Slow-starting offense frustrates everyone

Logo -- NY GiantsWhen Doug Baldwin pushed aside Tom Cable in the second quarter in New York, it was a perfectly timed expression of frustration that reflected what every Seattle fan was feeling.

Although some fans would love for Cable to be shoved out the door, Baldwin apologized for the physical move — but he also made it clear he, like all of us, was sick of how the offense was playing.

“At that moment, I was really frustrated with the offense as a whole,” Baldwin said. “Not the coaching staff — the players. Again, it goes back to our X’s and O’s. We had the play calls. We just didn’t execute. Whether it was passing the ball, blocking, catching, jumping offsides, false-starting, whatever it may be, we weren’t executing as players.”

Although Baldwin and the Seahawks came up with three touchdowns in the second half to win 24-7, the very poor first-half starts remain. And the red zone continues to be a black hole for Russell Wilson and company.

Red zoneThe Seahawks are converting on just 47.1 percent of their red zone possessions, ranked 23rd in the league. It’s a continuation of a theme — they have never ranked higher than 14th or converted better than 55.6 percent under Pete Carroll (Mike Holmgren’s Super Bowl team in 2005 ranked second at 67.6 percent).

They were 2 for 3 in red zone chances in New York, but one of the successes came after they were pushed back outside the red zone by penalty and Wilson hit Baldwin from 22 yards. Just further proof that the Hawks score better from outside the box.

Seattle had its worst red zone possession of the year in the first half — 12 plays from the 15-yard line that netted no points.

It included three end runs by Tyler Lockett — a new feature implemented by Darrell Bevell that did not work (just 10 yards). The Giants also were called for two penalties, keeping the Hawks alive. But the running game did not work with either Eddie Lacy or Thomas Rawls (one yard on three carries), Tre Madden was tackled for a loss on a swing pass in the flat from the 1, and Wilson failed to connect with Jimmy Graham twice (one overthrow, one drop on fourth down).

Even Pete Carroll had to admit, “We just couldn’t get out of the way here.”

The Hawks dominated the first half — 222-42 in yards, 15-4 in first downs — but trailed 7-3 because they committed eight penalties, fumbled and dropped three passes.

We wrote about it after the first quarter of the season, and the Hawks have not gotten any better in the first half — they’re still the fourth-worst offense at 6.5 points per opening half.

Scoring by halfAlways known as a finishing team, the Hawks are No. 3 in second-half scoring, at 15.8 points per game. But they need to even that out. They have not finished under 11 points in the first half since Wilson arrived in 2012.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

Baldwin continues to prove he, along with Wilson, is Seattle’s best offensive player. Not only did he catch nine balls for 92 yards, he also saved a TD on Thomas Rawls’ fumble, tackling Landon Collins (the Giants scored two plays later anyway) and Baldwin was wide open for what should have been a 63-yard score (Wilson overthrew him). Baldwin had a busy day.

The defense was phenomenal against the depleted Giants, holding them to 177 total yards and 46 rushing yards. It seemed like every player had a great game. Jarran Reed was awesome, with seven tackles, including a sack, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. K.J. Wright led the way with 11 tackles, Bobby Wagner had eight plus a QB hit and Kam Chancellor made two big third-down run stops. Bradley McDougald got his most action of the season (season-high 17 plays) and looked pretty good as he mostly shadowed star rookie TE Evan Engram. Justin Coleman made big plays on defense and special teams. Michael Bennett played very well despite his foot injury. Branden Jackson continued to emerge, tallying three hurries.

The Seahawks actually ran a successful RB screen for one of the very few times since Bevell became OC. Rawls gained 16 yards. Of course, later in that drive, Rawls dropped a screen pass — so don’t consider that major weakness fixed.

Rawls had a tough game, with the drop, the fumble and just 36 yards on 11 carries. It looks he is sometimes trying too hard to make up for lost time and prove he should be on the field. Eddie Lacy also got 11 carries (for just 34 yards). “He’ll find it,” Carroll said of Rawls. “He’s an extraordinary player and competitor; he just plays at such a high level and he cares so much and he plays so hard and is so tough. I don’t want to take that away.”

The Seahawks had their best time of possession (35:26) in a road game this season — and their second-best overall (they held it for 36:58 in a 12-9 win over the 49ers). They also have gone over 400 yards in offense in three of the past four games, scoring 97 points in those contests.

Wilson seemed to play his best game of the season. He hit 27 of 39 passes for 334 yards and three TDs. Imagine if he had not overthrown Baldwin on the potential 63-yard TD. Wilson got decent protection against a good defensive front and evaded the rush as needed to find receivers (he ran just twice for 10 yards). His 121.1 rating was his best of the season. He has been over 100 in three of the last four games.

Wilson was sacked just one time — and it was his fault for running backward and losing 13 yards. Granted, he was hit seven times and pressured 11, but the offensive line featuring new left guards and, for a time, a sub center did OK. Ethan Pocic started at left guard and also moved to center for six snaps when Justin Britt suffered an ankle injury (which has him questionable for this week). Pocic did not give up a pressure in 22 pass plays at left guard. Mark Glowinski allowed just one pressure in 23 pass snaps. Germain Ifedi had some issues — two false starts and a holding penalty — and Carroll had a chat with him on the bench at one point.

Tanner McEvoy’s rough season continued. After throwing an interception against the Rams, he ran into the punter in New York. Kasen Williams fans are thrilled.

The Seahawks committed a season-high 15 penalties (for 110 yards) and now lead the NFL at 9.3 per game. They have never been disciplined under Carroll, finishing first or second in three of his seven years. It could be a good omen: They led the league in both Super Bowl seasons.

“The first half we had eight penalties for a bunch of yards, and then we got way better and we had seven in the second half. So we’re going in the right direction,” Carroll cracked. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s not that we didn’t go into this game with a lot of emphasis in that regard also, but it didn’t show, so we have stuff we have to clean up.”

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