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Field Gulls - All Posts The stupidest name in smart football analysis.
Monday Night Football open thread: Chicago at Washingtonby Mookie Alexander on September 23, 2019 at 11:55 pm
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports Wait, what? For real? They scheduled this on purpose?
Whether rushing the ball or the passer, Seahawks lack starsby Kenneth Arthur on September 23, 2019 at 8:32 pm
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images The Seattle Seahawks are 2-1, which puts them in a better position after three games than they’ve been in plenty of other seasons under Pete Carroll. They’ve done so by way of Russell Wilson’s career-best start, improved run defense, and squeaking by the competition by a mere point or two in their first two wins. What they haven’t won games with so far are the two phases of the game that they seemed to focus their entire 2018 and 2019 offseason on — improved rushing offense and replenishing the pass rushers — plus Carroll’s best-known coaching asset: how to make DBs in a lab. Offensively and defensively we’ve seen the Seahawks make countless adjustments midseason to focus their efforts on to do more of what will work for their personnel and less of what won’t. We know that they’ve changed from a team that runs a nickel corner out there 75% of the time to one that runs Mychal Kendricks out there now instead. We know that when they didn’t have Jimmy Graham vs to when they did to back when they didn’t to the next time they did to returning back to when they didn’t, the offense and Wilson constantly adjusted. When they had Marshawn Lynch breaking tackles it was a much different offensive approach to the 2016 and 2017 seasons when they didn’t. Seattle has constantly adjusted under Carroll and I don’t expect that to change — I mean, I do expect things to change??? — any time soon. The issue is that much of their recent focus to have certain personnel in key spots has not seemed to bear fruit. Not yet. The secondary lacks shutdown or intimidating players, the running game is suddenly searching again for an answer in the backfield, and the offseason hoopla around the new pass rushers is barely any hoop and virtually no la. This is not the team that Carroll seemed to envision, so what are they gonna do next? Secondary For a team that built its reputation on its defensive backs, the Seahawks are now trying to build a positive reputation in spite of them. Bradley McDougald is a fine player and he has the team’s only interception this season — a highlight-y diving one at that — but he’s not a star. He’s solid. He wouldn’t start for all 32 teams. And he’s probably the best back there. Tedric Thompson and Lano Hill have played anywhere from poorly to adequately to maybe even decently at times but they are not stars. For both to be back in 2020 would be somewhat surprising and for either to be a starting safety beyond that in Seattle would be teetering on shock, The team has gone from Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor to a search for “America’s Next Top Safety” and while that could be Marquise Blair, we know it’s not going to be Thompson or Hill and we have a lot of snaps to go before we can make a declaration on Blair. At cornerback, Shaquill Griffin made a nice play on the ball on Sunday vs the Saints, but Richard Sherman intercepted 20 passes over his first three seasons and he was the least-targeted corner in football for a long stretch of time. That’s not the bar that Griffin or any other cornerback needs to meet necessarily, but it’s also not a bar that any corner on this team is anywhere near close to anyway. Griffin (three interceptions in 34 games) and Tre Flowers (0 interceptions in 18 games) are so far doing okay but Pete Carroll’s reputation for being able to build a secondary of Pro Bowlers out of scratch has taken a hit as the three guys who gave him that reputation began to fade away. It’s interesting to wonder how involved John Schneider was or has been in trade negotiations for players like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jalen Ramsey because lightning thus far appears content with only striking once. Running Backs / Rushing Offense The Seahawks focused their 2018 offseason on fixing the running game and it resulted in 160 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry, and a DVOA ranking of sixth. You’d assume that virtually all the key people returned in 2019: Chris Carson, the offensive line+Mike Iupati, Brian Schottenheimer, Mike Solari, Rashaad Penny. On top of that they’ve added in a healthy C.J. Prosise, gotten back Will Dissly, signed Nick Bellore, and given Jaron Brown way more snaps than you think. The result is a rushing offense that ranks 32nd in expected points added through their first three games. Worst rushing offenses in the NFL by expected points added. No team has focused more effort on