Seattle Seahawks Progress Report: Where Do Things Stand Heading into Week 9?
Another week, another load loss for Pete Carroll's Seahawks. After starting the season at an impressive 4-2, they have quickly dropped to third place in the NFC West over the last two weeks. 4-4 at the halfway point is manageable going forward, but 5-3 or even 6-2 would have been much more favorable heading into the second half of the season.
Fortunately enough, the Seahawks have three divisional games left, and all three are at home. Not to mention the one non-divisional game next week against the Minnesota Vikings. Given the fact they are 0-3 right now in the division means they need to win all three remaining division games to keep their playoff hopes alive.
I have a feeling it will either take an 11-5 or 10-6 record to knock the 49ers off the top spot in the West. With the parity in the NFL being at an all-time high, 9-7 should get Seattle a Wild Card spot if they can't keep pace with San Francisco. However, they need to start winning on the road, ASAP.
Let's take a look at the good and the bad from Week 8, so we can see where this team is headed going into Week 9.
After taking a big step back offensively in Week 7, it was impressive to see Darrell Bevell's offense come out and move up and down the field with such ease at times. A couple of Detroit penalties helped the 'Hawks sustain drives, but for the most part their 369 yards of total offense came without much resistance from the opposition.
Quarterback Russell Wilson was set loose as he threw a career high 35 passes. He didn't quite eclipse his career high in yardage, but his 236-yard day would have proven to be enough if Gus Bradley's defense would have held strong in the fourth quarter.
In addition to Wilson's 236 yards, he tossed two touchdown passes. Both throws were beautiful red-zone strikes—the first throw was to Sidney Rice from nine yards out, and the second toss to Zach Miller gave Seattle the lead with 5:27 left to play.
It was definitely rare to see two red-zone scores, but encouraging nonetheless.
The rookie quarterback also made it a point to get as many receivers involved as he possibly could. By the end of the game, Wilson had targeted 10 different pass-catchers. The top three target hogs were Rice, Golden Tate and Miller. Rice saw eight passes, Tate saw seven and Miller saw five.
Even though Tate didn't help out his quarterback one bit last week by dropping two balls, it was good to see Wilson go right back to him on the opening drive. Same goes for Miller—he didn't register a single catch in Week 7. But when presented with ample opportunities, No. 86 has proven that he can contribute.
I was surprised when in-game announcer Tim Ryan stated that Miller's touchdown grab was his first as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
A strong day from Bevell's offense was overshadowed by a poor defensive performance. Not only did Bradley's defense allow 415 yards of total offense, but it also allowed 12 third-down conversions on 16 attempts. The 75 percent conversion rate is the highest rate allowed in a single game for the Seahawks since the Jets converted 11 of 14 third downs against them in 2004.
Pretty awful considering Jim Mora's defense in 2009 was nothing to write home about. 16 attempts means the defense was doing a good job on first and second down, but faltering on third down. Yesterday's third-down defense reminded fans of Seattle's third-down defense earlier in the year against St. Louis.
The Lions also notched an incredible 26 first downs. Which easily explains how Matthew Stafford coasted to 352 yards passing on 34-of-49 passing—23 of the Lions' 26 first downs came through the air. The Seahawks hadn't allowed over 400 yards of total offense on the road since playing the Cowboys in 2011.
However, one can't solely blame the secondary for all of the yardage allowed. Pressure from Chris Clemons and the rest of the front four just wasn't there. Seattle's defensive line usually has no problem making an opposing quarterback's life a living hell. Just look at what they they did to Aaron Rodgers on Monday Night Football.
According to Pro Football Focus, Coach Carroll's club received a negative-2.4 pass-rushing grade. Brandon Mebane and Leroy Hill each recorded a sack, but as a team they managed a measly 16 total pressures. A number that is well below the Seahawks' season average.
Out of the 17 defenders who played at least one snap on Sunday, only five received a positive pass-rushing grade from PFF. Not one had a grade that topped plus-1.0.
Rising: Russell Okung
Left tackle Russell Okung stonewalled every defender Detroit's defense threw at him on Sunday. It marked the second game in a row where he didn't allow a quarterback sack, hit or hurry. Impressive considering he faced Aldon Smith and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Falling: Breno Giacomini
I promise I'm not picking on Breno Giacomini, but I'm waiting for a game where everything falls into place for him. Even though Giacomini allowed three quarterback hurries, I'm not dinging him for that reason. I'm dinging him for his subpar effort in the run game. When the Seahawks ran off of his backside they averaged a measly one yard per carry.
Rising: Marcus Trufant
Matthew Stafford threw at Marcus Trufant six times thinking he would be the weak link in Seattle's secondary. Fortunately enough he proved that he was just as strong as any other defender. He only allowed 38 yards on five receptions. He may have allowed five catches on six targets, but coverage proved to be air tight every time.
Falling: Brandon Browner
Brandon Browner wasn't quite as strong in coverage as Trufant. Browner only surrendered 52 yards, but the two touchdowns he gave up absolutely killed his confidence. Week 8 proved to be his first negatively-graded game according to PFF.
The Outlook Heading Into Week 9
It's hard to put a finger on the pulse of the Seattle Seahawks right now. They have proven to be so inconsistent from week-to-week, and a return home trip to CLink may prove to cure whatever is ailing this team. One thing is for sure: Coach Carroll needs to get this defense straightened out now.
The Vikings will be looking to run the ball effectively because they have had no luck whatsoever throwing the ball in weeks past. Christinan Ponder has been struggling and looks out of sync with his wide receivers.
Even against the Lions I didn't think the 'Hawks looked stout against the run like they had in Weeks 1-6. So, getting back on track and shutting down Adrian Peterson should be the first order of business given he is Minnesota's only offensive threat right now.
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