NFL 2022, Week 14: Winners and losers of Panthers 30, Seahawks 24

Well, if it wasn’t nailed down that the Seattle Seahawks are a mediocre football team at the moment, losing to the Carolina Panthers was total confirmation that they just aren’t very good. They’re better than many expected coming into the season, but since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game they seem to be a lot closer to being the NFL’s bottom five team than they were widely predicted.

I picked the Panthers to win and literally everything I feared happened. It was no fun, and the Seahawks’ continued decline in home field advantage was once again on full display.

Winner and loser time from Sunday’s 30-24 loss.


winner

Marquis Goodwin

I haven’t enjoyed seeing a Seahawks WR3 in a long time. David Moore and Freddie Swain played lightning well, but were generally unremarkable and not particularly efficient targets. Goodwin caught 5 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown (albeit in garbage time) on six targets. During the season he has 24 catches on 33 goals for 377 yards and 4 touchdowns. With tight-end targets slumping noticeably in recent weeks, it pays to feed Goodwin the ball more often. I hope he gets re-signed this off-season because he was a gem of a cheap signing.

Godwin Igwebike

The Seahawks’ second leg was so benign that it’s not even worth watching most of their kick and punt runbacks (if they run it back). It only took Igwebuike one game to be the Seahawks’ most impressive return option since maybe 2015’s Tyler Lockett. Two big kick returns is all I needed to see for him to earn a full-time roster spot and not a practice team raise.

Tyler Lockett

Watching Lockett pull off ridiculous toe tap touchdowns is never boring. He stands alone in Seahawks franchise history with six consecutive games with a touchdown.

Tariq Woolen

I don’t recall Woolen being thrown at, and even when he sort of was, he did.

loser

Peter Caroll

That was a solid L on multiple levels. This team looked pathetically unprepared from the opening snapshot and Carroll’s in-game decisions were terrible. After failing to knock down Terrace Marshall Jr.’s wild catch, he is now 0-4 on challenges and that cost the team a timeout. Carroll then called a time-out late in the 3rd quarter to avoid delaying the game, saving at most two yards. In the 2nd half, if you’re behind, timeout > yards. Worse still, while Seattle converted 3rd and 10th, the first game was executed in time and Geno had plenty of room to run at a read-option keeper.

I didn’t mind kicking the field goal on the 4th and 3rd 20-14, but I would have tried considering how poor the defense was. Then there’s the punt down 27-17 in places 4 and 8 with about six minutes left and a time-out. What does it take for him not to trust his defense? I’d rather lose trying to score than trying to prevent a goal while I’m already losing.

Speaking of defense, lack of talent on that defensive line and repeated mishaps against the barrel fall at his feet. And not only as a trainer, but also as a human resources manager. If you’ve been moaning about “Peteball” being too fixated on the running game, it’s mind-blowing to see the Seahawks’ playoff chances likely go up in smoke because they can’t execute it or stop the run.

Pete will be here next season. It will take another home run draft and/or big free agent signings to fix this defense’s problem. I’ve praised Pete a great deal this year at a time when criticism has been relentless, but much of the goodwill he’s earned has been wiped out by that losing streak.

Clint Hurt

There just isn’t a lot of high-end talent on this line of defense, and I’m emphasizing the line of defense. I can make strong arguments that most of the rotation shouldn’t be on that roster or make significant snaps in 2023. But with what the Seahawks currently have, Hurtt’s unit is subpar. The entire NFC South swept the Seahawks and everyone rushed for at least 160 yards. All of them topped their season averages and three of those teams finished in the bottom ten of points scored that week.

This is a defense that fights the run so poorly that the Seahawks can potentially get 200 against these guys in 2017. Maybe they’ll be rigged regularly, which is a bad sign for Hurtt, but I think many of them have exactly the kind of talent that’s been predicted to have one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

That Shelby Harris and Al Woods were out didn’t help, but it’s not like we didn’t see them get rolled over even if they were out there. The scary part is that the defensive line has a majority of the experience on the field.

Maybe I’m being hard on Clint. Just look at these stats after the LOB. Pete and John are the constants.

