Sunday afternoon, before the Seattle Seahawks had even kicked off against the visiting New Orleans Saints, head coach Pete Carrol started his day on the wrong foot. During warmups, a Seahawk player made an errant throw near a jogging Carrol, unintentionally sending the football directly into his 68-year-old coach’s face. And things only went downhill from there.
Last week, veteran Saints quarterback and future Hall-of-Famer, Drew Brees, injured his thumb, sidelining him from football for 6 weeks. In his place, back-up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater executed the Saints’ gameplan effectively, routing our Seahawks, 33-27.
So, what happened, who’s to blame, and how did the day swing so far out of alignment with an entire region’s expectations, hopes, and fantasy predictions?
Sadly, there isn’t a single person to take culpability for the Seahawks’ week three loss, as this one was more of a group effort—including players and coaches alike.
But, before we get into that, we need to take a moment to properly appreciate the simple, focused blame that can be assigned when a lone kicker loses the game by hanging a last-second kick wide-right. It’s a vastly underappreciated kind of loss, with a clear person for an upset fanbase to channel its collective sorrow toward. For better or worse, right, Blair Walsh?
Anyway, back to Sunday’s loss, where I see three clear places to assign responsibility. While there are likely several more, these three rest atop my personal list of “bad stuff” on the day.
1. SEAHAWKS PLAY CALLING
We all know the Seahawks are the NFL’s living definition of a run-first offense, but when the opposing defense across the field is dedicated to stopping the ground game, we need to be more flexible and adaptive.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not suggesting we abandon the running attack. But how effective can we expect the Hawks to be when the opposing defense knows what’s coming? How about letting Russell Wilson drop one of his signature deep balls to Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf to open a drive? Would that really establish the wrong “tone” for the team?
Maybe you’d argue that it’s the commitment to rushing that allows our wideouts to get open downfield, and that’s fair, but all but about 5 of the other 32 teams in the NFL don’t have a run-first strategy or a quarterback of Wilson’s caliber, and they fair alright, so it’s not impossible. Maybe challenging and off brand, but a viable approach to be sure.
I blame Head Coach Pete Carrol and Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for not using their greatest weapon to his full potential, while he’s in his prime. It’s borderline inexcusable.
2. CHRIS CARSON
Running back Chris Carson is only partially responsible for the team loss, but he’s fully responsible for fumbling the ball, his third in as many weeks (in 2018, he fumbled only 3 times total), and the watching of that ball be returned for a defensive score.
I don’t believe that this game was entirely lost due to this single fumble, but points are points, and even giving a potent offense like the Saints a free possession is a bad idea.
Now, I’m a Carson believer and fully predict an impressive, bounce-back game this upcoming weekend. But in the NFL, fumbles (especially consecutive ones) just can’t happen. After the game, Carroll said: “He’s been a marvelous player on this team, and he has to fix this. I can’t fix it for him, but we’ll help him, and count on him to come back and play good football for us.”*
So, there’s still trust there for Carson’s ability to help the team win, but the leash must be getting shorter and the calls for Rashaad Penny must be getting louder.
I blame Chris Carson for not holding onto the ball. The defensive punch-outs that produced his fumbles have been extraordinary, but after the first couple of incidents, Carson must protect the ball or he’ll lose his job.
3. ALVIN KAMARA
Guys…Alvin Kamara is alarmingly hard to tackle.
The Saints superstar running back racked up 69 yards on 16 carries and 92 yards on nine passes, and many of those yards came after first contact with a Seahawks defender. Despite linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright having phenomenal days (Wagner had 18 tackles, Wright had 13), nobody seemed capable of stopping Kamara’s rushing attack. During an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle, Coach Carroll described Kamara like this: “Their running back was phenomenal, better than I thought he was. When we realized we were having such a difficult time tackling him, you could see he has a style about him that you needed to see in person. He’s pretty darn good.”* Even without Brees’ historically intimidating passes moving the chains for the Saints, Kamara did more than enough to carry his team to victory.
I blame Alvin Kamara for being an incredibly good football player. He was a fast, elusive, and powerful force opposing the Hawks. At the end of the day, even in a loss, you have to respect that display of talent.
So, can the Seahawks bounce back from this regrettable game? I believe the answer is a resounding yes. There are plenty of positives to reflect on and carry forward, like the O-line keeping Wilson protected, Wilson’s play overall (400+ yards and 4 TDs), and the defense containing the non-Kamara Saints effectively. Those all bode well for the season to come, rather than just highlighting a poor game. We hope.
This weekend, the Seahawks will travel south to take on the 0-2-1, Arizona Cardinals. This season, the Cardinals are led by rookie quarterback phenom, Kyler Murray, who provides a very different kind of opponent to confront. Expectations for the Cardinals aren’t too high, and the Hawks should be able to fly home with a win, but it won’t happen if we can’t clean up the mistakes from last weekend.
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