Before the season began, the Seattle Seahawks were being touted as one of the top teams to watch. The addition of several key players to the Seattle roster was part of the reason for all of this enthusiasm. Jimmy Graham is a prime example of this. The 28-year old has developed into one of the most effective tight ends in the NFL and Seahawks fans were particularly excited when he signed up. Other solid draft selections like Tyler Lockett and Frank Clark helped to build the hype around the squad as Week 1 approached. However, now we find ourselves several weeks into the new season, it’s easy to see that things haven’t quite gone to plan for the squad. They began their campaign with two defeats to the Rams and Packers. Things finally started looking up with a pair of victories against the Bears and Lions, but the Seahawks now found themselves looking back at another pair of losses to the Bengals and Panthers.
In their latest loss to the Panthers, the Seahawks just couldn’t keep up the pace for the full four quarters. They started the game well but fell apart in the final quarter to ultimately lose the game 27-23. Let’s take a look at how exactly this collapse occurred. Firstly, it’s important to highlight that this is the second game in a row in which the Seahawks have had a lead and failed to guard it. The team seems to be getting into a bad habit of starting games well and then finding themselves unable to keep the ball and let the clock run down. They got two first downs from their last three drives in this game. In their previous game against the Bengals, they managed three first downs from their final six drives. Quite simply, this is not the way the Seahawks should be playing.
Seattle fans have been used to watching their team staying cool in the later stages of games. The Seahawks had even begun to establish a reputation as one of the best teams for killing off games, but this image is gradually being eroded by their recent performances. The team will need to reestablish itself and regain that strength if they want any chance of turning their season around. In their last two drives against the Panthers, Seattle managed to run the ball twice for just 5 yards, dropping back to pass on four separate occasions. Whether this is all down to a lack of confidence or poor tactical decisions remains unknown, but the Seahawks are not playing the way they did before and fans are rightly concerned.
Another aspect of the famous Seahawks image that has been destroyed by recent performances is their weakness in the red zone. The Seahawks made it to the red zone three times in the last match but scored just one touchdown and two field goals. The statistics show that the team is currently being ranked as one of the worst squads in the NFL in terms of points earned per red zone trip. They are definitively the weakest team in terms of scoring touchdowns on red zone trips, with a rating of just 27%. When compared to their impressive 52% rating from last season, it’s shocking to see just how far the team has fallen.
Now let’s talk about one redeeming feature of the Seahawks latest performance: Jimmy Graham. The famous tight end has had a mixed campaign so far, but he put in a good performance in the game against the Panthers. Before this game, Graham had just 21 catches for 204 yards from five games. In this one game alone, he got 8 catches for 140 yards. Essentially, it seems as though the Seahawks finally figured out how to use Graham in the most effective way. For this game, they started to hit him in the parts of the field that he likes to be found, i.e. the middle and the seams. Finally, fans got to see the best of their most exciting draft addition, and this performance certainly gives the Seattle squad a reason to be hopeful about the games to come.
However, while the Seahawks’ tight end was working wonders all-game long, his team failed to cope with the Panthers’ tight end in a similar way. Carolina’s Greg Olsen got 7 catches for 131 yards, along with scoring the touchdown that won the game for his team. In the Seahawks previous game, the Bengals’ tight end Tyler Eifert also put up some impressive stats: 8 catches for 90 yards, with two touchdowns as well. It seems like the Seahawks are struggling against tight ends and this is a big weakness that needs to be addressed. Even back in the Week 1 and Week 2 games against the Rams and Packers, the opposing tight ends were allowed to wreak havoc on the field. The Rams’ Jared Cook got 5 catches for 85 yards while the Packers’ Richard Rodgers got 3 catches for 23 yards and a touchdown. If the Seahawks want to have any chances of improving their fortunes, they’ll need to fix this problem soon.