Category Archives: X’s & O’s

Wilson is not throwing more — just more proactively

Russell Wilson – everyone’s three-game NFL MVP — has not thrown the ball more this year, contrary to what some might think. He has just thrown it more efficiently and effectively and, most important, more proactively.

He has thrown 103 passes through three games, which is right around his average (104) for the first three games of the 2015-19 seasons.

But Wilson has set an NFL record with 14 TD passes to start the season, and his 76.7 percent completions and 7.76 yards per attempt are all the best of his career through three games.

It hasn’t been the volume; it has been the timing: He is throwing on early downs and in the first half more than ever.

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Previewing the season

As this oddest of NFL seasons begins, the Seahawks look strong enough to contend for the Super Bowl again – assuming (1) they aren’t hit by a bunch of COVID afflictions, (2) their lines hold up and (3) they learn how to play offense in the playoffs.

After adding Jamal Adams, Quinton Dunbar, Greg Olsen, Carlos Hyde, Phillip Dorsett and Jordyn Brooks, the Hawks look very solid at DB, TE, RB, WR and LB – and of course QB. But their pass rush is still a major question mark, they look really thin at defensive tackle and center is a big unknown.

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Carroll goes back to roots on defense

Like it or not, Seattle seems to be standing pat with the pass rushers it has.

You can hold out all you want for the Seahawks to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney or trade for Yannick Ngakoue. But, if they were not interested in signing Everson Griffen for $6 million (what Dallas paid him), they are obviously content to go with what they have: Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa, Rasheem Green, L.J. Collier, Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson.

Instead, Pete Carroll is going back to his roots and building his defense from the back. And he would rather pay All-Pro safety Jamal Adams than Ngakoue or Clowney or even the cheap Griffen — perhaps partly because he expects Adams to sack the quarterback.

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Hawks gonna let Russ cook two-minute meals?

Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson plan to be clapping about their offense a lot this season (Getty Images)“Let Russ cook” has become an annoying mantra repeated by some fans the last couple of years.

It’s a nebulous decree. For some, it is a call for Seattle to just throw the ball 40 times a game. For the smarter ones, it is a more nuanced request for the Seahawks to let Russell Wilson stir the pot in his own special way, especially earlier in games.

At the Pro Bowl in February, Wilson said he was all in favor of the latter. He talked about going up-tempo more — something we have constantly called for in the first half, especially. He also apparently has discussed this with Pete Carroll.

Don’t get too excited, cooking fans, but it sounds like the coach might have listened, based on staff moves he made and a report that Seattle is indeed talking about letting Wilson work up some two-minute meals.

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Post-Super Bowl notes

Frank ClarkYou have to be happy for Frank Clark, who has gone from tragedy to triumph over the past couple of years. Almost exactly two years ago, he sadly lost his father and other relatives in a Cleveland fire. Last year at this time, he said, “Let’s get this paperwork (i.e., contract) done so we (can) go on this hunt. I’m tired of the same results.” Well, the paperwork turned out to be trade papers and a new contract with the Chiefs, who gave him the $104 million Seattle would not. And then he got the different results he wanted by helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV.

The lesson the Seahawks hopefully learned: It’s OK to pay a pass rusher top dollar. It might actually help you win a Super Bowl. They need to pay their top pass rusher, Jadeveon Clowney, this time.

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Why the Hawks again started slowly in a road playoff game

logo-playoffsWhy did the Seahawks come up short in Green Bay?

Plenty of fans and media are focusing on the end of the game: Pete Carroll’s decision to punt on fourth-and-11 from the Seattle 36 with 2:41 left (we would have punted, too), Ken Norton letting rookie Ugo Amadi cover Davante Adams on a third-and-8 that turned into a 32-yard gain and the close Jimmy Graham play against Lano Hill (why was he in coverage anyway?) on third-and-9 that sealed it.

But let’s be clear: That game was lost in the first half, when Russell Wilson and company scored just three points. It was the fifth time in nine road playoff games that Carroll’s Seahawks had scored three points or less in the first half (the four others were scoreless first halves). In those nine games, the Hawks have averaged 4.7 points in the first half, never scoring more than 13. They have led just once, 10-3 in Philadelphia in this season’s wild-card round, and they are 3-6 in those games (all of the losses in the divisional round).

Continue reading Why the Hawks again started slowly in a road playoff game

More unfamiliar faces, but Carroll knows this AIR-izona offense

at-arizona-logoThe Seahawks have been fighting in a dark alley so far this season — feeling their way against unfamiliar foes.

First it was new Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor, who brought schemes Pete Carroll and his staff were not ready for and nearly beat the Hawks with them. Then it was Mason Rudolph, who replaced injured Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and almost rallied the Steelers. Last week, it was Teddy Bridgewater replacing injured Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara breaking tackles and leading the Saints to a surprisingly easy win.

Now Seattle faces another unfamiliar coach and QB as the Hawks head to dreaded Glendale to take on Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray’s AIR-izona Raid offense.

Carroll knows plenty about the Air Raid, though — since it is just an offshoot of the old run-n-shoot. The difference is the mobile young quarterback running it, and the Hawks need to join the other defenses that have made it hard on this year’s No. 1 draft pick.

Continue reading More unfamiliar faces, but Carroll knows this AIR-izona offense

As two-QB Saints march in, how about a double quads formation?

Logo -- New OrleansAs the Saints come to town with Drew Brees sidelined, they still have Teddy Bridgewater and multi-tool quarterback Taysom Hill, and coach Sean Payton smartly is not letting on about how he is going to use them.

As Pete Carroll said, “I don’t know what Sean is going to do. Rarely does anybody know what he’s going to do when it comes to game time.”

In his two-plus seasons with the Saints, Hill has played all over the place: QB, tight end, receiver, running back, special teams. He’s a wild card the Seahawks will have to watch out for. But how much QB will he play?

“We have not seen enough of Hill to know how they would play him in this kind of situation,” Carroll said. “He’s been spotted in and out and they’ve done a lot of cool things.”

The visit by Hill and the Saints brings up a concept we have long wondered about: What could a two-QB offense do in the NFL? Not two rotating QBs, but two on the field together for most of the game.

Continue reading As two-QB Saints march in, how about a double quads formation?

Can Hawks end rocky road streak?

Logo -- At PittsburghAs good as Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have been at home in September (15-0 after the ugly win over Cincinnati last week), they have been inversely successful on the road.

They are 3-13 on the road in the first month, 1-11 in the first two weeks and 1-8 in the first road game each season under Carroll.

If the Seahawks are going to end a five-year losing streak in road openers and win for the first time since their championship season, they are going to need to do well early in the 10 a.m. PT start in Pittsburgh.

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Outcoached again, Carroll needs to get his team up to speed fast

Logo -- CincinnatiWe all should be used to this Seahawks fact by now: Pete Carroll plays a conservative (i.e., ugly) brand of football that almost always leads to slow starts.

So why does Seattle always look so bad on offense early in the season? Why does the offensive line start so poorly? Why is the play-calling such a mess?

It really boils down to this: Carroll plays simple football, relying heavily on players to execute relatively basic concepts, while some other coaches use more complex schemes to help their players succeed.

Continue reading Outcoached again, Carroll needs to get his team up to speed fast