4 Takeaways from QB School's Geno Smith/Seahawks offense full game
And the #1 problem facing the Seattle Seahawks future: Seaside Joe 1692
The number one problem facing that Seahawks is potential dissension in the locker room between the quarterback, the offensive coordinator, and the team’s weapons if Seattle’s third down, red zone, and scoring woes don’t get a whole lot better, a whole lot faster.
Gene Siskel once said that the most important lesson he learned as a young writer on the movie criticism beat was to get your thesis statement out immediately: “If I’m writing about a fire that’s happening right now, what would be the first thing that readers should know?” and then make that the opening sentence. That’s why I want to immediately point to the problems on offense and the plague I see developing if something doesn’t change soon.
The Seahawks offense is a fire, and certainly not on fire—the term “dumpster fire” is overused, but an apt description of recent history—and the narrative that pissed me off the most this week was the idea that’s spreading on the Internet that Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals was an isolated incident.
It wasn’t even the worst offensive performance of the season and it’s only been five games!
By Estimated Points Added, Seattle’s game against the Bengals wasn’t as bad as Week 4’s win over the Giants and only barely better than Week 1’s loss to the L.A. Rams. The Seahawks had 24 first downs, but for what purpose if the team—and I’m talking about everybody involved, not just Geno Smith even though he deserves a lot of blame—can’t score more than 13 points?
The Seahawks are one of only two teams this season to have at least 24 first downs but 13 or fewer points, and both happened in Week 6: The Saints had identical numbers in a 20-13 loss to the Houston Texans. How perfect for the same week that I compared Geno to Derek Carr.
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Since 2011, teams are 0-29 when they have 24+ first downs or 13 or fewer points, which really comes as no surprise because…YOU CAN’T WIN FOOTBALL GAMES BY SCORING 13 POINTS! Not only that, but the Giants are the only team to have more than Seattle’s two games this season having scored 13 or fewer points and the Seahawks have already had a bye.
In the last 13 regular season games, the Seahawks have scored 16 or fewer points five times.
It’s not only that it’s concerning for Seattle in general that the offense has stalled since the middle of last season, it’s even more worrisome because the Seahawks have a quarterback who was a mystery at the beginning of 2022 and maybe opposing teams figured him out around the time of their 21-16 loss to the Buccaneers. Since that game, the Seahawks have won six games, and four of those wins came against a backup QB: John Wolford, Mike White, Baker Mayfield, and Andy Dalton, in addition to beating Jared Goff’s Lions and Daniel Jones’ Giants.
If the Seahawks score 24 points, they have a very good chance of winning.
If they don’t, Seattle is basically reliant on the other team screwing up more times than they screw up. The Seahawks needed OT to beat the Lions despite winning the turnover battle, 3-0. The Seahawks beat the Giants 24-3 with a 3-0 turnover margin, but the game didn’t turn until Devon Witherspoon’s pick-six, otherwise the score was nearly 14-10 going into the fourth quarter against a team that was starting Bethune-Cookman backups on the offensive line.
I know that writing about the Seahawks like this almost every week can feel like a “doom and gloom” negativity despite Seattle being 3-2 WITH a win over one of the NFC’s best teams…but I’ve always said that the Seahawks were easy to be honest about under Pete Carroll because the team was almost always good.
Nobody is mad at a writer for honest assessments about one of the best defenses of all-time and the most charismatic runner of the football of the decade.
But the same writer with the same level of honesty will inevitably not be afforded the opportunity to write about perfection forever.
This offense is bad and it’s bad on a level that goes beyond the league-wide scoring deflation and red zone ineptitude that has been a topic of discussion this week. The Seahawks rank eighth in scoring and ninth in points per drive, yet are 30th on third downs, 21st in red zone efficiency (after ranking 28th last season), and I just can’t imagine that any self-respecting defense is afraid of Geno Smith’s offense when Seattle is trailing in the fourth quarter. Which sucks even more because the Seahawks have awesome receivers and awesome running backs.
Every Single Great Team Has To Win Games In Which They Are Trailing In The Final 4 Minutes
Russell Wilson had four game-winning drives in 2012, four in 2013, and four in 2014, as well as one game-winning drive in each of those ensuing trips to the postseason. And I’m not saying that the quarterback deserves all the blame or all the credit, it’s just the point I’m trying to make: The Seahawks at their best HAD TO win games by closing them out in the fourth quarter and that included seven fourth quarter comebacks in those three seasons alone.
