Not only did the Seattle Seahawks get their first home win of 2021, but the second half of the season now carries a different feel than the previous month of despondency.
Here are, all things considered, 12 reasons for optimism over the back half of this accursed open-ended season.
The pin is out! Wilson will play again this year, and soon. More importantly, he really truly has been great as ever this season, despite the team results. Wilson’s flaws have been so small and so picked over that the great state of Washington is often in danger of forgetting the talent they have had for 10 years.
Perhaps no longer after three games with Geno Smith, but Wilson remains elite and will have all the chances in the world against this second-half schedule.
Kyler Murray, JJ Watt
This is big. This is also not to celebrate an injury, which I do not endorse, against those who can have their careers and lives affected in an instant.
But having not played the Arizona Cardinals yet, the fact that Seattle will potentially face neither Watt nor Murray in the first game improves their chances drastically. The best shot at playoffs lies in at least a split of Green Bay Packers and Arizona.
The Cards are keeping things very hush on Murray, but he’s already been in a boot, has a confirmed PCL strain in his left ankle, and most estimates place it at a 1-3 week injury. Two weeks would mean no Murray to keep up with Russell Wilson.
Look it’s not great. But he’s supposed to be a whole lot better than Kyle Fuller, and this was a heartwarmingly good start after so much time missed.
Specifically, Pete Carroll mentioned improved communication along the offensive line, which had clearly been a problem before. Somebody audibled Duane Brown straight into an embarrassingly obvious sack early in the season, and the Wilson / Pocic familiarity at least has some depth to it over a couple years. Carroll admitted he was rusty, but if rust shakes off and we get regular strength Pocic back, go Hawks.
Here are your top offensive players from the #Seahawks game against the Jaguars per PFF:
1. Tyler Lockett – 91.2 2. Geno Smith – 79.6 3. Duane Brown – 76.8
I refer you to the tweet above, but also a few fun stats. DK Metcalf is 2nd in the NFL with 8 TDs, while Lockett now has three games with over 100 yards. I think that’s a sign of the two being used within their most effective skillsets. Metcalf is the big playmaker, not that Lockett is not, but Metcalf is the – physically – big playmaker. He can do the things that he has done this year against Marshon Lattimore down the sideline and right over the top of Shaquill Griffin.
But Lockett should probably get more looks when things are humming well, with his surer hands and his nifty crossing magic. Geno Smith utilized Lockett particularly awesomely against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Metcalf can be a touchdown monster and Lockett can be the engine of the offense. Wilson knows this, and I hope now Shane Waldron does as well.
You have to go all the way back to last month to find when Jason Myers last missed a kick. As that was also just two games ago, when he probably cost them the game against the playoff-bound New Orleans Saints, you might wonder why this is on the list?
Frankly, because I Believe. Ted Lasso Style. Myers fixed it, he made his little field goal, a billion extra points, and has a week to think about how great he used to be.
I also really needed another point to round it out to 12 reasons.
In part, I am admittedly biased in favor of Homer because I watched him in person at camp his rookie year. At the close field at the VMAC too, not that cloak-and-dagger nonsense they pull on the far field. He was the fastest guy out there when he touched the ball, and I’m not kidding.
Not sure why he never materialized as a good running back, because he is unquestionably a good runner. Here are some fun Homer stats this year:
16 yard reception
13 yard reception
27 yard reception
14 yard run on third down
26 yard run on third down
44 yard kickoff return for touchdown
Meanwhile, here’s some Rashaad Penny 0-yard runs
It’s weird, of questionable value, and absolutely Seahawk that they have accidentally found themselves an incredible playmaker. Not sure how to use him, but that’s sort of their thing these days.
The Waldron Cauldron
The New Orleans Saints game was about as bad as it’s been for the offense all season. The Jacksonville Jaguars was the complete opposite.
If any part whatsoever of Pete Carroll’s comments on that game are to be believed – the rain, Geno Smith’s comfortability, etc – then we can theoretically throw out the fact that they ran Alex Collins into the second best run defense eight straight times.
