Slumping Seahawks Need an Identity

Rob StatonCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - OCTOBER 04:  Seneca Wallace #15 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Who are the Seattle Seahawks?

Currently they're a 1-3 team that hasn't made the start most were hoping for.

Jim Mora says his team is "excited" about having the opportunity to bounce back from three successive defeats.

They sure didn't look too excited during their most recent 34-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Slumped on the sidelines, the looks on their faces told quite a story.

Four weeks into Seattle's new era under Mora's leadership, the team is suffering an identity crisis.

Injuries are having a strong affect on the team for the second year in a row. Undoubtedly, the loss of Matt Hasselbeck is a key.

Take away any other franchise quarterback and how many teams could take it on the chin?

Would the Colts be the same with Jim Sorgi pulling the reins? How about last week's opponent, Chicago, would they be the same without Jay Cutler?

We've also seen the Cincinnati Bengals rise like a phoenix from the flames in recent weekssimilar to Carson Palmer's rise from injury. 

If the Seahawks are looking for an excuse, Hasselbeck's absence is one of the best. Never mind that they're also missing Marcus Trufant, Walter Jones, and Leroy Hill.

Indeed all things considered, the fact Seattle are 1-3 isn't really much of a surprise.

But there is cause for concern when you dig a little deeper.

A much vaunted defense, built through big money free agent signings and high draft picks, continues to struggle.

There was a lot of talk during preseason about a new "west coast defense" and upping the tempo. The additions of Cory Redding, Aaron Curry, and Colin Cole were expected to tip Seattle's defense toward the top.

Instead, only three teams have fewer interceptions than Seattle. They have a modest nine sacks and give up an average of 344 yards per game.

They've also coughed up 247 yards worth of penalties.

But forget the stats; the proof is right there on the screen. With a greater dependence placed on the defensive line to create pressure, it just isn't happening.

For the last two weeks, two of the league's best quarterbacks have had more than enough time to dissect the Seahawks defense.

Coupled with the ease in which Frank Gore ran for career highs in week two, it's pretty hard to see what the defense has done well so far.

To say the least, there's nothing identifiable about this defense.

They don't hit you from all angles. They don't swarm to the ball. They don't force turnovers or play tough in coverage.

They're just, well, there.

Compare this to Mike Singletary and Rex Ryan when they took over the Niners and Jets, respectively.

It didn't take long for Singletary to get his defense singing from the same hymn sheet. Ryan has done an admirable job trying to recreate Baltimore's defense at Meadowlands.

For whatever reason, this Seahawks team isn't playing in the mold of its new, fiery coach.

Injuries will always happen.

The Colts were without Bob Sanders and Gary Brackett on Sunday. The key to success is having a functional system so when those bumps and bruises occur, you can plug guys in.

Right now, the Seahawks do not have a system. Until they find who they want to be, they'll continue to feel the full effect of a few missing starters.

It's a similar story on offense.

Greg Knapp spoke frequently about the need for balance before the new season.

But even without Hasselbeck, it's unclear what the Seahawks are doing to keep teams guessing.

On Sunday's first drive of the game, the Seahawks ran a 50 percent pass-run split on six plays. Three short runs and three short passes by Seneca Wallace.

It's balanced per se, but it's hardly going to threaten a team like the Colts.

On the second drive, three more short passes from Seneca Wallace and three more runs, with a sack thrown in to end it.

Having concentrated solely on short routes and runs for the first two drives, it wasn't exactly unpredictable when they made a token gesture deep pass to Deon Butler to begin their third drive.

By the time Indianapolis had quickly stretched their lead to twenty-five points, any gameplan going into Lucas Oil Field went out the window.

Seattle's longest play of the game was a 22-yard pass to Deion Branch. It was one of only two plays that surpassed 20 yards.

The Colts on the other hand picked the Seahawks defense apart with a mix of deep passes to Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne, screens to Joseph Addai, and short/medium routes from Dallas Clark.

The running game complemented things nicely, but only after the pass had set it up.

In trying to keep things balanced, the Seahawks are becoming a bit predictable. 

They might be best served focusing more on the run, something Greg Knapp has traditionally had success with as an offensive coordinator.

It'd be a start anyway, at least going someway to ending an identity crisis on both sides of the ball.

It's one thing when your opponents don't know what to expect. Four weeks into the new season, I'm not sure the Seahawks do either.


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