The Seattle Seahawks stopped the bleeding with a much needed 31-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The victory doesn't serve as a panacea for the Seahawks issues but it helps them stay afloat as they head into their bye week at 3-5.
The Jaguars are a bad football team. The Seahawks beating them on Sunday doesn't serve as much of a benchmark for the team and their trajectory for the season. But the difference between 3-5 and 2-6 is enormous and the Seahawks are on the right side of that equation as they head to their week break.
"If that was something that was not going to be able to happen, it was going to be a LONG bye week," wide receiver Tyler Lockett said.
But while the NFC West race may have run away from the Seahawks, the Wild Card race is still very much alive despite Seattle's disappointing record over the first eight weeks of the season. Whether Russell Wilson will be able to return to face the Green Bay Packers after the bye week remains very much in question. Even if Wilson is back for the game at Green Bay, that's a road trip that Wilson has never particularly played his best football on either.
What the win over Jacksonville did was buy the Seahawks more time. We'll see what that does for the team when they return to action in two weeks.
Here are the takeaways from the win over the Jaguars:
-- Defense nearly pitches a shutout.
It had been six years since the Seahawks last shutout an opponent and they came within minutes of doing so against the Jaguars on Sunday.
A touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to Jamal Agnew with 1:49 left to play finally ended the scoreless streak after 58 minutes of play.
The performance against Jacksonville was the result of slowly improving play on the defensive side of the ball in recent weeks.
"Defense did a fantastic job all day long really across the board, and just did what we hoped they would do," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We continue it get better. We can see it, we're proving it, and we need to keep counting on it as we head into the second half here."
The Jaguars losing running back James Robinson to a heel injury in the first half certainly limited some of Jacksonville's offensive potential. However, the Seahawks in the last three weeks have allowed 23 points in overtime to Pittsburgh, 13 points to the New Orleans Saints, and now just seven points to the Jaguars. While none of those offenses or quarterbacks are juggernauts, the quality of the play has seemingly improved.
"Just communicating at a high level," safety Jamal Adams said. "Everybody knowing their assignment, everybody doing their job, and just flying around the ball. When we’re clicking on all cylinders, everybody communicating at a high level, understanding what situation is coming, where we’re at on the field, playing situational football. That’s when we’re special."
Seattle hadn't shut out an opponent since a 26-0 victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 3 of the 2015 season. The Jaguars had not been shutout since a 41-0 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle during the 2009 season. However, neither one of those stats would get altered because of the late touchdown by Agnew.
However, Carroll said you're starting to see results from the incremental improvement in recent weeks.
"I’ve been seeing it and feeling it for a month now," Carroll said. "Just haven't been able to cash in and get it done. We have so many good numbers that are supporting good play. Our penalties were down, we are taking care of the football, staying in the plus on the turnover stuff. Our kicking game is really solid. All of that. So it's hard to get all those -- check out the DVOA (Football Outsiders analytics) numbers. They're way higher than you would think for the record we have, and that's because we're doing a lot of things well. It just hasn't, for whatever reason, translated into getting these wins in the close ball games."
-- Geno Smith authors a strong outing against Jaguars.
It's been over six years since Geno Smith has won a game as a starting quarterback. He got back into the win column in style with a standout performance against the Jaguars.
Smith completed 20-of-24 passes for 195 yards with two touchdown passes to DK Metcalf and a 1-yard touchdown run of his own in leading the Seahawks to the victory.
"What a game he had," Carroll said. "Starting off 14-for-14 and a throwaway was the first incomplete. He was so calm and so poised and just delivered the ball so well. This was really Geno at his best. That's what we can count on from him."
Smith's only incomplete pass of the first half came on a throwaway on his final throw. Smith's performance resulted in a completion percentage of 83.3 percent on the day. That's tied for the fourth best mark in franchise history with a minimum of 10 attempts.
"You want to complete every single ball, that’s the reality," Smith said. "If coach calls a pass, I want to complete it badly. Sometimes you have to throw it away, just because you are doing the right thing, but the reality is that in my head, even in practice, I’m counting to try and make sure that I’m completing the majority of my passes. I don’t have to look up, I literally count in my head and keep track of them."
