How big is Seattle’s game against the Rams? Probably the difference between a home playoff game and a road trip — and certainly a major factor in the race for home field in the NFC playoffs.
This is the second straight year the Seahawks have hosted the Rams in Seattle in Week 5 after playing at Arizona in Week 4. Last year, the 33-31 home loss to the Rams was the difference between 10 wins and 11. If the Hawks had flipped that game and beaten the 49ers in Week 15 (rather than lose in OT), they would have been at 12 wins and won the division thanks to a better conference record than the Rams. That would have made them the NFC’s third seed, hosting the Eagles in the wild-card round instead of going to Dallas.
And while we are doing what-ifs: If the Hawks had beaten the Saints in Week 3 this year, rather than handing the win to New Orleans, they would be going for 5-0 and early control of the NFC this week. Instead, they are just trying to stay in the mix in both the division and conference while flipping the script on a Rams team that has beaten them three straight times and won the division the past two years.
Continue reading Home playoff game on the line vs. Rams
It took about seven quarters into the season, but Brian Schottenheimer and the Seahawks might finally have figured out exactly how this offense should run.
In Pittsburgh, they picked up right where they left off in that ugly opener against Cincinnati: The line gave up three sacks in the first quarter and was called for three early penalties (plus Jaron Brown’s), Chris Carson fumbled for the second straight game and the Hawks burned all of their timeouts (two on offense) by early in the second quarter, ruining their chances on a two-minute drive at the end of the half.
But Schottenheimer put the offense in Russell Wilson’s hands in the third quarter, and the QB rallied the Hawks to a 28-26 win over the Steelers and their first 2-0 start since the 2013 championship season. It also gave Pete Carroll his 100th win on his 68th birthday — which got him the game ball and a water bath in the locker room afterward.
Continue reading Hawks finally figure out offense, get big win in Pittsburgh
As the Seahawks open the season, one of the major points to watch will be the evolution of Russell Wilson and a fully Baldwin-less offense in Year 2 under Brian Schottenheimer.
The Seahawks put a lot of resources (financial and draft) into their passing game in the offseason, which led some to suggest (or hope) they are now building entirely around Wilson and are going to throw the ball all over the yard.
Clearly, people who think Carroll is going to sway from his run-focused approach are dreaming — and not really paying attention. Remember, Carroll is all about that circle of toughness — imposing his will on both sides of the ball.
As Carroll recently told 710 ESPN: “We want to play off the running game. … We want to run the heck out of the football. We love that part of the game, but we love everything that comes off that.
“We hopefully are going to show you a wide-open attack that makes you have to defend the run and makes you have to defend Russell sitting back there bombing footballs. We want to get the ball down the field and attack the heck out of it. That’s a big deal to us.
Continue reading Hawks will keep running, but will Wilson & Schotty be better?
Third downs get such a bum rap.
One of these days, we hope, Pete Carroll and his coaches will realize third-down success starts on first down. They never seem to get that, constantly droning on after losses about how third downs ruined their offense.
It was more of the same after the 24-22 playoff loss to Dallas, with Carroll telling anyone who would listen that their failure on 11 of 13 third downs was what did them in — as opposed to any play-calling mistakes on the preceding downs.
Brian Schottenheimer continued the refrain Thursday, telling 710 ESPN: “The biggest issue that we had — and it was kind of the issue for us throughout the course of the year when we struggled – was third down. We weren’t able to convert on third downs. We weren’t able to get momentum going. We’re kind of an offense, because we run the ball and we throw the deep play passes, that when you’re struggling on third down it kind of hurts your ability to get started.”
It’s true the Hawks put themselves in big holes on third down; they averaged third-and-8 and went three-and-out six times in 12 possessions.
But how do you get into trouble on third down? How do you get into a spot that is too challenging to overcome? By messing up on first and second downs. And the Seattle offense finished the season just as poorly as it started it.
Continue reading Coaches talk third-down failure, but it starts on first two downs
“The Seahawks are going to be a running team as long as Pete Carroll is the coach. If you can’t handle that then you probably should pick another team to root for.” — Bob Condotta on Twitter
Condotta is right: Pete Carroll is not going to change his philosophy — or his offensive coordinator. Nor should he.
Unlike some fans, we have no issue with Carroll’s overall tactic of controlling the game with the run and great defense. This is the same philosophy that took the Seahawks to two Super Bowls, and Carroll is very confident it will take them back.
