Entering week one, the early headlines were all about players coming and going and the uncertain nature of what would happen when the new-look Seattle Seahawks finally took the field. This week, it's all cupcakes and rainbows, as the Seahawks throttled the San Francisco 49ers in their season opener and observers are starting to come around to the idea that head coach Pete Carroll might actually know what he's doing.
The sky is the limit for optimism today, given how Seattle executed on Sunday and given the fact that San Francisco had been picked by many as the favorite in the NFC West.
John Morgan of SB Nation's FieldGulls.com sees good things happening on both sides of the ball.
Game planning made a still gelling offense trustworthy, able to cash in, and it did cash in. Matt Hasselbeck did not look radically different than he has for many years, but instead of run, run, run against a dominating run defense, broken only by desperate play-action bombs, Jeremy Bates identified the Niners weakness, passing, and specifically, double-moves, and attacked.
And attacked, until it was safe to run.
What a revelation, Bates game plan. What a difference a smart secondary coach can make to an already talented secondary. What a difference from Marcus Trufant, but where we knew Trufant could return, every other member of Seattle's coverage, from its linebackers swarming, to its corners keeping tight, to its safeties flirting with huge plays, was a revelation from seasons past. Just amazing, and exciting, and ...
Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
For Greg Johns of the Seattle PI, wide receiver Mike Williams, who caught four passes for 64 yards, was the story on Sunday, proving the doubters wrong.
"A lot of people didn't give us a chance," he said. "But we've been saying all along, people don't know what we're doing here. People don't know what we put in during the week, how we prepare and how much it means to us. So we're just going to take this game and move on."
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times quotes Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy, admitting the roster shakeup was confusing but described a team that pulled together over the course of its week one preparation.
"The atmosphere last Monday was a little weird," said Milloy, a 15-year NFL veteran. "You were looking at guys, and they're looking back at you, a little uneasy. But on Wednesday, it got a little better. On Thursday, it got a little better. You saw handshakes. Players welcomed the new players. And then we started getting them caught up to our style of play. Now, it's just normal.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times writes that Carroll was able to joke about quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's interception on the team's first offensive play from scrimmage after the win.
"Matt had a thought that he really wanted to challenge the team and made sure we had our backs against the wall from the beginning," Carroll said jokingly. "So he just gave them one right off the bat. Because that's what it felt like."
The coach could joke about it after Hasselbeck led the team to 31 consecutive points in a rousing comeback - not only for Seattle, but for Hasselbeck, who showed why he's still here at quarterback even as the team is being rebuilt around him.
And for Art Thiel of the Seattle PI the season-opening win was all about defense.
The result was 14 stops on 15 third-down plays, which is how a defense pitches a touchdown shutout in the NFL.
"We felt pretty good with our base stuff, which is really a big deal to us," Carroll said of a defense that showed only flashes of stoutness in the exhibition season. "We've made a transition in the way we play up front from how they've played in the last couple of years here. Things worked out well against what we think is a very good running team."
Sayre Bedinger of SB Nation's Mile High Report writes that the Broncos simply weren't clicking on all cylinders out of the gate.
Some pills are tough to swallow. Losing the first game is never a good thing, but sometimes you learn more from losing than getting lucky, and hopefully that's the way the Broncos approach practice this week as they try and correct the multitude of mistakes that were made in Jacksonville on Sunday.
The goal for the game was undoubtedly to stop Maurice Jones-Drew on the ground, and the Broncos seemed to do that pretty well today. But it wasn't quite enough.
The theme for the Broncos today was sloppy. As the game would suggest, when it rains it really pours, and it poured on the Broncos today in embarrassing fashion.
Part of that sloppiness came from quarterback Kyle Orton, who threw a crucial interception late in the game. Mike Klis of the Denver Post writes that Orton is hoping to rebound.
"We put so much work into this season so far that whatever happened last year is so far out of our minds," said Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who played well and was a final-drive interception away from playing great. "But I know one thing: I want to see us respond to adversity, respond to a loss. We didn't do that last year. We'd get a loss and let it linger for three or four weeks."
Meanwhile, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post writes that another Broncos quarterback, rookie Tim Tebow, was getting a ton of attention despite barely impacting the game.
But outside the locker room on a sauna of a September afternoon, all anyone from the media wanted to ask about was the 2 yards Tebow gained on two rushing attempts in the game.
"I'd definitely like to help them out more," said Tebow, doing his best not to be embarrassed by the undue attention.
Does anybody else remember when the Broncos were known nationally as a legit Super Bowl contender rather than a Tebow sideshow?
Tebow has more impact on Facebook than the field.
Finally, Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post writes that the Broncos will need to shore up their run defense.
"Bottom line is we have to stop them, that is the bottom line for us," Broncos linebacker Robert Ayers said. "Whatever happens, wherever we are on the field, whoever is in the game, we have to stop them. We didn't stop them enough."
And while they were far tougher at the point of attack most of the time Sunday, the Broncos didn't stop the Jaguars enough, as Jacksonville rushed for 134 yards in a 24-17 victory.
For Pete Carroll, then, this week's question becomes: Can we sustain the effort and intensity in a hostile environment? For the Broncos, it seems, the question is more simple: When will we start clicking?
The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will face off on Sunday, September 19th, at 1:15PM at Denver's Invesco Field in NFL week 2 action.