Don’t know if you've noticed, but society? It can be a bit reactive these days. Unlike how we view the president (he’s always terrible, react away) and Republicans (same), sometimes you have to process information about other things with a longer lens.
And so it is with the Seahawks, who were handed a frustrating 25-17 at the hands of the Los Angeles Chargers. After some impressive performances, the Seahawks were anything but impressive on Sunday, with Russell Wilson particularly poor after putting up a perfect pass rating the week prior against Detroit. The defense was gashed on a series of ugly plays in the first half. It was not a great performance.
So what do we do? Do we write off the Seahawks? Or do we look for some silver linings with a team that, I’ll admit, I wrote off myself mere weeks ago?
I’m going silver linings today… let’s break it down.
• Let’s start with the opponent. The Chargers are good. Really, really good. Philip Rivers is playing the best football of his career, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler are one of the league’s best running back duos, and Keenan Allen is a Doug Baldwin-esque route runner. They have a top-five offense in the NFL and their defense has some really good players. Bafflingly poor special teams aside, the Chargers are as balanced a team as there is in the NFL this year outside of New England. There is no shame in losing by eight on the last play of the game to a team this good, especially for the defense, even at home. No shame!
• Well some shame… The Seahawks defense was a trainwreck in the first half. On back to back plays, they turned a third and long for Los Angeles into a huge completion and a monster Gordon touchdown run. It was as un-Seahawksy as this team has been all year. It is frankly stunning that we haven’t seen more plays like that since the team lost eight defensive starters from last season.
But even after losing stalwart safety (by present Seahawks standards) Bradley McDougald, the defense stepped up and balled out in the second half, allowing a total of zero points to the Chargers offense. This is particularly impressive because, again, the Chargers offense is insanely good. Holding this Chargers offense to zero points for a half is wildly impressive.
Particularly impressive in the second half were the usual suspects (Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Frank Clark), but also the newly usual suspects: cornerback Tre Flowers and defensive lineman Jarran Reed. Flowers got beat early for a touchdown on an absolutely perfect throw, but was shutdown down the stretch. Reed was similarly impactful in the run game; after Gordon gashed the Seahawks early, he, uh, didn’t late. This Seahawks defense still has a lot of room to grow, but even without tons of great players, it shares more in common with the Legion of Boom than we had any right to expect.
• The refs were bad, and their badness was responsible for the flow of the game if not the outcome. Which is to say terrible calls benefitted Los Angeles early and Seattle late. By the end, you could hardly blame the refs for Seattle’s loss, so much as you could shrug your shoulders at the idea of refereeing at all. There were so many egregiously bad calls, that to highlight any one would be to a disservice to Shawn Hochuli’s crew of incompetents. Hochuli, who hails from the notorious hotbed of terrible officiating known as the Pac-12, is terrible, nepotism is bad, and this nation’s obsession with policing is bad.
• Also bad? Russell Wilson on Sunday! What a disappointment. Even with everything else that went wrong for the Seahawks, if Wilson had been as accurate as he was the previous week, the Seahawks surely would have won. He missed Jaron Brown for a potential huge touchdown, threw the worst pick-six of his career, and in general was extremely un-Russell Wilsony. This happens with Russ. It’s part of his quarterbacking DNA, as it is with damn near every quarterback in the league. It was just very unfortunate to have Wilson lay an egg in this game that he could have on a better week grabbed by the scruff and made his own.
That Wilson played as badly as he did was highlighted by how good his protection was for most of the game. The first choice offensive line for the Seahawks is very, very good. Unfortunately, the backups are not as good, and when DJ Fluker went down with an injury, there were suddenly a host of issues up front. Hopefully he is back very, very soon.
• Also, where the hell was tight end Ed Dickson on Sunday? His absence was weird! Nick Vannett is kind of blah as tight end; Dickson is finally healthy and should be a big upgrade at the position. And yet, he barely played. Very strange!
• The biggest injury on Sunday though was, surprisingly, Chris Carson. With Fluker and McDougald being replaced by Joey Hunt and Delano Hill, it’s shocking to me that Carson’s replacement was less capable of his filling his shoes than these other backups were at their positions. Mike Davis is fine, but he’s not Chris Carson. And the Rashaad Penny first round pick continues to be a disaster. Drafting a running back early is always dicey; Penny’s lack of production is salt in the wound.
• You know who was worth a first round pick? Rookie punter and boy genius Michael Dickson*. He had a monster game on Sunday, blasting an array of epic punts that befuddled the Chargers return unit. Watching how bad the Chargers special teams were all day threw into sharp relief how lucky we are to have Dickson.
*okay not a first, but he was a steal in the fifth.
• Really, though, the offensive play calling was a mess. There was a particularly ghastly run on 2nd and 24 that boggled my mind so hard, I'm still looking for six letter words in a cubic space. But I'm not going to fully turn on Brian Schottenheimer yet. When Carson was healthy, the offense looked great. When Russ hit his targets, the offense looked great. When the offensive line blocked, the offense looked great. That's enough for me to not point out how much of a rube Schotty can be this week. Another week of weird draw plays though? Rube talk comes back.
• So basically, the Seahawks lost on Sunday, and it was not as close as the final score would suggest, but it also was very encouraging. Very discouraging though? The Seahawks upcoming schedule. The Chargers were a stern test, but so are the Rams, Packers and Panthers who are coming up in rapid succession. The Seahawks will need to win at least one and probably two of those games to have a chance of making the playoffs. And even if the Seahawks are good, they may not do it. As we saw this week, sometimes being good isn’t good enough.