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Week 15 Game Recap: SEA @ WAS

Dec 23, 2020, 12:22PM PST

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The Seattle offense continued its downward trajectory against the Football Team, losing in almost every offensive statistical category except points (the ONLY one that matters). After a stellar first half on both sides of the ball against a truly underrated Washington team, Seattle took its foot off the gas and let the Dwayne Haskins led Football Team dink-and-dunk its way into a potential game-winning drive. Did we expect anything less from this team?

The vaunted top-5 Washington defense proved to be an issue for the Seahawks on Sunday, but not in the way many would’ve expected. Despite hosting one of the league's premier defensive fronts, Seattle's offensive line held strong allowing zero sacks and only 3 QB hits on Wilson. Despite this, Wilson was relegated to game-manager duties reminiscent of the LOB-era as the running game fired on all cylinders.

Thanks to a two-game slide from the Saints and a tough matchup coming up Sunday for the Packers with the Titans, Seattle is still very much in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Reminiscent to last year, the Seahawks are very much so in the driver's seat of things going forward. Contrasting last year’s 1-3 finish, Seattle has a chance to cap off what’s been the strangest year of our era with a strong finish as we look towards the playoffs in January.

But will the Seahawks emerge as serious contenders? Or will this season be another divisional-round exit we’ve been so accustomed to in recent years? Seattle certainly has the potential for a deep playoff push but has difficulty playing to its fullest potential.

Praise, Frustration, and Everything in Between

● Wilson struggled yet again in Washington and it's becoming something to be expected when playing an opponent with a top-tier defense. Wilson completed just two throws of 10+ yards downfield, his fewest all season. He also had his second-lowest average depth of target in a single game of his entire NFL career (5.1), per PFF.

● DJ Reed had his breakout game Sunday as he finished the day with 3 passes defensed and an interception. Per Next Gen Stats, Reed stifled Haskins passing when he was the nearest defender. Haskins went 2 of 8 for 19 yards, zero yards and the interception. Although, Reed’s breakout game was against, arguably a backup quarterback at best, Haskins, his stellar vision and ball tracking ability was put on full display to the delight of fans. Reed currently boasts a 72.8 grade on PFF, not excellent, but the 3rd highest of any Seahawks defensive starter behind only Poona Ford and Bobby Wagner. All these positives should outweigh the near-fumble on his punt return. Reed deserves to be the starter at RCB even when Flowers and Dunbar return from injury.

● This now marks the second game the defensive line has had to stand tall in critical situations and delivered. Reminiscent of the second matchup with the Cardinals in early November, Seattle’s pass rush finally came alive on Washington’s final possession, notching 3 sacks including a strip sack by Alton Robinson, followed later by back-to-back sacks by Collier and Dunlap on Washington’s last set of downs. The only sack prior to Washington’s last drive was yielded by Jamal Adams, who forced Haskins out of bounds behind the LOS.

● Poona Ford has silently had himself quite a remarkable year as he has now seemingly solidified himself in the rotation at defensive tackle. Despite his 5’11 stature, Poona has worked hard and played hard earning himself the second-highest PFF grade on Seattle’s defense with an 80.1, placing him 17th out of 131 defensive linemen.

● Diggs has quietly played an excellent season after starting off sluggish earlier this year. Diggs combined with Wright to rally to a drag route on 3rd and 9 to force a 3 and out on Washington’s first drive of the game. Shaquill Griffin was a beneficiary of Diggs’ play, as Diggs’ pass tip allowed Griffin to make an excellent diving interception. Diggs accumulated the most fan votes in the NFC for Free Safety and deserves to be a Pro Bowl selection after being previously announced as an alternate in 2018. UPDATE: Diggs is selected to the Pro Bowl as the NFC’s starting Free Safety!

● Special Teams continues to be a strength for this team and Dickson had quite possibly his best game of the season. All four of his punts were downed inside the 20 and averaged a BOOMING 50.8 yards per punt. Steven Sims Jr., the Washington punt returner, netted -1 yards on 2 returns. UPDATE: Dickson was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, his second time receiving this accolade this season.

● It was nice to see Wilson take advantage of undisciplined rushing lanes, running the ball 3 times efficiently for 55 yards, including a field-flipping 38-yard run to set up Seattle’s first touchdown. He might not be as spry as he once was, but Wilson’s mobility is still a great asset. So far this season, Wilson has 6.3 YPC, his highest since 2014 and is averaging 33.9 YPG, his highest since 2017.

● Ugo Amadi continues to quell any chance Marquise Blair has at claiming the starting Nickel spot. Amadi, listed at 5’9”, made a nice TFL in bounds on Logan Thomas, listed at 6’6”, to force Washington to use their final timeout just before the half. Amadi’s background as a safety gives him strong tackling fundamentals in addition to his quality coverage.

● There’s no doubt that Carlos Hyde is not as talented as Chris Carson, but he’s been a quality addition to the Seattle backfield. We saw what happened at the end of last season when our two injury-prone starters, Carson and Penny, were both injured at the same time. While a Marshawn Lynch homecoming was certainly a feel-good story, his performance was far from par. With Penny sidelined for the majority of the season, it was important to pair Carson with another quality RB. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, both were hurt at the same time earlier this season. With both now healthy, Hyde provides tremendous value by spelling Carson and reducing his workload while offering a similar, albeit slightly less, level of performance. Hyde’s 50 yard touchdown to open the 2nd half basically won Seattle the game, erasing his very ugly drop later in the game on the left sideline on 3rd down.

● On paper, the Seahawks allowed Dwayne Haskins to pass for 295 yards, the most they’ve allowed since Week 10 against the Rams, and while Haskins played much better than most Seattle fans would’ve thought, Haskins attempted an astonishing 55 attempts giving him a very poor 5.4 YPA. Total yards are not an appropriate measure of defensive efficiency and while per touch/target/attempt metrics aren’t perfect either, they’re certainly more useful and contextual than nominal yardage statistics. Interestingly, Wilson’s YPA was actually WORSE than Haskins at 4.5 YPA, showcasing how truly terrible the passing attack was against Washington.

Next on Deck: The Battle for the West

No team likes losing, especially not to a winless team this late in the season. The upset of the year has allowed Seattle to regain sole control of the NFC West this week. The question remains: will it last?

The following scenarios will allow Seattle to clinch the NFC West this week: 1) Seahawks win. That’s it. The Seahawks just need to beat the Los Angeles Rams in order to rightfully claim their division title, one that has eluded them since 2016. However, this task is certainly a tall one. In the context of the psyche of hyper-competitive super-humans, one has to wonder how the Rams players will react coming off THE worst loss of the season. The Rams are certainly a good team and currently lead the league in EPA/play on defense. Seattle fans should be worried about the anger boiling within the Rams organization, eager to pad their rightfully-inflated egos with passionate and redeeming play against the Seahawks.

Remain cautiously optimistic.

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