Seattle Seahawks: Studs and Duds of week 9 vs the Rams

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Seahawks had a chance to pull a win out against the Los Angeles Rams for the second time this season but fell short. Who performed well?

The Seattle Seahawks had a large task this past week to remain a viable threat in the NFC West title race. The Los Angeles Rams (9-1) are currently one of the premier teams in the NFL and were playing at home in an important divisional game after losing their first game of the season on the road against the New Orleans Saints the previous weekend.

Seattle had a chance (again) to pull this one out against the Rams for the second time in as many tries this season. Unfortunately, once again, they came up just short, falling 36-31 in the Coliseum after losing by 2 at home in their previous matchup at Centurylink.

Seattle once again pounded the ball down the Rams’ throat for the second time this season to the tune of 273 yards, despite missing their most productive back. It wasn’t enough to overcome the defense’s inability to rise to the challenge of the offensive juggernaut that is the 2018 Rams.

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Critical coverage errors, moments of offensive ineptitude, and time management eventually crippled Seattle’s ability to win.

Duds of the week

I found it difficult this past weekend to limit myself to a single dud. There were many, and most resided on the defensive side of the football.

Dishonorable mention 1: Brian Schottenheimer/Ken Norton Jr. Both coaches ultimately had issues this past week, but in Schottenheimer’s case, it was once again unimaginative play calling and a lack of an aggressive game plan that cost Seattle points.

I am not entirely sure if there’s an actual two-minute offensive game plan in Seattle’s playbook any longer. Seattle’s offense once again drained time off the clock at the end of a game in which they were down two scores, placing enormous pressure on a defense that hadn’t stopped LA all game (and really all season).

Not to mention the almost physical appearance of the decision at the end of the first half when Seattle, despite moving the ball at-will, crossed the 50 and then proceeded to play instead for a field goal attempt instead of looking for more.

Ultimately, they never got that attempt and went into the half trailing by three with the Rams gaining possession to start the second half.

In Norton’s case, it had more to do with adjustments not being made at the half to stymie the Rams offense as well as apparent communication issues throughout the defense that never appeared to be addressed or corrected.

The DBs are young and are going to make mistakes, however, the number of issues created an environment where the Rams were able to score at least a field goal on seven of nine possessions that weren’t a kneel-down situation.

Dishonorable mention 2: The pass rush, or lack thereof. Once again Seattle lacked anything resembling a consistent pass rush. This is becoming a  pattern that hopefully will be addressed as quickly as possible. Seattle once again provided two sacks on the day, with very little additional pressure.

Dishonorable mention 3: The entire defensive backfield. The inability to communicate properly once again reared its ugly head. Receivers were running open all game. Multiple times two defensive players were standing within a couple of yards of each other, while Rams receivers were running free behind or in front of them.

Critical communication errors saw third and long conversions or wide open outlets with no one close by of players like Todd Gurley (the NFL scrimmage yardage leader).

Dishonorable Mention 4: Bobby Wagner, the typically stout-run defense was abysmal in this game. Whatever they had done in the previous meeting was either thrown out the window on the way to LA or the defense and its captain completely forgot what it was.

Gurley gashed Seattle’s defense for the bulk of the afternoon to the tune of 7.5 yards per carry. Wagner, typically one of the surest tacklers and most instinctive linebackers in the NFL week in and week out, took poor angles and missed several tackles to add to Seattle’s difficulties this game.

Wagner spoke this week about what it was going to take, and the status of the defensive growth headed into the game, but when the whistle blew, the defense lacked emotion, spark or execution.

Dud of the week: K.J. Wright. Like his running mate, Wright struggled all afternoon diagnosing plays, making tackles and at times looked completely confused about responsibilities. At one point he was completely unable to find a pass thrown into his zone by Goff on an important 3rd down.

Much was made about his return and with good reason. This game, however, wasn’t what anyone, including Wright had in mind when discussing it.

These types of issues weren’t relegated solely to Wright, and he has made a career out of being one of the most disciplined, most prepared linebackers in the league week in and week out. Of an entire unit that struggled, Wright appeared to be the most confused, and most fooled player on the field, and so he gets the “top spot” this week.

I’m sure it’s unlikely that he has a recurring role in this regard, but this week was from top to bottom a week chock full of duds, and Wright tops that list finishing with as many tackles as lost balls — one.

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Studs of the Week

Honorable mention 1: Jordan Simmons. Simmons made his first NFL start on Sunday in place of an injured DJ Fluker, someone many look to as a new leader of this much-improved line in Seattle, and it appeared Seattle didn’t miss a beat.

Seattle did a nice job in pass pro for a bulk of the afternoon and proceeded to control the LOS in the run game, without their most productive back rushing for an incredible 273 yards, an unheard of total in today’s pass-happy NFL.

An incredibly daunting first start against the Rams incredible defensive line has shaken quite a few linemen this season with far more seasoning, yet it never appeared to phase Simmons.

Honorable mention 2: Rashaad Penny. Penny, for much of the season, has been a forgotten back as it has appeared he has struggled to adjust to the NFL game. On Sunday, Penny garnered his first 100-yard game and scored his first TD as a pro. While he still showed signs of the indecisiveness that has limited his playing time this season, he had a truly impressive drive that provided many 12s a glimpse of what could be should he gain some consistency.

Honorable mention 3: Michael Dickson. The Aussie punter continues to do things with the ball that defy logic. Backspin on punts that hit at the 2? Precision kicking no matter the location, and booming punts that are truly majestic at the most critical of times completely flipping field position is often overlooked. Against a more pedestrian offense unlikely to drive 90 yards plus, Dickson may indeed have won Seattle a game with his kicking, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case on Sunday.

Stud of the week:  Russell Wilson, ran and threw Seattle into a position to win all afternoon finishing with 17/26 and 3 touchdowns with zero interceptions. His dart to Nick Vannett started off the day, while his perfectly placed fade to Lockett was one of his specialties and shows why many believe he is the best deep ball thrower in the league.

Wilson also found his legs this game and had the highest rushing total of the season, chipping in an impressive 92 yards on 9 carries, almost matching his season total prior to facing the Rams.

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For the most part, Wilson looked on-point most of the afternoon, avoiding pressure, and getting the ball out on time. He seldom escaped out the back door, instead stepping up in the pocket and finding open lanes with which to run or pass. It was vintage Wilson, despite being unable to deliver yet another 4th quarter comeback to add to his career total. Hopefully, he can harness and continue that type of play for the rest of the season.