Breaking down the offense’s breakdowns

at-arizona-logoThe Seahawks’ defense has played stellar football almost all season — and it put together its greatest performance yet Sunday night in Arizona.

It was the third straight year in Glendale that the Seahawks gave up just six points. But, thanks to an almost totally inept offense, they were not able to put together the same 35-6 and 36-6 thrashings of the past two years — instead ending up with the first tie in team history and the lowest-scoring tie since 1972.

The offense has been directly responsible for all one and a half losses this season — with two of the worst performances since Russell Wilson arrived in 2012.

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The Rams destroyed the offense in a pitiful 9-3 loss in Week 2. That was not as big a surprise as this one, because the Hawks had been scoring well the last three weeks (90 points) and had averaged 35 points in a three-game winning streak at Arizona.

But, even as the defense withstood the Arizona heat for 90 grueling plays, the offense melted down from the first play.

Wilson and company were off from the start — looking jumpy and frantic. They faced four first-and-20s, thanks to penalties, and were 0 for 5 on third down in the first half as they ran just 19 plays. As Carroll told 710 ESPN, “When you don’t convert, you go sit down.”

Although Carroll thought the line did “a terrific job” and “Russ was clean a lot last night,” the fact is the Seahawks’ tackles had some major problems with pass rushers Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. Wilson was sacked just once, but he was hit five more and protection issues factored into failure on eight of Seattle’s 13 drives.

On top of that, Wilson and his receivers were not in sync for most of the game, often failing to come up with the connections even when Wilson had time to get the ball out.

Somewhat bewilderingly, Darrell Bevell never sent Wilson and crew into an up-tempo gear — something that might have given the unit a rhythm to work from while preventing Arizona’s rushers to dictate as much as they did.

Here’s a breakdown of the breakdowns:

Drive: 3 plays, 7 yards
Breakdown: Wilson made bad choices.
Summary: Wilson throws it away on a safety blitz on first down. After a 9-yard pass to Doug Baldwin, Wilson keeps it on a zone read on third down and is dropped for a loss in the left flat.

Drive: 3 plays, 6 yards
Breakdown: Garry Gilliam and the line didn’t give Wilson enough time.
Summary: Markus Golden beats Gilliam and hits Wilson as he throws incomplete. After a swing pass to Christine Michael on second down, Wilson is pressured but gets the ball out to Nick Vannett, who can’t catch the hot potato for the first down.

Drive: 3 plays, 4 yards
Breakdown: Field position made Wilson rush his plays.
Summary: Backed up at their 1, the Hawks run Michael for no gain, Wilson tosses quickly in the right flat to Jimmy Graham for four yards, then Wilson throws it away to avoid getting sacked in the end zone.

Drive: 5 plays, 13 yards
Breakdown: Wilson and receivers not in sync, holding on Mark Glowinski.
Summary: On a play-action rollout, Wilson throws incomplete and then Graham drops a pass. On third down, Glowinski called for holding as Wilson throws wide of Paul Richardson.

Drive: 5 plays, 7 yards
Breakdown: Gilliam hold puts Wilson in tough spot.
Summary: Michael runs for a first down. Incompletion to covered Graham on first down, Baldwin for five on second down. On third, Wilson hits Baldwin for a first down, but Gilliam is called for holding against Calais Campbell. On third-and-15, Wilson holds the ball too long and throws incomplete as he is pulled down by Chandler Jones.

Drive: 6 plays, 15 yards
Breakdown: Unlucky call vs. Jermaine Kearse and bad play by Bradley Sowell short-circuit this drive.
Summary: Hawks come out running in the second half, with Michael gaining seven on two runs before Wilson hits Graham for 14 and Seattle’s first third-down conversion. Wilson hits Kearse for 11, but Kearse is called for pass interference (an iffy call but one the refs made on both sides in the game). Sowell misses a block on Campbell, who stuffs Michael for minus-1, bringing up second-and-21. Then Sowell false-starts, making it second-and-26. A screen to Michael gains just two and C.J. Prosise doesn’t get much on a third-down dump-off.

Drive: 3 plays, 6 yards
Breakdown: Germain Ifedi could not keep Campbell out of the throwing lane.
Summary: On third-and-3, Campbell bats Wilson’s pass back into his arms and the QB is tackled well short of the line to gain.

Drive: 5 plays, 8 yards
Breakdown: Sowell beaten by Golden.
Summary: After Baldwin and Michael get the drive off to a good start, Sowell is called for a hold on Golden, making it first-and-20. Wilson holds the ball, inviting pressure, and then barely overthrows Baldwin’s outstretched hand near the first-down marker. On second-and-20, Michael takes a swing pass and is dropped for a loss of five. On third-and-25, Wilson leaves the pocket, looking downfield, but ends up shoveling to Prosise, who gets blasted 16 yards short of the marker.

Drive: 3 plays, minus-6 yards
Breakdown: Sowell beaten by Jones.
Summary: On second down, Jones runs by Sowell and strips the ball from Wilson; Glowinski jumps on it at the 1. Another short pass on third-and-29 leads to Jon Ryan’s ninth punt.

Drive: 4 plays, 0 yards
Breakdown: Another holding penalty on first down.
Summary: After Tanner McEvoy blocks a punt, Baldwin turns a short pass into a darting first-down gain, but holding on Brandon Williams brings it back. Another first-and-20. Wilson then overthrows Kearse near the end zone. On second down, D.J. Swearinger hits Baldwin right as ball arrives, for incompletion. On third-and-20, another short pass nets no yards. Hawks get the tying field goal anyway.

Drive: 3 play, 5 yards
Breakdown: Protection problems.
Summary: Final minute. After passes to Tyler Lockett and Kearse net 25 yards, Corey Peters runs right by Ifedi and chases Wilson backward until the QB throws it away. Gilliam is called for a hold, making it another first-and-20 again. A dump to Prosise is called back when George Fant, in for injured Sowell, is called for holding. On first-and-30, handoff to Prosise goes nowhere. The teams just let the final 30 seconds run into overtime.

Drive: 9 plays, 57 yards
Breakdown: Wilson and Graham can’t connect for the TD.
Summary: After Arizona kicks a field goal on the first OT possession, Wilson rolls right and hits Graham for 13 to midfield. Then hits Graham again as Jones is grabbing Wilson. Michael runs left for 5 more. Wilson then finds Graham for 15 to the 23-yard line. Drive stalls when Wilson and Graham have a miscommunication on a pass to the end zone. Steve Hauschka hits 36-yarder to keep overtime going.

Drive: 8 plays, 70 yards
Breakdown: Kicker misses game-winner.
Summary: Kept alive by Chandler Catanzaro’s missed 24-yarder, Wilson drives the Hawks down the field. Baldwin makes the big play, outrunning Mathieu to the sideline and gaining 27 yards to the 9. The Hawks go conservative with the run on first down and kick it on second with 11 seconds left — Hauschka missing from 28.


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