Vision Board: Seahawks-Panthers
Run, Run, and Run some more: Seaside Joe 1376
There was a time when I felt like I was writing about the Carolina Panthers almost as often as I was writing about one of Seattle’s NFC West opponents. The two franchises played against each other just four times (including the 2005 NFC Championship) prior to Pete Carroll’s 2010 arrival.
They then met in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2014 playoffs, 2015, 2015 playoffs, 2016, 2018, and 2019.
The Seahawks went 8-2 in those 10 contests. Seattle hasn’t faced Carolina in any of the past three seasons.
Maybe that’s why this week’s game feels like the most forgettable of the season already, not because I’m predicting an easy win (every year there’s one Seahawks game that I’m guaranteed to forget and it has nothing to do with winning or losing) but due to the fact that the Panthers continue to be a team in limbo that has no identity since Cam Newton fell off.
The Panthers watched Baker Mayfield go 1-5 as the starter, ranked dead last in some key passing categories. Then presumably tuned into Thursday Night Football and wondered, “Who the hell is that?”
Instead of Mayfield, the Seahawks will be seeing Sam Darnold. Here’s what I’m seeing.
In last week’s Vision Board for Seahawks-Rams:
Geno Smith sacked 0 times (Vision: Sacked) Geno Smith was sacked four times, losing 19 yards. He also fumbled once.
Hold Rams under 50 rushing yards (Vision: Not even close) L.A. ran the ball 33 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns. The most rushing yards, by far, for the Rams all season.
Stop Rams consistently on third down (Vision: I’ll take it) The Rams were 4-of-12 on third down, but more importantly, 0-of-5 in the second half. Seattle allowed a fourth-and-2 conversion that led to a touchdown, the only blemish after halftime.
Now for this week’s visions against the Carolina Panthers.
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Ken Walker III (or DeeJay Dallas or Travis Homer….) makes a point about the value of RBs: Seahawks rush for 206 yards
Sylvester Stallone has made it known that he’s holding a lifelong grudge against producer Irwin Winkler, apparently the guy who owns the rights to the Rocky franchise, and similarly I have never been shy about my feelings about those who feel they own the rights to analytics.
“You can’t make peace with someone who’s been so nefarious.”
My initial interest in analytics back in the aughts was based on having more stats that eliminated — or at least separated — the ‘human feelings’ element when analyzing football games and individual values. Analytics should be a tool used in addition to some of those ‘human feelings’ to make our final judgments, not as the end-all, be-all for decisions and analysis.
Instead, most of the prominent figures who call themselves “analytics” are actually FLOODING their reports and findings with ‘human feelings’ and including all of their biases when making judgments. Because there was such a huge interest in the concept of “running backs don’t matter” back in 2018, most of those people who call themselves “analytics” can’t let it go. It is their identity and therefore, unshakeable and irrevocable, and to me continuing to report those “stats” with an obvious agenda is nefarious.
Analytics lost sight of analytics.
It’s admittedly tougher to have to write this vision at a time when the running backs room has relocated to the trainers room, but the point remains the same. And I get that “ah see, it’s because running backs get hurt too often!” but it’s actually been years since I’ve seen anybody create empirical evidence to support the argument, or to compare their rate of games missed against the likes of wide receivers, cornerbacks, offensive linemen; all I know is that Seattle is without as many Rashaad Penny’s as they are without Jamal Adams’s and Dee Eskridge’s’s.
I count Tyreke Smith, Alton Robinson, and Darrly Johnson among three defensive linemen/outside linebackers who have barely practiced all year. Where’s the narrative about defensive linemen injuries? And who can say that if one of these “analytics” people actually did any research into it that they wouldn’t end up finding out that the difference in net lost value between running back injuries and other positions is so small that you’d have to use the James Webb Telescope to find it?
We don’t know because it seems like most stopped actually doing research in 2018.
What I do know is that the Seahawks need a spark in the backfield like they haven’t seen in weeks and if Carolina’s defense has any weaknesses, they come in the form of run defense. In 12 games, the Panthers have allowed at least 100 rushing yards 10 times (2-8 record in those contests) and these are their splits by quarters and halves:
“Analytics” says that win/loss record and rushing yards allowed don’t mean anything because teams start running when they have a lead. It’s Carolina’s second half PASS defense that has taken the largest hit though, going from five touchdowns and five picks in the first half to 10 touchdowns and two picks after the break.
Overall, it’s obvious that the Panthers play either kind of defense in the second half and if that means Seattle gets 150 of their 206 yards after halftime… SURE! THAT’S OKAY WITH ME TOO! Because what they forget to mention is that if you can’t successfully run the ball with a lead, you may not be able to keep your lead.
Running backs matter.
