It’s safe to say a lot has happened since the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks met for the first time back in Week 4. Then the Niners seemed to hit a wall, get back up, and run through the said wall into playoff position. Meanwhile, the Seahawks set a course for a nosedive and never looked back.
The 49ers are 3.5-point favorites with the total on the game set at 46.5 over at DraftKings SportsBook.
Russell Wilson missed the first meaningful time in his professional career, and upon his return, Seattle still looks more than a little lost. If you haven’t been paying close attention, you might be wondering what’s been going on up there in the Pacific Northwest.
Well, good news, I asked Mookie Alexander at Field Gulls some questions to help get everyone on the same page before these teams face off on Sunday, and he graciously offered up his insights!
If you wanna read my answers to Mookie’s questions, you can check them out here.
1.) Russell Wilson’s last win as a starting quarterback came against the 49ers back in Week 4. Since then, the Seahawks have only won one game with Geno Smith at the helm and were shut out for the first time in a decade. So besides Wilson not looking fully healthy, what else is to blame for this season’s flameout? Has Pete Carroll lost his touch? Has the front office left the team understocked with talent?
Injuries have hurt the team, no doubt. Chris Carson is out for the season again, rookie WR Dee Eskridge missing several weeks with a concussion, rookie corner Tre Brown and nickel corner Marquise Blair out for the year, but they’ve not been as injury-riddled in terms of big names missing several games. However, I don’t think that’s the primary reason for Seattle’s struggles.
Carroll is part of the front office along with John Schneider, the GM, so yeah, they’ve both lost their touch. It’s abundantly clear with the draft classes that have struggled to produce quality starters, the offseason signings that don’t pan out (Ziggy Ansah, Luke Joeckel, Ed Dickson, etc.), and that Jamal Adams trade has surpassed the Percy Harvin trade as the worst move the FO has ever made. That’s not a criticism of Adams as much as it is the process and the overspend.
I contend this is the worst roster in the NFC West. Even if Russell Wilson were playing at an All-Pro level, I’d stick to that answer. Yet another season of unconvincing offensive line play, a pass rush that can’t generate pressure on a consistent basis, running backs who are a mixture of ineffective and injured, so on and so forth.
My gripes with Carroll, the coach, the one who will gladly punt more often than not on 4th and 1 in opposition territory, and who has relentlessly backed Ken Norton Jr despite his shortcomings as a DC, are actually lesser than my gripes with Carroll, the personnel guy. His job should be untenable at this point, but they just signed him to a contract extension last year that takes him through 2025, so will ownership fire him but pay him his money? I don’t know.
Wilson has propped up this roster for quite a bit but now that the offense has collapsed, and he’s now part of the issue, this is what you get. A team that looks poorly coached and poorly constructed.
2.) DK Metcalf has more or less disappeared since Wilson’s return from a broken thumb three weeks ago. Is there any reason as to why the offense seems to forget about its Pro-Bowl wide receiver?
Some of it is on DK because he had a couple of drops against the Packers, but otherwise, I can’t really explain it. Supposedly Washington was bracketing Metcalf a lot and trying to take him out of the game, but Wilson’s had some throws where Metcalf was a viable option, and he just didn’t throw it his way for whatever reason. No targets until the 3rd quarter!
There were a couple of plays against the Cardinals where they nearly connected on some big throws down the field, but Arizona had some quality pass breakups in coverage. I think Shane Waldron needs to catch more heat for the way Metcalf evidently can’t be schemed the easiest of throws. Not even that stupid pop pass that’s a glorified running play.
Metcalf has never had a stretch like this in his young career, and his frustration is very noticeable on the sidelines. They better give him the damn ball sooner or later before this becomes a bigger issue. Metcalf can be a bit... emotional on the field, and his non-involvement could produce drama between QB and WR.
3.) I saw an interesting stat about the Seahawks defense. They are currently ranked 6th in points allowed per game but dead last in yards allowed per game. Can you explain this discrepancy as a bend-not-break defense? Is it simply a fluke or something else altogether?
The Seahawks defense has relied heavily on 3rd down stops (8th) and red zone stops (4th at preventing touchdowns). But they have allowed the 5th most red-zone trips, so they’re constantly letting teams get into scoring position but minimizing the damage. I hate the bend but don’t break defense because while the offense is very much one of the main reasons the time of possession stats are so lopsided, the defense doesn’t do the things that good defenses do to get off the field sooner.
Football Outsiders’ Drive Success Rate metric, which is the percentage of drives that result in a first down or touchdown, has the Seahawks at 29th. They have only forced ten turnovers which is tied for third-fewest in the league. They’re tied for second-fewest tackles for loss, and when you factor in that they’ve played the most snaps, they’re essentially dead last on a per snap basis. Negative plays are not in this defense’s DNA like the Legion of Boom days.
Seattle has limited the explosive pass plays in recent weeks, which is good, but what has happened instead is they’re getting destroyed underneath with screens and short throws over the middle.
Again, the offense’s inability to sustain a drive has to be frustrating for the defense, but even when they’re fresh, they have had a habit of giving up long, time-consuming drives just in the opening quarter. This defense is not as good as the points allowed per game suggests because they just do too many important things at a below-average level.
4.) Jamal Adams has played well as of late, notching 2 INTS in the last 3 games and currently is third on the team in tackles. However, the pick he was traded for currently sits in the top five. Is there any view in which this trade still feels winnable for the Seahawks, or has that ship sailed?
Nope. I referenced this in the opening question, but the Seahawks gave up far too much for a safety. If they had given up two firsts for Jalen Ramsey, I would’ve been apprehensive, but cornerback > safety in my book, no matter how versatile Jamal may be. This was a win-now move that will ultimately produce no playoff wins in the two years without a first-round pick.
I know Seattle’s track record with first-round picks in recent years has not been great, but they could’ve been used for other trades for players or to trade down for more picks. They were not a Jamal Adams away from Super Bowl contention, and he’ll soon take up a significant portion of the salary cap. He’s definitely played well lately after some very rocky games, but as noted in the previous question, this defense isn’t very good.
I wrote last year when the trade happened that this was the type of move that, if it backfired, could cost Carroll and Schneider their jobs. If/when they’re gone from the team, this is one of the reasons that they sunk their own ship after brilliantly building such a force early in their respective tenures.
5.) As things have gotten out of hand for the Seahawks, a playoff berth has become less and less a possibility. So, what’s the best-case scenario down the stretch for this team? Without a first-rounder, does tanking make sense, or would you rather they rally to beat the Niners and finish with a respectable record that’s most likely outside the postseason?
No point in tanking without a first-round pick. Best case scenario? Don’t have any more serious injuries to key players and play with pride. They’re gonna miss the playoffs and probably finish with 10+ losses.
I’m not sure I want an 8-9 finish because that’ll be used as an excuse to say they were just unlucky the Wilson injury happened and that they would’ve otherwise made the postseason again. Nope. Not having that.
They’re currently having the type of year that sparks change, and it’s probably best they have a record that reflects that. Since 2017 they will have missed the playoffs twice and won just one postseason game. Depending on what Arizona does, it’s possible the Seahawks will have had the fewest playoff wins in the NFC West over this five-season span, and potentially the only one of the four not to make it to a Super Bowl. Can you say downward trajector
... But I still want them to beat the 49ers again. It can be the high mark of an otherwise dreadful season.
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