42 degrees / cloudy
- Play Calling: At 6:57 in the 3rd quarter, the Seahawks led 10-3, and they faced a 3rd and 10 on the Eagles’ 48. The Eagles, who rarely blitz thanks to their dominant front four, dialed one up, and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson burned them with a long completion to WR Doug Baldwin that led to a TD and a 17-3 lead.
- Personnel: The Eagles seem to like to put a lot on QB Carson Wentz’ shoulders, but we wonder if they have to do this so much. We see a deep and versatile running back group in LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner. The Eagles also have one of the league’s best offensive lines. Sometimes we wonder if they might want to pound and ground a bit more. As for the Seahawks, we like seeing them use multiple TE sets more; they have a fairly versatile group, and all contributed in this game.
- Game Planning: The Seahawks try to keep everything in front of them on defense, and use their speed and rally ability to frustrate offenses. But the Seahawks secondary is hurting, and we would have liked to see Wentz more in the pocket taking advantage of rookie corner Shaq Griffen and veteran corner Byron Maxwell, who just re-joined the team. With the running backs the Eagles have, a traditional play action plan might have been effective in this game.
- In-Game Adjustments: Our observation here has more to do with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson’s own 4th down play calling adjustments. Through much of the season, he’s been fairly aggressive on 4th down – he even has analytics personnel in his headset. So down 10-3 with a 4th and 2 at the Seattle 46 early in the game, we thought he would go for it, instead he punted. Curiously, down 10-3 and facing 4th & 1 with about 12 minutes in the 3rd quarter and the ball on the Seattle 28, he did go for it. He got it, even though we felt taking the FG and a 10-6 score would have been appropriate. Then down 17-3 at just under four minutes in 3rd quarter, he had a 4th and 3 on the Seattle 25. Instead of making it 17-6, he went for it and this time, did not get it. That’s two 3rd quarter drives where points were available, and he came away with none. It’s going to be interesting to watch Pederson and 4th downs during the playoffs.
- Clock Management: Pederson failed to challenge a fairly obvious illegal forward pass/lateral, a key play that ultimately led to a key Seattle TD.
- What We Liked: The Seahawks know that WR Paul Richardson is darn good at 50-50 balls all over the field; whether it’s a five-yard slant or a deep ball. They trust him and get him the ball. It’s worked out more than not; he’s a key player on critical downs. It’s a credit to head coach Pete Carroll and his faith in players’ ability.
- What We Didn’t Like: Up 17-3 late in the 3rd quarter, the Seahawks had a 3rd & 6 on the Eagles’ 37 – right at FG range. Three points here makes it a 17-point game going into the 4th. We expected a running play for just one or two yards. Instead, the Seahawks tried to throw, Wilson was sacked, and they were out of FG range.