This was an important week for Seattle if they had any visions of taking the NFC West, yet the road woes continue.
Coming into this season, the Rams were the "easy" road game, after winning 10 straight games against their division rival. In order to win this division, they really needed to win this game, especially with Sam Bradford finding his rhythm.
Keep in mind that Bradford and Co. torched our defense with relative ease without his top two receivers (Laurent Robinson and Donnie Avery) as well as a gimpy Steven Jackson.
To add insult to injury, he managed to win despite getting sacked four times and throwing a pick to Earl Thomas.
A lot of folks say that the winner of the game is the team that can win the turnover battle. That was certainly the case today. Although Seattle didn't quite put the ball into their opponents hands the way they did in Denver two weeks ago, we still had a minus-1 turnover rating.
Hasselbeck continues his streak, having thrown an interception in all four games this season as of yet. He also put one on the turf after being sacked.
Keep in mind, last season's offensive line woes continue with Max Unger out for the season, Sean Locklear battling injury once again, and first round draft pick Russell Okung struggling to stay healthy.
Going into the bye week, it seems that there are a lot of questions to be answered for the following weeks.
I get that this is a rebuilding season. I get that people don't expect Seattle to win. However, this is a competitive sport. If the predictions and numbers were all that mattered, there wouldn't be a reason to play the games. In other words, nobody wants to see their team lay down at any point during the season.
What are things that need to be looked at?
The run defense, oddly enough, is doing a great job. Tackles are being made, and there has been a lot of prevention of big plays on the ground. However, the way the pass defense is playing, who cares how well the run is stopped? The secondary is a revolving door right now for opposing quarterbacks.
Chris Clemons has four sacks and Earl Thomas has three interceptions. The new comers are pulling their weight by getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers, but they are still giving up way too many big plays. There is no consistency.
There is a wealth of young talent on this defense. It seems that playing time, strong conditioning, lots of film time will lead to improvement eventually.
What about the offense?
For starters, the offensive line is a problem. The loss of Max Unger was a major issue for a unit that is struggling with personnel changes as well as injury-itis.
Sean Locklear continues to struggle with injuries this season, as he has for the past few seasons. His effectiveness has also been mentioned. It would seem the plan was to slide Tyler Polumbus to right tackle after the debut of Russell Okung.
Polumbus has been a pleasant surprise over four games. However, Okung has been a severe disappointment. Personally, I blame the holdout. Okung was one of the last players to sign, and the contract he was offered was much lower than what many of the pundits were predicting.
He missed a significant amount of training camp due to his holdout, and as such missed important conditioning and experience. He was injured in preseason and was faced with learning the offense as well as rehabing his ankle.
I think my biggest question about this Sunday's game against the Rams was why Hasselbeck was still in the game while the game was still winnable. Seattle entered the 4th quarter down by two touchdowns. However, in this situation, it's obvious what you need to win...the long ball.
Hasselbeck has been one of the most ineffective long ball passers in the NFL over the course of the past four weeks in addition to the last few weeks of 2009. Despite the inexperience of Charlie Whitehurst, he can come off the bench with a cannon. He may not have the accuracy, nor the experience. He isn't going to get it playing Clipboard Jesus either.
All of the pass attempts were short passes. Why isn't Bates dialing up a deep ball in these circumstances?
Speaking of play calling, why isn't Bates dialing up the run more often? Forsett has had a pretty decent yards per carry average over the last three games, yet the ball is still finding it's way to the air (and at least once per game, into the opponent's hands as a result).
There are too many three and outs. The offense isn't on the field long enough to give the defense a break.
Something that struck me as interesting when Pete Carroll took over was his philosophy about the football. He puts a lot of emphasis on making sure the team doesn't make turnovers, and that they force them on defense. That's a common intention of most professional coaches, even if it isn't as outspoken as Carroll made it.
The Seahawks aren't doing very well at following that mantra, however the statistic that interests me the most is time of possession. Even in the games where Seattle manages to win the turnover margin, they don't hold onto the ball long enough.
A pass defense is demanding with respect to running. Your secondary is going to be running a lot in coverage. I don't care how fast or well conditioned a team is, if the offense doesn't hold onto the ball, the defense is going to run out of steam.
Seattle is 2-2—2-0 at Qwest, 0-2 elsewhere. Let's see what happens after the bye, because this schedule isn't going to get any easier.
On a positive note, if Seattle doesn't manage to pick up the pace, they'll be a candidate for Jake Locker come April 2011.
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