It was just one of those fucking things, you know? Be happy with the victory and try to forget about it.
Except, how can we, what with Russell Wilson’s ankle injury sure to dominate the local conversation this week? I’ll say this about the play: it sure LOOKED like an accident, the way Ndamukong Suh hit him, causing his ankle to twist an unnatural way, but that big fucking galoot – known for more than his fair share of intentionally dirty hits – sure has a knack for injuring guys. When you’re as athletic and as talented as Suh, there’s a way to make that play where it doesn’t hobble our quarterback. Likewise, when you’re as athletic and as talented as Suh, you probably learn new ways to make dirty hits look “accidental”. So, fuck that guy, I hope his ACL snaps real soon.
By all rights, the Seahawks should’ve lost that game. On top of the fact that Russell couldn’t move after his ankle injury, the team in general couldn’t run the ball whatsoever. That made us one-dimensional for most of the game, and with our makeshift O-Line against their front four full of studs, we had to be extra careful in the passing game, often limiting us to shorter, quicker throws. Since we’re not the San Diego Chargers, and our quarterback isn’t Philip Rivers, that’s not exactly our forte, and we struggled accordingly. By and large, we weren’t getting open in the conventional ways we normally get open, which left us grasping at straws on third down. It wasn’t until that final drive where we hit on a couple of 4th down conversions, but we pretty much started out that drive in 4-down territory, so that likely dictated our play-calling on 3rd down.
Defensively, we were as savage as I can remember. But, again, PROBABLY should’ve lost that game. Kenny Stills got behind everyone, only to drop what would’ve been a HUGE touchdown early in the game. Earl Thomas struggled like I can’t remember him ever struggling before. There were more missed tackles than I like to see. But, for the most part, the defense was on point. The Dolphins had five 3 & Outs and had to punt 7 times on the day. There was another critical stop by Kam Chancellor early in the game on 4th down that at the very least prevented them from scoring 3 points. That’s on top of a mammoth blocked field goal by Cassius Marsh early in the 4th quarter to keep our 3-point lead intact.
Indeed, the way the defense was going, I wondered if we could hold on and make it a 6-3 final. But, of course, as soon as I started to seriously maintain that line of thinking, midway through the 4th quarter, the Dolphins finally managed a competent scoring drive to take a 10-6 lead. I’d be curious to know if, defensively, we played that drive any differently than we had up to that point. From my naked eye and limited football acumen, it didn’t look totally out of character: lots of zone, a blitz or two sprinkled in. But, it was almost shocking the way the Dolphins were able to get in the endzone, considering how much we’d dominated them to that point. It’s not fair to expect a defense to be perfect for a full game, but there you go again: another lead blown by that unit late in the game, in remarkably easy fashion.
I was pretty sick about the whole thing once Miami went ahead. The Seahawks got the ball back with a little over 4 minutes to go in the game, and with the way Wilson was immobilized, and the way our offense had performed in general, it wasn’t looking likely we’d go down there and score a touchdown. Then, I remembered I was the only person left in our Eliminator pool who didn’t pick the Seahawks this week, and I knew the gambling gods wouldn’t let me win it all in Week 1 (the fact that I had the Cardinals, who would go on to lose later that night, was further proof that the gambling gods hate me to no end).
Sure enough, the drive started out bumpy as hell, but the Seahawks put themselves in position to win it, and did so with a nifty little fade to Doug Baldwin on the left side of the endzone. We’d go on to miss the extra point – because apparently that’s what the NFL likes: ineptitude – but it would go on to not matter, because our defense quickly rediscovered our edge and made mincemeat of Ryan Tannehill.
Christine Michael got the start in this one, and looked okay, but also looked like he biffed a couple of assignments. Thomas Rawls nearly matched him touch for touch, in spite of the discrepency in snaps (Michael out-snapped him by a wide margin), and while neither of their numbers were all that impressive, I liked the way they looked together. Rawls will get you those difficult yards Marshawn Lynch used to get; Michael will slash and dash for large chunks of yardage, and is the consummate home run threat at tailback. Just when a defense figures out how to stop one guy, you bring in the other for a total change of pace. It does nothing for me in fantasy – as long as both are healthy, they both remain non-starters for fantasy purposes – but as a fan, it’s as much as I could’ve hoped for, what with Lynch’s retirement and all.
Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, is a guy you MUST start in fantasy, as he’s definitely Russell Wilson’s go-to guy, particularly in or near the red zone. Yesterday, he caught 9 balls for 92 yards and that game-winning touchdown, and I think it’s just the start of a legitimate Pro Bowl season.
Tyler Lockett didn’t do a whole lot, and had a couple drops (one of them punched out by Byron Maxwell, but even then, had he caught it cleanly to begin with, he might’ve been able to hold onto it through contact). He’ll need to do better, as Wilson looked his way early and often on third down in this one, resulting in a couple drives being stalled.
