If it’s Monday, then it’s time again for Four Downs, where Seahawks beat writers Bob Condotta and Adam Jude answer four questions about the previous day’s game and what may be ahead.
1. How encouraging was the Seahawks’ defensive performance in Sunday’s 37-27 win over the 49ers?
Jude: Very encouraging. The Seahawks defense looked appropriately aggravated and aggressive from the start Sunday. You could see that pent-up frustration coming from Bobby Wagner, in particular. Wagner looked angry. Perhaps he heard some of the chatter last week about the 49ers’ Fred Warner creeping up to take his crown as the best middle linebacker in the NFL.
Wagner isn’t giving up that title without a fight, and it was that kind of fight the Seahawks have been missing for much of the season on defense. It was an attitude adjustment they had to have, and one they’ll have to keep if they hope to stay on top of the NFC West.
Condotta: I’ll go with “pretty encouraging.’’ It was the best performance of the year for sure, and the way Seattle executed the game plan of blitzing on basically half the snaps — about 30% more than the Seahawks did during the glory days of the Legion of the Boom — was impressive.
The one caveat is that the 49ers are really banged up, and I think that really caught up to Jimmy Garoppolo in this one. Seattle had a smart plan to blitz him knowing his ankle is an issue and the 49ers receiving corps isn’t at full strength.
It’s hard to know what to make of the fourth quarter, when Nick Mullens took over. Was it really just Seattle being passive and willing to give up a lot of stuff to run clock, or would a healthier QB for the 49ers have made a difference the entire game? It doesn’t matter in the sense that Seattle got a win that dealt the 49ers a killing blow to their postseason hopes. But as Wagner himself said, the Seattle defense can’t declare itself back until it plays well consistently over a few weeks.
2. Do the Seahawks have the best receiving duo in the league in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett?
Jude: It would be difficult to argue definitively that any duo has been better than Metcalf and Lockett. Atlanta’s Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley have been awesome, too, but they’ve had some injury issues that have slowed them this season. You can’t argue against the consistency of production from Seattle’s receivers. Metcalf and Lockett each have seven touchdown receptions, tied (with three others) for the most in the NFL. And each week, we’ve come to expect at least one of them to have a monster game. It was Metcalf’s turn Sunday, when the 49ers decided to leave him alone in a lot of one-on-one situations. The result? Metcalf destroyed Emmanuel Moseley to the tune of 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Condotta: I’m not going to argue. Consider that before the year, one of the big questions was whether Metcalf and Lockett could each top the 1,000-yard mark this season, something that has happened only once in team history (Joey Galloway and Brian Blades in 1995 with 1,039 and 1,001, respectively). At the moment, both are on pace to shatter the 1,000-yard mark. At their current rates, Metcalf will finish with 82 receptions for 1,554 and Lockett 112 receptions (which would shatter the team record of 94 by Doug Baldwin and Bobby Engram) for 1,314 yards and 16 TDs. Both receiving totals would break the team record of 1,287 by Steve Largent in 1985.
3. Is Russell Wilson again the clear leader in the MVP race?
Jude: Yes, definitely, no question about it. Wilson is on pace to throw 59 touchdowns this season, which would shatter Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 55 from 2013. There have been five seasons in NFL history when a QB threw 48 touchdowns or more, and all five times that QB won the MVP — Manning in 2004 (with 49) and 2013 (55); Tom Brady in 2007 (50); Patrick Mahomes in 2018 (50); and Dan Marino in 1984 (48). As the weather shifts this season, it’s probably fair to expect Wilson’s TD pace to slow a bit. But 50 is a reasonable goal for him — who would have casually suggested that a few months ago? — and would almost certainly assure his first MVP trophy.
Condotta: Yes. After Sunday and the losses by Green Bay and Baltimore, this may be a two-man race between Wilson and Mahomes, though Brady will continue to get more talk if the Bucs continue to win, and Aaron Rodgers is obviously not out of it. But if it’s Wilson-Mahomes, I don’t think it’s even the homer vote to go with Wilson at the moment.
I know one argument will be that Mahomes has a 21-1 TD-to-interception ratio, while Wilson is 26-6. But the Chiefs are a far more balanced team, ranking in the top 10 in just about every significant defensive category, while it barely needs to be said how taxed Wilson and the Seattle offense have been in most games to have to outscore their opponent.
Sunday, you saw how efficient Wilson is when he can be, throwing four touchdown passes in 37 attempts. Wilson’s touchdown percentage of 10.16 is on pace to tie the NFL record set by Tommy Thompson of the Eagles in 1948 (Thompson threw 25 touchdowns in 246 attempts in leading the Eagles to the NFL title. Wilson has 26 in 256 attempts).
4. Do the Seahawks need to make any more moves ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline?
Jude: You’ve probably heard that Tuesday is indeed a big, big day in the history of our great nation. Yes, it is the NFL trade deadline (officially at 1 p.m. PT). And if the flurry of transactions Monday morning were any indication, Tuesday could be an active day for a lot of teams. I don’t expect the Seahawks to be one of those teams.
They made one significant move last week when they acquired defensive end Carlos Dunlap from Cincinnati. Could they use more help on defense? Absolutely. The Seahawks have been linked to another pass rusher, Ryan Kerrigan of the Washington Football Team. Kerrigan is 32 and in the final year of his deal with Washington; he has four sacks this season and ranks as Washington’s all-time sacks leader, and ESPN reported Sunday he has requested a trade out of D.C. The Seahawks, though, have only minimal cap space, and it’s difficult to envision them giving up any more of the limited draft capital they have left.
Condotta: My hunch is the Seahawks may be done making any significant moves. As noted, they have little cap room (just $306,135 on Monday, according to OvertheCap.com) and also have just four picks left in the 2021 draft.
The Seahawks also are already in something of a roster crunch, having to add Dunlap and Rasheem Green to the roster this week, and down the road maybe adding Snacks Harrison to the 53, as well, plus Rashaad Penny if he returns. Maybe the Seahawks could do something small if it falls in their laps, but I think they may have already made their big move.