December 16, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) reacts on the bench during a game against the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre. Seattle defeated Buffalo 50-17. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Seahawks did it again. The made sure that they at least have a solid chance at making the playoffs. All they have to do is win one of their remaining two games against San Francisco and St. Louis. And if Seattle is able to beat Saint Harbaugh and Arizona beats San Francisco in the final week with Seattle winning out , the Seahawks are the NFC West division champs. Basically the situation is in flux and very fluid at this point. Chance of playoff berth is high, with a smaller chance of division championship. Either way, Seattle would be playing in the first week. It’s just whether it’s home or away.
I know everybody not in Seattle has their panties in a twist over “douche” “idiot” Pete Carroll “running up the score” on poor little Buffalo, but I’m going to be covering that in another piece. For now, I’ll just say there were two other games, both shut-outs, on the same day that higher spreads in the score. Food for thought.
Onto some more meaningful thoughts. First, why the hell does Pete Carroll keep starting Leroy Hill over Malcolm Smith? Maybe there is a reason. I don’t know what it is, but I’d really like to hear it. With Hill on the field, I feel like the opportunity for the opponent to open up a big play is greatly increased (ex. CJ Spiller’s touchdown run). Smith is a better tackler, a headier player, and is able to back up his team mates. Hill often times looks lost and has an uncanny ability to get run over.
Russell Wilson continues to grow and lead the team. It is clear that Pete Carroll made the correct choice for quarterback. I wish he’d have opened the playbook up sooner, but nothing can be changed now. I just hope Seattle’s success continues into next season. The NFC West is getting much stronger and Arizona could resurge without much changing.
Marshawn Lynch is a stud. I wish Wilson had shared some of his rushing touchdowns with Lynch because it would have helped me in the fantasy playoffs. Now I have to hope that Shonn Green somehow scores 20 points tonight against the Titans. With Lynch able to get rest and Robert Turbin able to step in for the second half of the last two games, it means Lynch will be rested for the 49ers and hopefully the playoffs.
Steven Hauschka really stresses me out. I’ve thought the trajectory of his extra point kicks is really low for a long time and now he’s had two of them blocked in the last 23 attempts. I’m not sold on Hauschka as Seattle’s long term kicker. He doesn’t have great range and no real credibility in crunch time. If somebody becomes available in the off season I hope Pete Carroll takes a look.
The defense seemed very lackadaisical for the first half. Seattle built a quick lead but the defense had a difficult time stopping CJ Spiller and Stevie Johnson was able to make some nice catches (one of which there was nothing that could be done about). The second half was much better and made the overall game statistics for the defense look good. I just wish they’d play a whole four quarters that way. It will be needed against San Francisco. I’m worried about Colin Kaepernick’s running ability and Seattle needs to be able to shut that down early. If Seattle can stop Kaepernick and Frank Gore on the ground, San Francisco will become very one-dimensional and I think our secondary would eat Kaepernick’s arm alive.
Which brings me to Seattle’s pass-rush, or lack thereof. The defensive line was finally able to wear down Buffalo’s offensive line but there was no real pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick until later in the game. Seattle needs to pressure the quarterback early and often. Then they’ll hopefully get more plays like Bruce Irvin’s hilarious recovery and run. He might have the best happy-face in the NFL.
My final thought is something I encountered on Twitter during the game. Seahawks fans are very proud and defensive of their team. I know I am; especially to outsiders. However, I don’t think Seattle is perfect and there is still a lot of legitimate criticism and areas for improvement to be focused on. I’ve outlined some of them above. It isn’t because I’m “not a true fan” or will never be happy. It’s because I have high expectations and I believe that Seattle can live up to them. If I was completely satisfied and had no qualms whatsoever, that would mean that I’d expect another 7-9 or 8-8 season and be happy with just missing the playoffs. Instead, I see a lot of potential in Seattle to be 50% better than they are now. They could be a team that San Francisco fears playing instead of the other way around. Seattle can certainly beat San Francisco, but I in no way feel confident about the game. I’d rather be on the other side of that equation – feeling confident, but not certain. I’d rather have the 60% in a 60-40 split.
I have no problem giving a compliment or celebrating when something is done well. But I don’t believe in focusing on the good at the expense of the improvable. If something is already done well – Seattle’s running game for instance – then I don’t think I need to talk about it as much. Just keep doing what they’re doing. I am strong believer in hanging a lantern on your problems and then working like hell to fix them. It’s not traitorous. It’s simply improving the foundation upon which the franchise is built.
Those are all my immediate gut-related thoughts for this week. Until next week, I’ll be breathing deep and removing throwable objects from my living room in preparation for this Sunday’s game.