By getting an average of two more wins per season than the expectation because of those games that make opposing fans go “what the fuck?!”, THAT’s what separates a number one seed from a number six seed.
Geno’s offense had an overtime drive to beat the Detroit Lions and that’s great. The final drive of regulation was abysmal, let the Lions tie it, and nearly cost Seattle the win…but I guess we’ll accept amnesia as long as the Seahawks win.
Sunday’s loss to the Bengals featured multiple fourth quarter opportunities—multiple red zone opportunities—and the offense came together as a whole to blow it. Two things I won’t do are a) blame one person alone and b) pretend that it is an isolated incident.
Which is exactly why I go back to my Gene Siskel special, the opening statement:
When a team is winning, all is forgiven.
If games like this continue, dissension is inevitable and I don’t think that all of these personalities on Seattle’s offense are built for “accepting” losses while they aren’t scoring touchdowns or getting the football. Fingers will be pointed, if they aren’t already.
If I’m DK Metcalf, the only person getting “in my head” this season is Geno Smith for turning me down while I’m running wide open for no reason. If I’m Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the person I would blame for not allowing me to score my first career touchdown last week against the Bengals—which would have probably been a game-winner—is Geno. If I’m Shane Waldron, I’m upset that Geno turned down open touchdown passes and missed open receivers who could have scored…yet if I’m Geno, I’m equally upset at Waldron for the play calling. If I’m anyone other than an offensive lineman, I’m upset at the offensive line…some of these players should not be playing, period.
Maybe the only people who come out somewhat blameless are Ken Walker and Tyler Lockett. But there’s always next week.
Geno’s second interception felt like it could be a result of some of those mixed feelings by Metcalf, who we know has been frustrated about not getting the ball enough based on body language and penalties. The all-22 film from Sunday not only shows Metcalf open at times when he probably should have been Geno’s target, but also off-target passes that could have scored touchdowns, if not at least completions and/or gaining more yards after catch.
I wrote about Seattle’s YAC problem before the season and Metcalf currently ranks 99th in YAC per catch, while Lockett is 121st. It is so annoying to see Metcalf get seven yards after a catch and read tweets along the lines of, “Wow, idiots really overblew the non-story that DK doesn’t get YAC!” because the biggest/fastest receiver in the NFL is still 99th in YAC/catch. What I failed to acknowledge in that previous post though is that quarterbacks are partially responsible for YAC and must lead their receivers into those opportunities.
The fact that all of the Seahawks receivers struggle with YAC…
Well, you know.
Metcalf doesn’t strike me as the type of receiver who watches Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, or Justin Jefferson and tells himself, “Well, I could never be like them.” His good friend A.J. Brown has TWICE AS MANY TARGETS this season and leads him in YAC 234 to 78. Do you think Metcalf doesn’t hold a high enough opinion of himself to believe he should be getting at least 10 targets per game?
And I know from reading comments that many fans feels like Metcalf should be the one to go if that’s how he feels. “Bench him!” “Trade him!” “Start Bobo!”
Okay…maybe that is the right thing. I don’t know. But what if it’s not?
From watching the game again and J.T. O’Sullivan’s breakdown of every offensive play against the Bengals, it’s not hard to see that even if Metcalf may have cost Seattle some yards and that he needs to be better, he’s not in the Seahawks top-5 list of problems on offense. Not even close.
When a receiver is not the problem … AND the media/fans keep saying he’s the problem when he knows he’s not the problem … I guarantee that will lead to more problems.
Today, it’s, “OMG, some people are overreacting and SO DRAMATIC about the offense and Geno Smith” but remember the comparison I made between this situation and Varsity Blues… Where will those voices currently defending Geno Smith go if he becomes a backup again? Won’t they be the same voices saying that the Seahawks must cut Geno next year to save money?
To me, honesty is the only right thing to do when evaluating players, coaches, and teams because honesty is the only way you can be fair to players, coaches, and teams. The respectable ones will respect you for it. And if Seattle’s problems on offense don’t acknowledge how bad they’ve been and where they need to be better — Geno Smith, Shane Waldron, Phil Haynes being the wrong kind of “standouts” this week — then do the Seahawks really need them?
On Thursday, I gave you a warning that I would be sharing some of my takeaways from The QB School’s full game evaluation of Geno Smith and the Seahawks offense against the Bengals, so let’s do that now. While I do not advertise, I do endorse: This is the most interesting watch of a Seahawks game that I’ve had in a long time, if ever.
