Seattle Seahawks' Pre-Game Primer: Looking to Get Even

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIOctober 17, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Quarterback Kurt Warner #13 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Colts defeated the Cardinals 31-10.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


If you thought Seattle's game against Jacksonville last weekend was big, well, it was. But this one is even bigger.

With a win over Arizona, the Seahawks can climb back to 3-3 heading into their bye, and basically reboot their season in Week Eight.

With a win over the Cardinals, the Seahawks would be just a half-game behind San Francisco (3-2), which has a bye this week.

They would also get back at the Cardinals for sweeping them in 2008 and taking the NFC West crown out of Seattle for the first time in five years.

And with two weeks between games, the Hawks would have a chance to get back some of their wounded: Sean Locklear (high ankle), Rob Sims (ankle), Leroy Hill (groin), Marcus Trufant (back) and Walter Jones (knee).

In the meantime, the Seahawks go into this game with their fourth offensive line setup in six games. With Jones, Locklear and Brandon Frye out, the Hawks are down to fourth-string left tackle Kyle Williams.

But Williams has seen the Cardinals before; he made his second NFL start against them last December.

And he will be playing alongside the same guys who started that game with him as Steve Vallos and Mansfield Wrotto will share time at left guard and Ray Willis will start at right tackle, as he has all season.

Of course, the Hawks are a little more stout up front than they were last time, with Chris Spencer back at center and rookie Max Unger at right guard.

Those guys did well against Jacksonville last week, and they’ll need to give Matt Hasselbeck time again if the Seahawks are to end Arizona’s recent domination. Arizona has won four of five, including the sweep last season.

The Seahawks are going to have to be able to throw it because they’ll probably have trouble running it again; they’re going against the league’s No. 1 rushing defense (71 per game). On the other side of that, though, the Cardinals are giving up a league-high 303 passing yards per game.

As usual, the Cards rely on their passing attack, too. Kurt Warner and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin form the core of the league’s third-ranked passing group, and they will test Seattle’s ninth-ranked passing defense, which is still without top cover man Trufant.

That means the onus is on the D-line, which played its best game of the season last week against Jacksonville. Part of that was the touchdowns generated by Hasselbeck and the offense.

But Darryl Tapp spent almost the entire game in the backfield. And he got plenty of help from Lawrence Jackson, Cory Redding, and Nick Reed. Those guys will need to be on the ball again this week, getting plenty of pressure on Warner.

This has largely been a series in which the home team wins. Before a 26-20 loss at Qwest last season, the Hawks had won five straight home games against Arizona.

On top of that, Seattle has historically played very well in pre-bye games, with a league-best record of 16-4.

Given how much this game means to Seattle, that should be enough for them to play at least as well as they did last week.


Three and out: Q&A

Q: Might we see a lot of Edgerrin James against his old team?

A: This is the second reunion game for James this season, and he surely would love to stick it to the Cardinals, who kind of jerked him around after last season, not releasing him until after they had drafted Beanie Wells in April.

He carried the ball 16 times against Jacksonville, but that was clean-up duty after Hasselbeck had thrown four touchdown passes.

James will probably get a few more carries than normal (he’s averaging about seven), but he will still be No. 2 behind Julius Jones.

Q: Did the Seahawks sign Chad Ochocinco or T.J. Houshmandzadeh?

A: At first, T.J.’s offseason bravado was refreshing. When he predicted that he and Matt Hasselbeck would have great seasons and go to the Pro Bowl after leading the Hawks to the playoffs, you had to nod your head and say, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.” But his constant griping for the ball is getting to be annoying.

The guy is 10th in the league with 27 catches. But for him that’s a low number: reportedly the lowest through five games since 2005. He’s probably annoyed that Nate Burleson has three more catches and one more touchdown and has been targeted four more times (49 to 45).

It’s understandable that Housh wants to earn his $8 million a year, as he said Friday. But he needs to realize the Seahawks have a number of legitimate receivers (Burleson, Deion Branch, John Carlson) and that Hasselbeck will find the open guy.

Housh also hinted that he hasn’t been 100 percent healthy, which seems to contradict what he said a few weeks ago about being able to beat his defender 95 percent of the time.

We like his competitiveness and desire to win, but it’s time for T.J. Hush-mandzadeh to shut up and just show up. Otherwise, he risks becoming the next Shaun Alexander. And we all know how that turned out.

Q: Why are Patrick Kerney and Deion Branch being paid so much?

A: We asked this question very early last offseason and said Kerney and Branch each needed to take pay adjustments to account for the fact that neither could stay healthy.

Well, we were right.

Branch missed the first two games of the season and Kerney missed last week...and the Hawks didn’t miss either one of them.

Kerney will make $7 million this year, including a previously paid $3 million roster bonus, and will count a team-high $10.1 million against the salary cap.

Branch is being paid almost $5 million and counting $7.34 million. By the way, Trufant and Walter Jones, who have not played this season, are both counting over $9 million.


Two former sports reporters freed from the constraints of traditional print media write about the hot topics on both the Seattle and national sports scenes. No deadlines, no word count, no press box decorum—we're Outside The Press Box .