Consistency (or the lack thereof) is the microcosm of the Seahawks 2016 Season - Week 12 through 17
Updated: Oct 29, 2018
After the Eagles game, I decided to try a different format in my blog by not doing a weekly recap, but rather, I decided to observe and review a group of games to see if any performance patterns remained consistent during that time frame. After the playoff loss last season against the Panthers, coach Pete Carroll stated that slow starts were a microcosm to their overall season play. This year, it appears the theme is not slow starts but consistency of player performance (or the lack thereof). The record itself speaks of such consistency with the team going .500 swapping wins and losses between each week.
The last 6 weeks was a roller coaster for our QB. Russell took care of the ball in the final two weeks of the regular season, but struggled to establish any consistency in the four weeks prior to that.
In the last 6 weeks, Russell's numbers: 132 of 211, 1505 yards, Avg. Comp. % - 62.83, 10 TD and 9 INT (5 in Green Bay alone), an avg. overall passer rating of 81.96. So what's been the problem? Other than the offensive line, Russell has been making bad decisions and forcing the ball. Against the Bucs
In the loss against the Buccaneers, Russell Wilson threw 2 INTs at pivotal moments by forcing the ball to receivers that were not open.
Against the Panthers
Wilson forces the ball into triple coverage.
Against the Packers Russell Wilson had the worst game of his career throwing for 5 INTs. 2 of those 5 INTs were not Russell Wilson's fault with balls bouncing out of the hands of Baldwin and Pope respectively. The other 3 were Russell's fault by forcing the ball into coverage when there were other options available.
Against the Rams
Wilson is pressured by Donald who wins his battle against Glowinski. Rather than checking down or throwing the ball away, Russell forces another pass that results in an interception.
The offensive line I've been extremely critical of the rookie, Germain Ifedi, during the last few blog posts as he's been the most inconsistent since returning from injury in Week 4. One week, he shows the potential that made him worthy of a 1st round selection - pancaking defenders on runs and holding up in pass protection, the next week, he shows his rookie inexperience - struggling heavily against premier tackles and pass rushers while failing to recognize stunts.
Here against the Patriots, he fails to recognize the stunt that gets Wilson hit.
The following week against the Eagles, he blocks the stunts perfectly.
Then, the following week against the Buccaneers, Ifedi fails to recognize the stunt again and as a result forces Russell out of the pocket and ultimately an incomplete pass.
Here, Fant and Ifedi both do a terrible job in pass pro - Ifedi losing his one-on-one battle with All-Pro DT Gerald McCoy, while Fant is unable to get his feet set against another rookie in speed rusher, Noah Spence.
Ifedi's struggles in pass-protection is infuriating to watch as he gets out of place consistently, especially on stunts. On the other hand, at times, shows his power and ability to finish on run blocks.
Here, Bradley Sowell shows why he deserved to be benched - lazily attempting to block Ethan Westbrooks during their matchup against the Rams.
The entire offensive line unit as a whole has struggled - Fant, Glowinski, the flip-flop job at RT between Sowell and Gilliam, even Britt has had his fair of struggles at times as well. But when the line can all work synchronously and execute their assignments, they can get the job done. It's just a matter of doing it consistently.
The offensive play calling
Darrell Bevell has been under much scrutiny by fans frustrated by the offensive struggles. Personally, I like Bevell as our play caller, but, much like the team he just has not been consistent. At times, Bevell shows his ability to design some nice plays such as the Doug Baldwin throwback to Russell vs the Eagles. Although he has the ability to draw up some nice plays, the play selection and route concepts are questionable during pivotal drives. But it's not entirely on Bevell. It also comes down to execution as well.
A prime example of this point is the red zone drive against the Cardinals. With the ball placed at the one yard line after a Tyler Lockett catch, the Seahawks failed to punch it in. The play selections and results of that drive was: 1st down - Run (Off-Tackle, line wedge blocking), result - no gain
2nd down - Run (QB sneak), result - no gain
3rd down - Pass (Flood left), result - Incomplete pass 4th down - Pass (Play action), result - sack
Redzone drive breakdown The offensive gives up way too much penetration. Fant starts off by not closing the gap between himself and Glowinski. Everyone's assignment on the line is to wedge everything to the center. In other words, protect the gap closest to the center - if there is someone in that gap, that's your man. In Britt's case, protect the playside gap, in this case, the right side. Graham, Fant, Glowinski, Gilliam and Ohdiambo all lose their respective matchups and allow penetration. This causes a log jam in the backfield for Reece and Rawls.
Does this fall on Bevell? No. Could another play have been called? Absolutely. But Bevell had no idea the Cardinals would be allowed that much penetration when he called that play. The line is presented an opportunity to punch it in from 3 feet away but were not able to do so. But let's watch it again.
Look at the linebackers and safeties. If I am the Quality Control guy in the booth, I'm telling Bevell, "Hey, these guys are bringing the house once we show run, let's load them up here and go for a PA pass." Whether or not such information was passed or said is unknown. But if I am Darrell Bevell, I would have to consider play-action on my second play. However, he opts for a QB sneak which also gets stuffed due to the defensive line penetration.
