Note: I haven’t been commenting much on the Seattle Seahawks so far this season. With the year ending injuries to key defensive stars Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, plus the problems with the offensive line and the running game, I have been, more or less, in “wait and see” mode as regards this […]Read the Rest →
Note: After a 2016 season remarkable for its rollercoaster ride, our Seattle Seahawks have made the playoffs for a 5th consecutive season and have another shot at the Super Bowl. To make that happen the Hawks MUST defeat the Detroit Lions in this weekend’s Wild Card game…They will if Russell Wilson plays like…well… RUSSELL WILSON! Please read on…MA
I know I can’t speak for all of you “Twelves” out there, but for this diehard Seahawks fan this has been one frustrating season. When I look back at it now, considering all that has happened across the 17 weeks, it is hard for me to fathom how this team made it to a 10-5-1 record, an NFC West title and a Wild Card playoff berth against the Detroit Lions. Whether because of the green and porous offensive line, the lack of a consistent running game, Russell Wilson’s various and assorted injuries, or the season ending injuries to Earl Thomas and Tyler Lockett, it has seemed to me that this team spent the whole season running just one step ahead of disaster. Sometimes the “disaster” caught up with them (witness the Tampa Bay and Green Bay games), and occasionally they looked like the world-beaters of three years ago (witness the wins over Carolina and New England). On balance, however, what we have seen is the most inconsistent Seattle Seahawks team of the Pete Carroll era, and when you look at it that way we should all be reveling in the fact that here we sit at the start of the playoffs with another shot at the Super Bowl, while twenty other NFL teams will sit home and watch with the rest of the country.
There are many apparent reasons for that inconsistency, but the biggest has got to be the decline of the Seahawks as a power running team. In many games this year the Hawks running game has been microscopic and the team, based on this season’s stats, has become a bottom tier NFL rushing team—something unheard of for a Pete Carroll unit. If anyone ever did doubt the greatness of Marshawn Lynch, that greatness is now apparent by his absence. Players like Lynch don’t come along very often, another fact made apparent by the Seattle’s struggle to replace him. With his “Beastmode” style and resultant yards after contact, Lynch could, and did, make offensive lines look good; and if there ever was an offensive line that needed an image enhancement it would be this season’s Hawks edition. The five Seattle O-line starters include two rookies (left tackle George Fant and right guard Germain Ifedi), a second year player getting his first extended playing time (left guard Mark Glowinski), a center in his third year who had never played the position before (Justin Britt), and a right tackle (Gary Gilliam) who as recently as 3 weeks ago was benched for inconsistent play.
To be fair, with a group like that it would be a miracle if there WEREN’T inconsistencies; but, boy is it hard to watch—and harder still to see your franchise quarterback get battered like he was in the first half of the Cardinals game and in other games this season. The resultant injuries Wilson sustained greatly limited his mobility, which was another factor that hurt the Seattle rushing attack. Wilson rushed for only 259 yards this season, less than half of last year and a third of the year before that, when he carried the ball for 849 yards and a 7 yard per carry average. (Russell’s yards per carry this season was a career worst 3.2)
Like dominoes falling, all of these running game woes affect the whole team—offense and defense. Without a running game it becomes much more difficult to sustain drives, there are more 3rd and long situations and more 3 and outs. It is tougher to pass protect because the opposing defense can ignore the run and just “pin their ears back” and get after the quarterback with the pass rush; yet the team is forced to pass more and more, which is what happened to the Seahawks this year, and which plays right into the hands of the defense. This means, of course, that the Seattle defense has to spend more and more time on the field and becomes more exhausted (remember the first Arizona game this year?), which leads to breakdowns and mistakes. It is true that great defense wins games and championships, but an offense that sustains drives and converts its 3rd downs and gets touchdowns in the “red zone” goes a very long way in assisting that championship defense; and the Seahawks just haven’t had that offense consistently this year.
So now, here our team sits, with all of the situations described above while getting ready for this home playoff game against the Detroit Lions. I was looking at the playoff brackets recently and realized that we probably have as favorable a path to the Super Bowl as we could expect, given the season we’ve had. If we beat Detroit we would then go to Atlanta to face a Falcons team we have already defeated once this year. I know the Falcons have an awesome offense and quarterback Matt Ryan has had a stellar season, but the Falcons don’t scare me. I actually think the Hawks could beat them. Meanwhile, Green Bay takes on the New York Giants in the other NFC Wild Card game this weekend, and the winner goes to Dallas in the divisional round to play the Cowboys. The Packers are hot and the Giants have already defeated Dallas twice this year. Either team has a decent shot at beating Dallas, I think, and if that happens, and the Hawks beat Atlanta, then guess what? We have another NFC Championship game at “The Clink”—and, after all we’ve been through this year, wouldn’t that be something?!
But to make all that happen, or even have a chance of happening, the Seahawks MUST defeat Detroit. To accomplish that I think Hawks quarterback Russell Wilson is the X factor. It looks like he is fully recovered or almost fully recovered from his ankle and knee injuries. If so he needs to shit-can the knee brace, as I have heard he is contemplating doing, and just cut it loose. A mobile Russell Wilson will go a long ways towards off-setting the inconsistencies described above. We aren’t going to remedy fully this offensive line or our running back situation in time for this playoff game or this playoff run; but Russell Wilson playing with the mobility, elusiveness and verve we are accustomed to IS, I think, possible; and that is what the Seahawks need him to do.
Simply put, for a deep playoff run this year the Seahawks just need Russell Wilson to be RUSSELL WILSON!
I have a feeling he will be.
Copyright © 2017
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved