“We’re going to go back to work and get the season started.”
— Pete Carroll, after the Seahawks self-destructed in Green Bay.
Kind of like the loss to the Rams, the errors came from every corner. Michael Bennett jumped offsides three times, Richard Sherman gave up two big plays, Darrell Bevell and Russell Wilson put together another subpar performance, the offensive line was horrible in the first quarter, Jimmy Graham was nowhere to be found, the Seahawks still can’t run a screen play to save their lives, and the defense once again got picked apart by the short passing game.
After that game, some fans probably are wishing Bennett had held out alongside Kam Chancellor. Bennett led the NFL with 13 pre-snap penalties in 2014, and he now has five in two games this season.
On the first drive in Green Bay, Bennett committed two offside penalties and the Seahawks were called for 12 men on the field after a challenge by Packers coach Mike McCarthy. It’s not a call usually made, but technically Cliff Avril was still a step or two away from the sideline when the ball was hiked. He was trying to get off the field because he had hurt his shoulder.
Bennett was offsides on a touchdown pass on that first drive, basically taking himself out of the play while Sherman got beat by James Jones for a 29-yard score. Bennett did it again on a 52-yard pass interference against Sherman in the final minute of the first half; those gaffes helped set up a field goal that gave the Packers a 13-3 lead.
Carroll was not happy with Bennett’s idiocy. After the game, the coach said they stressed playing disciplined on Rodgers’ hard counts all week and there was no excuse for jumping offsides three times.
Of course, as Carroll pointed out on 710 ESPN on Monday, the 52-yard PI play actually should have been blown dead because Packers offensive linemen jumped before the snap in reaction to Bennett encroaching.
It was one of several miscues by the officials in the game. Carroll also was upset the refs gave the ball to Green Bay on Wilson’s interception on a screen pass in the fourth quarter; Jayone Elliott fumbled the ball, and Justin Britt came out with the ball. The refs never indicated who had the ball until after Britt walked away with it.
“I’m really frustrated by that one,” Carroll told 710 ESPN.
The Seahawks started poorly on offense, as usual. The first play was one of those asinine bubble screens Bevell loves so much; it went for no gain. Then Seahawks had to take a timeout to avoid another 12-man penalty. The line couldn’t do anything for Marshawn Lynch, who was dropped for losses on his first two carries and finished with a paltry 41 yards on 15 carries against a run defense that supposedly was ripe for the picking.
The Seahawks are perhaps the NFL’s worst screen team. The bubble screens are positive about 33 percent of the time (rough estimate), but they NEVER gain anything on running back screens. They were actually sacked twice last year on such plays — something that should NEVER happen. And Wilson was picked off on a screen in this game — again, something that should not happen.
Carroll called it “a fluky deal. We never throw interceptions on screens.”
There are plenty of theories about why the Seahawks stink so bad at screens: (1) Wilson is too short to see his backs or get the ball over the defensive linemen; (2) the Seahawks run the ball so well they can’t get the pass rushers to fully commit; (3) their revolving offensive line is not in sync for those plays; (4) Bevell calls them in the wrong situations.
Bevell and Wilson were really remiss in not getting Graham involved. He was thrown to twice and caught one for 11 yards.
It’s déjà vu for Seahawks fans.
In 2011, the Seahawks surprisingly gave a huge contract to Oakland Pro Bowl tight end Zach Miller. They then proceeded to use him as one of the NFL’s most expensive sixth linemen. On the rare occasion that Miller received the ball, fans everywhere would joke, “Hey, when did we get Zach Miller?”
Four years later, Graham is the new Miller. He had one catch in the first half of the loss to the Rams and one in the entire game in Green Bay — a heck of a way to use a $9 million receiver, eh? Meanwhile, Luke Willson had four passes thrown his way (he caught two, including a great one-handed, spinning catch).
Graham was available on plenty of plays and often had a major size advantage with his 6-foot-7 height. He apparently was so annoyed at his lack of involvement that he skipped out on talking to reporters. Hard to blame him. Bevell and Wilson have to fix that right now.
“It’s frustrating,” Carroll said. “We have to find our way to get this done. … We’ve got to find that part of us because it’s a really good part of our offense.”
The key series in the game came when the Packers drove 85 yards to start the fourth quarter.
Seattle’s defense has always been susceptible to short-area passes to backs, tight ends and slot receivers — especially by QBs who can get rid of the ball quickly. The Packers won the game with that tactic, as Rodgers picked apart the soft underbelly of Seattle’s defense on an 85-yard drive that saw him complete all eight passes. And all eight were short passes that turned into bigger gains — three each to Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery and two to tight end Richard Rodgers, who scored from five yards and also caught the two-point conversion that put the Packers ahead 24-17.
It was a great series by Rodgers and Packers play caller Tom Clements, and Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard did not adjust.
“Aaron did a great job of controlling their club with the short passing game at the end,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks’ answer to that tactic needs to be dropping a lineman into the zone to disrupt the QB’s read and ruin one of his passing lanes. The Hawks finally did it on the goal line on that drive, dropping Bennett, but it was far too late — Rodgers hit Rodgers for the 5-yard TD.
Until the Seahawks learn to adjust on those short passes, they will be susceptible to them.
The Seahawks do not seem far from turning it on and there is no reason to panic about two road losses to start the season, but they have to find some discipline on defense and fix their inconsistent offense. Lynch and Graham have got to be much more involved — at least one of them should have a big game every week.
Carroll obviously is done with losing; he told reporters twice that it’s “time to get the season started.”
The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, who come to Seattle the next two weeks and both have injured quarterbacks, can’t be happy to hear that — because the Seahawks aren’t going to continue to beat themselves, especially at home.