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Vision Board: Seahawks-Lions
Seaside Joe 1304: On Jared Goff, DK Metcalf, and second half scoring
In last week’s vision board, I imagined a future in which…
Kenneth Walker had three broken tackles - Walker had three carries and definitely made a couple guys miss in his limited opportunities.
Tariq Woolen made a few plays, including an interception - Woolen picked off Marcus Mariota once and for now looks like Seattle’s best hope in the cornerbacks room.
The Seahawks allow zero sacks - Wow, we were so close. Seattle has yet to allow a sack in the first half, and only one given up in the third quarter so far this season. Geno Smith was then sacked twice on the last drive.
For many decades, the Detroit Lions have done two things — and only two things — exceptionally worse than most teams: Play offense and play defense. Those are their only two faults though.
Something is different since the most recent housecleaning though, as general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell have invigorated the offense with draft picks like Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown, plus holdovers D’Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, Frank Ragnow, Jonah Jackson, and Taylor Decker surrounding a serviceable-enough quarterback in Jared Goff.
Goff will always hold a special place in my heart, as his ascension to being one of the most praised quarterbacks in the league in 2018 was one of the first times I thought to myself, “Oh…. is the world crazy or am I crazy?” Here was this quarterback, winning games, putting up good stats, reaching the Super Bowl and getting paid a massive contract extension that all of media gave thumbs up too—yet all I saw when watching the games was a draft bust holding back the offense. Not driving it forward.
The move to replace Goff with Matthew Stafford was enough for me to immediately pick the Rams as Super Bowl favorites last year, more because of escaping the former than because of acquiring the latter.
In his first season with Detroit, Goff posted a QBR of 39.5 (in four years with Sean McVay, Goff never dipped below a QBR of 50) and across the board his numbers were the lowest they had been since a nightmarish rookie season under Jeff Fisher. And that’s only because he was saved by a late season surge, as Goff had only eight touchdowns and 10 turnovers over his first nine starts with the Lions.
A great quarterback, and his most basic definition, is a player who elevates the 10 men around him.
A great offense, like for example the Saints right now with their offensive line, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Olave, does its best to elevate any quarterback in the driver’s seat.
As we’re seeing right now with Jameis Winston… It’s better, in my opinion, to have one great quarterback than one great offense.
You need to have a great driver.
Jared Goff doesn’t elevate the offense. He doesn’t even escalate the offense. Not an elevator, not an escalator… He is one of those moving walkways at the airport. Hummin’ along, whistlin’, mindin’ his business, and hopin’ someone carries him to where he wants to go.
How will that work now that he won’t have the player who has caught six of his most recent 14 touchdowns?
Once again, I have to ask myself if the crazy is coming from me or the world. Goff has propped up his stats thanks to four touchdowns in Week 2 against the Commanders, and salvaging a bad start in Week 1 only after trailing the Eagles by multiple touchdowns in the second half. The Lions have also propped up Goff’s overall stats by finding success on play action (3 TD, 0 INT, 69% completions, 130.4 rating), whereas he has completing less than 56% of his attempts and has a rating of 79.1 on all other attempts.
Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Lions will feature two quarterbacks who somehow rank top-10 in QBR, DVOA, and DYAR, but this game is not going be about passing so much as it might be about pass defense. Can either team play it? Can either team pressure the other quarterback consistently? Can either team stop the run?
The advantages there for Seattle are simple: Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift are out, as is Pro Bowl guard Jonah Jackson.
Therefore, it’s time to go to the Seaside Joe Vision Board and see if we can come up with two or three advantages by speaking it into the universe. Last week, the universe was more than kind with our requests. What can we envision this weekend against a Lions team that is finally doing one of those two things right (Detroit is second on scoring offense) after 10,000 years of doing everything wrong?
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Jamaal Williams is held to under 3.0 YPC
This sign means that water can’t run. The Seahawks need to send a signal that the Lions can’t run.
Detroit’s success on the ground this season is both true and a little unfair: The Lions rank first in yards per carry, third in rushing yards, and fifth in DVOA. But purely based on running backs lining up, taking a handoff, and hitting “GO” what have really seen?
St. Brown has two carries for 68 yards, one of which for 58 yards, and that props up their overall YPC by a notable amount. Swift has two carries this season that went for exactly 50 yards; that’s another two carries for 100 yards. Those two players, both of whom are out, ran for 168 yards on those four carries alone.
Drop those from the record and the Lions’ YPC drops from 5.9 to 4.1.
The Lions have those four runs on the record fair and square, but this is more significant given that they are the two most explosive players on the offense and both are ruled out for Sunday. Here is Jamaal Williams, the veteran back who has spent five seasons as an NFL backup, but maybe the heart and soul of Detroit’s locker room:
What a guy to want on ANY team!
