Of all the exciting things that happened in the second half of the Seahawks 46-18 shellacking of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, the most exciting was that the defense held the Colts to 32 total yards from scrimmage in the half. 32!
Why is this exciting? Well, the Colts offense is bad, and for a half of football on Sunday night the Seahawks defense made them look okay. An interception returned for a touchdown from Justin Coleman masked a broadly competent performance from a Colts team led by backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. That is a very bad offense, ranked 32nd in DVOA heading into this game (have I mentioned yet that they’re bad). This was not the sort of offense that should be able to do anything against a Seahawks defense with 8 potential Pro Bowlers. The Colts were getting push from their offensive line (down to its third string center) that made me, a fan of a team that doesn’t do the whole offensive line pushing thing, green with envy. So when the Seahawks came out having made the crucial adjustments needed to completely shut the Colts down? That was not bad.
In fact, I can say with certainty that the Seahawks as a whole, despite playing like crap for a half, are officially not bad. And not bad is a good starting place when the team looked kinda bad stumbling to a 1-2 start and a 15-10 halftime deficit in this game. If we went from kinda bad to bad? The season would be fucked. But not bad? Not fucked!
From here, I anticipate that the Seahawks could rapidly move to good. Hell, very good after the bye in two weeks is in play. And with no great teams lurking out there except for the Chiefs (who are both missing Eric Berry and are coached by noted clock mismanager Andy Reid), very good is good enough to contend for the Super Bowl. That’s right, I’m turning one good half of football against the Colts into the following claim: despite everything wrong with this team, the Seahawks are clear Super Bowl contenders. Why? Let’s break it down:
• The state of the Seattle cornerback situation is strong. With Jeremy Lane in and out of the lineup with an array of injuries and an unjust ejection, rookie Shaquill Griffin, despite getting posted up on one great touchdown pass, has been excellent in his stead. Justin Coleman, who was acquired in exchange for notable Magic: The Gathering gatherer Cassius Marsh, housed a pick-six and was generally on point covering the Colts admittedly mediocre array of secondary passing weapons. Richard Sherman, though, did not have so easy a task. For the bulk of the evening he was matched up with T.Y. Hilton, who led the NFL in receiving last season, and erased him from the game. And yes, Andrew Luck was not playing quarterback, but it’s worth saying over and over again that Richard Sherman remains arguably the best cornerback in the league.
• Russell Wilson seems fine. He had two dumb interceptions that were someone else’s fault, he scrambled when he needed to, he was accurate in ways he hadn’t been the last couple of weeks. His stats would have been better if two near miracle throws weren’t turned into sacks upon review. But whatever, Wilson looked like the top-8 quarterback he needs to be for the Seahawks to contend.
• This is a bad bullet point… Is Kam Chancellor washed? I’m not 100% sure the answer is no. He isn’t blowing guys up in the run game like he used to, and he’s still a step slow covering tight ends. A better quarterback/tight end pairing than Jacoby Brissett and Jack Doyle would have had two more big plays on him. He was still good on Sunday, but… I don’t know. Again, I’m not saying Chancellor is washed, but the question can be asked, and his washedness will be tracked in the coming weeks.
• Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson switched bodies at some point. They got in a fight and then both wished to a wandering fortune teller to become the other one. And then it happened. Don’t believe me? Willson has become the touchdown maker, while Graham is the infuriating pass dropper who flashes glimpses of excellence. It’s weird. Am I out on Graham? No. He’s still Jimmy Effing Graham, and he’s the Seahawks most accomplished seaplane pilot. But he was partially and completely responsible for Russell Wilson’s first and second interceptions respectively.
• Before the game, the bulk of the Seahawks defensive line joined in not standing for the national anthem to continue their protest of police brutality and institutional racism. Earlier in the week, in a move spearheaded by Doug Baldwin and Michael Bennett, the team announced it will be putting money towards funding education and deescalation training for police.
In spite of another week of nonsense surrounding Bennett in particular, both from Facebook trolls and people actively misinterpreting a second release of footage from his arrest in Las Vegas, the Seahawks players continue using their platform for good.
• The game of football itself remains fucking brutal. Cliff Avril hurt his neck early in the game. There was Lane’s groin/hip injury. There was some weirdness around lineman Rees Odhiambo who was taken to the hospital postgame after collapsing short of breath after suffering a chest injury. And for the third year in a row, the team’s most exciting young offensive weapon suffered what looks to be a serious lower leg injury. Two years ago it was Thomas Rawls. Last year it was Tyler Lockett. And now it’s Chris Carson who it looked like would be sidelined for the year after an injury suffered after the game was out of reach. It turns out he JUST suffered a high ankle sprain that will sideline him for weeks. It was gruesome as it happened, and it was a stark reminder of how rough football is, beyond the existential threat to the game of brain injuries.
• With Carson’s status going forward uncertain, it’s worth saying that the whole Seahawks rushing game looked much improved on Sunday. And that’s a big deal, as Indianapolis had been great against the run in its first three games. In total the Seahawks rushed the ball 33 times for 194 yards. Eddie Lacy finally looked great for flashes in the second half as the Seahawks offensive line managed to impose its will late in the game. And J.D. McKissic, who was somewhat controversially kept on the roster over receiver Kasen Williams put an end to that controversy with two spectacular touchdowns. On the first one, Al Michaels confused him for Eddie Lacy…
Whoops! What matters is, the Seahawks were running the ball really well.
• The Seahawks defensive front was uneven again on Sunday. Avril’s absence was a factor, but the pass rush spent the first half not getting home, and only Bobby Wagner stood out in a positive way amongst the linebackers. However the second half was a different story for two reasons. One: the offense stayed on the field keeping the legs of the defensive line fresh. Two, and most promising: Avril’s absence and a number of other small injuries along the line forced the Seahawks to rotate in some less vaunted players. And those players like Garrison Smith and Marcus Smith made an impact. If the Seahawks can get their top talent healthy and rested, and have quality depth to rotate in? That would be super.
So now we know the Seahawks aren’t bad. But are they good? This weekend in Los Angeles will likely tell a lot. The Rams are good, with wonderboy head coach Sean McVay transforming Jared Goff from a national punchline into a top ten quarterback. The Seahawks have struggled on the road against two good teams already this year. The Rams qualify as a third tough test, and the most important one as they represent the biggest threat in the division. Win? The Seahawks are good. Lose? Well the questions will linger into the bye week. Me? I hope they win. And? I think they will. The Rams have been a thorn in the Seahawks’ side when they have been bad, but now that they’re good? Piece of cake.