That the Seahawks defense is worse than it was a year ago, and yet even worse than the years leading up to last year is no surprise. So many Pro Bowlers and superstars have left the team, that ESPN’s broadcast booth felt the need to interrupt Seattle’s 24-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday with an allusion to the new Avenger movies in which (spoiler alert) half the people vanish to nothing. Of course with the injuries and defections they’ve suffered, the Seahawks defense is down more than half of its key pieces from past years, but the point remains: the Seahawks defense ain’t what it was.
And yet on Monday the defense was not really a problem. They were actually… pretty good? Wildly fresh faces including Austin Calitro, Akeem King and Mychal Kendricks (who came available because of some light white collar crime) filled in admirably for a fleet of missing stars. And while the pass rush was still weak, the team’s remaining stars (Earl Thomas and uh, Bradley McDougald and Shaquill Griffin straining the definition of the word “stars” a bit) prevented Chicago from picking up any big plays and forced a pair of huge turnovers. The defense is not what it was, but they played hard, and given everything they’ve gone through acquitted themselves admirably in defeat.
The Seahawks special teams, of course, is better than they were last year, which, well, duh. Blair Walsh is gone so things can’t be worse. Elderly kicker Sebastian Janikowski banged in a 56 yard field goal, making everyone briefly forget that he entered the league when Bill Clinton was still president (seriously). And while punting wunderkind, and one of my top three favorite people in the world, Michael Dickson revealed himself to be human with a shanked punt, he spent the rest of the night dropping bombs both as a punter and as a drop-kicking specialist on kickoffs.
So the defense was fine and the special teams were good… so why did the Seahawks lose to a not-quite-there-yet Bears team by a margin that fails to indicate how badly they were outplayed for most of the evening? Well, it was the offense’s fault. Wooo boy that offense. They sucked a whole bunch on Monday. Sucked real bad. Sucked thoroughly and completely. Top to bottom sucking. Guys? The offense? It sucks.
And it shouldn’t suck! The team pushed all in on rebuilding their running game and getting Russell Wilson back on track this off-season. They replaced their offensive coordinator! They brought in a first-round running back! They got some new linemen, and kept the ones who didn’t totally suck and gave them a new coach! They were handing the reins of the team over to Russ. This was all supposed to be good!
And yet all of these moves have sucked.
As always with the Seahawks the issues start with protecting Russell Wilson. Five different Bears recorded sacks on Wilson in the first half. This somehow undersells the variety of ways that the Bears destroyed our beloved android quarterback. Sometimes it was just beating Germain Ifedi off the edge. Sometimes it was collapsing the pocket. Sometimes it was because guys were covered downfield. Sometimes it was catching Russ rolling out. Basically nothing was working for the Seahawks in pass protection for three quarters, and everything failed.
The pass catchers on this team are (please don’t hurt me Doug Baldwin) back to being pedestrian. With Baldwin injured the starting wide receivers are Tyler Lockett, Brandon Marshall and Jaron Brown. Those three are all competent players and interesting complementary pieces, but none of them are capable of breaking a game open by creating space consistently. Meanwhile, Will Dissly is a fun and good rookie tight end, but his route running still leaves enough to be desired that he cannot be relied on as a consistent safety valve for Russell Wilson. Basically, this is a group of adequate receiving options, but without Baldwin, there simply is not a guy Russ can count on, especially on third downs.
And this team is facing a lot of difficult third downs because the running game is a hot mess again. Chris Carson looked good in the first half, but was, according to Pete Carroll, too tired from playing special teams to contribute in the second half. This left rookie first-rounder Rashad Penny to work… and he, uh, kinda sucks. He rushed the ball 10 times for 30 yards and was targeted twice in the passing game which led to an ugly drop and Russ’s first regular season pick-six since his rookie year. Running backs should never be taken in the first round, and if they are they better be damn good from day one. Penny hasn’t been good at all, and a pick I hated in theory I’m starting to truly despise in practice.
So Russ was at fault, the offensive line was at fault, the receivers were at fault, and the running backs are at fault. But really that means the coaches were at fault, because if everything is fucked then the ones in charge need to be held accountable for the fuck ups. This leads to the questions: how high up should the blame go? What percentage ends with offensive coordinator and noted rube Brian Schottenheimer, and how much lands at the feel of the head conspiracy theorist in charge, Pete Carroll?
For me, the blame falls more with the idiot offensive coordinator, the only man to ever fall for The Fiddle Game and The Zig Zag Scam in the same rail trip from Utica to Rochester, Brian Schottenheimer. But the mere fact that the coaching equivalent of the man who lost his life savings trying to win a Rasta Banana is in charge of the Seahawks offense is a huge strike against head coach Pete Carroll.
Is it too much to say that Brian Schottenheimer is everything wrong with America? No. No it is not. Let’s break it down:
He’s into numerology, believing according to a Seattle Times feature on him that his offenses will win if they hit 53 plays. They hit 53 plays on Monday… the 53rd play being a devastating Russell Wilson fumble. The Seahawks lost anyway.
He’s so dumb, Rex Ryan has clowned on him for being too loyal to whatever dumb stuff Rex said to try to win a game. For real he tried to run the ball 40 times in a game because Rex made a crack about wanting to do that. HOW DUMB CAN ONE MAN BE?
He's nepotism run amok; the only reason he has a job is because of his dad's famous name... and his dad was mostly famous for losing a whole bunch.
He’s weirdly into the Civil War… specifically Confederate generals… not great, y'all.
I genuinely hate Brian Schottenheimer. And he managed to call a game on Monday that was so disastrously ill-conceived that I’m done with him for good. I mean for Pete's sake, at least stop rolling Russell Wilson into the gaping maw of the league’s best defensive ends!!! PLEASE BRIAN!!! HE’S DYING!!! OUR BEAUTIFUL ROBOT BOY RUSS IS DYING!!!!
The good news for Seahawks fans is that the team comes home, and plays a comparably dysfunctional offense in the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday. Will things get worse? I don’t know. Hopefully not. Hopefully Brian Schottenheimer gets fired. Whatever. I hate this offense.