But he will evaluate how the first year with Brian Schottenheimer went, and they hopefully will improve their in-game adjustments so they can avoid the kind of unnecessary playoff loss they just experienced in Dallas.
As Carroll said, “We have to adjust a little bit quicker.”
Continue reading Carroll’s Hawks will run, but they ‘have to adjust a little bit quicker’
When Pete Carroll hired Brian Schottenheimer to be his new offensive coordinator a year ago, skepticism was rampant. Many people thought he had made a lateral (or worse) move from Darrell Bevell.
We withheld judgment until after this season. Well, after poor scheming cost the Seahawks four games, ending with a 24-22 wild-card loss to Dallas, the doubters sure look like they could be right.
And how ironic the way it unfolded.
Carroll and Schottenheimer didn’t run the ball enough in the first two games of the season, losses in Denver and Chicago where Russell Wilson was under assault. Seattle committed to the run the rest of the season and ended up the No. 1 rushing team in the league as they won 10 of the final 14 games.
They took that rushing mentality into Dallas against the fourth-ranked run defense, but they could not run. Passing yards were clearly there for the taking, but Schottenheimer refused to take them.
Continue reading Shoddy finish to Schotty’s first season
As good as the Seahawks’ defense has been over the first month, it is about to face its biggest test of the season — and that means Seattle’s offense is going to have to be a lot better than it has been if it is going to win a shootout.
Seattle ranks seventh in overall defense, fifth against the pass and sixth in takeaways — rankings built against some of the league’s poorer offenses. Now, without Earl Thomas, they go up against a Rams unit that ranks first overall and second in passing and scoring.
It’s the ideal time for Russell Wilson and company to find themselves.
Under Brian Schottenheimer, the offense still is having trouble figuring out what it wants to be when it grows up.
Continue reading Hawks need a complete game from offense
Before the season, Brian Schottenheimer said his key for winning offensive football is the number 53: The combination of pass completions and runs that typically result in victory.
“If you rushed the ball, say, 30 times and throw 23 completions, that was like the second determining factor of wins and losses after turnovers,” Schottenheimer told The Seattle Times. “Some weeks, it’s going to be different and it’s going to be 33 completions and 20 rushing attempts. But we are always going to go in with the understanding that we should be able to run the ball, and believing and expecting we can do it at a high level.”
The Hawks hadn’t done that in the first two weeks. They had run the ball just 38 times and completed 41 passes. The combo tally was 35 in the loss in Denver, where they also broke even in the turnover battle. In Chicago, the formula netted 44 and another split in turnovers.
But, in their 24-13 win over Dallas, they ran it 39 times and completed 16 passes — hitting the magic number (Pete Carroll calls it an even 50) and also winning the takeaway battle 3-0.
Continue reading Hawks found their formula vs. Dallas
Earl Thomas sat out a couple of practices and Pete Carroll was evasive in his explanation, calling it a “personal” issue. That led to fair speculation that the Hawks might be talking trade. But Dallas denied it was talking with the Hawks again, and then Thomas basically declared he was playing against his favorite team.
Russell Wilson has a hamstring injury but says he’s “ready to go.” Meanwhile, Ethan Pocic is out, with J.R. Sweezy moving to left guard as D.J. Fluker returns at right guard. Justin Britt (shoulder) is expected to miss more than just one game, meaning Joey Hunt will start at center. It also sounds like Doug Baldwin will be out several more weeks.
On defense, Bobby Wagner said he will start vs. the Cowboys after doing the “grown-up” thing and sitting out Week 2 (he watched the game with Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor). Mychal Kendricks could be available as his suspension appeal continues to be reviewed by the NFL — but he is questionable with an ankle injury.
Robert De Niro’s “Meet the Parents” character would be disappointed. Pete Carroll, Brian Schottenheimer and Russell Wilson would not make Jack Burns’ “circle of trust.”
They can’t even create their own triangle of trust with the Seahawks. Wilson does not trust Schottenheimer’s scripted plays, so he holds the ball too long, which puts the Hawks in deficits. Then Carroll gets impatient and orders Schottenheimer to abandon his balanced attack and take deep shots. When those fail and the Hawks are in desperation mode, Wilson starts calling more audibles. But, because his lack of trust helped put them in this position, Carroll and Schottenheimer don’t trust him to do that.
On top of that, no one buys Carroll’s explanations for his running back roulette.
It’s a vicious circle of antitrust.
Continue reading Triangle of distrust