“We’ve put together four weeks of pretty good football. … I’m really pleased with where we are right now taking off for this break.” — Pete Carroll
As sad as the death of Paul Allen is — and will continue to be this year and beyond — the Seahawks still have a season to play. And it looks like they at least have a chance to make it a special one in honor of Allen.
The Seahawks took care of business in London, climbing back to .500 in style — a blowout win in front of a record, partisan crowd — as they head into their bye. Their three wins are one fewer than we thought they would have by this time, but they’re also just 12 points short of a possible perfect start.
If the coaches hadn’t screwed up the first two games — i.e., had run more to take pressure off Russell Wilson — and the defense had managed one more stop against the Rams, the Hawks could be 6-0.
But that’s all coulda/woulda/shoulda. As it is, they have won three of the past four — with the two-point shootout loss to the Rams sandwiched in there — and they think they have found their groove.
“We are just getting rolling,” Carroll said. “I’ll never not be frustrated by the way we started this season, but we’re moving. This is kind of how we’ve done it over the years, and we’ve got a chance to be a really nice team.”
Even with the whiff against the Rams marked against it, the Seattle defense still is in the top five in scoring, passing yards, passer rating and interceptions. And the defense should get better with the returns of K.J. Wright and Rasheem Green after the bye. The offense ranks third in rushing (157 yards per game) over the past four weeks, and Ed Dickson is expected to make his debut in Week 8 at Detroit.
Here’s a status check of the roster as the Hawks take their bye week to mourn Allen and rest up.
After a rough first couple of games, Wilson has used the newfound running game to great advantage and played extremely well the past four games — eight TDs, one interception, passer rating of 116 (fourth in the NFL). He has been getting rid of the ball quickly and is pacing for a career high in touchdown percentage (7.9). His hamstring also seems to be mostly healed; he ran a season-high six times (for 20 yards) vs. Oakland after not running at all (for the first time ever) the previous week vs. the Rams. Like play-action, the zone read could start to become a bigger part of the offense now that the Hawks are running the ball so well.
Carroll said: “Russell’s doing more than he’s ever done before. He’s orchestrating and controlling the play-calling, the adjustments at the line of scrimmage when he can. He’s just been brought to a different level of responsibility and he’s doing a nice job with it. He’s putting us in position to run the ball effectively now as well as in the passing game, so he’s grown, he’s improved.”
The three-game stretch of individual 100-yard rushers ended in London, but the Hawks got steady performances from all three backs as they went over 150 yards for the third straight game. After basically sitting out the Rams game as Chris Carson and Mike Davis carried the load, Rashaad Penny got a lot of work vs. the Raiders. That trio has accounted for 89 percent of Seattle’s 767 rushing yards — a big boost from 2017, when six running backs gained just 61 percent of the rushing yards. Carson and Davis should remain the top two, with Penny getting a series or two and possibly acting as cleanup hitter in four-minute situations. The Hawks also might have finally figured out the RB screen this year, with Davis and Penny both picking up good yards on a couple of plays. Perhaps most important of all: All three backs are healthy as the Hawks get ready for the second half of the season.
Carroll said: “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen this week. Next time we go out … Chris is going to start the game, Mike will be coming off the bench, Rashaad will be coming off the bench and looking for their reps. And from there we’ll make the decision what’s necessary for the game. To be able to do that only makes us stronger down the road. For those three guys to play that much just makes us better going forward. I’m OK about doing that when we get the opportunity.”
After a disappointing first game back vs. the Rams, Doug Baldwin lit it up in London with a season-high six catches for 91 yards (and barely missed a big TD bomb). Tyler Lockett continues to play excellent ball, too — his five TD catches are just behind five guys who have six. Even better: David Moore has stepped up as the No. 3 receiver, with three TDs on seven catches and 10 targets.
Carroll on Moore: “He looks like he’s going to really have a terrific season; he’s really off to a great start. There’s a lot of things that we can still do with him; (we’re) really just breaking him in.”
Dickson is coming back just in time. The Seahawks were without their top three tight ends in London, using Darrell Daniels, Tyrone Swoopes (23-yard catch) and George Fant at the position. Nick Vannett’s longtime back trouble sidelined him, and Carroll said, “He’s doing some special work this week and next week to be back. We think he’ll be back, but it is something we are monitoring.” Dickson signed a three-year deal worth $14 million but has yet to play because the Hawks kept him on NFI after he came to camp with a quad injury and then had a couple other issues. Back in early September, he expressed his displeasure with the decision to keep him sidelined — an apparent indication that he felt he could have returned at some point last month. Before Will Dissly was lost for the season in Week 4, the Hawks didn’t really miss Dickson. But they certainly can use the veteran now.
