Seahawks mail sack!
Regularly, I take an opportunity to address my readers’ comments and concerns regarding the Seahawks season. I value this opportunity. In today’s mailbag I address responses to my “Seattle Seahawks offense in a nutshell” pictorial article. Keep your responses coming!
My first letter comes from Michael Bernazzani.
“I was SCREAMING for him to run on that play, but all you hear is people telling him to stay in the pocket longer. Great job.”
Thanks Michael! There are certainly times to stay in the pocket, but in this situation, it’s better to not let go of the ball too quickly, with the 1st down marker and the goal line so close. This is where you drop back, look at your protection and then tuck-and-run. Thanks for the comment.
My next respondent is Ron Grummer.
“Believe me, I understand the frustration other fans are feeling, unlike them, however, I have no idea what the solution is. I don’t think replacing Wilson would make the situation any better (and frankly I’d rather not lose confidence in Flynn as an able replacement if we need him simply because our oline protection is poor, our receivers can’t seem to catch balls in actual games and overall poor play throughout the offensive side of the ball. – have I mentioned how I’ve never liked Bevell’s play calling and am coming to actually hate it?!).”
Yes, Ron, I believe you do understand the frustration other fans are feeling. I think all fans share a level of frustration whether directly or indirectly related to the performance OR to the social influence of other fans. I appreciate your candid and cool-headed response. I don’t have a silver bullet either.
Every season, each team starts with a hypothesis of what will help them make the best football argument to reach the playoffs and then to extend their playing deep into January. The NFL Draft is where those teams start their experiments.
Starting rookie quarterbacks is “en vogue.” Currently, the NFL has 5 starting rookies and, given some of the rookie successes of the last two years, it seems teams feel, the best place to train a quarterback is in live game situations. Here’s a sampling of recent rookie QBs; Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Pat Devlin and Tyrod Taylor. Of that list, Gabbert, Locker, Newton, Ponder, and Dalton are all starters. Of course, Locker’s out with an injury, but nonetheless was starting. Of those who aren’t starting, Mallett’s behind Brady, Kaepernick’s behind Alex Smith, Devlin’s behind Tannehill who excelled against Arizona this week, in Arizona, and Tyrod Taylor is behind Joe Flacco. So why not take a shot and Russell Wilson? It’s not like Wilson has a “known quantity” to start behind like the aforementioned known quantities of Brady, Smith and Flacco. I also believe there’s a “magic number” hiding out there somewhere. That magic number represents how far we can take this experiment before we call on the Mighty Flynn.
Having grown up in the greater NYC market, I know how fickle local sports fans can be. I also know that it’s normal to feel frustrated when you’re holding a .500 record, you’re 0 – 2 in the division, and you still only have one decisive victory under your belt (Cowboys.) But being fickle is a frustrating condition. In this Seahawks experiment, there’s inconclusive evidence supporting a need for a change at quarterback. I don’t think the magic number is upon us yet, and shouldn’t be.
As for Darrell Bevell, I don’t have enough on him in the context of his work with the Seattle Seahawks. We are not the Green Bay Packers of 2000 – 2005, nor are we the Vikings of 2006 – 2010. As they say in the finance world, “past performance does not necessarily predict future results.” So Bevell has as much wiggle room as Wilson. If Seattle can progress their organization the way modern day Minnesota is headed with Christian Ponder, they have good reason to be supportive. Four games does not a loser make, unless you’re Kansas City or Tennessee or Oakland whose defenses are keeping them out of games. Seattle, thanks to their defense (reminiscent of Baltimore, San Francisco and even Houston,) has been within one possession of winning in each of their 2 losses and were effective (enough) in their 2 wins.
Michael Vick’s Eagles have a 3 – 1 record, in spite of his arrhythmic performances. His passer rating is within the same range as Wilson’s, however unremarkable. A 3 – 1 record with a passer rating under 80.0 is unusual, but not something to argue against.
