where he will make his eighth start of the season Saturday. At left guard, Mike Iupati, a 2010 first-round draft choice of the 49ers now 32, had to come out temporarily with a neck stinger that likely impaired his play for the rest of the game. And though Jacob Hollister has stepped up admirably at tight end, he began training camp as a fifth-stringer behind Will Dissly, Nick Vannett, Ed Dickson and Luke Willson. Backup Ethan Pocic has missed most of the season with injury. And among the wide receivers, Josh Gordon was lost to drug suspension.

A partial result is that in five of the past eight games, the Seahawks offense has failed to reach the NFL  game average of 350 yards, despite the premier skills of Wilson. Now the offense is missing its top three rushers, and needs to break in not only Lynch, but Robin to his Batman, Robert Turbin.

Since it’s Christmas, I’m reminded of some poignant dialogue from my all-time favorite Christmas movie, Die Hard. Bruce Willis’s character attempts via call to a Los Angeles policeman to assess the damage to the building he’s in, occupied by the bad guys:

John McClane:
Is the building on fire?

Sergeant Al Powell:
No, but it’s gonna need a paint job and a shitload of screen doors.

Carroll and GM John Schneider have done what they can with paint and screen doors.

Now the pursuit of the NFC West title relies on scheme. Expect heavy doses of rollouts, read options, naked bootlegs, fly sweeps and flat passes to Lynch. And if ever there was need for a defensive score and perfection from Jason Myers, Sunday is it.

Desperate as it is, regardless of Sunday’s outcome, the Seahawks are still in the playoffs with a minimum 11 wins, a place few outside the VMAC envisioned in August. Carroll is busy coaxing up the optimism because this was the Week 17 target from the git-go: To play the 49ers with the division title on the line.

“Honestly, we talk in reference to this opportunity from April on,” he said. “That’s when we start, way back then, to get prepared for the opportunity to go out here and play good football when this time comes. Every game that we’ve played has prepared us for this.

“The boosters are on and we’re rolling. Right now, this is a blast. This is as much fun as we can have. I love every bit of it.”

A skeptic might suggest his optimism is as sincere as the hug between Lynch and Pearson. But a skeptic has as much chance to survive around Carroll as a bad guy around McClane.

Yippee-ki-ay, Hans Gruber.


  • Dbldave

    I think one overlooked aspect of having Lynch back is he is a very good blocker. He might be able to buy Wilson some extra time on a few passing plays with that skill alone.

    • art thiel

      Good point. He’s excellent at moving off the first block to get open for a dump-off.

  • coug73

    May be time to bring back the old fashion fullback lead. Put Fant a LT and hope he can give Wilson a chance to find receivers.

    • art thiel

      Not a bad option, now that Bellore is healthy.

  • Jonathan M Perez

    I hope the offensive brain trust lets Russell Wilson just kind of do his thing. Been far too long since we have see RW improvise or just take the game into his hands.

    • art thiel

      Teams have learned from the Rams: RW has slowed down, but don’t try to catch him, just keep him penned in.

      • Effzee

        Yep. As long as they keep him trapped behind the tall dudes on the O-Line, its hard for him to see what the receivers are doing downfield. This was the risk they took when they gave him $30M+.

  • Effzee
    • art thiel

      So much good dialogue in this film. Always a Christmas treat.

    • Husky73

      Come out to the coast, have a few laughs.

  • Tim

    On the surface we look beat. In my heart I know we’re going win. Jimmy G will be exposed again.

    • art thiel

      Jimmy G looked good beating the Saints, and Kittle is back.

      • 1coolguy

        If Kittle played the 1st game Niners would have won, 100%. The guy is a beast and is Jimmy’s main target.

  • 1coolguy

    Interesting coincidence – Die Hard was playing all Christmas day here (Alaska). Very entertaining movie that has legs. Yippee-ki-ay – brings back good memories!
    When the Huskies had no O-line AND had a very mobile QB, James put in the”moving pocket” to relieve pressure on the O-line and take advantage of Moon’s athleticism. It got us a Rose Bowl win – Should Carroll view those game films? Haha – At this point, in the state their roster is in, what the heck?
    All that said, Montana made a living off the 3 step drop and quick release – I suggest Shott and Wilson DO look at those game films.

    • art thiel

      One film playing all day in one state? I knew Alaskans are all soft and sentimental about John McClane, but . . .

      I think Carroll has heard of the quick-pass game. But I will pass on the reminder.