Improvement needed during bye week
It’s hard to criticize the 2013 Seattle Seahawks now that they have wrapped up the No. 1 Seed in the NFC playoffs. They get a first-round bye and they get to play every game at home until the Super Bowl, but some wise words come to mind.
The day you stop learning and improving yourself is the day you’ll be passed by your competitors.
The Seahawks‘ season at 13-3, while impressive, still leaves room for improvement in a few key areas, and the bye week gives them the opportunity to do just that.
I have to hand it to Breno Giacomini. He has improved his penalty problem substantially, but it seems where he left off, Russell Okung and many others came along and picked it up. Seattle has committed 128 penalties on the year for a staggering 1183 yards. Both of those numbers are tops in the NFL.
The worst part is so many of these penalties are silly mental errors and guys failing to keep their composure. I can live with the occasional pass interference call, and even a few offensive holding calls since you could practically call that on every team on every down; it’s the stupid ones that drive coaches mad.
There have been 23 false starts, 13 unnecessary roughness and five delay of game penalties. Those are the ones that really grind at this team. For the most part they have been able to outplay those errors, but when they have lost games, penalties were always a contributing factor.
Pete Carroll needs to lay down the law on these types of penalties and take guys out of games if they keep making the same mental errors over and over.
The offense has been inconsistent to be polite, especially the last several games. It looked better in the final game against St. Louis. Marshawn Lynch had better blocking, which led to 97 yards on the ground — his highest total since the Falcons game Week 10. That needs to continue.
Russell Wilson continues to find ways to extend plays, but he has been more contained in the latter half of the season than he has been previously in his career. Offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, needs to find ways for his receivers to get open more consistently.
The lack of deep shots and a gadget play or two really limited the Seahawks on offense against Arizona. Bevell loosened up a bit against St. Louis with some designed roll outs and a few more deep shots. I still think Bevell needs to be more creative, though, to help his quarterback and his receivers.
Speaking of the receivers: The receiver situation in Seattle is not dire, but it’s not great, either. Golden Tate is great after the catch and did the best job of anyone getting open in the final regular season game, and did it with a huge target on his back. Tate can’t be the only guy to make consistent catches if Seattle is going to go deep into the playoffs.
Doug Baldwin did not have a catch against the Rams. He struggled to get open all day. Jermaine Kearse sat out, although he was available (if necessary), according to Carroll. Hopefully his ankle will get the rest it needs during the playoff bye week.
Ricardo Lockette had one catch against the Rams, and like Baldwin, struggled being open consistently. Lockette made two vicious hits on special teams, however.
Brian Walters, who was moved up from the practice squad recently, did not catch a pass. Zach Miller was the runner up to Tate in the catch department in the final game. He made three grabs for 21 yards.
Luke Willson made just one catch for four yards. He also dropped a pass that hit him square in the chest that would have been for a big gain. Worse still is that Willson was carted off the field with a high ankle sprain, and his availability is questionable moving forward.
That just leaves the biggest question mark of all: Percy Harvin.
The word from Carroll is that he’s going to practice this week with intention of playing in the first playoff game. His presence alone might just be the ticket to the receiving corps finding open space.
If Harvin can go, he will be a difference maker for the passing game. If he practices and is finally shelved, the Seahawks will have to continue grinding on offense and getting more creative to get guys open space to catch passes.
See you in New York!