If a full game watch with analysis by a quarterback who spent 11 seasons in the NFL isn’t worth $5, then Seaside Joe doesn’t stand a chance. I would love to give you the link to the video for free because it’s that good and I gain nothing from JT O’Sullivan adding a subscriber, but as a person who also puts in the work everyday to try and gain new subscribers, that goes 100% against my nature.
4 Takeaways from The QB School’s Full Game Watch
Instead, here are four takeaways that I think are very important for Seahawks fans to know, even if they won’t be easy to accept.
Phil Haynes/guard is a MAJOR problem
It’s unfortunate that Damien Lewis is injured and not available to be evaluated in this game, especially because I still don’t really know how good he is and if the Seahawks should spend a lot of money to keep him next year. What I am feeling more confident about each week is that Seattle shouldn’t spend any money on Phil Haynes.
“Haynes takes an L” was a broken record.
I know—Haynes had to move from right guard to left guard because of the Lewis injury—but that’s not a good enough excuse to convince me that the Seahawks should ever start him again unless it’s absolutely necessary. Haynes was just that bad and we already know that the team can’t rely on him for more than 50% of the snaps anyway.
What’s less concerning for the future but just as worrisome in the moment is that Anthony Bradford was also really bad. Okay, he’s a rookie, but Bradford’s growing pains and the play of Seattle’s interior OL were as responsible for the protection issues/red zone and scoring problems as almost anything else on Sunday.
It seems like Lewis will start against the Cardinals this week, but how long will he be able to stay healthy and how good is Lewis right now?
Would the Seahawks be better off starting Evan Brown (who wasn’t ‘good’ but definitely not the main problem) at right guard and Olu Oluwatimi at center?
The play of Seattle’s two guards and Jake Curhan was not of starter caliber, but also Charles Cross didn’t play like a top-10 draft pick at left tackle. That’s just the fair assessment, in my opinion. Okay, Cross missed a month, fine. I’m just saying, that’s something that will need to change in the future, especially with Myles Garrett and the number one defense of the Browns in two games.
J.T. is not a fan of Waldron’s ‘bullshit’ formations
I need to preface this with an opinion I have of how some fans tend to respond to critical analysis: Attack the information, not the analyst.
If you disagree with a criticism of the Seahawks, it could feel like a personal attack. “This analyst HATES the Seahawks and this is personal!” Don’t take it personally. Ignore who the analyst is and just attack the information: What is it about the information that you find to be incorrect? If you have an answer then provide contrary evidence to prove that it’s not.
Don’t make it personal. As far as I know, and I think I know pretty well, O’Sullivan has no personal problem with Geno Smith and the Seahawks. He just doesn’t think the offense is great or that the quarterback is special, even though he makes it clear many times that “Geno can spin it, that’s never been in question”.
I think it’s objective when O’Sullivan gets—I’ll say “annoyed”—with some of those funky tight end alignments and 13 personnel that I’ve actually been praising a lot on this newsletter. So you know that even I didn’t go into the analysis expecting 13 personnel to be an issue for J.T.—I expected the opposite!!—and he basically called it a “bullshit” formation when he saw something like Noah Fant and Will Dissly lined up in the backfield with Ken Walker.
But not for no reason: J.T. O’Sullivan explains that when you have two tight ends and a running back in the backfield, it tells the defense that they only have to defend two vertical threats…the two receivers. That means that the defense can bunch up and cover a much smaller area of field, leading to shorter gains.
And honestly…those plays didn’t gain anything of substance.
(Few plays of any kind did on Sunday.)
An early example in the game is this second-and-1 play on Seattle’s first drive with a “four horseman” alignment that looks like this:
What J.T. finds most frustrating here is “second-and-1 is one of the best downs and distances in football because you can do anything”. What Waldron chooses to do is this:
There are only two vertical threats on the field, so Waldron uses a second-and-1 play to merely get a first down run of three yards. The Seahawks had an opportunity to try and get a chunk play out of this because even if it failed, it would be third-and-1 from near midfield. I have to admit I wasn’t mad about the play at the time but J.T. is right: This play call was a waste.
Said J.T. of Waldron’s offense: “It’s not throwback cool, it’s just old.”