running the ball well than the Seahawks, probably. pic.twitter.com/MlP439Yq9y— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) September 23, 2019 The major thing sinking Seattle’s EPA on rushes is of course Carson’s three lost fumbles, with one in each game. But even without the fumbles we know that Carson’s vision seems off, his ability to create plays with broken or missed tackles has not shown up like it did a year ago, and the Seahawks aren’t running the ball as effectively as Carroll wants to. Chris Carson has mattered. He’s been a net negative on the offense so much so that despite Wilson’s best efforts in the passing game (the best start to his career by far) Seattle is ranked just 23rd in overall offensive EPA through three games. Their EPA on offense ranks directly behind offenses led by Marcus Mariota, Josh Allen, Gardner Minshew, and Kyler Murray. Those four teams rank 10th, 11th, 17th, and 13th overall in rushing EPA. So while Carson had some un-quantifiable but present contribution in 2018, he has a different un-quantifiable contribution in 2019 and it appears to be worse. If there is a hierarchy to your contribution efforts, then certainly that player must matter to some degree. I don’t hear very many Seahawks fans who are watching him fumble every week and thinking, “Just keep giving it to Carson, because obviously any back you put there will be on pace for 16 fumbles.” Carson has 45 carries for 159 yards with three fumbles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Dalvin Cook has 57 carries for 375 yards and zero fumbles. His backup, Alexander Mattison, has 25 carries for 132 yards, nearly matching Carson’s total on 20 fewer attempts. From 2010-2015, Seattle had a top-2 running back star on the roster. Whether you agree with the philosophy to focus on your rushing game first, we know that it’s the philosophy that Carroll holds dearest. For those six seasons with Marshawn Lynch, he had what he wanted, basically. It carried over temporarily to Thomas Rawls, 2015’s leader in YPC and DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement), and Carson picked it back up for a moment in 2018, but the Seahawks have no star in the backfield after three games. Prosise led the position in snaps vs New Orleans, but carried it four times for only five yards. This is the reason they drafted Penny in the first round, to become the next star behind Wilson. He wasn’t available in Week 3, but Carroll’s hoping that changes in Week 4 and 5 (when Seattle must face two NFC West opponents in four days) and that they can do better than 32nd in rushing EPA and not having a player in the top 20 for rushing. Otherwise, what was all that effort for? Pass Rushers Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark, Bruce Irvin. None of these players had the hype of Jadeveon Clowney and all of them were more productive at rushing the passer in Seattle than Clowney’s been so far. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being intensely critical and microscopic in our judgment of Clowney’s contributions to the team thus far. Even if he was added just days before the season and at a fantastically low price, this is one of the biggest acquisitions in Seahawks history. And somehow his best game was the one he had the least amount of time to prepare for. Through three weeks, Clowney has recorded five tackles, one sack, one QB hit, and two batted passes. His sack/QB hit came on the same play in Week 1, his batted passes came in Week 1 and 2. In his last three seasons with the Houston Texans, Clowney averaged about eight sacks, 20 QB hits, and 18 tackles for a loss. His numbers can turn around with one huge day against the Arizona Cardinals (16 sacks allowed already) but rather than beating up on the bad teams, can Clowney do what the Seahawks really need him to do, which is to wreak havoc on the playoff-caliber tackles. At least sometimes. The presence of Ziggy Ansah on Sunday, albeit short and without any previous game experience for Seattle, didn’t help at all. Ansah’s name never got called out and that pretty much tied him with Clowney for highlights. We of course also didn’t hear L.J. Collier’s name because he was a healthy scratch. The Seahawks focused a first round pick on Collier, a trade for Clowney, and waited out the compensatory period to sign Ansah, but they’ve gotten to the quarterback only six times, including two by Quinton Jefferson in Week 1, and a sack each by Rasheem Green and Branden Jackson. The front “seven” we were praising after the Clowney acquisition included him, Ansah, Collier, Poona Ford, Jarran Reed, Bobby Wagner, Mychal Kendricks, and K.J. Wright, plus Green, Jackson, Al Woods, Jefferson, and Cody Barton. They’ve done an admiral job in shutting down the run, which was a significant focus of the 2019 offseason, but the assumption must have also been that Clowney, Ansah, and Collier would replace some of the pass rushing