Three things we learned: Washington 23, Seattle 17
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned
- This offense not quite ready for prime time.
The whole country may see that because this team will be in prime time on Thursday this week and again on Monday in Week 14. The Seahawks showed promise with their clock-killing drive to end the victory over the Ravens, and even on Sunday, the Seahawks scored in the third minute of the fourth quarter after an 88-yard touchdown drive that stands as Seattle's longest of the season. However, Seattle's next four possessions produced a total of 20 yards in penalties, 11 yards of total offense and exactly zero first downs. If Seattle is put in a position where it has to throw, it's in trouble.
- It is possible for two starting wide receivers to catch zero passes.
It happened to Seattle. We were all witnesses. It's a little misleading because not only did Sidney Rice leave the game because of a head injury, but he caught a screen that was actually a backward pass and ruled a rush. The fact neither Rice nor Mike Williams caught a pass underscored the reality that Seattle is not pushing the ball downfield. The Seahawks' longest completion against Washington was for 24 yards, and that was the only pass to a wide receiver that gained more than 15 yards. Last week in St. Louis, the Seahawks had only two passes to receivers that gained more than 20 yards and one of those was thrown by Rice.
- Three yards and a cloud of dust has its risks.
The Seahawks have established a formula for winning, which includes a heaping helping of Marshawn Lynch and a gob of defense thick enough to choke out the opponent. Lynch surpassed 100 yards rushing for the third time in four games, but when the Seahawks gave up two touchdowns on third-down plays in the span of 3 minutes, 33 seconds in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks were in a position where they had to throw and they simply couldn't. Having an offense that is as repetitive and as run-based as Seattle's has been leaves a team very vulnerable should it fall behind. To repeat: If Seattle is put in a position where it has to throw, it's in trouble.
Three things we already knew
- Mike Williams is struggling this season.
Even in a best-case scenario, Williams would have been hard pressed to replicate his team-leading total of 65 receptions from last season given the fact Seattle is so much deeper at wide receiver this year. But Williams' decline in production is about more than just the addition of Sidney Rice or emergence of Doug Baldwin. He had three passes hit him in the hands Sunday that he failed to catch. One of those could have been for a touchdown, and while he was bailed out be a pass-interference penalty against Josh Wilson on one of those drops, the fact remains that Williams has definitely lost the mojo he discovered a year ago.
- The Seahawks have a penalty problem.
Seattle were penalized nine times Sunday, which was actually an improvement over the 13 penalties levied against the Seahawks in each of the previous two games. The other difference Sunday was that the Seahawks committed penalties of aggression as opposed to errors at the line of scrimmage. Seattle plays with an edge to it, and while coach Pete Carroll may quibble with the fourth-quarter calls, there's no denying the Seahawks' aggressive, young team makes it more vulnerable to drawing the attention of the referees and 15-yard marches backward.
- Marshawn Lynch can carry the mail.
What gets lost in the final 12 minutes of Sunday's game is that for the first 48 minutes, the Seahawks closely followed the formula that had produced the past two victories. They ran Lynch repeatedly and without remorse. Seattle isn't catching anyone off guard with this approach. The Seahawks have shown that they can do this even when a) the opponent knows it's coming and b) after losing rookie offensive linemen John Moffitt and James Carpenter to season-ending knee injuries. The approach didn't produce a victory Sunday, but it does bode well for this team's future because you can say there's an identity to this offense, and it has a gold tooth and a great sense of humor.
Three things we're still trying to figure out
- Just how hurt is Tarvaris Jackson?
The FOX broadcast team said during Sunday's broadcast that Jackson's right pectoral muscle is 50-percent torn. Presumably that makes it 100 percent worse than a 25-percent tear, but that still doesn't tell us anything about how much the injury is impacting his performance -- and most importantly for the Seahawks -- whether or not a hurting Jackson is still better than a healthy Charlie Whitehurst. Here are the facts: Jackson's passing yardage has declined in each game since his return from injury against Cincinnati on Oct. 30. He completed 14 of 30 passes against Washington -- his lowest completion percentage of the year -- but that was impacted by a number of dropped passes. Can Jackson be ready for Thursday's game against Philadelphia? We'll have to see.
- Will cornerback Brandon Browner learn from this game?
He was penalized three times, though one was declined. He was beaten deep on third-and-19, giving up a 50-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Armstrong even though he was penalized for pass interference. Before anyone jumps to a conclusion on Browner's competency as a starting cornerback, let's remember this is his first season in the NFL and he has been the single biggest surprise of this Seahawks team. He is strong, competitive and aggressive to the ball. He showed that with his second-quarter interception, but Browner has to play smarter. That goes for coverage as well as penalties. But let's not get carried away and blame him for anything. Browner is one of the reasons to feel optimistic about this team going forward.
- How to adequately praise Red Bryant?
The man blocked two placekicks in the same game for the second time this season, but he nearly got a third: Graham Gano's 25-yard field goal with 1:09 to play. He probably won't go to the Pro Bowl because so many people define defensive ends by sacks, but for the second consecutive year, Bryant is the single most important player to this Seahawks defense.
Dec 24 - 6:10 AM Looking back: Revisiting Sunday's scouting report
Dec 24 - 1:09 AM Seahawks' scoring binge
Dec 24 - 1:01 AM Video: Summing Seattle's victory
Dec 24 - 12:58 AM Video: Russell Wilson post-game comments
Dec 24 - 12:21 AM Rookie passing roll call