Saints 39, Seahawks 32: Winners and Losers

I suppose if you’re going to have a former Big XII quarterback as your starter, you’re going to have Big XII quality defense, which is another way of saying “virtually non-existent defense.”

The Seattle Seahawks offense, even with a dismal 3rd down performance, still averaged 8 yards per play and put up 32 points against a more than respectable New Orleans Saints defense. That wins you most games home or away and is the type of outing that can make you a playoff team. The way the Seahawks defense plays is 0-17 form, and unlike last week the offense couldn’t win the shootout. It’s a 39-32 loss to the Saints and a return to below .500.

Winners and Losers time.


Winners

Geno Smith

The Saints have a top-10 defense by DVOA and the only key players they were missing were Marcus Maye and PJ Williams. This was a tougher test than the Detroit Lions or Atlanta Falcons and he delivered. He finished 16/25 for 268 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no turnovers. His day could’ve been better if not for drops (DK Metcalf and Will Dissly, ahem) and a penalty erasing a touchdown to Metcalf. His accuracy continues to amaze, and the second TD to Tyler Lockett was straight out of the prime Russell Wilson playbook. I am still in awe at how he got that pass dropped into a bucket.

The only major knock was the 3rd and 2nd sack, which you cannot take. It looked like Noah Fant was open but he didn’t throw his way, but instead of that he just threw the ball away. On the other hand, if he’d thrown the ball away… there’s a choice Pete Carroll would’ve made involving a 4th and 2 “go for it” or punt. Maybe the sack was a hidden good thing to prevent us from a different headache to talk about. (I kid, I kid)

Geno has held up his end of the bargain. He’s making plays I doubt many here thought he could make. Short of a clutch game-winning drive akin to Wilson’s best moments (which admittedly hasn’t happened yet), I genuinely don’t know what more he could do to impress his biggest critics thus far. This offense is actually exciting and he’s been a part of that.

Tyler Lockett

Approaching halftime, Lockett hadn’t even been targeted. By the end of the game he had 104 yards on 5 catches and a pair of phenomenal touchdowns that showcase why he’s a steady hand at receiver. Lockett was sensational and it sure helped that Geno Smith delivered some absolute dimes.

Kenneth Walker III

The rookie had his breakthrough moment in the form of a 69-yard touchdown run to briefly give the Seahawks the lead. There wasn’t a whole lot of note from Walker in that game up until that point, but he did showcase why the Seahawks were high on the former Michigan State star in the first place. With Rashaad Penny’s season all but finished, Walker will be RB1 the rest of the way.

Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen

Bryant was unlucky that Olave’s touchdown was given as it was a great effort to knock the ball free. Other than that I thought he was solid in coverage and for the second week in a row forced a fumble. Woolen meanwhile recovered that fumble and recorded his third interception in as many weeks. These guys are making big plays on a weekly basis and absent the fact that the overall unit is porous, you have to be encouraged by these two.

Big Al Woods

Unfortunately his knee injury puts his immediate playing status in jeopardy, but he is essentially the entire run defense and when he tackles someone they lose ALL of their forward momentum. I hope his injury isn’t serious because if he’s out, this already poor run defense just got a whole lot worse.

Ryan Neal

Honestly? Just for not being Josh Jones. And he genuinely saved a touchdown and made some clutch 3rd down stops.

Losers

Defense, defense, defense

Really it’s just the run defense because I don’t think the pass defense was all that bad. Hell, I liked the blitz packages and sending Jordyn Brooks as an extra rusher. Andy Dalton was only sacked once but he was pressured on several other occasions and hit five times. But holy shit this run defense is a nightmare. If Pete Carroll acknowledged any complaints about him caring too much about the running game, then it was grossly misinterpreted. Taysom Hill is usually going to run the ball when he’s in at quarterback, and the Seahawks looked staggeringly unprepared. They have forced NO tackles for loss against the run for two straight weeks.

This was a severely undermanned Saints offense and they still gave up 39. The Seahawks defensive line looks like the worst in the league by a massive distance. Poona Ford and Bryan Mone in particular seem way overmatched and they were the better parts of this defense over the past couple of seasons. Is it the full-time scheme switch? I do not know. But they’re appealing to watch and seem incapable of improving. I’m not in “Fire Clint Hurtt” mode even though this is worse than the entire Ken Norton Jr. era, but the staff on this side of the ball needs to be under scrutiny for this ineptitude.