production of Clark last year and Bennett/Avril before him. Maybe when Reed debuts in Week 7 that will be the push over the hill they need, but that’s still three more games away and we don’t know yet that his presence will be any better at living up to the hype as Clowney or Ansah’s. New Orleans has a great offensive line and plan to avoid sacks, but to not have a competitive defensive line against them when you’ve made moves for two recently franchise-tagged pass rushers has to be a source of significant disappointment. Overall, this team does have players in line to hopefully have an impact soon once given or ready for the opportunity. There’s Blair at safety and Ugo Amadi at nickel or safety. Not only are Collier and Green young enough to still have plenty of potential, but Clowney and Ansah are proven enough to expect them to produce at higher levels than what we saw in Week 3. The defensive line will also get back Reed in a month. And the running game has Penny, Prosise, and reason for optimism that Carson can be better than the last three weeks, which may be his floor from which to crawl off of. They can be better. They’ll have to be. Listen to Seaside Reactions and win a $25 gift card to Pizza Hut!
Seaside Reactions: Why the next 10 days could be everything for the Seahawks seasonby Kenneth Arthur on September 23, 2019 at 5:36 pm
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images Not the best day for Seattle in Seattle and in this episode of Seaside Reactions I react to the positives and negatives in the Seahawks’ 33-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints. I get into Tyler Lockett’s record pace, the big numbers for Russell Wilson, the Chris Carson conundrum, mistakes made, battles lost, highlights worth remembering, and why you could have a much different feeling about the team in 10 days based on their quick turnaround from the Cards to the Rams in Weeks 4 and 5. Seaside Reactions is a show available on Patreon for supporters at the $2/month and up level. That’s an instant reaction to every game and key moment for the Seattle Seahawks all season long and beyond. The Seahawks are 2-1 but they could either be in a really good position -- or a really bad position -- after the next two games. Plus there are two more winners of $25 gift cards to Pizza Hut and you can win the next one right now! Patreon supporters are eligible simply by listening to the podcast and sending the appropriate e-mail within. LISTEN HERE
Snap Reactions: Notes on the Seahawks’ snap counts from Sundayby Alistair Corp on September 23, 2019 at 5:30 pm
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images The Seattle Seahawks dropped their first game of the 2019 season on Sunday, a frustrating, ugly affair that ended 33-27, thanks to a touchdown on an untimed down. Seattle’s performance overshadowed the season debuts of both Ezekiel Ansah and David Moore, both of whom will be mentioned below, following the Seahawks’ snap counts from Week 3: Jaron Brown saw his place in Seattle’s three wide receiver sets restored on Sunday, after losing playing time and targets to Malik Turner in Week 2. Brown was behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf in playing time, with 74 percent of snaps. Turner, at 20 percent, and David Moore, at 24 percent, made up the rest of the group. With Turner continuing to flash, and Moore returning to health, it’s fair to wonder how much longer Brown can cling to a starting spot. One of the biggest storylines stemming from Week 3 was Chris Carson’s continued fumbling issues; that also stemmed one of the biggest storylines in relation to the team’s snap counts. The much-maligned CJ Prosise led the way in the backfield, seeing 55 percent of the offense’s snaps, compared to Carson at 44 percent. For a second straight week, K.J. Wright has out snapped Mychal Kendricks by a considerable amount (98 percent to 72), making it very clear who is to remain in the game with Bobby Wagner when the defense goes into a sub package. The aforementioned Ansah played 33 percent of the defense’s snaps in his debut, and failed to register a stat. On the TV copy, Ansah looked rusty, coming off the ball slow on a handful of downs. Hard to be too pessimistic about his debut specifically, though, on a day where the entire defensive line struggled. Finally, Jamar Taylor played 28 percent of the defense’s snaps, which is right around where Ugo Amadi (Week 1) and Taylor (Week 2) saw their playing time fall previously this season as the nickelback. Through nearly the first quarter of the season, the Seahawks are playing nickel around 50 percent less than they did last year, with Justin Coleman. Seattle will head out on the road in Week 4, for their first NFC West showdown of the 2019 season. In Arizona, the Seahawks will take on Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury, as they attempt to get back on track following their first defeat.
