In answering media questions Tuesday for the first time since he became that rarest of birds, the Seahawk who gets a third contract, WR Tyler Lockett, asked one of his own regarding the Seattle’s bizarrely bifurcated regular season.
“I mean, why would we ever stop playing like that, right?” he said of the offense’s record productivity in the season’s first half. “Like, everything is clicking, whatever we choose to do.”
No finer example was in week seven in Arizona, when the Seahawks piled up 33 first downs and 572 yards of offense, including a career-high 200 from Lockett on 15 catches, three for touchdowns.
But in the outcome was also a big part of the answer to Lockett’s question.
The Seahawks lost, 37-34, in overtime, ending a 5-0 start and beginning a slide that started gradually, only to end up sudden.
TWO FEET IN! 🙌
Make it 3️⃣ touchdowns on the day for @TDLockett12!
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) October 26, 2020
What most people remember from that game was WR DK Metcalf’s spectacular rundown of SS Budda Baker’s interception return. What some people recall was that the defense was still in its phase of magnum incompetence, missing injured SS Jamal Adams and not yet having DE Carlos Dunlap. In 69 minutes and 48 dropbacks by Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, the Seahawks not only didn’t sack him, they didn’t even hit him.
When I go grocery shopping, I bump into at least three people, and I’m trying to stay six feet away.
But what fewer remember was that the Baker pick was one of three by Wilson, who led the Seahawks after halftime to a meager seven points, including overtime.
Thus began The Fall of the House of Russ, the diner that closed for the season Jan. 9, out of groceries, gas and customers. Ten turnovers in four games will do that.
“We take such pride and finishing well, doing things right down the stretch,” coach Pete Carroll said afterward, sounding baffled. “Making the other team have to out-execute us. I didn’t feel like that tonight. It didn’t feel like we were able to force the issue . . . really disappointing night here for us.
“With so much that happened in this game, we had all kinds of chances to win. We could have won it on offense a couple times, on defense a couple times, in overtime as well.”
The loss was the first of three in the next four games, causing Carroll to call a halt to the break-dancing on offense and re-institute his favored waltz. It worked to the extent that the Seahawks won six of their final seven to claim the season’s initial prize, the championship of the NFL’s hardest division.
But nothing came of it because the Seahawks were ousted from the playoffs in the first round, thanks in good part to Wilson’s worst postseason game. Which has led this off-season to lamentations, recriminations and trepidations regarding Wilson and the direction of the franchise, as you may have read.
In the view of Lockett, as well as others, defensive coordinators saw, starting at halftime of the Arizona game, the virtue of deploying twin safeties high to deny Lockett and Metcalf the deep throws that lit up the early season, in which defenses across the league were behind the offenses.
“It was a difficult second half for us,” Lockett said. “We had to truly learn what it meant to adjust, when the first half we never had to. We were truly faced with having to learn how to adjust.
“That sometimes is hard for people in general.”
So the pandemic has proven.
Lockett analogized to basketball, when a good three-pointer shooter is confronted suddenly with a defender determined to force the shooter to dribble.
“You have to adjust your game,” he said. “We’d done so many things that was, like, out of this world, to where people (said) this offense is crazy. Then teams started doing some of the things that we hadn’t seen on film.”
The failure to respond was partly the fault of an increasingly injured O-line, partly the fault of Wilson, and obviously some was the fault of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, or he’d still have his job in Seattle. Carroll too, shares a chunk of the blame because he lost, temporarily at least, the trust of his quarterback to be able to fix things.
A casualty was Lockett’s production. After the Cardinals game, he caught more than six balls in a game only once the rest of the way (nine in the second Arizona game). In the playoffs against the Rams, he caught two balls on four targets for 43 yards.
That didn’t discourage the Seahawks from signing Lockett, 29 in September, to a four-year extension worth up to $69.2 million — a deal as long as Carroll’s extension.
The restructuring lowered the salary cap number due Lockett on his current deal from $14 million to $8 million, which helped the Seahawks sign free agents that appear to be a net uptick for the roster.
Naturally, Lockett was gratified to be held in such high regard by the team that took him in the third round of the 2015 draft (69th overall) from Kansas State.
“It was an amazing feeling that they even wanted to keep me on the team even longer,” he said. “I understand this is a business. Sometimes it works out in the best interests of ourselves as players, and sometimes it doesn’t. It benefits other players. So just to be able to see how they feel about me, brings that type of feeling that they want me here just as much as I want to be here.
“I would love to finish my career as a Seattle Seahawk.”
It also sounded as if he’s eager to start up the latest chapter with Shane Waldron, the new coordinator poached from the Rams.
“We watched the Rams and how they did a lot of things — they did a lot of great things,’’ he said. “They utilize people in a lot of great ways. I think there’s a lot of things that we can learn. There’s a lot of things he brings to the table which may be new to not only us, but maybe coaches.
“We got to figure out how to be able to find ways to keep moving forward and keep attacking while seeing what they’re throwing at us.”
Sounds as if Lockett is hinting he wants Waldron to teach an old dog some new tricks.
Wonder from whom he got that idea?
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) October 26, 2020