Another angle to consider, the NY Giants are in a similar position as the Seahawks as far as record and division standing. But we wouldn’t count the Giants out of the playoff hunt so early, would we? Take a lesson from a football fan who grew up for 20+ years within 40 miles of the Jets home field (once upon a time the Jets played at Shea Stadium) and 60 miles of what was then called Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Now is no time to get “antsy” about your team’s choices. I know, I know, we all love thinking we should have control over such things, but this stuff is sometimes up to the the Fates of early-season mythology to sort out. Panic only begets panic. So remain calm Seattle. No team’s owner tells its coaches to “bring us the playoffs in a quarter-season, or else,” neither do they demand a Super Bowl from a QB who hasn’t got consecutive years with the team. Either way you slice it, Flynn isn’t a guaranteed Super Bowl QB this season, and no QB makes the playoffs in 4 games.” It will suck if we don’t get to the playoffs, because we love getting our local-football-passion’s worth each season, but now’s not the time to panic. PANIC NOW! Just kidding… NOW! Joking… NOW?
OK, enough of this!
It’s confusing, trying to make sense of all the information, but the feeling only lasts until the next contest. And if you’re reasonable, as Ron is here, you’ll not get so caught up in the numbers that it makes you sick. Having millionaires on the sidelines is nothing new and if you need to reconcile the accounting books, Seattle’s 2 wins were accomplished without risking the big money man. I can only hope to swing Ron’s opinion of Bevell away from the “h” word. Thanks for writing, Ron.
My next comment comes from bitrootvz,
“I predict that the season is pretty much over if Carrol doesn’t see what all the other teams figured out in the 2nd half of the green bay game. If you clog the middle on passing downs Wilson will not be able to see the receivers and Seattle will not be able to convert. He either needs to change the offensive direction, get 3 8 foot tall receivers or start grooming Flynn before it’s to late. Known Pete he will ride this ship til it’s to late.”
Thanks for your comment.
Nice observation, bitrootvz, on the predictability of passing in 2nd & long and 3 & medium to long play situations. Sometimes a “draw” is in order, whether by Wilson or Lynch. Between five and seven more rushes per game combined can help pull pass defenders off their coverage, freeing up the vertical passing field.
I’m working my way through the Rams game again and found some good points. Seattle blew coverage on defense for what turned out to be the difference in the game. It’s hard to argue against the other difference maker, Greg Zuerlein, whose 2 rookie record-distance field goals played a big part in St. Louis’ win. The probability of kicking a 58 yard field goal is low enough. To pair it with a 60 yarder is exponentially unlikely.
What the Seahawks organization should learn from this St. Louis win is that anything is possible, and blown assignments, in the way of not accounting for a receiver out by the numbers, is unforgivable. Let Seattle play their future opponents like the Rams played the Seahawks and they can make the playoffs. The football community can now see that St. Louis is less of a long shot for the playoffs than football analysts might have figured last week. Within the next half-season (8 games) they have 4 chances to make waves in the NFC West race, twice facing division leader Arizona and conference power-players San Francisco.
As for Russell Wilson’s 3 interceptions, I’ll always emphasize protecting ball-possession, but interceptions don’t always kill a team. See Michael Vick’s interception count through three wins (4 in the Cleveland win and 2 in the Baltimore win.) The Seahawks did, however, give the Rams more chances to find a weakness in the Seahawks’ defense. Wilson did make some nice plays Sunday. I’m interested to see what coordinator Darrell Bevell and the offensive personnel prepare for next week in Carolina.
I have time for one more letter. This one’s from the distinguished sounding, Jefferson L. Davis.
Must be able to find open turf in the passing game (long or short), not fall down, and hang onto balls that hit you in the hands.”
To whom it may concern,
I’m not sure I know which specific misses you’re commenting on, but I have several years experience in “hanging onto balls that hit me in the hands.” I’d like to apply for the position listed.
I know that sounds hilarious. But every football observer knows the familiar coaching demand, “if you can touch it, you can catch it.”
Perhaps the Doug Baldwin play where Russell Wilson passes him into a big hit is your reference, Jefferson. If not, it’s as good an example of our developing offensive relationships as I’ve seen so far in ’012.
