The Seahawks don’t make it easy, even when they make it easy. They comprehensively beat the New York Giants 24-7 on Sunday, a final score that doesn’t fully capture how many times the Seahawks tripped over themselves early in the game, keeping the contest in question deep into the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks outgained the Giants 425 yards to 177. Russell Wilson outthrew Eli Manning 321-131 yards, and was a couple of near misses away from that being more like 550-131. Wilson was spectacular on Sunday well beyond his numbers while the Seahawks pass defense made Eli Manning look like Eli Manning. The Seahawks easily outrushed the Giants as well. They blocked a punt, and otherwise dominated with their coverage team. Basically in every phase of the game they were better. And yet they could not open up a significant lead until late.
I could get into why this happened, but I’m more interested in the emotional impact of this weirdness. It’s sapping! I was exhausted by this game. At one point early, the Seahawks got 12 shots in the red zone, I believe 8 of which came from the one yard line, and left with zero points. That’s torturous! By the end of it I was longing for a bye week. Watching sports is supposed to be fun; watching the Seahawks fail to dismantle the Giants for hours before finally swatting them away late was anything but.
I realize this is a ludicrous complaint! The Seahawks are in position to make another post-season run. Given the injuries that have hit other contenders (goodnight Aaron Rodgers, you were too beautiful for this world), the Seahawks are arguably the favorites to reach the Super Bowl from the NFC! Most fanbases would kill for a team half as successful as this Seahawks team. Me? I just want one easy win to go easily. One time. Come on boys. One time.
Now that I’ve whined and whinged about rooting for a winner like some sort of degenerate Bostonian (but hey, you don’t take the insufferable road to the Super Bowl by not being insufferable), let’s breakdown what was in the end a comfortable Seahawks win:
• What do you do with a problem like evaluating tight end Jimmy Graham? He’s overpaid, he’s increasingly prone to inoppurtune drops (taking the Dubstep mantle away from Luke Willson who has exorcised his demons by bringing Techno Thursdays to the Seahawks), and he can’t provide blocking support in the run game. Coming into this week he was the second lowest rated TE in the league by Football Outsider’s DYAR method. After this week he might be last, but in the second half he did have some big catches including a late game-sealing touchdown. Graham is not quite a disaster, but he is still a disappointment. Which is too bad because when he’s on, he’s so damn good.
• It’s similarly tough to diagnose the team’s running back situation. Thomas Rawls got his Jimmy Graham on, making some big plays and also making some crucial errors. Eddie Lacy put a couple nice power runs, but seems an odd fit with the team’s blocking scheme and lack of quality offensive linemen. CJ Prosise is constantly hurting himself, like Inspector Clouseau in the body of a great hybrid pass catching back. And while JD McKissic has flashed, he seems at his best as a change of pace back. It’s all confusing, none of it is great, but it’s not bad enough to despair over. We just have to hope the team figures something out in the absence of Chris Carson.
• You know who is easy to analyze? Doug Baldwin! He’s great! You know how many drops he has this season? Zero! Russell Wilson missed him on a deep ball in the second half that would have blown the game open; even without that he caught nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. He also pushed noted bad dude Tom Cable for the crime of interrupting Russell Wilson! Doug Baldwin is the best! He’s also pushing the league to actually back up their rhetoric around responding to the protests of police brutality and racial inequality that the Seahawks defensive line continues to participate in. Doug! Love him! What a guy!
• Also the best? Bobby Wagner! Bobby Wagner is a consistent force in the middle of the field a la Doug Baldwin, but instead of catching balls he’s catching human beings and wrestling them to the ground without erring. It’s crazy to watch Wagner, who has always been an incredible player, establish himself as maybe the best player on the entire team.
• The Seahawks committed 15 penalties costing them 110 yards. That was bad. I wish they hadn’t done that. Guys, stop it. Stop committing so many damn penalties.
• Leave it to the Seahawks to Fail Mary on a flea-flicker against a 1-5 team.
Almost too much.
• The offensive line was fine, which is all that the Seahawks need them to be. Rees Odhiambo was a non-catastrophe for the first time all year. The combination of Mark Glowinski and Ethan Pocic ably filled Luke Joeckel’s middling shoes. Justin Britt scared the bejeezus out of me by getting hurt and retreating into the weird pop-up tent that the NFL hides injuries from me with, but wound up being fine. Germain Ifedi was bad but he had been good the last couple of weeks. In all? Fine! And fine is good!
• As I’ve reported in this space in recent weeks, I’ve been tracking the performance of safety Kam Chancellor in order to determine whether or not he is washed. After watching Sunday’s first drive? Was worried. He got blown back by Orleans Darkwa on an early tackle. Then he spent the rest of the day making big hits and proving that no, he’s not washed. It’s worth remembering what Kam is. He’s not Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas; he’s not a perfect member of the Seahawks secondary. But he’s a playmaker, and he’s impactful all over the field. He’s still impactful. Early concerns about his washedness? Overblown. He’s fine. (I’m still keeping my eye out though).
• The Giants offense did shockingly little against the Seahawks. So let’s highlight everyone on defense in a lightning round of “Man, Look At What All These Good Seahawks Did!”:
Jarran Reed: stuffed the run, flashed his new pass rushing skills, forced a game changing fumble.
Frank Clark: recovered that fumble.
Richard Sherman: turned the one deep target on him into a pass deflection that he nearly picked off.
Justin Coleman: continued to establish himself as the team’s best option as a slot corner.
Earl Thomas: dropped seven or eight potential interceptions, taking pity on poor Eli Manning.
Shaq Griffin: despite a couple ticky tack penalties, has become the best number two corner the team has had since Byron Maxwell was playing in the Super Bowl.
KJ Wright: led the team in tackles.
Neiko Thorpe: came up huge again as a punt gunner.
DJ Alexander: blocked a punt!
Sheldon Richardson: dominated the line of scrimmage, allowing nothing through his gaps, despite transitioning from a system where he was responsible for a totally different type of gap containment.
Bradley McDougald: blew one tackle, but made up for it by taking away some big plays late in his first significant time on defense.
Michael Bennett: played well in run support despite despite reaggravating a foot injury.
That was fun. The defense all but pitched a shutout, only conceding a touchdown after a turnover gave them a short field. The pass rush still isn’t there (the only sack on noted statue of a boy making a weird face Eli Manning was the aforementioned stripsack) but the defense is finally clicking. Granted, the Giants are down all of their top wide receivers, but still, the guys they had did nothing. After the game Pete Carroll said this defense knows how good they are, and that they’re a few uncharacteristic mistakes away from having the stats to back up their self-assessment. If they keep playing like this? They’ll have the numbers soon enough.
Next week provides an interesting challenge. Coming into this season, the Texans looked like a nasty matchup for the Seahawks as their strength lay in the pass-rush prowess of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Now those two are out, but rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson has ascended, and is playing like none other than Russell Wilson. He hasn’t faced a defense like the Seahawks, but the Seahawks have struggled with mobile quarterbacks throughout Pete Carroll’s tenure with the team. What originally looked like a tough matchup, remains a tough matchup for totally new reasons. Will the Seahawks win in a shootout? Or will they continue to needlessly sputter and lose at home to a rookie?