Seattle Seahawks Progress Report: Where Do Things Stand Heading into Week 13?
The last five days have not treated the Seattle Seahawks well. Miami rallied late in the fourth quarter to overcome a 21-14 deficit with less than eight minutes left to play and then later on that day Seattle found out that cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman would both be facing suspensions for four games due to failed drug tests.
Last weeks' loss dropped the Seahawks to 6-5 with five games left to play. The 'Hawks are currently holding onto the sixth seed in the NFC playoff race and need to win at least three or four more games to keep a tight grip on that No. 6 seed.
Per Sporting News, both cornerbacks will be on the field come Sunday, which will only help Seattle's playoff run. Heading into Week 13, Pete Carroll's club enters familiar territory: 2012 marks the third year in a row where the Seahawks have to travel to Soldier Field in the Windy City.
Let's take a look where this team stands after Week 12.
Even after a slow first-quarter start, Darrell Bevell's offense gained momentum into the second quarter and rode it out all the way through the third quarter. Quarterback Russell Wilson led the charge and kept pushing forward all the way until the end.
Unfortunately, his performance alone wasn't enough given the play from the defense and its fourth-quarter meltdown. Yet, there's no question Wilson was the best thing going Sunday. By games end he finished with a quarterback rating above 125 for the third game in a row, and he kept his interception-less streak at three games.
Wilson's high quarterback rating numbers helped him become the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to post a 125-plus rating in three straight games. We all know how well he plays at CenturyLink Field, but his improved play on the road attests to his growth over the course of the season.
According to Pro Football Focus' rankings, No. 3 is now the ninth best quarterback in the league based on its grading system. His overall play this year has topped the play of several veterans who were in the NFL long before Wilson was of the legal drinking age.
Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub and Philip Rivers are all players who haven't been able to keep pace with the third-round rookie out of Wisconsin. Wilson won't necessarily end up throwing for 4,000 yards, and I doubt he gets to 30 touchdown passes by the end of the regular season, but he is making good decisions—plain and simple.
The good decisions have led to an efficient offense that rarely turns the ball over. Right now the Seahawks are plus-two in the turnover battle and have drastically cut back on turning the ball over since the beginning of the season.
More often than not the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. In addition to Browner and Sherman being available, Seattle needs Wilson to keep playing at a high level.
Anyone who saw the game Sunday knows the defense struggled, especially against the run. They allowed both Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas to run wild. Both players averaged over six yards per carry, and both players managed to find the end zone.
The Seahawks' run defense started the season very well as they didn't allow 100 yards rushing through the first six weeks of the season, but over the last five games Gus Bradley's defense has allowed two teams to eclipse 100 yards and one other team to eclipse 200 yards rushing.
The last team to pile on the hurt at the line of scrimmage was the Vikings when they rushed for 243 yards, and Coach Carroll had no other explanation other than the defenses' gap discipline was poor.
Well, Coach Carroll hasn't offered much insight as to what went wrong against Miami, and honestly after watching both the broadcast and coaches film, it was apparent that the Dolphins' offensive line just out muscled the Seahawks' defensive line.
Miami's success in the run game came from running through the right side A-gap. When running through that right side A-gap, they averaged 6.7 yards per carry on seven carries. Thirty-two of the Dolphins' 88 yards after contact also came through that same right side A-gap.
Moreover, the Dolphins backfield dominated when running behind left tackle Jake Long. When running behind Long, Bush and Thomas combined for 21 yards on four carries. Not to mention the fact that Bush scored his lone touchdown when running behind the left side of the offensive line.
If Seattle wants to get its run defense back on track against the Bears, they will need improved play from the entire linebacking corps and both starting defensive ends.
Stock Watch (Week-By-Week Evaluation)
Rising: Anthony McCoy
For the first time since Week 8, tight end Anthony McCoy was a part of the Seahawks' passing game. He caught both of his targets in Week 12, and he even managed to score his first touchdown since Week 2. There's no question he's a gifted pass-catcher; Seattle just needs to get him more involved.
Falling: Doug Baldwin
Where has the third-down specialist disappeared to? Last year Doug Baldwin was Tarvaris Jackson's main man on third down, and this year he is looking like a one-hit wonder. He has only been targeted 28 times this season. Has Baldwin had a hard time getting open or is Wilson just simply not looking his way?
Rising: Jason Jones
The return of Jason Jones on the defensive line definitely helped in pass-rushing situations. He only logged 21 snaps, yet he was incredibly effective on those 21 snaps. PFF had him graded out at a plus-1.2 on the day, which made him the third-highest graded defensive player for the Seahawks.
Falling: Kam Chancellor
An overall rough game for the third-year pro out of Virginia Tech. Safety Kam Chancellor had a hard time against the run and in pass protection. Charles Clay worked over Chancellor all game long—he caught three of his six passes against Chancellor and beat him for an 18-yard gain. At times this season No. 31 has had his fair share of struggles against opposing tight ends.
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