There aren’t any BAD 4-0 teams in the NFL. I can say this, of course, because the Chicago Bears finally lost (HI-YO!), but that’s neither here nor there. You don’t really get to complain about your team once you’re undefeated after a quarter of the season. This is awfully exciting, and ever-so-much fun! At this very moment, it’s just us and the Bills leading the way in the NFL (with a smattering of 3-0 teams lurking off in the distance).
But, obviously, the Seahawks are only “perfect” in record (and, quarterback too, I suppose); there are still things for this team to improve upon. And, not for nothing, but there are deficiencies that are always going to be there! Deficiencies we’re going to have to overcome on a weekly basis if we aim to keep this Rock N’ Roll Train a-rollin’.
It was all on display yesterday down in Miami, as the Seahawks beat the Dolphins 31-23 (it was 31-15 before a late touchdown by Ryan FitzGarbagePoints ran one in, almost making my score prediction last week pretty close!). The frustration, the glory, the rage, the surprise, the awe. It wasn’t the prettiest, but it nevertheless got my mojo rising, so let’s get into it!
It feels like a million years ago, but this game actually started out with another interception by Ryan Neal on the very first drive (after he caught the game-ending pick against Dallas the week prior)! Indeed, Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t very good in this one. He threw two picks and honestly probably should’ve thrown two more, if our guys didn’t keep dropping them. It’s a bit of a shame that they did, because Miami’s yardage total wouldn’t look nearly as good if we’d held on. But, regardless, the Seahawks were up 7-0 before we knew it, and this one had all the makings of a blowout.
The offense went weirdly cold for most of the rest of the first half, unfortunately. It was 10-9 with 24 seconds to go before halftime when we got the ball back. You could be forgiven if you didn’t expect anything to come out of this possession. Hell, in years past, we would’ve just handed the ball off to a running back up the middle for a 5-yard gain and regrouped for the second half! But, not this year! Not with MVP Wilson calling the shots! We hit Greg Olsen for 11 yards, called time out, and proceeded to find David Moore running WIDE open down the left sideline for 57 yards! How the Dolphins managed to leave him alone like that, I’ll never understand, but that gave us 1st & Goal at the 7 yard line with 10 seconds left. It took us four seconds to throw it down to the 3 yard line, and another three seconds to toss it to Travis Homer. Yes, it took all of 21 seconds for this offense to go 75 yards and extend our lead to 17-9. THAT is an offense that’s capable of carrying a team to a championship!
Since we got the ball back immediately after halftime, I was hoping we’d just put the hammer down right then and there and run out the clock for an easy victory. We almost did! But, the drive was vanquished in the Miami endzone with a rare Wilson interception. Once again, the lights went out with the offense, as the Dolphins clawed back to 17-15 (all on field goal drives) midway through the fourth quarter, as Miami held an insane Time of Possession advantage at this point.
I’ll be honest, I was a little unnerved! This was EXACTLY the scenario I was worried about! Stupid mistakes costing the Seahawks, letting the Dolphins hang around, and needing to pull a rabbit out of our asses in the end! But, of course, there were two things I was overlooking: the defense was playing exactly to design, and the offense would eventually figure it out.
It can be a little maddening to watch this defense sometimes. Even at its peak – when it was the very best defense in all of football – this is the style we’ve played: keep plays in front of you (don’t let them hit any deep balls) and force opposing offenses to dink and dunk down the field if they’re going to score. The difference between yesterday’s performance and ones from yore is that we just don’t have the level of talent now to really punish other teams. So, when they dink and dunk, they’ll do so for a while! There’s a helplessness to it. Like we’re never going to stop them, and they’re going to continue converting new first downs until the end of time.
Thankfully, these were the Dolphins, and five of their six scoring drives ended in a field goal. One or two more touchdowns in there and we might be singing a different tune today.
The offense did figure it out, at the best possible time. Our 17-15 lead expanded to 24-15 with a beautiful 17-yard touchdown pass to David Moore in the back corner of the endzone. Then, after Shaquill Griffin picked off Fitzpatrick (he really played a flawless game in this one, in locking down his side of the field), we marched right down the field – on the legs of D.K. Metcalf, who caught a quick out at the sideline and bullied his way to the 1-yard line – before Chris Carson plunged over the goalline for his second TD of the game. From that point, it was just a matter of wasting clock and recovering an onside kick.
Wilson’s MVP campaign continued on, though of course this wasn’t quite as breathtaking. He nevertheless threw for 360 yards and 2 touchdowns (to tie the record for most TD passes through four games, with 16).
