I've always wondered what it was like to cover a team that loses and loses often. What are you supposed to say after a loss like the Seahawks managed on Sunday? Wouldn't it be depressing to pour over every mistake that was made on the way to a disheartening loss for your team? Well, yes.
Poor execution by young players. Some questionable calls by the referees. Some interesting coaching decisions. Bad luck. There are many reasons the Seahawks lost and I'll be exploring those reasons as the week goes on, but did you really want to start your Monday morning off by listening to me just rail on the team you know and love? God knows everyone else will, for the most part, so let's change it up.
I'm going to mostly ignore all the awful things that happened for today. I'll mostly ignore the dropped passes, 3-and-outs, missed assignments on special teams, and missed opportunities. Just for today.
The defense is building itself an identity. They're tough, fast, hit hard, and have an attitude. These were all things we'd talked about last year when hoping for the future but the team John Schneider and Pete Carroll have begun to assemble is taking on that persona. The Seahawks have the 13th ranked defense by conventional standards - yards per game - in the NFL. As of today, they lead the league in opposing teams' yards per attempt on the ground at 3.2. Their secondary has taken some lumps and some injuries, with top two of their top CBs, Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond, now on the injured reserve. The youngsters have come in and played well. Probably better than we all expected. Ok, definitely better than we all expected.
Who thought at the end of last year that by Week 8, CFL-transplant Brandon Browner and 5th round draft pick rookie Richard Sherman would be the starting corner duo for the Seahawks and actually showing some promise? Did you think that in his first start Sherman would grab a pick and create another? Gotta love that.
Their defensive line is stout and has built some depth. Last season, with a couple of injuries sustained, the Seahawks defense essentially collapsed. This season, the depth that's been built is apparent, and injuries at key positions haven't completely derailed things. The line has been safe from that for the most part, but the growth of players like Clinton McDonald and Anthony Hargrove has been fun to watch.
Along the same lines as the cornerback position, who would have thought the Seahawks would release Lofa Tatupu and trade Aaron Curry for peanuts this season? David Hawthorne is back at his best position in the middle, Leroy Hill is having a great season, and rookie K.J. Wright has acquitted himself quite well, especially for the cost of a fourth-round pick.
Specifically, about Sunday: the Hawks held the Bengals to 3.4 yards per carry on 27 rushes. They held Andy Dalton to 168 yards in the air and picked him off twice. In a nutshell, they did more than enough to secure their team the win for the 2nd straight week but the offense and special teams couldn't pull through for the second straight week. Speaking of the offense...
Has anyone ever completely reversed the overall public opinion of himself in such a short time? When Jackson was signed, most people had low expectations. He'd be a guy that could run their offense, maybe, and might be that elusive 'game-manager' QB that Pete Carroll was looking for. After the first few preseason games, people began to really question this. After the first two regular season games, there were conspicuous and angry calls for his head and that of Pete Carroll for automatically declaring him the starting quarterback.
You gotta hand it to T-Jack though - he suffered through it, took those punches to his jaw and played through them. He got the offense going, from all accounts won the respect of his teammates, and now has done what I figured would be pretty much impossible, has won the respect of the fans. He's had several career highs in passing already this season, including on Sunday when he passed for 323 yards in two and a half quarters. I'm cautiously optimistic at this point that he could be that gap-filler for the Seahawks until they have drafted or signed their QB of the Future, and that might be for more than one season.
He's looked like a completely different player than in prior seasons and even in prior games early this year. He's got poise, confidence, and has been throwing a pretty football. He's been decisive. He's been tough as nails. I really hate to compare him to this, but you can tell this guy sat behind Brett Favre for a couple of seasons. He's got that same toughness to him.
The receiver corps:
Sidney Rice has shown he's the real deal. I don't know if people would argue that, but that's my impression. He's the number one the Seahawks have been looking for and is a legitimate threat on every single snap. Ben Obomanu has impressed for the most part in his relief of the oft-injured and mostly irrelevant Mike Williams this year. I still have hope that Mike can return this season and play up to the form he had last year, but for now Obo has done quite nicely, and probably has much better chemistry with this group of QBs on the Seahawks right now.
Doug Baldwin has probably been the best undrafted free agent rookie in the NFL this season.
Golden Tate has shown improvement. Kris Durham has shown some promise. Hell, even practice squadder Ricardo Lockette impressed in training camp. This corps of receivers has improved exponentially since last season.
On Sunday, the Seahawks had two 100-yard receivers in a game for the first time since 2004. Sidney Rice seven passes for 104 yards and Ben Obomanu had four for 107 yards. Doug Baldwin did his part with five for 73 yards. This kind of distribution is exciting.
Funny how the position you're most excited about in the preseason becomes one of the weakest links on your team once the regular season rolls around. This problem has mostly been due to injuries and a curious case of the dropsies. The good news is that there is talent in this group - Zach Miller, Cameron Morrah, and Anthony McCoy, but they just need to live up to it. I have faith it will happen.
There are growing pains here, naturally. Nothing on Sunday screamed 'progress' but at least they're significantly more youthful than last season, and trending in the right direction when taken in comparison to the beginning of the season.
I know Marshawn Lynch has his detractors but I like him. I think he runs hard, gets yardage when he shouldn't, and displays toughness. The run game will come with the development of the line.
Anyway, two tough losses in a row but not all is lost. Young teams tend to lose games, and tend to play inconsistently. That's what we're seeing here but I think there's reason for optimism going forward. Hopefully this hasn't ruined your Monday morning.