However, Williams has a long track record of not quite being the guy to start and certainly not having the speed and explosiveness of Swift. Williams has 34 career games with at least 10 rushing attempts, but in only three of those games did he average at least 5.0 YPC. Less than 10-percent. In 15 of those contests, did Williams average under 4.0 YPC. Almost half.
If the Seahawks have a bad day against Williams, it does not say much about their run defense other than “Uh oh.” No offense to Jamaal Williams, and we can’t discount the impact that Detroit’s top-ranked offensive line can have on the run game. But Seattle is getting a major break by not facing Swift and St. Brown, two players who have the physical ability to make them pay dearly for a missed tackle. Williams has 43 rushing attempts this season—16 more than Swift—but Swift has four carries this season longer than any by Williams.
The Seahawks haven’t been able to stop the run. We’re putting it out into the universe that finally they get their act together, centered around Al Woods and Jordyn Brooks, to hold Williams under 3.0 YPC.
Seahawks score two offensive touchdowns in second half
The second half of this magician’s assistant is being harassed by Beetlejuice and it is up to the Seahawks to finally harass a team’s defense in the second half a game. Consensually, of course.
Though Seattle has been a pretty good first half offense this year (13th in first half scoring, t7th in first quarter scoring), they are tied for 30th with the Packers in second half points (10) and the only touchdown came on a blocked field goal.
The good news: The Lions have allowed 55 second half points, the third-most in the league, and the Seahawks have only given up 20 second half points, tied for 23rd.
The bad news: The Lions have scored 50 first half points, third in the league, and the Seahawks have allowed 50 first half points, fourth-most in the NFL.
We might see a 24-22 type of halftime score in this game. Or it could be that because it has only been three games, this is all noise that will correct itself over the next four months. But what we need to envision is Seattle finally figuring out a way to put points on the board after the other team has made halftime adjustments to shutdown whatever Geno Smith is bringing.
Smith is 49/61 (80%) for 498 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT in the first half.
Smith is 30/41 (73%) for 219 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT in the second half. He has been sacked six times in the second half, none in the first.
The Lions defense is allowing 33/62 passing for 367 yards (5.9 Y/A) with 1 TD, 0 INT, and five sacks in the first half. But 39/57 (68%) for 473 yards (8.3 Y/A), 4 TD, 1 INT, two sacks in the second half. Detroit’s pass defense has fallen apart after halftime this season.
Something has to give. One of these two units will be sawed in half after the break.
DK Metcalf “unlocks” Jeff Okudah for 150 yards
Let’s be honest, DK… We need to see it and we haven’t seen it often enough.
This week, Metcalf politely declined to agree that Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah—a top-3 pick in the draft but one who struggled with health and consistency in first two seasons—has been “locking down” any receivers this season. The part that gets left out (but not here by Brady Henderson, to his credit) is that Metcalf said Okudah is still a good corner.
It is fine and true to say that DK Metcalf is a good receiver. Undoubtedly his stats are going to be hampered a bit by playing in a Geno Smith offense. However, Metcalf’s lack of “number one receiver stats” has been true well before the beginning of this season.
The number of games in 2021 in which Metcalf crossed over 100 yards: One. He had 107 yards in Week 3 against the Vikings.
Metcalf was under 70 yards in 14 of his 17 starts last season.
Over his last 13 games, DK Metcalf has caught 58 of 104 targets (56%) for 565 yards (43 yards per game) with 9.7 YPC and only 5.43 yards per target. He has caught seven touchdowns in that span of time, but two of them came last Halloween at the beginning of the 13-game stretch. Honestly, other than a fantastic start to his 2020 campaign, the “Let Russ Cook” era, Metcalf has not been otherworldly as a number one receiver, if we can call him that yet.
The last time he had over 110 yards was 11/30/2020, and he’s only gone over that mark four times in his career, including playoffs. Since the start of 2021, Metcalf’s 7.2 Y/Target ranks 46th among player with at least 100 targets and many of the players below him are TEs and RBs. As I said earlier, that number is 5.4 Y/T in the most recent 13 games.
That’s Leonard Fournette Y/T territory.
It’s not as though everyone ranked higher than him has a better QB either: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Pitts, Terry McLaurin, Courtland Sutton, Michael Pittman, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, A.J. Green, Russell Gage are among those ahead of Metcalf in that period of time.
It’s time for DK Metcalf to be a star in his own right. To catch the football when it comes to him. To turn 50/50 balls into 80/20 balls. To not fumble. To create yards after the catch (right now Metcalf’s 1.1 YAC/catch ranks 148th out of 151). He’s a guy who you throw deep to and he’s meant to catch it. He did that once against the 49ers and it was called back for penalty, hurting his numbers.
Now it’s time for him to help his numbers, whether that’s against Okudah, safeties, or Dan Campbell himself. That’s what the $72 million was meant for.