He also said “I am not loving the formations that Seattle is using” after having watched about half of the game and of course criticized the Seahawks play calling in the fourth quarter and the red zone, as we expect.
“It’s a fine line between being creative and just doing shit to do shit.”
Now, what I know and what you know is that the Seahawks are playing without Abe Lucas and Damien Lewis, and J.T. doesn’t really know that. It’s also not his job to know that, an expert can only analyze the film and doesn’t care about the personnel. If the answer is “Well, when the Seahawks lose Abe Lucas they have to throw out the good playbook” then that’s not an acceptable answer.
It doesn’t mean that Seattle stops running 13 personnel or “four horsemen” entirely, but should we be forgetting that the Seahawks were supposed to have one of the best WR trios and RB duos in the NFL?
If the offense was good, nobody would question the play calling. When the offense is talented and not that good, the two places to point the finger are the QB and the OC. (And also the head coach because Pete’s pulling the strings but that’s for another article.)
Turn downs are as bad as turnovers
The non-throw to Jaxon Smith-Njigba has already been a big story this week, but J.T. had not watched Seattle’s game at all prior to this watch for his channel. So the reaction he has to Geno turning down a wide open JSN for a go-ahead touchdown—when JSN was the player he appeared to be staring down!—gets quite a reaction.
“That’s a TERRIBLE turn down.” Watch JSN in motion and breaking free for a walk-in touchdown if Geno (no pressure) throws him the ball. DeeJay Dallas could make this throw:
You can see linebacker Logan Wilson already accept “Damn, we gave up a wide open touchdown” but the ball never comes.
If you can’t quite make it out, here are some telestrater graphics added:
The JSN non-throw was the most highlighted, but Geno turned down DK Metcalf for a touchdown. He missed DK Metcalf by throwing him out of bounds several times. He turned down Noah Fant multiple times. Not long ago people were just as critical of Justin Fields for similar turn downs to wide open players and touchdowns…I see no real difference here especially because the Seahawks scored six points on two field goals after the opening drive.
A different QB performance with the same opportunities could have resulted in 4+ touchdown throws. It wasn’t “a bad game”. It was an unacceptable performance and not the first. Yes, the play calling was bad. Yes, the offensive line was bad. Yes, DK has a temper. What does that have to do with Geno not connecting on the 4-5 or more opportunities to score touchdowns or get chunk plays that could have led to touchdowns and not finishing the play?
I have said enough about Geno this week already, but someone has to do it.
There’s a lot more to be said about JSN (he hasn’t been much of a blocker, which is probably why Jake Bobo is getting so much playing time) and DK Metcalf, but this I’m sure of: They both should have had over 100 yards and a touchdown.
It just doesn’t feel like Geno sees the game well. He runs when he should throw. He throws when he should run. He picks a double-teamed WR over a wide open option. He takes sacks that should have never been sacks. He pulls in the zone read option when he should hand it to the back and he hands it to the back when he should keep it. He may only be a one-read quarterback which is why he will abandon a play and run backwards if he feels his first (or sometimes second) option isn’t open.
There were some GREAT plays by Geno Smith in this game—and J.T. notes them with enthusiasm, there’s nothing personal here—and I don’t deny that. Nobody is denying that he’s better than Zach Wilson.
Geno Smith is a “pro day quarterback” to me. He will dazzle you with the throws he can make. It’s the decisions that are so troubling. Stop being dazzled and start paying attention.
Ken Walker III needs more
Another reason I think that Metcalf could be headed towards a divorce is that in spite of the fact that DK needs more&better opportunities, so do his teammates. This offense should do more with JSN, more with Walker, more with Zach Charbonnet, more with Fant.
There are only so many mouths to feed and I wonder how happy DK Metcalf could possibly be as one of six instead of being one-of-one.
This certainly wasn’t the best game for Walker—he needs to be more of a downhill runner even though his cuts, patience, change of direction and ability to find hidden yards is so special—but it’s kind of shocking he doesn’t have a 100-yard rushing game yet this season. That doesn’t feel like how Pete Carroll wants to play offensive football.
The Miami Dolphins have a special offense in large thanks to their special rushing attack. Walker is one of the fastest players in the NFL, why can’t Seattle find opportunities for him that give him space to run? The Dolphins don’t have an elite offensive line either.
I could write a lot more but look at this 3,500-word mess I’ve already created and it’s getting late. We will see how this offense responds against the Cardinals and then the number one-ranked Cleveland Browns.
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