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Seahawks vs. Panthers: Final Grades and Analysis for Seattle

Will McDougleContributor IJune 18, 2016

Seahawks vs. Panthers: Final Grades and Analysis for Seattle

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    The Seahawks and Panthers have completed a hard fought and somewhat grueling game this Sunday afternoon. It wasn't pretty but the Seahawks escaped with a 16-12 victory in a must win road game.

    Seahawks now fly home to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots while star quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers fall to a disappointing 1-4 heading into their much needed bye week.

    Check out our final grades and player analysis here! 

Starting Quarterback: Russell Wilson

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    Overall Grade: B (Stats: 19-25, 221 yards 1 TD, 2 Ints)

    Unfortunately for Russell Wilson, his career day only averages out to a B rating due to his turnovers. While the Lynch throw was not his fault, the awful throw to Anthony McCoy was. 

    What was great to see was his development in the pocket. Leaps and bounds over last week. Very few instances of happy feet and pocket bailouts led to several key down field throws. Majority of throws were timely and accurate. 

    It looks like he has taken the next step.

    QTR 4: B

    Russell Wilson didn't have to do much in the fourth quarter but the drive that resulted in a 44 yard FG was good enough.

    It's worth noting how he's begining to find Zach Miller on deep passes regularly. The 23 yard toss to Miller extended the drive and put the Seahawks in FG range. 

    QTR 3: B

    First big mistake of the day on late throw to Anthony McCoy. Pick six puts Panthers ahead. Read was late, and throw should not have been made. This turnover was followed by toss to Marshawn Lynch which he bobbled into the hands of a Panthers defender. Good thing about Wilson is, he responded with great play action throw to Zack Miller down middle of field and then again with bullet to Golden Tate for go ahead touchdown.


    QTR 2: A-

    Stats: 12/13 123 yards 106.1 passer rating.

    Russell Wilson is showing tremendous progress in the pocket. Several times in the first half he has shown the ability to read, step up and fire bullets down field. If you were wondering if he could do it, there you go. 


    QTR 1: B

    Russell Wilson has made the most of his opportunities in the first quarter. He's been accurate, and on time for the most part. Nice start considering the debacle last week.


    Key to the Game:

    1. Pocket Presence: Russell Wilson is struggling with finding the courage to step up into the pocket and deliver the ball against A-Gap pressure schemes. His tendency is to look for his primary receiver—hesitate—and then bail out of the pocket in an attempt to clear his sight line and find an open target.

    This has not got it done this year and has resulted in the worst passing offense in the NFL (523 yards total through four games). 

    While the blame for the poor results can be shared with the coaching staff and subpar pass blocking, the fact is Wilson must trust his protection and deliver the ball on time, every time, or the Seahawks' offensive coaching staff will continue to justify their ultra-conservative approach. 


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    Final Grade:  B

    Final Stats: 

    1. 3rd downs: 50%

    2. 310 total yards

    3. 16 Points

    4. 2 turnovers 

    The Seahawks offense was noticeably different today in a some areas. The offensive coaching staff looked to put Russell Wilson in situations he was more comfortable with and it showed for the most part.

    The running game seemed to take a small step back today upfront. The offensive line was just not able to sustain blocks and create the needed push for Marshawn Lynch to get it rolling. Lynch still managed 85 yards but it was not a dominate performance by any stretch.

    Run-Pass numbers stayed exactly the same as in previous weeks with 35 rushes and 25 pass attempts although it didn't feel like it. Goes to show you how a small adjustment in approach can really change the feel of a game.


    QTR 4: B+

    Not much of the way of offense in the fourth quarter today, but when the Seahawks did run offensive plays good things happened. The drive ending in the 44 yard FG was solid, but the seven play drive starting at the goal line was clutch. It may not have resulted in points, but it essentially ran out the clock on the Panthers day. 

    Kudos to Marshawn Lynch on clutch 3rd down run for first down.


    QTR 3: B

    Seahawks are not good enough on the offensive side of the ball to turn the ball over. Pick six and Lynch bobble interception was a killer. Seems like turnovers are coming in bunches. Can late touchdown by Russell Wilson to Golden Tate turn the tide.


    QTR 2: B

    The offense is moving the ball fairly well so far, but are stalling in the red zone. Nice to see several previously unused players making contributions so far e.g., Braylon Edwards, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Robert Turbin.

    Penalties are still killing momentum. This may just be what you get with Seattle in 2012

    QTR 1: B

    Nice play action out of the gate for big yardage. Rice has been a favorite on these plays. 

    Big Pass protection block from Golden Tate flattens Panthers DE. Nothing gained on the play but really nice to see the aggressiveness. Golden Tate came to play today.

