Now that we know the Seahawks’ defense is for real, the big question is whether the offense is going to be able to do enough against any of the top defenses it might encounter in the playoffs.
The 20-9 win over the Rams on Sunday was Seattle’s best win of the season – not just because it clinched the Hawks’ first division title since 2016, but because it proved the defense’s 2020 turnaround was legit.
There certainly are still concerns about Seattle’s offense being able to score against top defenses, but the Hawk defense appears to have found its mojo – now that it has all of its best pieces in place.
Quandre Diggs received a nice early Christmas present, getting his first Pro Bowl spot. The next natural question: Is it the first of many to come in Seattle or will he be a short-timer here? Because his price to stay just went up.
The selection surprised a number of fans, because Diggs seemingly has not made a lot of impact plays this season. But the fact is he leads Seattle with four interceptions, which is tied for fourth in the NFL and tied for tops among NFC safeties with Minnesota’s Harrison Smith. Diggs is also tied with Smith with nine pass breakups, second among NFC safeties.
Clearly NFL people thought he deserved the Pro Bowl selection over the longtime Vikings star, and those who watch the All-22 film, which shows Diggs’ work on the back end of the secondary, tend to agree (although Pro Football Focus picked New Orleans’ Marcus Williams over Diggs).
The Seahawks passed the Washington test – and surprisingly passed the Rams in the NFC West in the process.
The 20-15 win over Washington was one of the Seahawks’ best wins of the season – right up there with the win over Arizona. With the Rams stunningly becoming the Jets’ first victim of the season, it put the Hawks on top in the NFC West. A win at home vs. L.A. this week would clinch the division for the Hawks.
“Next week will be another championship game for us,’’ Pete Carroll said. “Just what we’ve been preparing for.’’
The Seahawks’ game in Washington on Sunday will be a great test of whether Brian Schottenheimer and Russell Wilson have gotten over their collective midseason slump and are ready to beat the Rams in Week 16.
Washington has one of the NFL’s best defenses – fourth in yards, sixth in scoring, fourth in DVOA. It all starts with their stellar defensive line, made up of a bunch of first-round picks: Chase Young (2020), Montez Sweat (2019), Da’Ron Payne (2018), Jonathan Allen (2017) and Ryan Kerrigan (2011). Add Tim Settle’s 5.5 sacks from inside, and that sextet has combined for 27.5 sacks (Seattle’s top six D-linemen have just 18.5).
Jamal Adams’ sack record is getting a lot of attention this week.
Some say it is over-inflated – like a blind squirrel finding a nut in a park full of them. Some say Pete Carroll’s use of a safety as his main sack guy has completely changed his defense. And some say Carroll is again revolutionizing secondary play for the entire NFL.
We say Carroll is doing what he always tries to do (and often succeeds at doing): Use the skills of his players to best effect. So yeah, LOB now means Legion of Blitz. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Seahawks had a rare on-field respite in Week 14, but now it’s back to work: Three NFC games to determine their postseason position.
After improving to 9-4 with a 40-3 win over the New York Jets, the Seahawks sit one game behind Green Bay and New Orleans in the race for the top seed and accompanying bye. They also have a huge game against the Rams (9-4) in Week 16 that will help determine the division winner; Seattle needs to win that to have a chance at the division, though Week 17 still would loom large.
The spotlight is on Seattle’s GM this week as the Seahawks and Jamal Adams face the Jets and Darrell Taylor’s future remains a mystery.
John Schneider’s job security, quite frankly, should depend on two things: Whether he re-signs Adams and whether Taylor ever plays. If neither happens in 2021, the last year of Schneider’s deal, the GM should not be re-signed.
This is not just about the two big moves to get those guys this year — deals that cost the Seahawks five high draft picks. It’s about a GM who has had a lot more failures than successes over the past seven years, who is still living off his historic 2010-12 drafts, who has whiffed at the top of his last eight drafts way too often, who rarely makes good decisions in free agency, who is not very creative with the salary cap and who for several years has been making it up as he goes, with no long-term plan.
If the Seahawks don’t fix their offense this week, they are in deep trouble the rest of the way. As in, they could go 1-4 in December and January, finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.
Washington’s upset win over erstwhile undefeated Pittsburgh on Monday showed the team formerly known as Redskins will be maybe the toughest of the NFC Least clubs the Hawks face. WFT has perhaps the best defensive line in the league, and comeback QB Alex Smith has gone 3-1 as the starter.
The Hawks will go to DC after hosting the winless Jets this week. Then come the tough division games against the Rams in Seattle and the 49ers in a place to be determined (the 49ers are playing this month in Arizona). Those last three games will be challenges for a Seattle team that has been struggling on defense all season and has lost its offensive power over the past month.
The Seahawks’ offense continued its horrific slump and Seattle suffered its worst home upset since 2017 and probably lost any shot at the No. 1 seed, as the Giants managed to squeak out a 17-12 win.
The Seahawks’ offensive funk has now stretched over a month as they have put up terrible games against L.A., Philly and now New York. After averaging 34 points in the first eight games, they have scored a mere 19.8 over the past four games, going 2-2 during that stretch.
After a 5-0 start that featured premature MVP talk about Russell Wilson, the Hawks have now gone 3-4. With the Saints moving to 10-2, the Hawks are two games behind in the chase for the NFC bye. It does not seem likely. The Rams (8-4) also beat Arizona to take the NFC West lead back.
If the playoffs started this week, the Seahawks would be playing the Giants again, in New York.
“We’re in pretty good shape. We’re hoping to keep on this edge on staying healthy. It will really make a difference for us.” – Pete Carroll
December is here, and there is one thing the Seahawks need to do above all else: Get and stay healthy.
December has been a bad month for the Seahawks since 2016. They just have not been able to stay healthy, and it has cost them playoff position and wins. In 2017, when the Legion of Boom blew up, they missed the playoffs entirely.
We said it before this season started: Health will be a key factor in whether they win in December and advance far in the playoffs. Carroll knows that’s the key, as he told 710 ESPN on Friday.