A bunch of things – almost none of them good — happened in the Seahawks’ embarrassing 40-34 loss to the Raiders.
Seattle fell out of a playoff spot and showed it really is just an average team that will have to scramble to remain in the playoff hunt. The defense got blown up by Josh Jacobs (303 total yards, an opponent-record 229 rushing yards and the winning 86-yard run in overtime) – the second straight game the defense has been dominated in the run game as it focused instead on the passing attack.
Seattle’s running game was dismal again and now has just 104 yards in the past two games – losses to Tampa and Vegas.
Geno Smith also failed in two late tries to win in the clutch – extending doubts about whether he really should be extended.
Let’s start with Smith.
He still has not put together a signature drive to win a game – despite having chances against Atlanta, Tampa and Vegas. He had two vs. the Raiders, at the end of regulation and in overtime. He was often under pressure (three sacks, 10 hits) and had no running game, and he could not pull it off.
The rest of this season will show whether he really does deserve to keep the job. He needs to pull out some of these winnable games, to lift up the defense when it falters. If he can’t do that, the Hawks probably won’t make the playoffs – and they probably should use a high pick on a QB next year.
They also are going to need to use some of those high picks (Denver lost again, so Seattle sits fourth in the 2023 draft order) on front-seven players. The 3-4 scheme has been a bust for most of this season – the Hawks simply cannot stop the run. Jacobs ran all over them in a record-setting performance as the Raiders put up 283 yards. It was the eighth time in 11 games the Hawks surrendered 120 ground yards or more.
They are not going to change the defense now, but Pete Carroll is going to have to decide in the offseason whether to stay with the 3-4 or go back to a 4-3.
This front seven is devoid of consistent playmakers and the Hawks need big men, pass rushers and an inside linebacker – no matter which scheme they use.
The other side of the ball was been just as bad recently. Kenneth Walker III has had nowhere to go the past two games, held to 43 yards on 24 carries. The offensive line has been dominated by the Bucs and Raiders. And the Giants also held the Hawks under 100 rushing yards – making it three out of the past four games with a poor ground attack.
Austin Blythe said, “It starts with myself, missing blocks, not executing. We’re calling good plays; Shane (Waldron) is doing a good job. We’re just not executing.”
All of these recent failings have made the Hawks look more like the bad team everyone expected them to be. They have six games left to look more like the crew that won four straight to get into the playoff picture.
“It goes right to me,” Carroll said. “I’m the one that’s got to get this stuff organized so it fits together and fits right.”