Is trouble brewing in the Pacific Northwest? Despite the Seattle Seahawks' 8-1 record, fans and media members alike are beginning to wonder whether or not this team can continue its winning ways amidst slow starts.
There’s no question the Seahawks' slow start on Monday Night Football against the St. Louis Rams almost cost them a divisional game. The offensive line had trouble protecting franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, the run game was anemic, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s defense got steamrolled by rookie running back Zac Stacy.
But pundits were quick to dismiss Seattle’s sluggish performance. Instead, they applauded the Rams defense for matching up so well and blamed the offensive inefficiencies on the absences of left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Breno Giacomini.
Both notions are fair, but when will the ‘Hawks run out of excuses? Injuries are a part of the game; every team in the NFL deals with them on a weekly basis. This, in turn, means the Seahawks are going to have to stop using them as a crutch at some point.
Over the course of the final seven contests of the season, head coach Pete Carroll is going to have to find a way to rally his troops early in ballgames. Sure, winning games in comeback fashion is sexy and exciting, yet there’s no long-term success in winning games this way.
Sooner or later, it will prove to be an unsustainable model of victory.
The Seahawks almost found this out versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During the first half of this past Sunday’s game, quarterback Mike Glennon and running back Mike James had offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s offense firing all cylinders.
Prior to halftime, Glennon had managed to do something no other opposing quarterback has been able to do at CenturyLink Field this season: throw a touchdown pass. Yes, it sounds simple, but scoring through the air on the “Legion of Boom” is no easy task. Just ask the San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.
Nevertheless, Glennon and the Buccaneers weren’t satisfied with that lone touchdown pass. The rookie signal-caller added another score late in the second quarter, while James even got in on the action the following drive. From two yards away, with 2:16 left to play, he hit tight end Tom Crabtree with a jump-pass touchdown.
Down 21-7 at the half, things weren’t looking good for Coach Carroll and Co. The Buccaneers got the ball to start the third quarter; they were 6-of-7 on third-down conversions and 2-of-2 in the red zone. The Seahawks knew the game would be over if Tampa Bay’s offense put more than three points on the board in the second half.
Lo and behold, Seattle went into the locker room and made phenomenal halftime adjustments. Quinn’s defense allowed just three points on six drives, and Darrell Bevell’s offense scored four times on six drives in the second half. By no means was it a pretty win (27-24) for the Seahawks, but a win is a win, right?
That’s right: A win is a win.
However, that doesn’t mean Seattle shouldn’t be concerned about where it stands. When one takes the time to examine the slow starts, the numbers are cut and dried. Of their nine games this year, five different teams have garnered leads against the Seahawks at a particular point.
Additionally, Wilson has had to muster up four game-winning drives and three fourth-quarter comebacks. To put that in perspective, the second-year quarterback notched four game-winning drives and three fourth-quarter comebacks over the course of his first 16 starts as a rookie in 2012.
Surely it’s a good sign that the Seahawks are outpacing their win-loss record from last year, yet this team needs to become a more in-control group from start to finish. If they can’t, the defeats will start to pile up when they square off against upper-echelon teams in the NFC.
A top-notch team, with a 21-7 advantage at the break, would have found a way to put Seattle away. It would have had kept the pedal to the metal on offense and upped the pressure on defense. The Seahawks are lucky they took on the Rams and the Buccaneers in consecutive weeks.
Teams like the New Orleans Saints and 49ers would have sealed the deal, and the ‘Hawks would have two losses to their name. Nonetheless, you have to tip your hat to the Seahawks and their coaching staff. They were resilient and relentless, and losing wasn’t an option.
Moreover, the good news is Seattle still has seven regular-season games and a bye week to iron out its problems.