Philadelphia Eagles 26, Seattle Seahawks 7
Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington
November 2nd, 2008
Coming off of a decisive victory against San Francisco a week earlier, a small glimmer of hope shined for many Seahawk fans. That hope was squashed Sunday against Philadelphia, as the Eagles showed the difference between a playoff-contending team and a team that has fallen off the face of the earth. This game was a shocking reminder of the huge differences between the 2007 Seahawks team and the 2008 version.
Play of the Game: Might as well start this off in a positive fashion. On the first offensive play of the game for Seattle, QB Seneca Wallace made a beautiful throw under pressure to hit WR Koren Robinson downfield. Robinson made a great move to make the initial tackler miss, and then WR Bobby Engram flew into the play to make a crucial downfield block and Robinson raced in for a 90-yard touchdown.
Handouts to the Standouts: WR Koren Robinson didn't do much after that 90-yard touchdown reception, but that was the biggest play for Seattle… QB Seneca Wallace did very well given the lack of help he was given by the offense… LeRoy Hill played to his usual standards of solid tackling, notching 11 tackles… Honestly, folks, that's it.
Things that made me go "Blech!": The offensive line had a lot of trouble with the Philadelphia pressure, but the Eagles do generally get a lot of pressure through frequent blitzes… The pass catchers, with the exception of Koren Robinson (who did drop a couple as well), did their best to make Seneca's life difficult, dropping catch-able passes for big gains… The secondary was putrid, allowing Eagles QB Donovan McNabb to throw for 349 yards and two touchdowns… Seattle allowed Eagles TE Brent Celek to have a career day, catching 6 passes for 131 yards… Eagles WR/KR/PR DeSean Jackson hurt Seattle in numerous ways…
Referee Report Card: Given how terrible refereeing has been this year in the NFL, I thought the zebra crew did a surprisingly good job. They showed good restraint in throwing their flags but the game wasn't just a huge spree of uncalled penalties. Seattle ended up playing a little sloppy, but the officiating was acceptable.
Offense: I noticed something funny while going over the game for a second time – Seneca Wallace bears an uncanny resemblance to Donovan McNabb. Not in their appearance – McNabb is 3 inches taller and weighs at least 40 pounds more – but in the way they play. Both throw great deep passes but struggle with inconsistency on the shorter routes. Both are mobile but choose not to run around a lot. Both make a few questionable decisions but also can make something from nothing. McNabb is a better version because he is more experienced and much stronger, but as players they are not all that different – Wallace is faster by far, but given how rarely either run it's not a big deal.
I like Donovan McNabb, so when I make that comparison, I am praising Wallace. The performance Seneca turned in against the Eagles was better than it looked in the stat sheet. He was constantly harried by the Eagles aggressive defense, but avoided pressure for three quarters. His wideouts (and TE John Carlson) couldn't catch the ball, but he placed several deep passes in exactly the right spot. Wallace finished with 169 yards, but he could well have had 250 yards if he had gotten more help from his receivers.
I've heard several gripes from Seahawks fans over the state of the running game. No doubt the offensive line is terrible – I don't think anybody needs me to tell them that. After looking promising earlier in the year, the line has proven itself to be a liability in regards to run blocking. What has many Seahawk fans angry, however, is the running back by committee approach Holmgren has taken. Julius Jones and Maurice Morris have largely shared carries since Morris returned from injury, and that has made fans unhappy. However, from looking at their YPC against common opponents, Morris has been superior in every contest that both backs have played in. Instead of asking why Jones is not getting more carries than Morris, maybe Seattle fans should ask why Morris isn't getting more carries than Jones.
Defense: The Eagles have a huge offensive line – even their center, Jamaal Jackson, weighs 330lbs. Seattle's undersized front 7 was in for a tough challenge, and overall the defensive line played decently. Against the running game, Seattle was surprisingly stout up the middle, with Brandon Mebane doing an underappreciated job disrupting plays. For the lack of success inside, the credit goes to the defensive line, who did a great job closing any holes inside. On the outside, however, the linebackers – led by LeRoy Hill – did a fantastic job wrapping up Westbrook after a poor showing against Gore.
While the tackling of Westbrook was excellent, the coverage on TE Brent Celek was abysmal. Celek, a backup to one of the more overrated tight ends in football (L.J. Smith), had a career day, catching six passes for 131 yards. The blame for this does not lie purely with the linebackers, as Celek had big plays against FS Jordan Babineaux and against nobody in zone coverage. Giving up 131 yards to a single receiver is bad, giving up 131 yards to a tight end is terrible. Giving up 131 yards to a backup tight end is beyond terrible. It is disgraceful.
What makes this defensive performance so hard to stomach is that no single player really was playing awful. CB Kelly Jennings wasn't great by any means, but he wasn't killing the defense. Not having LB Lofa Tatupu hurt, as did not having DE Patrick Kerney. But in general, this was a game where a superior offensive unit just trampled an inferior defensive unit. The players largely played normal games by their standards, but the Eagles offense was so superior that the defense was just outclassed. At some point we need to ask how much is the defense being bad, and how much is the offense being terrible? The defense has had trouble with every halfway competent offense they've faced – the real problem may not be the defense, but rather an offense that is incapable of controlling the clock.
Special Teams: Fire Bruce DeHaven. I'm not sure how much more needs to be said on this issue. The Seahawks special teams would be abysmal were it not for the quality play of Olindo Mare and Josh Wilson. Forsett, considering the huge amount of love he has received from the Seattle fanbase, has not shown much as a punt returner, and the coverage units for both kickoffs and punts have been a huge thrown in the side of the Seahawks.
Conclusion: The Seahawks are bad. Not just bad, really bad. This wasn't a case of the team underperforming like we have seen so many times as Seahawks fans. This is a battered, beaten team playing like one against a team that is superior and still within range of a playoff birth. Seattle has had some success against a couple other trainwrecks of teams, but we shouldn't delude ourselves – any team with realistic playoff aspirations has beaten Seattle soundly. This is a team that is so battered at so many key positions that they are simply unable to beat quality opponents – after this loss, Seattle should be focused on preparing for next year, as Arizona's win against St. Louis all but eliminated any possibility of a playoff campaign.
MMQB: Eagles 26, Seahawks 7
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