I still don’t know if I totally comprehend what happened yesterday. Though, I’ll admit, there’s a lot about this team that befuddles me.
My brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around the concept that the Seahawks are good. But also, ARE the Seahawks good? If we’re good, why did we lose at home to the Falcons and at ALL to the Saints? Is this part of the 7-10 process, where they lure us into a false sense of curiosity and wonderment, before bringing the axe down on our necks?
Or, did the Seahawks used to be mediocre, but now we’ve grown? Now, we’ve figured out how to play defense a little bit. Now, as the younger guys have had an opportunity to gain experience, we’re seeing the fruit starting to blossom.
I can’t think of a better litmus test at this point in the season than a road game against the Chargers. I like the Chargers. I think they’re pretty good. Their coaching is a little suspect at times; I think their play-calling on fourth down leaves A LOT to be desired. But, there’s a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and the Seahawks just made mincemeat of them, 37-23.
I’ll admit, part of the reason why I’m so jazzed is because I had some fantasy football juice in this game, and after a rocky start – losing D.K. after only a single reception severely hurt my chances – my guys blew up. “My guys” being Austin Ekeler (127 total yards, 12 receptions, and 2 total TDs) and Kenneth Walker III (168 rushing yards on 23 carries and 2 TDs) whose game-sealing 74-yard touchdown almost single-handedly swung two of my games on Sunday.
The good thing for the Seahawks is that all the Chargers had was Ekeler. We pretty much held everyone else in check (though Mike Williams got his – 7 for 86 and a TD – before spraining his ankle late in the game). The defense did a lot of good things in this one. 3 sacks, a fumble recovery, and a timely pick by Ryan Neal. Moreover, Woolen and Bryant both looked outstanding, and Darrell Taylor (he of the strip sack/fumble recovery combo) is starting to come around.
The story of the day has to be the offense, though. Walker looks like the stud of all studs. So, you know, I’m just waiting for his ankle to get rolled up on, which seems to be how it goes whenever the Seahawks find a running back they really like.
Then, there’s The Resurrected Geno Smith, who’s somehow also better than he’s ever been in his life? This isn’t like a so-so quarterback being propped up by an elite team around him. This is a legitimately GOOD quarterback leading a young team to a winning record! 20 of 27 for 210 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT (off of a deflected ball, that was nevertheless ill-advised, since the receiver was so well covered). He had a couple of dimes to Marquise Goodwin for touchdowns, who got to have his breakout game in a Seahawks uniform (4 for 67 and 2 TDs).
The cool thing is, the Seahawks always had an answer in this one. After we went up 17-0 in the first quarter, the Chargers started clawing back, bringing it to 17-14 with plenty of time left in the second quarter. But, we cooly marched down the field and made it 24-14. More importantly, we didn’t let their 2-minute offense go anywhere in keeping that score where it was at the break.
I somehow didn’t notice, but the Seahawks had a 10+ minute drive in the third quarter to go up 27-14. That really shortened things up, but by no means discouraged further scoring. We gave up a safety after the Chargers downed a punt at the one yard line, but we proceeded to force a 3 & Out off of the free kick, then got another field goal to make it 30-14. Then, another stop by our defense led to the Kenneth Walker burst around the right side; 1 play, 74 yards, game-clinching touchdown. We gave up a meaningless garbage time TD to my boy Ekeler, but then we proceeded to run off the final three and a half minutes to end it in Victory Formation.
The obvious downside to this game is the D.K. Metcalf injury. He had his hands on a ball near the goalline, came down awkwardly, and that was it. Seems to be a knee injury. It immediately took him out for the rest of the game, no questionable tag or anything. So that’s ominous. There will be further testing today, and it sounds like he’s optimistic this won’t be a big deal, but I have concerns!
