Seahawks loss to Packers not as tragic as many of you think


Following the ebb and flow on Twitter of the Seahawks 27-17 loss to Green Bay last night made it clear how unhappy many of you are about the Seahawks poor start.

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And also, with all due respect, how ridiculous some of you are.

Sure, 0-2 is never a GOOD way to start, in fact it literally can’t get any worse. And by now we’ve all heard the stat: only 12% of teams starting the season 0-2 have ever gone on to make the playoffs. OH MY GOD ONLY 12%!!!! Keep in mind that this is far from a pure, unadulterated, objective stat. Many of the teams that have started the season winless through two games, in fact I would argue most of them, are bad teams to begin with. If you could somehow go back and single out the teams who were expected to contend but got off to surprisingly bad starts, you would certainly see a much different picture.

I woke up this morning with a much different outlook than I usually do after a loss and, I suspect, a much different outlook than many of you.

I may even be illogically and unreasonably optimistic.

Not because I’m unrealistic, or in denial, or drunk (debatable), but because I saw progress in some key areas last night. I also saw the game for what it was, a very difficult challenge against a motivated, focused and pissed off opponent in an extremely tough place for any team to win, and against one of the best quarterbacks of all time playing in his prime.

But I saw more than just that. Specifically, different personnel and a different approach on defense:

  1. Marcus Burley played slot exclusively, leaving Sherman back on the left side full time. Sherman had his roughest game in recent memory, but Burley was good, really good for the most part.
  2. Deshawn Shead was a (strategically) surprising sub for Dion Bailey at strong safety. He’s not the hitter Bailey is, but he’s much better in covereage. You had to think Aaron Rodgers was planning to pick on Bailey in this game, but he hardly threw Shead’s way.
  3. They went back to their more conservative approach with almost no blitzes, rushing 4 and sometimes only 3 guys.
  4. In stark contrast to week #1, the Seahawks played mostly man-to-man last night.

You might be reading that list and thinking “Yeah, but it didn’t work, we STILL LOST!” But to do so would be to ignore the biggest reason for all my optimism today;

If that was any QB other than Rodgers last night, the Seahawks probably win. In fact let’s name it. We’ll call it The Rodgers Effect:

His first TD pass to James Jones wasn’t to a “wide open receiver” as one of my Twitter followers screamed, it was a laser wrist-flip while falling away to his left into a tight window. I can’t think of another guy in the league who could make that throw, not Luck, not Brady…. no one. Also, I believe the only reason he even attempts that throw is because (once again) Michael Bennett was offsides. Rodgers knew he had a free play and chose to make a much more aggressive throw. It’s feasible to think he would have checked it off had it not been a free play.

I heard a lot of complaining about lack of pressure on Rodgers last night. That’s insane. The Seahawks routinely collapsed the Packers pocket without rushing extra guys. But they were playing against one of the best pocket manipulators of all time. No one is better at moving around in a less-than-perfect pocket than Rodgers, all while keeping his eyes downfield.

There is no greater example than this:

If that’s anyone else, chances are Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril are sharing a sack. But Rodgers doesn’t just escape and throw a touchdown, he makes it look routine.

Then consider these two low points:

  • Michael Bennett jumping offside on third down to ruin what would have been a 3-and-out on the Packers first drive. They ended up driving 80 yards and scoring.
  • Back to back bad penalties by Richard Sherman in the 2nd quarter accounting for 77 total yards and leading to another TD.

Both lead directly to early TD’s and put the Hawks in a hole on the road. Both were correctable mistakes. Richard Sherman isn’t “overrated” as I heard on at least one occasion last night, he simply had a rough game. It happens.

Look, I’m not trying to blow Seahawk-colored smoke up your backside, and this isn’t just me trying to grasp onto anything remotely positive simply for self-preservation. This is me taking an objective, unemotional look at what happened last night and trying to put it into proper context. Take a look at the Seahawks upcoming schedule. Do you see any teams they can’t beat? Seattle matched up physically with the Packers, and in the third quarter they dominated and looked like they were about to run away and hide, in Lambeau! Add to that the tough hits some of our upcoming opponents have taken. Cutler may not play this weekend for Chicago, Stafford is hurting, Romo and Dez Bryant wont be there in week 8 for the Cowboys, and are you as worried now about the Rams and 49ers this week as you were a few days ago?

Yes, I understand, the defense has now given up 4th quarter leads in 4 straight games, and that’s a concern. But do you doubt Pete Carroll’s ability to get this defense straightened out? Have you forgotten how Kansas City torched them for 190 yards rushing last November 16th? How good were they against the run after that? They’ve gotten the personnel figured out now, they’ll fix the execution issues.

And not to ignore the elephant in the room, but are you still as scared that they “can’t win without Kam?” I’m not.

Sure the running game still stinks, and yes they need to find a way to get the ball to Jimmy Graham, but I saw some positives from the offense last night as well. Pass protection has a chance to be really good, and Russell Wilson looks like he’s ready to take a step forward as a pocket passer (spoiler alert – that’s a separate post, stay tuned). In fact, the offense looks more effective when they’re opening it up and spreading the field, and until this offensive lines improves in the run game that may have to be their ticket to succeed.

We go back to that earlier stat, the one about how few 0-2 teams make it to the playoffs. As I pointed out, you can’t put any weight on that statistic as long as it includes teams like the 2007 Dolphins or 2009 Rams (both 1-15) or the 2008 Lions (0-16).

But then there’s this example, courtesy of outstanding new Twitter follow Nathan Ernst:

Now let me be clear, my continued optimism is all based on the assumption that they’ll come home and beat teams they should beat at CenturyLink Field, and take advantage of the fact that now 8 of the last 14 are in Seattle. I’m also assuming some improvement in key areas, the kind of natural improvement good teams usually make. If they roll out a couple of mistake-filled, sloppy losses to Chicago and Detroit to drop to 0-4 then my narrative will obviously change.

But until that happens, I’m still convinced this is a playoff team, and one capable of winning another Super Bowl. It’s just not going to be as perfect and flawless as many of you had hoped.

Next: Keith's 5 Takeaways from the Packer Loss

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