Russell Wilson completed 31-of-35 passes in last year's season opener against the Atlanta Falcons to serve as the best mark in franchise history with 88.6 percent of his passes completed.
Dave Krieg completed 19-of-22 passes for and 86.4 percent effort against the Denver Broncos in 1988 and Matt Hasselbeck completed 21-of-25 passes for an 84.0 percent mark against the San Francisco 49ers in 2005. Smith's mark Sunday tied him with Hasselbeck for fourth best in franchise history as Hasselbeck also completed 83.3 percent of his passes against the Detroit Lions in the opening game of the 2006 season.
"If you look at the throws he made in this game there were some really good touch balls he threw," Carroll said. "Geno is a strong-arm guy. He fires the football hard. He picked the right opportunities to take something off the ball to make them catchable for the guys, and the guys came through in a big way."
Smith got Tyler Lockett heavily involved with 12 passes connecting with Lockett for 142 yards on the day. DK Metcalf also got to make impact plays with his pair of touchdowns against former Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin.
"Geno has been great throughout this whole span while Russ has been gone," Metcalf said. "Just for him to get his first win, it’s great, it speaks volumes about his character and about how he carries himself throughout the whole week."
Smith's last win came in the final week of the 2014 season with the New York Jets. He completed 20-of-25 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins. He would suffer a broken jaw when he was punched by teammate IK Enemkpali in the locker room and Ryan Fitzpatrick ran with the starting job in his absence. Technically, Smith was the starting quarterback in a Jets 24-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in his lone start of the 2016 season. However, he tore his ACL early in the game and had just eight pass attempts before exiting the game.
"Honestly, it just meant a lot for the team and for the fans," Smith said. "It’s not about me, I said that from the beginning. I’m out there doing my job and trying to put ourselves in the best position to win. The fans were amazing today on Halloween, they came out, they were in full effect with the costumes on. It was great to get a win."
-- DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett rise to the occasion with big performances.
One reason Geno Smith was able to have a big day was the success of his receivers: DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Lockett caught 12 passes on 13 targets for 142 yards. Meanwhile, Metcalf had just six receptions on the day for 42 yards, but two of those catches resulted in touchdowns that helped carry the team to victory.
"All the receivers made their catches. Lock has the big day with the yardage and catches and all that, and DK has two scores. A lot of really good stuff there," Carroll said.
Metcalf and Lockett are two of the best players on the Seahawks roster. They need to be highly involved in games for Seattle's offense to truly soar. Both players responded well in their third game with Smith as the team's starting quarterback.
It felt great, especially for him to just get the ball and capitalize on his opportunities," Metcalf said of Lockett after a couple fairly quiet games. "I see he had 13 targets, and he caught 12 of them. It just speaks volumes about the type of work effort he has."
-- Disappointing day for former first round picks.
Defensive end L.J. Collier was inactive for the sixth time in eight games this season. Rashaad Penny, in his second game back from a stint on the injured reserve list, had seven carries for seven yards.
Throw in this year's top selection, second-round pick Dee Eskridge, missing another game on injured reserve while he recovers from a concussion and the Seahawks lack of production from its top draft choices in recent years.
Linebacker Jordyn Brooks has started every game this season and had eight tackles against the Jaguars. Though he's played better in recent weeks, he's had some struggles too this season.
Since the Seahawks took Frank Clark with their top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Seahawks have had a run of lackluster top selections over the last six years. Collier, Penny, Germain Ifedi and Malik McDowell have all fallen short of expectations for various reasons. It's still too early in the careers of Brooks and Eskridge to make any definitive statements about their overall trajectory. Brooks has had some standout moments in his two seasons with the team. Eskridge has played in just one game and expected to return to action after the bye week.
But another Sunday with essentially no impact from Collier and Penny serves as a reminder of how the Seahawks have slid back to the pack in the NFL and the NFC West. The tenures of both Collier and Penny in Seattle seem to be coming to a close sooner than later.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 31: DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks catches the ball over Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Jacksonville Jaguars for a touchdown during the second quarter at Lumen Field on October 31, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)