The Elephant in the Locker Room: The Glaring Weakness


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By Greg Wright

Even during the Seahawks’ championship season, it was easy to identify the team’s glaring weakness. These days? Not so much.

Let’s take a walk through what have been their most recent and most chronic obvious weaknesses, and see where they are at with them.

  1. Since the departure of Marshawn Lynch, they have not had a consistent running game. With three weeks in row having an individual rusher top 100 yards, and with QB Russell Wilson hardly having to carry the rock, the running game is working better now than it ever has under Pete Carroll–including the Lynch years. The two concerns here: 1.) we have no idea how the goal-line package is working, since they are doing such a good job of scoring from 20+ yards out; and 2.) nobody has emerged as the clear #1 back.
  2. Germain Ifedi. Boy, since the insertion of OG D.J. Fluker to Ifedi’s left, this 3rd-year lineman has started to look like a pro. Finally. Super bad timing for a false start penalty last week, but in general Ifedi has had three solid weeks in a row.
  3. Covering tight ends. Through Carroll’s tenure, this has been the biggest problem for Seattle’s D. In large part, that’s because the excellence of the defensive design, pushing routes back into the center of the field–where you want them–and in part because Seattle has been so consistent in finding good and great cornerbacks. Picking up nickel CB Justin Coleman from New England, however, and the increasing use of 3-safety packages… well, this hole has plugged right up.
  4. The Bad Apple Syndrome. As great as Lynch, Richard Sherman, and Earl Thomas were, they–and other high-priced egos such as Jimmy Graham and Percy Harvin–have come at a price in the locker room. With Earl now gone for the season due to injury, the biggest ego in the locker room is clearly Russell Wilson, as it should be. If the Hawks are playing with more unity now than in a loooonnngggg time, that’s no accident.
  5. Inability of Seattle’s offense to score. I wouldn’t say that this has been entirely fixed, but the last three weeks have been the most productive stretch for Seattle since Russell Wilson’s on-fire streak of five games to conclude the 2015 season. The productivity of the ground game has really opened things up.
  6. Tight ends. Can we get TEs who can both block and catch passes? During the commitment to Graham’s contract, the answer was clearly not consistently. Prior to Graham, the issue was lack of experience, lack of depth, and not such great blocking. During preseason, Seattle had the best group of tight ends they’ve ever had… and though injuries have had a horrible impact on the scenario, the performance of Seattle’s TEs this year has been outstanding. With Dixon returning soon from IR, this should only improve. Still, the Hawks lack depth at this position.
  7. The receiving corps. Everyone knows that, as a group, this has probably been the team’s most-maligned skill position amongst NFL intelligentsia. Part of that is the design of Seattle’s system, of course. This is Carroll-ball, not Payton-ball or McVay-ball. Seattle does not engage in the kind of high-scoring shootouts that skew passing-yards stats out of whack. Doug Baldwin having missed playing and practice time and not being at 100%, folks might reasonably consider this a weakness for Seattle this year–but the numbers don’t support that idea. When Seattle’s scheme has clicked, the receivers have done their part.
  8. Coaching. Yes, I was screaming at the TV because of that timeout thing last week, too–but that was not really the contributing factor to the Rams’ change of play call. It was the officials’ delay for measurement. (The officials really messed up Seattle’s tempo-control last week, in general!) But I like the changes from Bevell and Richard to Schottenheimer and Norton. Both units, overall, seem to be playing more consistently well this season.

Of course, the real reason that Seattle’s glaring weakness is no longer obvious is that that they are, in general, weaker across the board. On paper, it’s clear that the Seahawks will just generally have a harder time keeping opposing teams from racking up yards and scoring, and that will put regular pressure on Seattle’s offense to score as well. But gosh, when has that not been the case? In general, the first five weeks this year have felt an awful lot like 2012, 2013, and 2014. Close games every week, coming down to the wire, with a chance to win every one of them in the fourth quarter.

To be honest, the thing that concerns me most right now is the guy that everything rides on: Russell Wilson. Will he continue to be the efficient, good-judgment QB that he’s been the last three weeks, or will he look more like the Wilson from weeks 1 & 2, making ill-advised gambits to extend plays that shouldn’t be, fumbling the ball away, or taking ridiculous sacks?

It’s time in Wilson’s career that he start looking like Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning. The Seahawks need to get consistently solid play from their franchise player. He needs to become the Bobby Wagner of the Offense.

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. 



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