Refs, refs, refs

There were a lot of legit penalties the Seahawks took and the ill-disciplined nature of this team had to stop. The hold that Charles Cross was flagged for was seemingly not called on the Saints at all even when there were instances a hold should’ve been called. The Tariq Woolen hold was absurd and extended a drive. I do not agree that Metcalf’s fumble should have stood — it’s either incomplete or caught and down by contact. I’ll be controversial and say the Chris Olave touchdown was correct and that the third step was the additional act that nullified the “going to the ground” rule. But in general it was not a well-officiated game. They’re not the reason the Seahawks lost but it sure felt like there was home cooking going on. I’d rather not see Brad Allen’s crew again.

Special Teams

Jason Myers missed an extra point, which seemingly prompted that two-point conversion attempt in the 4th quarter. Michael Dickson seemingly freelanced on a rugby-style punt that turned into a disaster. Why not just do a normal punt formation? There was a block in the back penalty on a Seahawks punt as opposed to a return! Larry Izzo’s unit looked out of sorts and made some critical mistakes.

Quandre Diggs

I have to go here at this point even though I love Quandre: He’s not playing like a high-end safety. The injury he’s coming back from is by no means an easy one to return from, but he struggled mightily this afternoon and really hasn’t factored much this season. Tackling has never been his strength but the winning Taysom Hill touchdown doesn’t happen without his whiff in the open field, and he gave up a TD to Adam Trautman at the end of the 3rd quarter. Safety was supposed to be the best part of Seattle’s defense, and through the Adams injury, Josh Jones’ poor play, and Diggs’ poor play it is a game-breaking liability.

DK Metcalf

On the surface, 5 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown is cool. Hell, he was unlucky that another touchdown was wiped out due to a lame holding penalty. He also dropped a wide open touchdown in the 1st half that turned a TD into a field goal, and while I don’t agree that he fumbled in the 3rd quarter it still was a case of poor ball security from someone who has a history of doing so The drop bothers me a lot more because those are the plays you need to make as a top-flight WR, but the fumbling has to stop. He’s among the worst offenders among wide receivers and unlike other dudes ahead of him he doesn’t return kicks or punts.

Cody Barton

He can’t shed blocks. At all. Whether against OL or Taysom Hill, he’s overmatched and there is no better option on this roster. Great special teams contributor, but that’s it.

Matt Millen

Seriously, what was that broadcast? I’m glad he called out some of the questionable penalties but beyond that he was just flat out ignoring injuries happening on the field and on camera, not understanding the rules of the game, or watching an obvious penalty (like Marshon Lattimore’s on Dee Eskridge ) and thinking that their feet are tangled. At least Brandon Gaudin was a good listener outside of thinking the Seahawks going for 2 down 31-25 would make it a 3-point game.

Final Notes

  • Will Dissly had an ugly drop that stalled a drive, which makes it his first incomplete target of the season. Luckily Noah Fant stepped up and had 3 catches for 47 yards. I feel like the boot-action was defended a lot better by New Orleans than Detroit.
  • It felt like Shane Waldron tried to establish the run a little too early on, and it contributed to some of the less successful Seahawks possessions. Outside of the Walker touchdown and big Rashaad Penny run, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in terms of space for backs to operate. Not saying it was badly called game but it was uneven to me.
  • The assistant coach who deserves the most praise to me is actually Andy Dickerson, because the pass protection continues to hold up well and he was dealt a difficult hand with two rookie tackles. If the run-blocking can continue to improve this might be a top-10 OL.
  • I feel so bad for Rashaad Penny. He has not gone a year of his career without some sort of injury and now he has his second serious one, a fractured tibia. Forget his future with the Seahawks, running backs have notoriously short shelf lives and this was a “prove-it” year of sorts and now it’s been cut short. Just wishing a full recovery for him and that he can continue playing in the NFL, whether here or elsewhere.
  • Marshawn Lynch didn’t miss a game from 2012-2014. Since then, the Seahawks have gone eight straight seasons with at least one of their running backs suffering a season-ending injury. It is amazingly bad luck.
  • The state of this defensive line is, at this point, a major reason for not wanting Pete Carroll to lead a roster rebuild. This is four years of searching for a competent pass rush post-Frank Clark trade, and it has repeatedly resulted in failure. At least they had run defense as a crutch in lieu of that but now they’re just unable to generate pressure with four AND are a sieve against the run. Legion of Boom 2.0 is not going to happen no matter how much Pete invests in the secondary. There is a premium put on the trenches in the NFL and the Seahawks have failed miserably to improve the defensive line. Too many one-year stopgap solutions, too many failed draft picks, too many underwhelming results. You would think Pete would be aware of this given the rise of the Seahawks defense including the acquisition of Chris Clemons, but instead we get this mess. I’m tired of watching it. Carroll is nowhere closer to finding a solution.
  • Oh look. Arizona at home. That always goes well. At least Colt McCoy isn’t slated to start.

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