Jimmy Graham got into it a little bit. I didn’t see him at all in the first half, but he played pretty regularly in the second half, though he looked like more of a decoy than anything else. Nevertheless, he did catch one ball on that touchdown drive to get us a first down en route to the endzone. Assuming he feels no ill effects from the game, I look forward to his re-emergence as the team continues to bring him slowly back.
C.J. Prosise had a nifty catch and run for a first down early in the game, but had to leave with a sprained wrist. I don’t know what that means for his availability going forward – he might miss a game or two – but it sure limits us on third down. Where’s Troymaine Pope when you need him? Oh, right, with the Jets.
Defensively, I don’t know where to start, except yes I do, and it’s Bobby Wagner. Oh man, WHAT A GAME! He didn’t lead the team in tackles, but the ones he made sure counted, as all 6 were solo tackles. He also had a couple QB hits, and they weren’t cheapies. That’s what I talk about when I talk about a guy making his presence felt. Wagner had his hands all over this game.
K.J. Wright was the leading tackler with 11, and he too had a QB hit, as well as a sack, and a tackle for loss. The rest of the NFL has been slow to catch on to his greatness, but he’s the main reason why you’ll hear people around the Seahawks say this team has the best linebacking corps in the league. He’s also the main reason why you don’t totally dismiss those people out of hand for their homerism. Wright and Wagner, as far as one-two punches at the linebacker position are concerned – particularly with the way most teams ONLY play two linebackers, with how pass-wacky the league has become – are as good as any one-two linebacker punches in the league.
Richard Sherman stood out, one for his obvious dominance in coverage, as I don’t recall him letting anyone catch anything around him, but also for his tackling. He made a couple of the most impressive open-field tackles in the game, where had he missed, they would’ve gone for huge gains. Never take for granted Sherman’s tackling; it’s truly a precious and wonderful thing.
DeShawn Shead gets his own set of kudos. The whole secondary played pretty well, aside from Earl on a few bad plays that stuck out like a sore thumb, but Shead looked like the real deal Holyfield. The L.O.B. has had a number of quality cornerbacks opposite Richard Sherman. Brandon Browner famously made the Pro Bowl in 2011 and helped give this unit its edge in its infancy, Byron Maxwell replaced Browner and helped lead us to a championship in 2013 before going on to a huge free agent payday, but Shead might be the best of them all. He broke up a couple passes, and was an all-around force the likes of which I haven’t seen since teams stopped trying to challenge Richard Sherman in 2014. I’m fully on the bandwagon now; look for Shead to have a HUGE year this year.
The D-Line as a whole stepped up in a big way. Bennett, Avril, Clark, and even Marsh all had sacks on the day. The Nascar lineup looks as fast and disruptive as it was in 2013. And, the interior didn’t disappoint, holding the Dolphins to only 64 yards on 3.2 yards per carry. Also, hat tip to Jarran Reed for two big batted balls at the line of scrimmage. I hope that’s, like, a thing he’s randomly, weirdly good at, because it would be huge for our interception numbers this year.
Also, let’s go ahead and give kudos to Marsh again, as well as Mike Morgan on special teams. Marsh had that blocked field goal, as well as a couple monster hits on returns. And, if it wasn’t Marsh, it was Morgan who was always around the runner with the ball, ensuring his immediate introduction to the turf. Can’t say enough about how well we covered punts and kickoffs in this one.
Look, all in all, I’m as not-thrilled as the rest of you with how the game played out. Obviously, it would’ve been a million times worse had the Seahawks fallen short at the end, but there are positives to take away. Defensively, in particular. Reasons for hope on offense include the fact that Wilson was never actually knocked out of the game. So, the ankle injury can’t be THAT bad. By the same token, he couldn’t really run on it, and that sucks every dick in the free world when you think about how we’re playing the Rams next week. Looking better offensively than we did against the Dolphins should be completely off the table right now. Even winning this game at all is dodgy at best. Getting Wilson through the game without making the ankle worse needs to be our top priority. From there, we get a nothing game against the 49ers, followed by another fucking massive D-Line with the Jets. What was once looking like a viable 4-0 start now has 2-2 written all over it. I guess the early BYE week this year will actually come in handy for once.
Other reasons for optimism, if you really want to grasp at some straws, is that after this initial 4-game set, we don’t really face a dominating D-Line again until December, when we face the Panthers. So, you know, we’ve got that going for us.
If by some miracle, we’re able to keep Wilson upright – which, hint hint Darrell Bevell, is going to require you to leave your tight ends in to chip A LOT MORE than you did against the Dolphins – the rest of the skill position players look up to the task of picking up our hobbled QB1. Fingers crossed.