Time to hit the road.
The Los Angeles Rams are off to the Pacific Northwest to visit the Seattle Seahawks in the first of three consecutive road games for the 4-0 Rams.
So to get a better sense of who we’re facing, I linked up with Kenneth Arthur from Field Gulls, the SB Nation community for Seahawks fans.
So obviously, the offense is struggling. Is it as simple as the offensive line’s play which is second-to-last in Football Outsider’s adjusted sack rate? Is it the woeful job by Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer which Los Angeles Rams fans know all too well? Given that it’s the worst offense at this point since you guys drafted QB Russell Wilson, is it going to be on him to pull up the whole group single-handedly?
I love anything that tells me how an offensive line is doing -- PFF, FO, ESPN, the naked eye, opposing coaches, your own coaches, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, Twitter -- because they all usually seem to have the same opinion: whatever the popular opinion is. Because nobody really seems to know jack about offensive line play; ESPN just ranked the Seahawks as having one of the top-10 pass blocking units in the NFL. In which case, much blame falls on Russell Wilson. Or maybe it falls on the receivers for not getting open enough. Or on Schottenheimer. Or on the fact that they’ve already faced Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Demarcus Lawrence, and Chandler Jones, with Aaron Donald awaiting his turn.
I think in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen that the offensive line is not as bad as it once was. Much of the issues with the offense likely center around a combination of many things (as you’d expect), but probably heaviest on Schottenheimer’s confusing playcalling (it’s meant to be confusing for the defense, Schotty, not against common sense), Wilson’s combination of a lack of decisiveness and missing open receivers, and at least partially on the injuries to Doug Baldwin and D.J. Fluker; and yes, Fluker has played really well in his return, so that’s why I’m noting it. The running game has improved a bit but why wouldn’t it when it was the worst in the NFL last season?
We could say it’s up to Wilson, but in Week 2 he audibled at the line based on the coverage he saw and Pete Carroll called a timeout so they could tell Wilson to not do what he thinks he should do, but to do what they want him to do. Sure, why not, he’s only been one of the best QBs in the league for seven years, let’s take it out of his hands completely. Let’s remove the threat of him running. Let’s never throw the ball down the field more than 10 yards. It’s been a frustrating season for many reasons, but playcalling probably ranks number one. (And for the record, I never had a problem with Darrell Bevell.)
Defense remains the strength of yall’s team, though it’s not the elite defenses of the LOB. Where do things stand now that S Earl Thomas is out for the year? And is it something that looks like it’s trending upward or not?
The LOB was a baby in 2011 and that’s where the current unit ranks. I mean, at best, but there’s hope at the end of the tunnel. Shaquill Griffin is a superb young corner who gets overlooked because of a few slightly-better-right-now young corners. Bradley McDougald should be an All-Pro safety for September if they gave out such awards. He’s been that good and he’s signed for two more years after this. Okay, then things get murky.
Justin Coleman has been a very good slot corner. Tre Flowers was a safety in college less than a year ago and now he’s starting at corner for the Seahawks -- he struggled in Week 1, missed Week 2, and has played well over the last two games. Tedric Thompson will be the free safety in place of Earl and he had a nice preseason with Earl gone for the whole offseason, but wasn’t great in Week 1 when he spotted Earl a few plays. It’s a concern and the team signed an old friend of yours, Mo Alexander... I think I’m as worried about that as I should be.
I’d say the team is shifting it’s focus to the front of the defense, hoping to extend Frank Clark and then next year, take care of Jarran Reed. Those guys could be the new face of the defense, but they also still have Bobby Wagner, which is a positive that gives any defense at least a little bit of hope. I’d say that the defense could remain stagnant (like middle of the road) this year with the potential to trend upward in 2019. I trust Pete with defense.
Some big picture stuff. Is this the end of the Pete Carroll era? It’s clear that you guys are on the other side of the peak that got you to two Super Bowls and won one. Is it time for a “rebuild”? Does that depend on how things go this season?
Is this the end of the Pete Carroll era? No, not in my opinion. Others may disagree.
Is it time for a “rebuild”? I don’t believe in the rebuild concept in the NFL at all. I’ll use the Rams as an example. They were 4-12 only two years ago and this season they’ll probably be 14-2 or better. So they “rebuilt” right? Well, did they? How many times did they rebuild from 2003 to 2016? How’d that work? I think they had a baseline team of “very bad” in 2016, but they had a couple pieces already in place with Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Aaron Donald. Then they built. Where does “re” even come in? I don’t need to tell you the story of the 2017 and 2018 offseasons for the Rams, but they just added a frickton of talent. I hope the Seahawks add a frickton of talent next year, call it what you want. It’s always time to add a frickton of talent. If Seattle goes 4-12 this year, what’s the plan? To rebuild? Does that mean they need to plan to suck in 2019? Or just like the Rams, can they just add a frickton of talent and be right back to it? Do they need to fire Carroll to do that? I don’t think so. We’ll see if it pays off for them, but the Bengals stuck with Marvin Lewis ... again ... and they are doing great.
I just have stronger-than-normal feelings about the idea of rebuilding in the NFL. It doesn’t make sense to me. Too much changes from one season to the next, and your draft picks are only players you can count on for a few years tops (yes, many last longer than that, but you can’t rely on that very well with the injuries, contracts, and notably high bust rate); NFL teams need to get better by next year, the year after that at the latest, and that’s why coaches are never that far from the hot seat. Look how quickly Jim Harbaugh found himself at Michigan after going to three straight NFC Championships.
What is the Seahawks fan base’s feelings on Russell Wilson? Is it a level of support that wants him to sign a new contract after this one expires after next year?
Mixed. Wilson is the best quarterback in franchise history though and I know I’m not delusional when I say he was an elite player for most of the last seven years. I would say there’s some worry about his long-term effectiveness, especially with Schottenheimer modifying his game to the point of him looking rather incapable of making big time throws -- something he was one of the best in the league at from 2012-2017. I don’t think there’s any question that Wilson would re-sign -- not that franchise quarterbacks ever really have a choice, you’ll never see a team lose a QB they want to keep -- I think the bigger question is if Seattle wants to pay him $35 million a year if they don’t feel confident in his abilities to be a top-tier quarterback if he can’t run the football at least a little bit. Wilson’s always been a great pocket passer (despite narrative) and elite with deep throws, but this season has been a different story. They’ll have another year after this to decide though and worse comes to worst, they’ll tag him depending on the outcome of the 2020 labor dispute.
We’ll see you guys again in five weeks. What do you want to see from the Seahawks in between this game and our rematch beyond just winning football games?
Showing that they have a clue on how to use Russell Wilson. Tedric Thompson is the future at free safety. Tre Flowers is now holding his own every week. Ed Dickson, KJ Wright, Dion Jordan, and Chris Carson are all healthy. Rashaad Penny has 2-3 plays a game that make you go “Wow.” Tyler Lockett is nearing 1,000 yards. Brandon Marshall is out and David Moore is getting starter reps. Rasheem Green is getting reps and disrupting the quarterback. Shaquill Griffin is getting Pro Bowl consideration.
Not sure if any of that will actually happen, but I’d like to see some of those things go down, not just because it will signal good things for 2019, but because I’m not the type to give up on a season after four games. I have hope for Seattle and with three road games out of the way, I hope they take advantage of a heavy home schedule in the second half.
Thanks to my man Kenny for the time.