Monday night’s game proved three things – the first is that Russell Wilson and company have learned how to win the “ugly” games. Monday night’s 14-9 victory over a St. Louis Rams team that outplayed the Seahawks in nearly every category was many things but well executed wasn’t one of them. The second thing we learned, as did the rest of the league, is just how weak the offensive line is.
Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie may be trying their best to fill in for Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini, but they simply don’t have the skills to block the stronger defensive tackles and ends in the league. The third is that the bye week cannot get here soon enough. In addition to losing Sidney Rice for the rest of the season to a torn ACL, it is clear that rest of the team is pretty banged up and in need of some recovery time.
With a 7-1 record, expectations for the Seahawks continue to grow. The problem is that although there have been times when the offense was in synch and the defense was truly the force that it has been touted to be, the Seahawks haven’t performed as well as their record would suggest. The Seahawks have won their last three games over the Titans, Cardinals and Rams by an average of only eight points. What is more worrisome is that those wins often involved more luck than performance, and counting on luck to win is not a Super Bowl winning strategy.
Go back to the 13 October game against the Titans, which was commonly described at the time as “sloppy.” There was a turnover that ended a strong drive that should have resulted in points for the Seahawks, a fumbled field goal attempt that resulted in a Titan’s touchdown at the end of the first half, and a lucky bounce in the fourth quarter when a Lynch fumble, which should have been recovered by the Titans, bounced into the arms of Wilson enabling the Seahawks to salvage a field goal out of the drive. All this against Titans back-up quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who filled in for an injured Jake Locker.
Next came an unconvincing 34-22 win over the Arizona Cardinals on 17 October. Although the offense did well, it did so against one of the weaker defenses in the league and certainly in the NFC West. Wilson fumbled twice when sacked, one of which resulted in a Cardinals touchdown. The defense played strongly, but again the Carson Palmer led offense was hardly stiff competition for what is rated as one of the top five defenses in the NFL this season. Regardless, the Seahawks intercepted Palmer twice, sacked him seven times, and at times almost seemed bored with the game.
After ten days off, the Seahawks took on the Rams last night in what once again is best described as a “sloppy” game. Although it was an ugly win, it was a win nonetheless. The Seahawks offense is clearly not running smoothly eight weeks into the season, and the offensive line play is horrendously bad.
Furthermore, the defense hardly appeared to be the high octane smothering team it is supposed to be giving up 200 rushing yards much of it to the Rams rookie running back Zach Stacy. Although they emerged from the game with a NFC leading 7-1 record and another win against a back-up quarterback, the Seahawks clearly did not perform as well as the top team in the NFC should play.
So as attention begins turns to this Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one thing is certain.
When the Seahawks take the field, they must come prepared to dominate the Buccaneers. It is not enough to do well against one of the bottom performing teams in the NFL; the Seahawks must out-class, out-gun, and out-perform the Buccaneers in every way.
The offense needs the confidence, and Cable and company need to demonstrate to rest of the league that the line knows how to protect Wilson. With Sidney Rice lost to a season ending injury, it may be time for Percy Harvin to emerge and reinvigorate the offensive squad. The aggressive smothering defense needs to return and shut down the anemic Tampa Bay offense.
The fortunate thing for the Seahawks is that they have the sacrificial team against to do it and the environment (CenturyLink Field) in which to do it.
With three weeks to go until the bye week, the Seahawks need to regain their rhythm against the Buccaneers, Falcons, Vikings. The schedule after the week off is less forgiving with the Saints, 49ers, and Rams. The Seahawks are quickly running out of time to find their groove and unless they do, home field advantage in the playoffs and a potential trip to MetLife Stadium are appearing less likely.