    Also great to see Baldwin involved in the offense on 3rd downs.

    On the negative side, the Seahawks have forced Wilson to convert on two long 3rd downs already and Breno Giacomini can't stop the penalty issues and is benched by Pete Carroll.


    Keys to the game: Balance

    1. Running game: Running back Marshawn Lynch has become a star in Seattle with his mixture of eye-popping agility and bruising running style. Through four games, the Seahawks have more rushing yards than passing yards, so look for Seattle to continue to utilize Lynch heavily against the 25th-ranked rushing defense of the Carolina Panthers. 

    2. Passing game: The Seahawks offensive line is an aggressive and nasty run-first group that features left tackle Russell Okung, center Max Unger and second-year left guard James Carpenter.

    Unfortunately, the Seahawks are a subpar pass-protection team and will need to give Russell Wilson the passing lanes he needs to read and react to coverage downfield. This emphasis isn't based on Wilson's height; it's a requirement for all quarterbacks. 

    3. Third-down percentage: The Seahawks have only converted 14-of-50 third-down attempts for a pathetic 28 percent. If the Seahawks can bump that number up to around 35-40 percent on Sunday, it will mean a world of difference to this offensive unit.

    4. Penalties, penalties, penalties: The Seahawks must stop the drive-killing penalties on offense.

    It's hard enough for Wilson to succeed with the ultra-conservative, run-biased play-calling, but putting the team in long-yardage situations destroys the ability of an offense to be multifaceted and creates an environment of predictability that an opposing defense can feast on.



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    Final Game Grade: A

    Panthers offensive Stats:

    1. Third down: 2-11

    2. Total Yards: 190

    3. Yards per play: 3.7

    4. Cam Newton: 12-29 141 yards, O TDs

    News flash: The Seahawks have one heck of a defensive unit.

    The only real issue they had to clean up was penalties and opposition third down percentage. Today they did just that. DE Bruce Irvin chipped in two timely sacks, and MLB Bobby Wagner was a force from the opening snap registering 6 tackles and countless gap re-routes. 

    The secondary had one job really. Stop Panthers all pro receiver Steve Smith. In that regard, the combination of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman locked Smith down (4 catches, 40 yards) and frustrated him to the point he lost his concentration. After dropping to 1-4 one has to wonder what the locker room interviews will sound like.


    QTR 4: A

    Cam Newton and Steve Smith were completely befuddled in the beginning of the fourth. In fact so much so, Steve Smith started to pick fights with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. That was until Newton found TE Greg Olsen for huge gain down middle of field. Blown coverage there started Panthers momentum and extended drive. However, red Zone stop on fourth was monumental. The rookie phenom Bruce Irvin ices game with strip sack of Cam Newton to end the game. 


    QTR 3: A

    Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner is a man possessed today and is playing some incredibly sound football. He’s stayed disciplined in his assignments and his pursuit angles have been outstanding.

    Great strip of De Angelo Williams by Brandon Browner on option run. Seahawks needed that play in the worst way.

    Bottom line: Cam Newton is 5-20..

    QTR 2: B+

    Seahawks giving the Panthers nothing easy today and have improved drastically on 3rd down today (Panthers 1-5). However, Cam Newton is starting to find openings to scramble and has burned the Seahawks for 37 yards. This may be the only success he has today considering he's currently 3-15 passing for 23 yards. 

    Note: The Seahawks front four is causing serious problems for the Panthers so far. DT Brandon Mebane is particular is almost un-blockable early on.

    QTR 1: B

    Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner will need to anticipate Steve Smith's routes much better. Just not fast enough to be flat footed and late.

    Seahawks not fooled by Panthers option game for most part and are forcing the Panthers into long 3rd downs.  

    Coverage has been solid and Bobby Wagner is making presence felt with great pursuit and tackle of Cam Newton forcing panthers punt.


    Keys to the game: 

    1. Stop "Superman" Cam Newton (quarterback): It's obvious the Panthers have become Newton's team, and their success is tied strictly to his play more often than not. In 2012, he leads the team in two categories: passing and rushing yards

    Stopping a duel-threat QB is a task the Seahawks' front seven should be up for. The Seattle defense is a stellar unit that features immensely talented players up front.

    Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Jason Jones are becoming impossible to contain, and defensive ends Chris Clemons, rookie Bruce Irvin and Red Bryant have racked up 12 sacks already in 2012. 

    2. Contain Panthers' All-Pro receiver Steve Smith: The Panthers do two things really well. They run the ball and find Steve Smith wide open. Even 12 years into his career, Smith is still a nightmare to cover. Seattle cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will have their hands full but must limit his catches. 