Intellectually that feels dishonest, but let’s try.
Trick plays, quick releases, Tyler Lockett everywhere, “go get it” DK Metcalf, the game was awesome. Smith basically threw to two guys because those were the two best guys on the field. Wilson can do that and also hit a tight end or something, and off we go into greatness.
But in truth, a three-week sabbatical has to have reset the coaches into a semblance of what they couldn’t (didn’t) do and what they can (ought to) do when Wilson returns. If they didn’t figure that out, they should be fired.
I choose to take the Jaguars obliteration as a sign, if for no other reason than that even Wilson-led Seattle teams have beaten three-win teams by two points for years.
This point has been pounded lately, but that’s because it’s true. Seattle had the hardest schedule for offense in the first seven games, and fifth-toughest for a defense, by DVOA. The next two games don’t necessarily move that needle, but the rest of the year does:
Yes, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans, and Jacksonville. But the defense had been putting up double digit Expected Points Averaged in the negative for four straight games. To not just improve but jump all the way to positive defensive EPA (very good) means that both the opponents should be considered and the defense has made huge strides.
This is positive vibe, sustainable-type stuff. That number will surely take a big tumble going up against the Green Bay Packers, but I’m expecting (see what I did there) a far cry from -20, which was “Fire Ken Norton” week out here at Field Gulls.
Friends, it appears John Schneider has finally drafted himself a successful pass rusher.
Leading pass rushers from the 2020 draft (total pressures):
1. Chase Young 23 pressures in 289 pass rush snaps 2. Darrell Taylor 18 pressures in 131 pass rush snaps
Taylor is so good and unfortunately is not opposite the elite version of Carlos Dunlap anymore, but looks fit to be able to carry the flag himself. As he continues to grow into that role, good things for the Hawks.
For five consecutive games, the Seattle Seahawk defense allowed between 313 and 358 passing yards per game. The last three games saw that average drop by 100.
I know, the opponents – I get it.
But that is both substantial and consistent and with a pretty useless pass rush the entire time.
Brown is the better Tre. Brown is good.
Opponent injuries, other
Again not celebrating any athlete’s struggle, but this is a real element of the sport. Seattle just went 1-2 over a stretch they presumably would have swept with an attached Russell Wilson finger.
Like the Cardinals ahead of the Seahawks, other contenders have recently had significant setbacks. New Orleans and the Minnesota Vikings – both teams with wins over Seattle – have lost QB Jameis Winston and DE Danielle Hunter for the rest of the season. The Vikings are a very good team that could threaten the wild card, and the Saints are several games ahead of the Seahawks right now.
Those are actually the two biggest wild card contenders outside the NFC West, and is a significant boost to the need-all-the-help-we-can-get Seahawks.
The Dolphins take over first place in the AFC East after edging the Bills on Sunday to improve to 3-0, but they weren’t content just winning another game in Week 3; they also provided one of the most unusually entertaining plays of the season. Up four points with just 1:37 left in the divisional showdown, Miami punted from its own end zone, only to have Thomas Morstead’s kick bounce directly off the rear end of teammate Trent Sherfield, giving Buffalo a two-point safety and the rest of the NFL a good laugh.
Sherfield, a former 49ers wide receiver serving as the punt protector on the play, wasn’t pressured into Morstead. The spacing between he and the punter was simply so tight in the end zone that Morstead’s kick ricocheted right off Sherfield’s bottom, into the air and out of the back of the end zone. The punt followed a turnover on downs by the Bills, with the Dolphins gaining little while backed up to their own goal line, cutting Miami’s lead from four to two points.
Mike McDaniel’s upstart Dolphins ultimately held their ground to maintain the lead and upset Josh Allen and the Bills, but not after producing one of the rarest blunders in recent memory. No word on whether Sherfield will land on the Week 4 injury report due to rear-related soreness.