This is definitely something for receiver and QB to improve. Baldwin runs a “whip” route starting up the hash/seam and turns “in” then whips his route “out” toward the numbers while keeping his body facing Wilson through the whip move, hence a whip route. This ISN’T a timing route, as you can see Wilson looking for the open receiver before throwing his way. As you’ll see below, Baldwin is ready for the pass here for a moment until he has to continue on his “out” route. Here’s where I’d like to see Russell toss the ball. When he decides to wait for the cut, it’s too late. The reason is that he’s in the softest part of the zone and catches the pass while he’s moving sideways. This isn’t going to give him much chance of getting upfield. This is a 3rd and 8 from the St. Louis 49, so Baldwin needs the ball sooner to be able to make that play. Delivering the ball now while Baldwin hasn’t yet accelerated into the second part of his route is ideal, allowing him to catch the ball at the 45 and turn upfield in time to see where he’s going to be hit and likely make the St. Louis 41 yard line for the 1st down.
Seahawks: Throwing now is the best chance at getting the 1st down on this 3rd & 8. Baldwin would only need to make the St. Louis 41 (4 yards past where he stands.) Looks like a great target here.
Thrown into a blindside hit with no chance to get 3 more yards to the 1st down marker. This is part of the learning curve between QB and receiver. Baldwin has now traveled as many yards east-west as he needed in north-south running since the moment the ball should have been delivered as seen in the previous image.
True, Baldwin needs to hold the ball. Though a completion here after Baldwin is thrown to (into traffic,) likely doesn’t get the 1st, but a failed 3rd down conversion followed by a punt is better than an interception. Granted. But it’s no reason to ask me for my references and resume with designs on replacing Baldwin.
Reviewing the Rams game and Wilson and his receivers complete the first 3 passes on a scoring drive and the Seahawks game finishes the 1st quarter a perfect 5/5. Tempo within the play seemed to be Wilson’s sweet spot.
The first Seahawks incompletion against St. Louis comes in the 2nd quarter, over the middle to Golden Tate. The ball was out of reach and Tate laid out for it. The 2nd quarter ends with the Seahawks passing game going 3/6 in the quarter with an interception. Terrible? Yes. Reparable? Yes!
Onside kick to open the 2nd half. Not my favorite choice. Ambitious, yes. Variables like this make judging the offense’s performance difficult because the field position, the St. Louis field goal, put us 2 scores behind. Tough spot to put a rookie in a divisional game.
Please take that “Help Wanted” sign out of the window Mr. Davis. The employee you look to replace isn’t altogether responsible for the team’s misfortunes.
Here’s another example of learning. curve. Until the coordinators review these miscues, and provide solutions, Seattle can not tell whether Wilson is “coachable.”
Wilson’s gotta see this just as he would (call for the snap) when the defense has 12 on the field. Free yards! “Gimme the ball now!!” I’d say and lob the ball to the left by the 25 where only my receiver has a shot at it. It’s 2nd & 8.
How exposed can the Rams be here?!
OK, there’s a pattern on both interceptions to this point in the game. They’re 3rd & 8 and 2nd & 8 situations. But I know it’s not because of the distance to gain, or at least, it’s not your usual suspect. 2nd & 8 within 4 yards of a manageable field goal is not a bad place to be. If we just think of the practical scoring elements like field goals. This comes down to the coordinators. If they realize they were in field goal range here, they’ll make this point clear to Wilson. Know where the opportunity to score points become evident. In baseball, and Russell knows this, scoring position starts on second base. In football, it starts at the 30 yard line. In desperation, maybe it’s the 35 yard line.
Seattle goes 5/7 in the 3rd quarter. 1 interception and 1 incomplete to Sydney Rice. The incompletion was a poor decision by Wilson. He misses the option to hit Zach Miller in the right flat after the linebacker honors Wilson’s threat to run. Poor choice.
Where’s the target? Zach Miller. He’s gotta be the easiest pass out there. Toss it like you’ve got a baserunner in a “pickle.” I know you understand the baseball analogies, Russell. You were a pro prospect!
Jefferson, I’m not going to say the 4th quarter doesn’t count, but I think the first 3 quarters place much of the Week 5 lesson planning square on Wilson’s shoulders to get used to being given great opportunities to make simple plays. It’s absurd how easy this game can be. If you grab those chances, you’ll get more chances to know what it feels like to play with a lead and have the bull by its horns.
Jefferson, thanks for writing. I value the input. I’m sure you give us all something to consider. While Russell Wilson tries to get around that learning curve, our receivers have to take their own opportunities to give Wilson confidence. This sometimes comes down to holding the ball.
Thanks for the responses. Please, keep ‘em coming!