Don’t let a two-game winning streak fool you. The Seahawks’ offense still has not recovered its rhythm.
While the defense had its way with the dysfunctional Eagles offense in Seattle’s 23-17 win Monday night, Philly’s stout defensive front gave the Seahawks trouble and showed Russell Wilson and Co. are still trying to rediscover their early-season mojo.
It will be important to find that again if they are going to avoid a stumble in this run against the NFL Least (Eagles, Giants, Jets, WFT) and actually beat good teams when it matters – i.e., the Rams and any playoff foe.
After averaging 34 points over the first eight games, Seattle has scored just 22 on average over the past three weeks. Wilson was on fire to start the season, throwing a league-high 26 touchdown passes in a 6-1 start. But he has just five TD passes and seven turnovers (all in the two losses) as Seattle has gone 2-2 over the past four weeks.
There are some clear reasons for the offensive funk. Top running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde missed three games together, and Carson just returned after missing a fourth. While they were out, Brian Schottenheimer basically ignored the run, putting Wilson under too much pressure. He was sacked 11 times and hit 23 and gave up the ball a ridiculous seven times in losses to Buffalo and L.A. “Let Russ Cook” was burning the Hawks.
The offensive line certainly has had its issues. It has changed centers for three straight weeks, and super-steady Brandon Shell was injured against Arizona in Week 11. Cedric Ogbuehi had a horrible game in Philly.
After Wilson’s turnover-fest in Buffalo and L.A., Hyde returned against Arizona and Schotty got back to the run. The Hawks ground out 166 yards in the 28-21 win, including 42 on a season-high 10 runs by Wilson, who threw a season-low 28 times. It was a balanced game by the Hawks, which led to an efficient performance by Wilson, who went over a 112 rating for the sixth time as he hit 82% of his throws.
Even in that game, though, Schotty missed a chance to be more productive. Arizona was without its best interior defenders, and the middle was wide open for Hyde all night; Schotty could have taken better advantage of it.
Schotty missed more chances in Philadelphia as the Hawks screwed up two fourth downs and did not score a touchdown in the second half (held to three field goals). And why was David Moore his go-to guy in the red zone?
The first fourth down was a ridiculous shovel sweep to Moore (who looked very slow all game and finished with minus-5 yards on four offensive touches). Metcalf and Ethan Pocic whiffed on their blocks, and Moore was stuffed by Derek Barnett.
On the next series, Wilson had a clear throwing lane to an open Will Dissly on fourth-and-2, but the QB chose to run instead and was stopped short by Barnett.
Wilson hit Metcalf for a career-best 177 yards, but the QB looked uncomfortable for most of the night. Schotty’s play calling had a lot to do with that. His route designs were pretty terrible, often sending three receivers on the same 5-yard hook routes – all covered. That’s what happened on that second fourth down. It seemed like Wilson always was fighting the play clock, too – it ran out on him once as he tried to audible.
Wilson also missed plays he usually makes and just didn’t look very DangeRuss (other than the deep balls to Metcalf).
While Wilson connected with Metcalf for a 52-yard gain and a 31-yarder and also tried him deep a couple other times, the QB definitely is playing more cautiously these days, trying not to add to his 10 interceptions.
There were some promising elements in Philly. The first, scripted drive featured quick, decisive throws. There was a pretty good mix of run and pass throughout the game. But the offensive line generally got dominated, and Wilson simply did not bail out the Hawks enough when that happened. He dirted a couple of balls and rarely escaped from pressure to make plays.
Their best plays, other than the three-step-drop deep balls to Metcalf, were misdirection. Schotty ran several good versions of that concept, with Tyler Lockett and Metcalf both gaining good yards on against-the-grain crossing routes, Hyde running off misdirection and the tight ends involved in some good counter plays. They needed to run more of those.
The Rams and Eagles have good defenses, and the Seattle offensive line really struggled against them. They beat the Eagles because they had a bad offense, but there won’t be any bad offenses in the playoffs.
Schotty and Wilson need to snap out of this little funk and rediscover their rhythm and consistency, or they will lose to the Rams again and not go far in the postseason.