PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 18: Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to tackle Eddie Williams #40 of the Seattle Seahawks during the game on September 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Here are things we learned from the Seahawks loss in Pittsburgh. They probably won't shock you.
The Seahawks, unsurprisingly, didn't beat the defending Super Bowl losers. I just wanted to point out what losers the Steelers are there. The Hawks, unsurprisingly, failed to get much going on offense and were stymied, unsurprisingly, by one of last year's top defensive teams. I'm unsurprised there. Vegas oddsmakers had the Seahawks as 12.5 point underdogs prior to the game, the worst line the Seahawks have faced since 1992. Let me do the math for you there. That's a long time (I decided not to do the math). They probably weren't surprised to see the Seahawks lose by twice that.
Here are some more unsurprising storylines:
Earl Thomas is really good. Thomas had another very solid game, racking up 5 tackles and an assist, and is seemingly everywhere on the field at once. His best play was on a 4th and goal, when he slipped through the line and stuffed Rashard Mendenhall for no gain, and a turnover on downs. He's the Hawks best playmaker, and will conceivably only get better.
The Seahawks offense is really bad. We've been talking about it all offseason, all preseason, and now for the first two regular season games. This offense looks ugly. According to NFL.com's team offensive rankings, Seattle is (unsurprisingly) dead last. After two games, they're averaging 191.5 yards of offense per game. The Carolina Panthers, last year's 'worst' team (on offense, and just.. in general), by comparison, is averaging 476 yards per game. Apparently quarterback play has an influence on how well your offense functions. Who knew?
The Hawks were shut out. The last time they'd been shut out was back in 2007, when they lost to (you guessed it) the Steelers, 21-0. Pete Carroll has never been shut out as a head coach, both in college or the NFL, a span of 198 games. So this offense is historically bad. Surprising? Not really. Nine new starters on offense from the Hawks first game last season, not counting Max Unger. If you count Max Unger as a new starter, which you should, because he only played one game last season, there are ten new starters on this offense, as compared the beginning of last season (Russell Okung was hurt early last season, leaving only Mike Williams as the returning starter from that team).
In the NFL, unfortunately, you can't just plug in 10 or 11 new players and hope they'll magically work well together. This is the top level of football -- it turns out the players you're going up against are very good. If you have a small weakness, inexperience, or lack of chemistry, you're toast. It will take some time, but this team, notably the offense, should improve.
Jon Ryan is a good punter. He punted 8 times, and averaged 48.1 yards per punt. That's really very good. He continues to be one of the Seahawks most consistent performers. Normally, I'd complain about this kind of thing but I'll take it. He's actually leading the league in total punting yards, second in net yardage, and tied for first for longest punt (77 yards).
Having a good punter when your offense is struggling can really keep you in games. (Maybe not in Pittsburgh this time, but in some games, anyway).
This is a young team, and growth won't come in the first two games of the season. My main point is really this: It's not really all that surprising that the Seahawks are 0-2 this season and that they lost to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Step back from the ledge, if you're anywhere near it. This might be a long season, but it's probably going to have some fun moments too. The Hawks are still only one game out of first place, and in the NFC West, that's really all that matters.