Shane Waldron

No more screens, Shane. No more screens. He was a bit paralyzed with the running back situation, but seeing a critical two-game series go to waste for Tony Jones Jr. was puzzling. The failed screens for Jones and Noah Fant symbolize that team’s inability to run normal NFL games, which are used to punish overly aggressive pass rushers. 20-14 and in the red zone he picked a weak Travis Homer run in 13 staff. That’s a waste. Carolina flashed relentlessly, and it felt like the Seahawks weren’t equipped to counter it the way they were against the New York Giants. Not one of Waldron’s better days.

Geno Smith

I think I included him in the losers column for the first time this season. Or maybe I did it for the San Francisco 49ers game. Whatever the case, this was Geno’s first real clincher of the season. On the surface, 21/36 for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns thrown on 2 interceptions isn’t terrible, but a good chunk of those stats came after the game went out of reach. His decision making was spotty and it was perhaps nice to him to only have two interceptions (admittedly one on a clear indecisive offside). Smith’s supreme marksmanship was shakier today than in any other game all year.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Smith has been officially charged with 8 turnovers in the last five games. He was very good overall and I won’t microanalyze Smith based on ten years at Russell Wilson, but I do worry that the combination of teams intriguing the Seahawks’ strengths wasn’t at all effective today — the lack of a running game and turnover luck starting to work against Smith brings him back to earth. Smith is an NFL caliber starting QB, but if his stats normalize, the 2023 quarterback situation will get pretty complicated.

I would support Smith as a bridge quarterback before surrendering to the QBOTF. I would be on board with a franchise tag. I’m not sure I would commit to Smith long-term with a big deal. Also, I don’t know if the Seahawks are capable of fighting with a rookie QB up front who may not be good to great to begin with. On the other hand, a cost-controlled top QB prospect is too much to resist, and we’ve seen that before. There’s no easy answer here, and especially when it’s so clear that Seattle’s main problem is on the defensive side of the ball.

perform defense

Smells bad. Carolina never once had a streak longer than 26 yards, and only one of her running games lost yards. Not only is this the line of defense — it’s hard to justify Poona Ford’s salary at this point — but Jordyn Brooks in particular was missing a ton of tackles. Brooks is second in tackles overall but only has two TFLs in the season. Cody Barton had a good run stop that I remember doing, but essentially the whole team was put in the weight room. There is no solution for this group in 2022.

execute attack

Never had a chance The blocking is atrocious, and Travis Homer and Tony Jones Jr. aren’t destined to all have backaches. I gave Andy Dickerson lots of praise for the performance of this offensive line, but they’re a poor run-blocking unit and without an exceptional running back, the chances of anything magical happening are slim and nil. There needs to be an interior retooling with Austin Blythe and the Gabe Jackson/Phil Haynes rotation. They have the pieces in attack and Damien Lewis at left guard was a net positive, but Blythe and the right guard’s revolving door is a weak point.

playoff chances

I know the odds are somewhere between 40 and 60 depending on location, but I think they’re cooked. I don’t expect the Seahawks to win another game, maybe until the Rams Finals in week 18. Maybe.

Closing remarks

  • Darrell Taylor picked up a sack. So does Bruce Irvin. Those were cool games, but seeing them against the barrel is a different story.
  • The officials who screwed up the offside on Geno’s interceptions were reinforced by a fictitious horse collar flag on Uchenna Nwosu. They were nowhere near the reason the Seahawks lost.
  • I thought the pass protection held up largely without being anything dominant. However, Abe Lucas looked like he had been badly beaten for a sack.
  • DK Metcalf had a touchdown but a brutal drop on what would have been a first down grab as Seattle secured near his goal line. According to Pro Football Reference, this is his seventh jump of the year. Maybe that just takes the good with the bad, but I really don’t like that we’re in fourth year and he’s still dropping gimmes.
  • Only three catches for 30 yards for the tight ends today. Noah Fant put a goose egg in the box score.
  • This team categorically doesn’t stand a chance against the 49ers with the way that defense performs and how shaky the offense was with turnovers and injuries. Just keep the score close and I’ll be happy. At this point, it’s time to focus on the big designs. Seattle has plenty of pieces to be great again soon, but they’re far from elite.

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