I hope that I can envision Walker back onto the field this Sunday because I could see him having his breakout performance against the Panthers. Joe Mixon ran for 153 yards and four touchdowns against Carolina; Nick Chubb had 141 rushing yards, followed by 46 more from Kareem Hunt.
It would be interesting to see a full game of 2023 free agent Travis Homer in the backfield.
Homer had 92 total yards in a start against the 49ers in 2019, but only 11 carries for 12 yards in a start against the Eagles in the 2020 wild card round. He’s not Walker though … which is why Seattle drafted Walker.
I want to use this quote by Rocky to finish off the vision …
"It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
But unfortunately I have to ask Irwin Winkler for permission first.
Seahawks run defense adds baking soda, gets tough again: D’Onta Foreman held to 33 rushing yards
I watched this entire video and I’m still not entirely sure why, I will probably never use this information and I’m not handy. I haven’t even hung up the Christmas stockings, I just tied some strings around a shelf on the wall! If only I had used super glue and baking soda, then finally Santa would stop stealing my presents.
Damn you, Santa.
What we do know, besides that there is a winter hellscape created by Santa Claus every year, is that the Seahawks have been far too giving this season. Here are Seattle’s first and second half defensive splits:
The Seahawks have had their worst run defense by YPC in the first quarter (5.3 YPC, but only a negligible difference from the third quarter) and they have given up nine of 16 rushing touchdowns in the second quarter alone. The pass defense has given up seven fourth quarter touchdowns, but a quarter-low 5.7 yards per attempt with three interceptions and 12 sacks.
With little concern being paid to quarterback Sam Darnold, however, we turn our attention to D’Onta Foreman and a Carolina rushing attack that has been consistent with both Foreman and Christian McCaffrey prior to him being traded to the 49ers; Foreman has rushed for at least 110 yards in four of his six starts. But he rushed for less than 25 yards in his other two, both ugly losses for the Panthers.
I know we all want to SEE an ugly Panthers loss on Sunday. But that may won’t be possible if Seattle allows Foreman to cut through their run defense as easily as Josh Jacobs did in Week 13.
Easy as it would be to explain Foreman’s success as “running backs don’t matter,” the truth is that he was an excellent prospect in a stacked 2017 draft class. Foreman was the 89th overall pick, only going after Leonard Fournette, McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Mixon, Alvin Kamara, and Hunt. Foreman, and the next back off the board, James Conner, were only “steals” because the 2017 running back class was so good.
After rushing for 2,028 yards in his junior season at Texas, Foreman is finally healthy(ish) in his fifth season and a legitimate threat against Seattle’s hopes of being 8-4 by Monday.
That’s why Cody Barton, Jordyn Brooks, Al Woods, Poona Ford and co. must “stick together” to solve their run defense woes.
Let Soda Bake.
Getting someone a gift subscription for the Holidays would literally be like giving two Seahawks fans a present with one stone: Them and Seaside Joe!
Nick Bellore is trending for some reason; some good reason
Some people say that Nelson Sullivan, the subject of the video above, was America’s first vlogger. He couldn’t have possibly have known that one day the Internet (as we know it) would exist, but it feels like he’s talking to you TODAY about going to a McDonald’s in 1989. I’m sure I ate many McDonald’s cheeseburgers in 1989, but what I wouldn’t give to actually be able to taste a real McDonald’s cheeseburger and french fries from 1989.
I’m confident that the difference in quality has changed. (And not with the same positive and forward momentum as the evolution of handheld video cameras, now called “smart phones.”)
Well, this vision is for the late VISIONARY vlogger Nelson Sullivan, and is dedicated to another revolutionary in his own field: Nick Bellore. Fullback. Linebacker. Special teams captain. And like Nelson, social media star.
Nelson was making vlogs in 1989. Nick was born in 1989. Could it be synchronicity?
I haven’t written much about Nick Bellore, but here’s the update: nine offensive snaps, nine defensive snaps, 235 special teams snaps (most on team despite missing one game) and one desire to tote the rock. Bellore’s career totals: two carries, five yards, 10 catches, 75 yards, 229 tackles over 12 seasons with the Jets, 49ers, Lions, and Seahawks.
I could write about Bellore after something cool happens on Sunday, but wouldn’t it be much cooler to write something before it happens? The Seahawks are ranked 2nd in the NFL in special teams by DVOA, something else I haven’t written much about this year. The Panthers are eighth.
How about a forced fumble—or something far less predictable, like guessing that in the eighties that one day there’d be something called “YouTube”—for Bellore to make the headlines on Sunday? And then maybe next year, the Seahawks can bring him back for a fifth campaign as special teams captain.
If it’s not too expensive. (This is a reference that you’d only get if you watched the first :10 seconds of Nelson’s video.)
What are YOUR Seahawks-Panthers visions?