In a Thursday Night game littered with injuries, penalties, missed throws and sloppy situational football, the Seattle Seahawks went on the road and knocked off the Arizona Cardinals 22-16.
The Seahawks four-game winning streak came to a halt last week against Washington where the Redskins were able to slow down a hot Russell Wilson to steal a win in Seattle. With a record that now stands at 6-3, the Seahawks sit in second place in the NFC West behind the 6-2 Los Angeles Rams.
A win for the Cardinals would have forced a two-way tie in the NFC West with the Seahawks, but instead, Arizona fell to 4-4 and quarterback Carson Palmer now out until at least Week 17. It’s hard to envision the Cardinals making a playoff run without Palmer.
With two teams heading in opposite directions, here are five things we learned from the Seahawks win over the Cardinals.
Seahawks offensive line is still underwhelming
Newly acquired left tackle Duane Brown wasn’t able to finish the game, and the unit remains a liability. 31 percent of the Seattle’s rushing yards came on a single play. On the other 22 carries, Seattle ran for just 52 yards. There simply isn’t any holes or space being created by the front five.
While the run blocking is an issue, the pass protection is even more concerning. Wilson was sacked five times in the game and hit a total of seven times on dropbacks. The high frequency of hits Wilson takes on a weekly basis will eventually take its toll on Seattle’s franchise quarterback.
As one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, Wilson deserves better. It’s remarkable that he continues to produce like he does.
Wilson is a magician
The flip side to the amount of pressure Wilson faces is that he’s become a magician at escaping it. Wilson is among the NFL’s best at eluding pass rushers, extending plays with his feet and hitting throws on the move. Arguably the most thrilling effort of his career came early in the fourth quarter on Thursday Night:
THAT. WAS. UNBELIEVABLE.
— NFL (@NFL) November 10, 2017
Wilson is a thrill to watch and his ability to improvise and make plays is special.
Jimmy Graham can still be a factor
In his ninth NFL season at age 30, Graham isn’t the dynamic playmaker he was early in his career for the New Orleans Saints. With that said, he is still capable of making an impact and putting points on the scoreboard, which we saw on Thursday Night.
Hauling in six receptions and scoring two touchdowns against Arizona, Graham dominated at the catch point and offered Wilson a target capable of winning jump ball situations. On both of the touchdowns, Wilson threw it in Graham’s vicinity and trusted him to position his frame and pluck the football out of the air in contested situations.
With six touchdowns in the last five games, Graham is becoming a red zone favorite for Wilson.
Penalties are problematic for Seattle
With more than 20 enforced penalties and 118 yards than the next team, Seattle is the most penalized team in the NFL. And it’s a worsening problem.
Seattle averaged 8.2 enforced penalties over its first five games. In Seattle’s last four contests they averaged 13.25 enforced penalties.
A mix of pre- and post-snap penalties is continuously putting Seattle’s offense behind the sticks, which doesn’t with the offensive lines struggles. The long-distance situations give defenses the opportunity to tee off in obvious passing situations, making it even more difficult for the offensive line to protect.
Head coach Pete Carroll must find a way to get his players to compete with more discipline. 94 penalties for 780 yards in nine games is egregious.
Chandler Jones is model of consistency
Jones has been as consistent as they come in terms of his production rushing the passer. With his sack against Seattle, Jones now has three consecutive double-digit sack seasons and is on pace for the most prolific campaign of his career.
What’s most impressive about Jones’ sack production is the regularity in which the sacks come. While other pass rushers have a tendency to pick up sacks in bunches, Jones has at least one sack in 10 of his last 11 games dating back to last season.
Jones is in the prime of his career and deserves to be mentioned among the NFL’s elite pass rushers.