Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
It seems that the Seahawks have made great strides recently (read, this last week). On Thursday I wasn’t sure that I was watching the same Seahawks that I had watched the previous six weeks, but I was, and I was surprised…in a positive way. I think the Seahawks have great building blocks, but just like putting together any Lego creation you have to have all of the pieces to make it complete.
But, sometimes playing with less forces a team to reach down, way down, to rise up stronger. This week saw that phenomenon happen. They put together what could be argued as the most complete game of the season, and mind you, they are still missing two offensive linemen, a starting linebacker and Percy Harvin has not put his cleats on the turf yet. The future looks bright.
This team, this game, was different from the opening drive. The first play of the game saw Russell Wilson use a designed play for him to roll out and keep the ball, gaining 11 yards. That whole series saw Marshawn Lynch carry the ball one time…one time. Don’t get me wrong, I love beastmode being unleashed but it is so much more effective when you don’t know when it is going to show up.
The other bright spot on the very first drive was Sidney Rice‘s separation from the cornerback. Granted his separation wasn’t a designed play, it resulted from a broken play, but he was reading that Wilson was in trouble and immediately broke out looking for an open patch of field. As Russell Wilson eluded defenders and worked for more time he saw Rice‘s break and placed his pass perfectly into the end zone. Ahhh….this is what I have been waiting for…just typing this gives me goose bumps.
In the first two Seahawks possessions, they took a couple of shots downfield in order to keep the defense honest. That kind of play feels so much better. Keep the defense on their heels while we dictate what happens on the field. You know where this kind of play calling broke down?
We had the ball, 2nd and 1 at the Arizona 43-yard line, with momentum, and we started to channel Chuck Knox (Ground Chuck). 2nd down…run. 3rd down…run. 4th down…run. I like the fact that we were willing to go for it, I think it shows some hutzpah, but please give me some variety. The stop on 4th and 1 changed the momentum of the game.
The Cardinals hit on a field goal and then on the ensuing possession forced a Seattle fumble in the red zone. Suddenly they have 10 points and are only trailing by 4 without showing any signs of offense. Yeah, I know, it’s not sporting to run away with an early lead but their giving attitude, whether by turnovers or penalties (10 for 70 yards) is getting old. I will give silent thanks to Steven Hauschka for hitting on a 51 yard field goal with 5 seconds left in the first half to damper their momentum.
This game saw our offense convert seven out of twelve 3rd downs, now that is a conversion rate I can handle. Many of those were passes and at no time this season has Russell looked more confident than he did Thursday night. Heck, this guy wouldn’t get flustered by a tornado bearing down on him, which has happened on a few occasions this season. He completed 71% of his passes over 15 yards, compare that to 31% in the previous three games.
Our offensive line continues to have issues and allow pressure on Mr. Wilson, but on this night they only gave up three sacks. A big concern that I have is Russell taking a lot more hits this year. He does have an uncanny knack for not letting people get a solid hit on him…but it just takes one. I am about ready to write the Seahawks front office and see if they will stencil ‘fragile’ on his uniform so that opposing teams will be nicer to him.
Our defensive pressure has been better this season, yielding 7 sacks against Arizona. In fact, 50% of Carson Palmer‘s drop backs were under duress, what a difference a healthy line makes. Chris Clemons and Clinton McDonald had monster games, but we can’t overlook Tony McDaniel, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril…and those are just our linemen.
How about the pressure from KJ Wright and Malcolm Smith, not to mention our corners and linebackers providing blanket coverage. I know that Mr. Palmer threw for over 250 yards but a lot of those yards came in the fourth quarter after Seattle shifted into a soft zone coverage…the bend don’t break mentality hurt this stat.
Bottom line, our defense is what wins games. Period. They have kept us in games and they have downright won games. We have to give them their props but on Thursday our offense showed signs of life. Imagine if our offense can start clicking on all cylinders? With the defense we have and the potential for our offense to bull-over/run-past other teams we would be unstoppable. And with it being autumn it is very appropriate that we are finally turning over a new offensive leaf.
It isn’t too early to show your support for the Seahawks making a run at the Super Bowl this season.