What’s wrong with Russell Wilson – and what other problems are the Seahawks facing? Also: What does a crazy game tell us about the Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalos Bills, how much time does Drew Lock get in Denver and what will happen to the NFC East? SPOX editor Adrian Franke brings you up to date on Monday with his ten most important points and assessments for the past NFL Sunday, all recaps from Sunday are here.
Top 10 – die Takeaways zu Week 10 in der NFL
1. What’s wrong with Russell Wilson?
What’s wrong with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson?
That is the central question that is currently standing over the Seahawks season. Not the only question, but the most critical because it currently has the most serious effects.
In the previous week, Seattle’s Defense was a more detailed topic at this point, with one overarching concern: The Seahawks are more and more like a team without a functioning identity. Because they are far too often in the dark defensively this season – and offensively their Plan A, which carried them through the first third of the season, is no longer good enough to carry the team.
You have to look at both nuances. The offense can still be explosive and create mismatches. If one of the two wide receivers – Metcalf and Lockett – is logged off, the other can take over a game. Russell Wilson is an excellent deep passer, and all of this has been seen against the Rams here and there. But: the errors are undeniably increasing.
It started with the Cardinals game, in which Wilson threw completely unfamiliar interceptions that were completely superfluous and ultimately cost Seattle victory. And it continued. Against Buffalo last week, and against the Rams on Sunday. Wilson has now made three sales in a row for the first time in his career and had at least three sales in three of the last four games.
13 turnovers over the first ten games of a season are also career highs for Wilson, and while on the one hand one could argue that he throws the ball a lot more, the game significantly more, it is not so much the sheer number of Turnover – it’s more their “quality”.
Against the Rams, he had another completely superfluous interception when the field in front of him was completely open – but instead Wilson fired an almost hopeless pass diagonally across the field towards the end zone, where ultimately only the defender could get. At the second interception he was way too late to throw an outward throw, so the cornerback jumped into the pass path.
Wilson wants too much – Carroll too little
And these things are increasing, even more: Wilson was undoubtedly often under pressure – and defenses are causing him serious problems with Blitzing – he hesitated against the Rams in some cases but also with his reads, once he lost track of the play clock, it was a very weak game. One gets more and more of the impression that Wilson wants too much; that he too often wants the big play, that he – and this is purely subjectively observed from the outside – has the impression that he has to take everything in hand. Then even the short passing game suddenly wobbles.
He can’t really blame him for this way of thinking, but currently it’s more of an obstacle than a help – all the more since the inconstant defense against the Rams didn’t do it badly. Although some of their lightning bolts flew around their ears again, they also came to Goff several times, they had the run game under control better than expected – the heroic appearance of Wilson and the offense was not necessary here.
Can Wilson find a calmer rhythm again to steer the offense back into the waters of the early phase of the season? Maybe, but maybe the question goes more and more in a different direction: How much longer will Pete Carroll watch this? At what point does he insist on less risk and more run game to control games; even more so if your own defense should actually stabilize a little?
Against Los Angeles – which in turn could have an enormous handicap for the rest of the season with the injury of Andrew Whitworth – Carroll had one of his cautious moments: he chose fourth-and-one on his own 42-yard line at the beginning of the second half the punt. His analysis of the scene afterwards was even more alarming: “I cannot understand the logic that we should play it off because we have a strong offense. That doesn’t really apply here.”
One would rather take the punt “and play defense. That means believing that we can do it in the end.” But how should this trust in your own defense be justified? How can Carroll still trust this side of the ball more than his own offense? How can he even trust this side of the ball?
Above all, however, the real danger lies in opening up the game to the opponent by foregoing a possible scoring drive for the field position. And that’s exactly what happened: In return, the Rams marched down 88 yards for the touchdown, took the lead at 23:13 and two of the next three Seahawks drives ended in Wilson turnovers.
Once again in the position of having to get the coals out of the fire late.
2. Madness in Arizona: Playoff teams with obstacles
What. For. One. Game!
In the duel between the Cardinals and Bills, both teams were far from delivering a flawless game. Both offenses were far from convincing seamlessly, on the contrary.
And yet it was the two quarterbacks, both of which are in the top 10 of their position this year, who prepared one of the most spectacular finishes of the season: Josh Allen with an absolutely outstanding touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs – and Kyler Murray with perhaps the play of the Year: The ball flew 50 yards deep seconds before the end, while rolling out to the left on the side on which DeAndre Hopkins was isolated, falling backwards.
An incredible litter that Cardinals fans have memories of Aaron Rodgers and Jeff Janis in the playoffs probably caused.
But what does the path to this insane ending say about both teams? Definitely that both teams are still inconsistent: There were 16 (!) Drives in this game – in the second half! Again and again the Offenses made simple mistakes, had to puncture again quickly or stood in their own way with penalties. Arizona, as in almost every game this year, took a long time to get into the game. Again there were simple mistakes, Kenyan Drake stood out here several times, and this week the Red Zone was an unusually big problem.
Allen had meanwhile played with fire several times before Patrick Peterson finally intercepted one of his passes over the middle. Kirkpatrick punished a slightly late Allen pass with another pick. Arizona’s offense shouldn’t have allowed this finish: The second Allen interception was followed by two three-and-out drives with a total gain of -3 yards. Against a defense against which the Cardinals ran over 200 yards, they failed to make a first down to manage the 3-point lead.
Both teams remain in the middle of the playoff and their respective division races. Both have an absolutely elite receiver in Diggs and Hopkins and behind them a versatile arsenal, for Buffalo Cole Beasley has long been the key to this game. Both have playmakers in the quarterback position and very good offensive play-callers. And both are defensively vulnerable, but not a disaster.
With all of that in mind: who has better prospects for the playoffs and beyond? The Bills seem like the more complete team, the Cardinals have the higher ceiling. Because Murray is well on his way to playing a historic quarterback rushing season while the defense has stabilized over the past few weeks. At the same time, despite all the euphoria of this final play, the following applies to Arizona: Only if the Cardinals can achieve significantly more consistency in the passing game can they really take the step towards the title candidate.
3. The Dolphins: uncomfortable – or is it more?
It’s absolutely impressive to see the progress the Miami Dolphins have made over the last year and a half under Brian Flores. You can see a clear defensive handwriting, you see a team that functions in a self-contained manner – and you see a team that works in all three phases of the game, and that is perhaps the most formative part of the current winning streak.
Because that’s exactly what you saw with the victory over the Rams, the success in Arizona and now the home win against the Chargers: Miami gets big plays from the defense, or from the special team – or sometimes from both – and so it has to Offense to rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa the team didn’t even wear it.
And that is also important, because as good as Tagovailoa still looks within the play designs and especially during rollouts: you don’t have the impression that he can wear this offense so far. Most of the passing game takes place briefly, or via play action. Tua was very fortunate that linebacker Kenneth Murray didn’t intercept a careless pass, so the offense managed the game.
It helped that the two cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones appeared again in their usual form after each rather weak appearance in Arizona. This allowed Miami to get over the lightning bolt defensively once again and to pose enormous problems for Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.
Miami is still in a state of upheaval, and Tua Tagovailoa has just taken over the reins. But the Dolphins are not only in the middle of the playoff race – with a direct game against Buffalo in front of their chest, Miami could even win the division on its own. The fact that the offense – and that applies not only to Tua, but also to the line – is so far, there can be a bigger question mark behind it. But in any case, Miami is a team that wins games as a whole. And that makes the Dolphins a very uncomfortable opponent.