Carroll said: “Ed Dickson’s in really good shape. Knocking on wood and hoping we can make it through, we think he’s going to be able to go coming out next week.”
This unit has been stellar since D.J. Fluker made his debut in Week 3 — leading the NFL in pass blocking as they paved the way for the league’s No. 3 rushing attack over that time. We wrote about the idea of keeping this crew together beyond this season, and Carroll and Fluker both seconded that motion. There’s a long way to go, though, so Fluker and J.R. Sweezy need to prove they can last the full season and the line needs to maintain its high level of play for Wilson and the backs.
Carroll said: “We feel like we have the core of a group that can really make a difference. … When you sense that the core is there, now it’s time to build around that and fortify that. As we have done in the past, we would like to move in that direction if possible.”
Frank Clark single-handedly blew up Oakland’s beleaguered offense in London, with 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. And he didn’t even play the fourth quarter because he was sick, finishing with a season-low 48 percent of play time. He has 5.5 sacks and is a big reason the Hawks are No. 3 in the league in opponent passer rating. Jarran Reed also continues to play at a Pro Bowl level; in London, he had five tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, two QB hits and a fumble recovery. His four sacks tie perennial Pro Bowlers Fletcher Cox and Aaron Donald for the NFC lead among tackles. Branden Jackson also came up big and continues to show he needs to stick in the rotation even as Rasheem Green returns. This unit still will struggle to rush the passer consistently against good offenses, but perhaps Green’s return might help. The biggest disappointment has been Dion Jordan, who missed another game with knee trouble and seems like a long shot to contribute much this season.
Carroll on Clark: “He’s an extraordinary competitor now, because he’s overcoming things all the time. He’s overcome a lot of things in his life that (have) made him who he is. He just seems to respond and bounces back. He comes up with a really good frame of mind even though things are difficult. … He’s such an exciting player in terms of his effort and his motor.”
This unit is about to get a big lift with the return of Wright, who suffered a setback after three weeks of his recovery from knee surgery and has missed two or three more games than anticipated. Wright’s long rehab seemingly validates the Seahawks’ disinterest in extending him, but hopefully he will play well enough the rest of the way that the team and he might agree on a short, reasonable deal ($4 million to $5 million APY) after the season so he can end his career in Seattle. The final 10 games of this season (plus playoffs) will show whether he is worth it. With Wright out and Mychal Kendricks suspended, Barkevious Mingo continues to be an iron man, playing the most snaps on the team.
Carroll said: “K.J. has had a couple of really good days, and we think he’s on track for getting back to competing at practice. He’ll practice with us and compete to play next week when we return.”
This unit struggled in the first game without Earl Thomas, failing to keep up with the league’s top offense even after unintentionally knocking out two of the Rams’ top three receivers. They got an easier assignment in London, shutting down the Raiders while again accidentally knocking out two receivers. They still have some tough tests coming — two of the top three passing offenses in the next three games — so we’ll soon see how much they have learned. But the future looks really bright for the quartet of Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson, Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers.
Carroll said: “I think we’re getting going. We’re off to a good start right now. I like the playmaking. The physical nature of them fits the way we’ve always wanted to play. … We’ve got a lot of tests coming up, got a great one coming up with Detroit and Matthew Stafford in another week. We just keep taking it one step at a time, but they’re making good progress. … I think a lot of people would’ve … thought that wasn’t going to happen. I’m excited to show you that these guys can ball, and they’ve got a chance to do some really good things and really add to this team.”
After a monster debut in Denver’s thin air, Michael Dickson has been just a little above league average. He’s 11th in average (46.3), 10th in net (43.1), 15th in rate of punts inside the 20 (38.7 percent). Sebastian Janikowski is much worse, ranking 33rd in field-goal percentage (72.7), and is one of only five kickers to miss from under 40. He missed a key kick against Denver and two tries in a three-point win over Arizona, and he was horrible on kickoffs against the Rams. But he also has hit three from 50-plus, including the last-play 52-yarder to beat the Cardinals. Basically, you never know what you’re going to get from the 40-year-old.