Last week I was a Pollyanna. A regular Little Mary Sunshine. I wrote that the Seahawks could not run block for anyone other than Chris Carson. I was off by one. We can now scratch Carson off the list too.
In fact, a few lessons were learned in Nashville last Sunday as the Seahawks dropped their second loss in three weeks in the young NFL season. The first, is that though the blue birds’ pass blocking had clearly regressed from last year (until the Seahawks’ late-game flurry against the Titans), the team’s run blocking is now also withering when asked to provide conventional run-blocking to running back-type people wearing Seahawks uniforms.
Look away (you can’t run away)
Entering week three, Carson had netted 126 yards on 26 carries (4.84 YPC). After Sunday’s 11 rushes for a scant 34 yards (3.09 YPC), the Carson express appears to have derailed. The Seahawks will not have C.J. Prosise to turn to — who only added 9 yards on 4 carries in Nashville — due to another injury (ankle). Re-enter import Eddie Lacy (3 yards on 5 carries this season) and former stalwart Thomas Rawls (4 yards on 5 carries this season) neither of whom carried once against the Titans. Lacy didn’t even play and Rawls was in on one play.
One or both of them will be looked at to give the Seahawks’ 18th-ranked rushing offense a much-needed boost. Oh, who are we kidding? It will be up to Russell Wilson (21 rushes for 100 yards) to do any significant rushing against the Colts (22nd-ranked rushing defense). Could there be a J.D. McKissic sighting? Bet on it.
With Sunday’s defeat, the Seahawks remain 0–2 on the road in 2017, continuing a trend of losing on the road in five of their past six road games (including playoffs). Since the Seahawks’ stunning Nov. 13, 2016 win in New England, the Seahawks have only managed one road win against the 2–14 San Francisco 49ers in the 2016 season finale, a 25–23 squeaker.
The biggest factor in this game may be home cooking, combined with Seattle’s renowned airfield-worthy noise levels. The Colts are just this side of freaking out about the noise wall they are about to encounter.
With the Seahawks’ run game sputtering, and the subsequent defensive late-game wiltings, the Seahawks must look for a lift in the passing game. No. 1 target Doug Baldwin is iffy for Sunday’s game and could not finish last Sunday’s contest with a groin strain. With Jermaine Kearse wearing Jets colors these days, it’s tough for Wilson to develop chemistry with the remainder of his receiving options.
If anything, you can accuse Wilson of over-relying on Baldwin. Until the fourth quarter of the Titans game, Baldwin was the only Seahawks wide receiver to record a catch.
Fortunately, the Seahawks offense ignited late, largely abandoning the run game and switching to their high-tempo passing game. It wasn’t enough to earn a win on the road in Nashville, but it does portend a better future for the offense as Wilson concluded the day with 373 passing yards and 4 touchdowns on a career-high 49 attempts. With the NFL’s fourth-worst passing defense (283.66 passing yards per game), the Indianapolis Colts can look forward to a hopeful Russell Wilson going to his suddenly & recently explosive receiving corps early and often. A task far easier said than done if Baldwin — the team’s leading receiver by a wide margin — is unable to go.
It could be speedy Paul Richardson’s (8 catches 108 yards year-to-date), even speedier Tyler Lockett’s (9 catches for 102 yards year-to-date) and supposed match-up nightmare tight end Jimmy Graham’s (11 catches for 81 yards year-to-date) time to shine.
What they’re going up against
The Colts’ offense, planned to be under the guidance of superstar quarterback Andrew Luck (who remains out/injured), has been turned over to recent pick-up Jacoby Brissett in a week one trade with the New England Patriots. The Patriots’ former third-string quarterback has been a godsend for the Colts, taking over from the overmatched Scott Tolzien after week one and injecting life in the struggling Colts offense (39/64, 526 yards, 1 TD). Brissett has also added a couple of rushing touchdowns.
The Seahawks will also be asked to defend old friend running back Frank Gore (49 rush, 145 yards, 2 TDs) who continues to hang on with the Colts after his long career with the San Francisco 49ers. Former Seahawk Robert Turbin also gets some carries, but Gore is the workhorse. Receiver T.Y. Hilton remains one of the NFL’s most explosive and hard-to-cover receivers (14 rec, 259 yards, 1 TD) numbers that surely would be higher with Luck taking the snaps.
Someone will avoid going to the dreaded 1–3 cellar in their divisional standings after this game. Look for the home team to be celebrating with their fans — a circumstance that could just have easily played out the opposite way had this game been scheduled in Indianapolis.