I hate bye weeks.
Especially after a high as big as the one I had leaving London two weeks ago. It was necessary, however, as it gave us a chance to get healthy after a long trip across the Atlantic. BUT!! The gaping football void was filled this week. Filled with a trip to the motor city. The Lions, like us, had won 3 of 4, including an impressive victory over Green Bay. Both teams sat 3-3 going in to the game. Both teams had playoff aspirations. Only one looked anything like a contender on Monday morning.
This was a demolition job. Not quite as emphatic on the scoreboard as it was in London. But this game was just as impressive. Let’s break down our position groups. We’ll start with the Defense.
How on earth does Matt Stafford escape so many sacks? The guy seems to phase through would-be sackers, uncorking a pass on the other side. This is not to fault the defensive line though. They once again brought the heat to Detroit. Frank Clark and Shamar Stephen leading the way with a sack each, Jarran Reed once again eating space and making a nuisance of himself, and Dion Jordan (welcome back) consistently getting into the backfield.
The Lions blockers couldn’t contain our pass rush, and were it not for Stafford’s slippery footwork, those sack numbers could have been considerably higher. Detroit’s new found rushing attack was held to a paltry 34 yards on 11 carries, as the game got away early. It’s going to be a consistent theme throughout this week’s analysis but we’re starting to trend upwards. Our defense is ranked in the top 10 in a number of categories, including overall, rushing and scoring defense. It’s being led by the big guys up front.
Another welcome return, this time for pro bowl weak side linebacker K.J. Wright. Once again we tackled hard, Detroit couldn’t get any sort of offense going with any regularity and it was largely down to our mid-level coverage. When it became apparent that the run game wasn’t working, Detroit placed the offense firmly on the shoulders of Matt Stafford and the receiving corps.
With linebackers, the play very often isn’t about statistics. They are the grafters in the middle of the field, tirelessly stretching themselves from sideline to sideline, blitzing and hitting damn hard when called upon. That being said, here are some statistics. Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles, once again. Wright compiled five solo tackles of his own, and Barkevious Mingo (still love that name) recovered a fumble (albeit on special teams). A very solid, if unspectacular performance.
Ok, here’s where I have a few minor, niggling issues. Let’s talk about Detroit’s first touchdown on Sunday. I’m sure we’ve all seen by now but Marvin Jones Jr. caught a beautifully thrown pass over the top of Tedric Thompson, playing as a deep safety. Now here’s my issue. If Tedric had been beaten squarely for pace, I could live with it, but we were only rushing 3 people!! You can’t be getting beaten deep when you’re dropping 8 in coverage. I’m sure this is a blip that will get sorted, and we won’t dwell on it any further, but it does need to be addressed.
A goal-line pick from Justin Coleman was the highlight for a position group who had a lot to do on Sunday, what with Matt Stafford flinging 40 passes their way. This is a position group that is still learning its chemistry together and will only continue to improve.
Overall a really nice day for the defense. While you may think some of my marks are harsh, I’m only holding them to the incredibly high standard the team set themselves in London.
Let’s take a look at the Offense.
158.3. A number achieved only 40 times prior to Sunday, and never before by a Seahawks QB. 14 of 17 for 249 yards, 3 touchdowns, no picks and a perfect passer rating. Can’t really say much more. Russell Wilson isn’t going to throw for 500 yards in Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme. Because he doesn’t have to. The man continues to impress whenever he’s called upon and Sunday once again proves that he’s right up there with the best in the league.
Wow. Chris Carson runs like a freight train. Over 100 yards on the day, got in the end zone. Fantasy owners everywhere are rejoicing that he now seems to be the workhorse back for the Seahawks. Mike Davis once again complemented with some important yards of his own. And Coach Schottenheimer’s use of jet sweeps and designed QB runs allowed the likes of Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett in on the action.
What was a shame was seeing Rashaad Penny not get a single offensive snap, but I suppose you have to ride the hot hand. And when the hand is as hot as Chris Carson was on Sunday, we shouldn’t complain at all. Penny seems to be becoming a victim of his early season struggles, and the improved play of others at his position.
While our backs may not be as flashy as, say, a Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon, they run hard behind the pads, make some great gains between the tackles and are the keystone of this offense moving forward.
Brandon Who? While he made a useful contribution in his short time in Seattle, Brandon Marshall’s absence on Sunday was a quite obvious indication that the team are ready to move on with a younger, more athletic group of receivers. David Moore is slowly emerging as a favourite option for Russell Wilson. While the numbers may not jump off the stat sheet (4 catches, 97 yards, 1TD), the manner of his play does. His touchdown catch showed incredible concentration. Corralling a bobbling ball safely for his fourth score in three games.
Welcome to Seattle Ed Dickson. The bruising tight end announced his arrival with a 12 yard TD grab which effectively put the game out of reach for a struggling Detroit offense. He also showed up well in the run game.
These guys don’t drop a lot, which is testament to themselves, and to Russell Wilson putting the ball on the money. Our receiving corps definitely deserves some credit for that 158.3 passer rating too.
Once again, the big lads up front are proving EVERYBODY wrong. Whether it’s Schottenheimer’s scheme, the play of the linemen, or a bit of both, it’s working. D.J. Fluker is proving himself to be an absolute mauler in the run game. Dishing out pancakes as easily as he presumably eats them. Pro Football Focus has this group near the top of the NFL in most categories over the past 5 weeks. Long may it continue.
There were still a couple of sacks, but this group has come a long way from the 6 sack outings in each of our first two gameweeks.
Ok, Michael Dickson, I apologise. I did not approve of the trade up to draft the punter in the 5th round of this year's draft. But Week by week, he is proving that the move to get him was an inspired one. Not only does he pin teams back inside their own 20 yard line with regularity, but he's an athlete!! Name me some other punters who could have pulled off that scramble from their own end zone?! It's cool I'll wait.
Another perfect day for Sebastian Janikowski coupled with the forced fumble on Ameer Abdullah and subsequent recovery made this a pretty useful day for the special teams unit.
Overall another very impressive win on the road. The Chargers this Sunday should prove a stern test, but with the roar of the home crowd at C-Link, I think this group could well turn an upset and beat the much-fancied AFC playoff contenders. If we can get to the halfway point of our season 5-3, it plants us firmly in the wildcard picture, with 5 of our last 8 games at home. GO HAWKS!!!!