    3. Stop allowing third-down conversions: As talented as this Seahawks defense is, it has struggled in a surprising area i.e., third-down defense. So far in 2012, Seattle ranks tied at 22 with the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars in allowing an egregious 43 percent opposition conversion rate.

    With the Seahawks struggling to convert third downs on offense, this defensive lapse just means more and more time spent on the field. This must improve against Carolina. 

Special Teams

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    Final Game Grade: B

    Pretty ho-hum day for the Seahawks special team unit. Blocking on returns was phenomenal all day, but Leon Washington's costly fumble started a landslide of sorts. Momentum swung over to the Panthers following that mistake and it nearly cost them the game. 

    Good news is Leon Washington is not known for turnovers and the Seahawks escaped with the win. 


    QTR 4: B

    Outside of a Steven Hauschka field goal and intentional safety, the special teams unit didn't get much work in the fourth quarter. One thing to note is the stellar job the Seahawks did in return coverage on the safety punt. Nowhere to run for Panthers returner.


    QTR 3: C

    Like predicted after first quarter Leon Washington breaks huge return but ultimately coughs up the ball and negates the entire effort. 


    QTR 2: B+

    Seahawks punter Jon Ryan is to coffin corner punts as golfer Phil Mickelson is to lob wedge shots from the bunker. Two wonderful punts have pinned the Carolina Panthers deep and made life hard for the struggling Panthers offense.


    QTR 1: B

    The Seahawks special teams unit accounts for all points on the board. One thing to note is how well they are blocking on returns. Only matter of time before Leon Washington breaks a big gain.


    Key to the game: 

    1. Awareness: The Seahawks have been a solid group on special teams all year but fell apart a bit against St. Louis. The poor on-side kick attempt coupled with the Rams' fake field goal turned touchdown and punter Jon Ryan's poor kicking highlighted a collection of mental lapses I do not expect to see against Carolina.


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    Final Game Grade: B

    The Seahawks finally put Russell Wilson in position to move this offense and did so without changing his throw count. That's actually impressive if you think about it. The Seahawks need improvement on the offensive side of the ball, but it's good to see Pete Carroll and company attempt to play to his strengths. 

    From a defensive perspective defensive coordinator Gus Bradley called a beautiful game. Cam Newton looked lost and Panthers head coach was never able to counter and put Newton in rhythm. 

    Penalties are still a problem, but they were not as much of an impact as previous games. Sill, seven penalties is way too much. Seattle won't get away with that against the Patriots even if they are at home.

    QTR 4: B+

    The Seahawks coaching staff was quick to adjust to a few big Cam Newton throws and tightened the screws in the red zone. The play calling in that area was impressive, the stops were amazing. Cam Newton looked confused and the fourth down play on the goal line showed just how confused and rattled he was. 

    Still scratching my head on the intentional safety ploy. I can see the point of doing it, but I don't think it needed to be done.


    QTR 3: B-

    Pete Carroll and company lost serious momentum after three turnovers in the third quarter. It’s even harder to get something going when most of the offense’s positive gains come with penalties. Bad calls or not, Carroll needs to make some adjustments. Really lucky Brandon Browner and Russell Wilson have bailed them out with great play late in third quarter. 


    QTR 2: B

    Kudos go to the offensive coaching staff this week for their work with Russell Wilson. He looks poised, accurate, and most importantly comfortable. 

    However, the costly penalties are still an issue and have cost the Seahawks again today. Hard to win, when you kill momentum on a regular basis. 

    QTR 1: B

    Pete Carroll finally removes the problem on the right side of the offensive line. Breno Giacomini needs to sit the rest of this game or longer to make the point. He is killing the Seahawks momentum. 

    Nice to see Bevell mix up the play-calling early. This will need to continue. Nice start overall. 


    Keys to the game: 

    1. Offense: The Seahawks must unleash the Russell Wilson experience. Hopefully this week, Pete Carroll and the offensive coaching staff sat down with him and got his wish list package of plays or concepts for the game.

    Too often this season Wilson has played the quarterback position strictly from the pocket. While I agree he needs to develop there, why not allow him to play more to his strengths in the development process.

    Movement in the form of sprint outs and half rolls have been a brief bright spot in the Seahawks offense, and I'd submit his confidence needs a boost. 

    It's one thing to limit his ability to make mistakes, but it's another to limit his participation in the offense to the point he's perpetually out of rhythm and basically reduced to fetching the ball for Marshawn Lynch 25-30 times a game.

    It's not asking for 35 attempts here, just more balance in play-calling and more focus on putting Wilson in situations he's comfortable in. 

    2. Discipline: Per, the Seahawks are currently ranked second worse in NFL at 9.2 drive-killing, momentum-swinging penalties a game. Fair or unfair, this a direct reflection on Carroll and his coaching staff. This must be cleaned up. 

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