Namely: Dee Eskridge fucking sucks, and it’s ridiculous that he’s getting as much playing time as he’s getting. He had a stupid penalty, he fumbled a toss by taking his eyes off the ball (though they credited it to Geno, which is asinine), he had zero catches on one target, and he had a meaningless fly-sweep run for 4 yards. This is what he’s here for? The stupid fly-sweep play that never works because it’s the NFL and everyone is fast? He’s brittle as fuck, every hit looks like it’s going to end his season, and I can’t shake the feeling that he’s keeping someone else off the field who is more deserving and who has a higher ceiling. All because we threw away the 2021 draft (where we only selected three guys) and he was our top pick that year.
This team will STRUGGLE if we don’t have Metcalf for the rest of the year. I’m just telling you that right now. Tyler Lockett is and has always been a really good #2, but he’s also getting older, and in spite of avoiding contact at practically every turn (smart, in his case; prolong that career!), he still found himself on the injury report and questionable all week. I love Marquise Goodwin, and as long as he’s healthy, he can be an elite #3. But, he hasn’t been able play a full season since 2017. He WILL get hurt, it’s only a matter of time. It was nice having him in this game, with Metcalf out. But, he could go down as early as next week and it wouldn’t shock me.
That leaves Eskridge (again, sucks) and the rookies at receiver. That makes this team much more predictable and easier to handle if it’s left to the running game and tight ends to do all the heavy lifting. Metcalf is the difference-maker. Metcalf forces defenses to spend untold time and resources in an effort to try and stop him. He takes the best cornerback off of Lockett, who is free to get open among lesser opponents. He opens up the tight ends to feast off of linebackers and linemen. He makes Geno Smith better than he is. Sure, Geno was able to weather the storm against the Chargers, but long term? I’d be very nervous. And I’m not just saying that because I have Metcalf in my dynasty league and don’t want to see him miss any time ever.
Now what we’re looking at is a step up in our litmus tests: a home game against the one-loss Giants. They appear to be the exact photo negative of the Chargers: they’re still good, but it has everything to do with the coaching, and less to do with the talent at quarterback, my apologies to Danny Dimes and whatnot.
If you thought I was befuddled by the Seahawks, HOO BOY do I not understand these Giants!
I would say their schedule has a lot to do with their 6-1 record, but I’m not so sure. Of course, they beat up on the Panthers, Bears, and Jaguars. But, they also defeated the Titans, Packers, and Ravens. I know those teams aren’t as spectacular as we all expected heading into the season, but I still believe they’ll all either be in the playoffs this year, or at least in contention to the bitter end.
They play largely mistake-free football. Dimes doesn’t throw a lot, but he’s running pretty well for a quarterback, and only has 2 picks against 6 TDs. They rely largely on their running game, featuring a rejuvenated Saquon Barkley, who has 726 yards and a 5.1 average per carry. He’s also pacing the team in targets with 30 and is second in receiving yards. He hasn’t played a healthy, full season since his rookie year of 2018, but he’s showing why his talent made him the 2nd overall draft pick.
So, you know, easy peasy, right? Stop Saquon Barkley, win the game! Simple! Why haven’t all these other teams thought of that?
The interesting thing is that their defense isn’t all that amazing. They’re middle of the road against the pass, and legitimately bad against the run. Yet, they allow the 6th fewest points in the league, making good on that Bend Don’t Break promise.
For the Seahawks to win, just know that Barkley is probably going to get his. But, you have to make him work for it. You can’t get gashed for huge plays all day long. You also need to put Danny Dimes into 3rd & medium-to-long situations and force him to beat you with his arm. We know how to play against mobile quarterbacks, so I would hope we can apply that wealth of knowledge to this game.
I don’t think there’s any way we get this game in a shootout. I think it’s going to be low-ish scoring and close. One way or the other, the winner will be decided by 3 points or less.
How about this for making a guess: if D.K. Metcalf is healthy and plays this week, the Seahawks will win. If he’s out, the Seahawks will lose. Either way, the score will be 20-17.