So, 1st and 2nd down, Bevell tries to run it twice and gets stuffed twice. So, he opts to pass on the 3rd. Do you blame him? I don't.
However, what I do have a problem with is the route concepts being so close to the endzone. Here, Richardson and Kearse's main objective is to clear their man and give room for Baldwin in the flat. The most important man is Kearse as he is to 'rub' or 'pick' off Baldwin's defender by running his route in such a way to shield Baldwin's defender while also driving his man out of Baldwin's zone. However, Kearse releases outside on Peterson as opposed to inside, thus, the rub does not occur and leaves Baldwin covered.
There are few problems I have with this play. 1. Throwing to the short side of the field. - There is not much room for the receivers and for Russell to make the throw. I would have preferred to have the ball thrown to the wide side so at least Baldwin and Richardson would have more wiggle room toward the pylons.
2. The route concept
- I'm just saying this now. I hate when Bevell calls for 'rub' routes inside the 5 yard line, especially from 1 yard out. It hasn't worked in the Super Bowl and has a history of being disastrous inside the 10. The route concept is basically 'all or nothing'. If Baldwin is not open, then throw away. There is also no backside route. 3. Use Jimmy in this situation - Look who is covering Jimmy - DJ Swearinger who stands at 5'10" vs Graham who is 6'7" with 35" arms. I would like to have seen Jimmy motioned out wide and having a fade thrown his direction. You can either have a TD, an incomplete pass or a pass interference call (which would give you a fresh set of downs from the 1).
Then, on 4th down, Bevell calls a playaction pass which results in a sack as Fant misses his assignment and allows his man through.
As you can see, the inconsistency on offense is not fully on Bevell, but a mix of the offensive execution and Bevell's play selections.
The absence of Earl Thomas in the defensive passing game is purely evident. Before his injury, the average opposing quarterback passer rating was 79.8. Since then, the average opposing QBPR has risen to 105.3.
While he started off well in matchups against the Bucs and Panthers, Steven Terrell has struggled in the last 4 weeks. In the matchup against the Cardinals, Terrell received an overall PFF grade of 48.2 overall grade for his poor performance on Saturday.
Terrell missed two tackles in space and struggled to cover the center of the field. On passes thrown 20+ yards or more down the middle of the field, the Seahawks allowed 3 of 4 passes to be completed for 136 yards, a touchdown and 156.3 QB Rating (PFF). However, it's just not Steven Terrell. KJ Wright has also struggled in coverage all season as he's allowed 347 yards after the catch and quarterbacks have a 113.8 QB Rating when targeting him (PFF).
In their losses against the Cardinals and the Packers, Deshawn Shead and Jeremy Lane had terrible performances. Against the Cardinals, both were thrown at a combined 8 times, allowing 6 catches for 153 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass, and a 134.3 QB Rating (PFF). Against, the Packers, Lane allowed all 4 balls thrown in his direction to be caught for 89 yards and a touchdown. Lane also missed 2 tackles in coverage and received a 38.5 overall grade (PFF).
The Seahawks have also struggled against crossing routes. According to Pro Football Focus, in their matchup against the Rams, Rookie QB Jared Goff completed 7 of 8 Crossing Routes for 96 yards for a 116.7 QB Rating. Opposing quarterbacks have completed over 75% of Crossing Routes for 666 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 112.7 QB Rating (PFF).
The kicking game
In the last two regular season games, Hauschka has made 5/6 FGs and 3/5 on extra points. On the year, Hauschka regressed from last year, going from 93.5% on FGs (2015) to 89.2% on FGs (2016) and 91% extra points (2015) to 83% (2016). It's difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of Haushka's struggles. Is it partially the LS, Nolan Frese? The offensive line on FG/XP attempts? Or Hauschka simply pulling kicks? Honestly, it could be a mix of all those things but one thing is for certain, it needs to get cleaned up as we enter the post-season run.
What needs to happen?
We no longer can 'wait and see' if our guys can show up and play. Everyone on this team needs to play for each other and they need to do it now. We no longer can go off of ones potential and hope he can do the job. They all need to do their job. It's go time. No excuses. You either know and execute your assignment or you go home. It's that simple.
As long as this starting five on the offensive line remains together (Fant, Glowinski, Britt, Ifedi, Gilliam) , the offense averages 27 points/game. If one of them goes out, that average drops to 18 points/game. Communication on the line needs to be solid. They need to know who they're blocking and execute their assignments. Bevell and Wilson need to get the ball to Baldwin and Graham. The defensive line anchored by Pro Bowlers Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril needs to supply a furious pass rush to help out their DBs. Kris Richard needs to get KJ out of passing downs and get other personnel in to help cover. The DBs will need to be lights out more than ever. Most of all, we need to be consistent from here on out. We have a great opportunity to get consistent against the Lions. We've been consistently inconsistent throughout the season. Now is the time to break that theme. GO HAWKS
Stats provided by Pro Football Focus through their Media Correspondent Program have been marked in bold and labeled with (PFF)