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Seattle Seahawks 27-33 Tennessee Titans – 5 Takeaways, Week 3

The Tennessee Titans came out the victors in a close-fought battle with the Seattle Seahawks. The game started out as a punting-clinique with the first 8 drives ending in line-drives and 11 of the first half’s 15 drives resulting in punts. The Titans were up 9-7 at the half before the game exploded into life in the second half. Tennessee built a 30-14 lead but recovered an onside kick with just 2 minutes to go to snuff out any sign of a Seahawks come back. Below are 5 takeaways from Seahawks @ Titans.

1) Penalties KILLED Seattle

The Seahawks outgained the Titans 433 to 420 yards. Both teams didn’t have any turnovers while the Seahawks had ten passing 1st downs, the same as Tennessee. Seattle also gained four rushing 1st downs compared to the Titans five. The killer for Seattle was 11 penalties totaling 98 yards against five Tennessee penalties for only 45. The Seahawks surrendered six 1st downs from penalties and large chunk plays to the Titans. It’s amazing that a team with 0 turnovers who were 3/4 in the red zone, lost to a team that went 0-3 in the red zone. Big plays and penalties killed the Seahawks in this one.

2) The exotic smash-mouth offense is in full flow down in Tennessee

For the better part of the past half-decade, the Seattle Seahawks have been linked with a tough, physical, fast and championship calibre defense. This group which has largely remained the same over this period was humbled as it surrendered 420 total yards and allowed the Titans to rush for 195 of these. Tennessee’s offense flows through the tough-running of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry behind a physical and intimidating offensive line. This strong run game combined with the elite athleticism of QB Marcus Mariota allows the Titans to use run-pass-options (RPOs) as a core component of their offense. RPOs force defenses to leave one end to account for Mariota, bring linebackers/ safeties into the box to account for a run and force corners to bite on quick dink and dunk throws to the outside.

(Photo Source: Donn Jones/ AP Photo)

This offense was in full flow at times against the Seahawks as the tough running of Murray and Henry allowed Mariota to distribute the ball to his receivers as quick strikes often resulted in the long gains. Eight different receivers caught passes from Mariota while Seattle’s defense was consistently gassed after being repeatedly bull dozed by Tennessee’s O-Line. The Titans won the battle of the clock and Seattle’s defense looked tired in the second half while Tennessee’s was able to stay fresh and perform at a high level throughout.

3) Question marks surrounding Seattle’s front seven?

Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Sheldon Richardson, Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright. This Seahawks front seven boasts big household names who usually play at an incredibly high standard. However, back-to-back poor performances against the run and an inability to pressure Marcus Mariota leaves an awful lot of head scratching regarding Seattle’s front seven. The Seahawks failed to record a single sack or QB hit on Mariota and instead resorted to cheap targeting hits out of bounds (more on that later).

(Photo Source: James Kenney/ AP Photo)

A worrying trend has also emerged in consecutive weeks – an absent run defense. The Seahawks gave up a whopping 159 rushing yards to a 49ers team that is absent of any offensive line talent and who’s two primary backs are Carlos Hyde and undrafted rookie Matt Breida. This week the Seahawks again struggled as the Titans rushed for 195 yards. The 49ers averaged 8.4 yards rushing on 19 carries while the Titans averaged 5.6 off 35 attempts. Seattle needs to win the battle upfront and shut down the run if it wants to allow its skilled pass rushers to pin back their ears and get after opposing QBs.

4) Tennessee’s defense came to play

I have often spoke at length about the plethora of talent Tennessee have compiled along their front seven but the inexperienced secondary which has the potential to be somewhat of a liability. Despite surrendering 433 total yards, the defense performed well as the Seahawks were forced to punt 8 times on their 13 total drives (they also turned the ball over on downs once). Inside linebacker Lesley Woodward was everywhere while Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan consistently brought heat from the edge.

(Photo Source: Donn Jones/ AP Photo)

The big men upfront had an excellent day against Seattle’s poor O-Line as the Seahawks found it difficult to generate any push upfront in the run game and failed to give Wilson any time to operate in the pocket. Cornerback duo Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson performed well and took a step forward as a pairing in this game. The standout in the secondary was second-year strong safety Kevin Byard who was exceptional in coverage and well utilised as a blitzer. More performances like this and Tennessee will have a fast, aggressive defense to compliment their tough, physical offense. Tennessee’s 35 rushing attempts helped keep their defense off the field and fresh.

5) Inability to establish a strong run game is holding this Seahawks offense hostage

Russell Wilson was forced to throw a career high 49 times and threw for a career high 373 yards. This is not sustainable or a winning formula on offense for the Seahawks. Their QB was pressured on 44% on his drop backs and was routinely found scrambling in the backfield trying to avoid unblocked blitzers.

The elite Seahawks teams of the early to mid 2010s were a run first team which opened up the rest of the playbook on offense. Since trading center Max Unger for Jimmy Graham and losing Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks have been slow starters on offense and struggled to control games the way the old Seattle did. Despite changing right guards this week, Oday Aboushi is as much a liability as Mark Glowinski .

If we discount Wilson’s 100 rushing yards this season, Seattle has averaged only 190 rushing yards off 56 attempts through 3 games (3.3 yards avg). The inability to get into rhythm on the ground is forcing the Seahawks to become too one dimensional as opponents increasing going to their nickel and dime packages and send 4 linemen on stunts as they pin their ears back and get after Wilson. This speaks more to a wider trend of awful offensive line play which has been prevalent for well over two years now.

BONUS: The NFL needs to re-evaluate the severity of individual rules, those which offset and what is deemed to be unsportsmanlike conduct

The NFL needs to take a hard long look at what exactly justifies unsportsmanlike conduct. Taking your helmet off on the field to complain to an official is apparently more dangerous to the game than targeting a defenseless QB, stepping out of bounds. The NFL needs to look at its rules and realise that some offences are far more serious than others in terms of trying to protect the players. I don’t want to dwell too long on this point but I thought it was worth mentioning at the end here.

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Seahawks Titans Takeaways

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