The Elephant in the Locker Room: Turnovers Redux, and the Best Thing about the Rams
By Greg Wright
Sadly, the 2016 season has opened yet again with an anemic offensive performance.
Gladly, it ended in a win.
Sadly, in a development piggybacking on the preseason trend, the Hawks started their year–at home, no less–with a -2 on the turnover margin.
Even more sadly, both of those turnovers were miscues you can lay directly at the feet of one Russell Wilson.
The first was a poorly-thrown pass on a scramble after he was flushed from the pocket. After the game Wilson said he didn’t see the end of the play put was pretty confident it was going for a completion… otherwise he wouldn’t have thrown the ball. He said he’d have to see the film to see what went wrong.
Well, what went wrong was that Wilson thought that third-down specialist C.J. Prosise was going to keep running downfield, forgetting that his receivers are trained to break off their routes and come back to Wilson when he starts to scramble. Tight end Luke Willson, seeing that Wilson was flushed by unprotected pass rush off the edges, broke off his route right into the path of the streaking Prosise, who didn’t pick up the ball in the air and pulled up short when he spotted Willson crossing. That left nobody but Dolphins defensive backs, who were tracking the ball, deep. The play was an improvised train wreck.
The second turnover was an ill-advised flip to Rawls on another broken play. Left Guard Mark Glowinski stepped back right into Wilson’s (hobbled) path away from center and tripped him, keeping Wilson from making the handoff to Rawls.
Rather than go down with the ball and take the loss, Wilson, perhaps protecting himself from 900 pounds of crunch, elected to pop the ball out to an unprepared Rawls. Uh-uh.
But they won the game, right? That’s what matters, isn’t it? Well, yes, at one level. Even at another level, as Field Gulls notes in a thorough analysis, the Pete Carroll edition of the Seahawks have a remarkable propensity for winning games they shouldn’t. While other teams “post a .214 winning percentage when they cough it up more than they take it away,” with Russell Wilson at QB the Hawks have gone 9-5.
What Field Gulls doesn’t mention is that, overall, those same Wilson-led Seattle teams have nonetheless won the turnover margin battle, season-in and season-out. The 14 games where they have lost the takeaway battle are the exceptions, not the rule.
As I noted in preseason, the Seahawks are not poised this year to win the turnover battle. If the defense does not start creating some takeaways, they will not be “eyeing the playoffs” as Field Gulls expects. They will be spending January eyeing their TVs from their couches.
One bit of incremental help has come their way, however.
Much has been made in the press of the historical difficulties that the Pete Carroll Seahawks have had with the Jeff Fisher-led Rams. As Danny O’Neil at ESPN 710 Seattle reports,
the Rams have been able to bring out Seattle’s worst. It has been true in Seattle victories like the one in October 2013 when the Seahawks won a Monday night game despite only 130 yards of total offense. It has been true in defeats, too, like that game last December when the Seahawks were held to 59 yards rushing, their lowest total in any game in more than two years. … It was the Rams’ second win over the Seahawks last season and their fourth over the past four years, most of any opponent in that time.
What nobody has managed to point out about this rivalry is the difference that the Rams’ move to Los Angeles will make.
Once each year, Seattle will now play one additional game in its own time zone rather than playing that road game on East Coast time.
Yes, I know that Seattle has proven the East Coast Curse to be more hoax than jinx under Pete Carroll.
But think how close and low-scoring these Seahawks/Rams games have been. Think how much more rested and comfortable the Seahawks will be in L.A. rather than St. Louis. Think how horrible home crowds have historically been for every edition of a Los Angeles NFL team. Think how many more seats will be available for road-worthy and noisy 12s!
Think how welcome any advantage that you can get over Jeff Fisher, no matter how small, can be.
And think, “Okay. The Hawks can probably use that tiny advantage tomorrow with Wilson hobbled.”
But really, think, “I’m going to enjoy being able to watch these Rams road games at 1 PM rather than 10 AM.”
After four playoff appearances in a row, everyone’s paying attention… yet even with all the scrutiny, it seems that there’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us weekly for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.