I would argue Carson was actually the star of this one. Remember last week when that Dallas defender tried to twist his leg off? Remember when it looked like Carson might miss a few weeks? Well, he not only returned without missing any games, but started and really carried the load! 80 yards on 16 carries (the other running backs only handled it 6 times, not counting Wilson scrambles), with another 3 receptions for 20 yards. The offense obviously isn’t going through Carson anymore, but that doesn’t mean he’s not vital to making this whole thing work. I’d love to know how many times Wilson changed a play to a run, where Carson was able to burst through a huge hole – in a light box – for a significant gain (because the opposing defense was so concerned about Wilson throwing it on them). That’s going to be a considerable trend the rest of this season, as more teams adjust to the new Seahawks way of doing things.
D.K. Metcalf led the way for receivers, with 4 catches for 106 yards. David Moore had more of the highlights, as he caught 3 for 95 and a TD. Tyler Lockett had a relatively quiet day, but that’s just a matter of Wilson spreading the ball around (nine guys caught balls in this one, with eight guys catching at least two).
If I have one thing that irked me about the offense, it has to do with this weird notion that they need to shuffle guys on the offensive line for some reason? I know they talked about this a while back, I think as a function of not having a real pre-season, but I don’t get it. Isn’t the whole thing about the O-Line that they need continuity and reps together with the same guys? Will someone explain to me why Cedric Ogbuehi is in the game at all, let alone on a relatively critical drive in the first half where we’re going for it on fourth down? Brandon Shell has more than proven why we signed him to that contract in free agency: he’s CLEARLY the best right tackle on the team. So, is it any shock that Ogbuehi gave up the sack on fourth down to stall yet another potential scoring drive? I didn’t notice him in the game at all after that, so, I dunno, maybe keep it that way? I mean, yeah, I get it, you want guys to have experience in case others get injured. But, he’s a professional and a veteran, if we need him, he’ll figure it out. Right now, let’s keep our BEST guys out there and rack up huge leads! That way, when the game is out of reach, we can start playing our backups to give them some experience when it doesn’t matter as much. Just a thought.
On defense, I thought we showed flashes of competence. Only one sack, of course, isn’t very inspiring (particularly when Fitzpatrick threw it 45 times), but I thought Miami had a really smart gameplan. They never totally abandoned the run until late in the game and the Seahawks were up by two scores. That kept them in manageable situations, which meant there weren’t a lot of obvious passing situations where we could send in our specialists to tee off and get after the quarterback. That’s my way of saying I wish we could’ve had more Shaquem Griffin, because he’s always electric whenever he’s rushing the passer.
The rush defense was fairly on point. Fitzpatrick led the way with his scrambling (6 for 47 and a touchdown), but the other guys combined for 56 yards on 16 carries (3.5 yards per carry average).
K.J. Wright, in spite of his dropped interceptions, otherwise had a remarkable game, with lots of shoestring tackles preventing big plays. That guy’s wingspan is simply incredible, as he’s able to get to guys he shouldn’t, even if he’s actively engaged with a blocker! Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles with 12, and I thought most of our secondary was pretty sticky and making plays (Ryan Neal is a revelation, and Ugo Amadi is up there among our best cover guys).
If I can bitch about anything for a moment, it has to be Tre Flowers, who might want to consider calling his post-football late night chat show “Picking On Tre Flowers”, because the dude gets absolutely molested on a daily basis in this defense. He’s really a problem for this team, and ultimately I don’t see him as a Seahawk-type defender. He’s too soft, in all respects. I know the objective for this defense was to keep everything in front of them – to not give up big plays deep – but he’s giving up SO MUCH cushion, on every single down! If it’s 3rd & 6, why are you lining up 12 yards deep? That’s the easiest pre-snap read for even the most bumbling of quarterbacks! By all accounts, it sounds like his confidence is totally shot. Quinton Dunbar coming in and taking his job has really gotten into his head. After Dunbar has struggled when he was in there, on top of being injured these last two weeks, Flowers finally has a shot at redemption and to take his job back for good, and what has he done? He’s gotten used and abused, first by an elite quarterback in Dak Prescott, and now by a mediocre one in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Year three is supposed to be the year where you take your game to new heights; Flowers is regressing. I imagine year four will be pretty quiet for him, and after that he’ll be on a new team.
Probably the best thing to come from this game is a lack of new injuries. FINALLY! Now, we can enjoy the soft landing that is the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football next week, followed by a much-needed BYE week.
It’s funny what a 4-0 start will do for you, when looking at the upcoming schedule. Potential losses start looking like easy victories, and even those certain losses start looking like toss-ups. The outlook is bright! And I can’t help but be really excited for what’s to come!