A brief but pertinent history of Seahawks running back fumblesby John Fraley on September 23, 2019 at 4:25 pm
not a fumble, maybe | Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports You might be surprised? Seattle Seahawks fans grew accustomed to superior ball security in 2018, plus a healthy does of fumble recovery luck, and frustratingly, 2019 has been a punch in the gut, one that’s knocked the ball loose. More than once. More than twice. More than — okay, on with it. During the last campaign, Chris Carson and Mike Davis especially established themselves as keepers of the football. Trusted guardians, sworn life, limb and honor to preserve possession of an oblong porcine treasure with the blue-green forces of good, against all oncoming barbaric hordes. Yeah, the Knights of Carroll had a nice year. So good that it prompted a little research into the fumble history of all Seahawks running backs. I’d been wondering when these facts would be most pertinent, and, after four fumbles lost in three games, it’s... now. For context. And content. And perspective. Enter the numbers. Fun “takeaways” include: Justin Forsett fumbled a lot, then plain didn’t fumble. He remains underrated, much as he was in Seattle for the years he spent as an understudy to Marshawn Lynch. He lost the ball four times in his first year with Seattle, then never again afterward. (Maybe these are random? Or there’s coaching involved? Or they’re random.) Speaking of Lynch, he put the rock on the ground, a lot. 19 times — but it’s because he touched the ball a lot. As far as Seahawks go, he was pedestrian with ball security. The lesson I take is that every running back has his elite skills, and sometimes he’s just average at another skill. (Shaun Alexander had vision like no other Seahawk since. He could cut back before the lane opened up, eliciting gasps of “what are you even doing OH YES THAT.” Shaun Alexander mattered. As long as you didn’t ask him to catch out of the backfield. End historical tangent.) Anyway, Beast Mode ran through and over people, and may end up in the Hall of Fame for it, but he coughed it up, and at bad times too. He wasn’t perfect. Mike Davis was perfect. Well, at this part of his job. He did not get yards at a pace that would excite coaches and fans, he did not explode through lanes, but he held on to the frickin’ football, as Pete Carroll would probably say. There’s been a lot of... turnover at the RB position since Carroll and his staff arrived. Especially since Lynch. That’s what led to Eddie Lacy as your starter one year. Lacy, who did everything right for the Packers, then everything wrong for the Seahawks, except at least he held on? That’s the nicest thing we can say about his tenure here. Give the ball more to C.J. Prosise, maybe? While you still can.* *I mean before another team signs him to a big deal in the offseason. What were you thinking? And, finally, because it’s too depressing (but also illuminating) to discuss Leon Washington’s fumble problems, we arrive at the topic du jour, maybe the topic de la semaine: Carson and his hands. Even after his horrific start to 2019, and there is no need to mince words, it’s been worse than bad, he is within range of Lynch and Christine Michael, who did nothing wrong. He’ll never be a Thomas Rawls, whose precipitous descent into irrelevance remains inexplicable. Before 2019, Carson had 3 fumbles on 323 touches, for a rate of 0.9 percent. Happily wedged between Turbin and Forsett, in the top half of the list. He’s in the doghouse now with fans, and maybe his coach (hard to tell), but after a few more reliable outings, maybe another 100 touches without a giveaway, he’ll be right back in the pack, prone to fumbles but not excessively, and still as explosive as ever. Or, he’ll never get the knack of ball security back, and a new era will begin, with someone who can.