Seattle Seahawks: After the Bye Week, Are They Ready for Cleveland?

Tom BatesContributor IIIOctober 17, 2011

Can Pete Carroll lead the Seahawks to their second road win of the season?
Can Pete Carroll lead the Seahawks to their second road win of the season?Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

They'll be rested, repaired and recuperated, but are the Seattle Seahawks ready?

Monday morning we will hear the first answer to the most obvious question this week. "How is Tarvaris Jackson?" Look for Pete Carroll to start the week less than committed to guaranteeing that Jackson will play. It should sound something like, "He wants to play, he says he's ready, but we will just have to wait until Wednesday to see."

With that said, I am looking forward to seeing how Seattle game plans for Cleveland. I think there is a good possibility that they game plan for Charlie Whitehurst this week, let him have the snaps in practice and let him have this game. Carroll has already indicated that Jackson will start whenever he is healthy enough, but I can see Carroll giving Jackson one more week to heal completely.

Last year, Lofa Tatupu had a torn pectoral muscle and it ended his season. There has not been one peep out of the Virginia Mason Center in Renton as to Jackson's condition or if he is improving. This coaching staff has been noted for playing it safe on some of the injuries in the past, making sure the player is almost 100 percent before they return.

Other health concerns to be addressed Monday include Marcus Trufant, Mike Williams, Zack Miller and Robert Gallery.

The biggest question of these four players seems to be Trufant. His back spasms are from a different source than last year, but lower back cramping and spasms is not a good sign. Been there, done that. Rest was the only thing that really helped, but I am sure the Seahawks have resources I didn't (sarcasm).

What is disturbing is that the injury to Trufant is again to his lower back. After years of putting pressure on his hips, and especially his lower back, this could be serious. Yes, we want to see him return to play, but not at the expense of his future health.

This brings up the question of whether or not the defensive backfield is ready to play without Tru. Walter Thurman has been making strides in his education at corner, but what about the depth at the position. Richard Sherman and Jeron Johnson are both rookies. They're young and talented, but I think the cornerback position is one of the most difficult spots to learn.

With the talented wide receivers in the NFL, it is easy to get hung out to dry.  Assignments are easy to miss when you are learning your position. Just ask Brandon Browner about the learning curve in the NFL.

This week, we are facing a talented group of receivers, and quarterback Colt McCoy is playing better than expected, though he was held to 215 yards passing against Oakland. The Browns rank 19th in passing yards, and Seattle ranks 26th, but Seattle averages 6.6 yards per pass where Cleavland averages 5.5. Keeping pressure on McCoy, similar to the pressure put on Eli Manning last week, will be necessary to getting off the field on third downs.

Cleveland defense is seventh overall, fourth against the pass and 27th against the run. However, their two wins this season have been against Miami (0-4) and Indianapolis (0-5).

Seattle's defense is just the opposite at seventh against the run and 23rd passing, 18th overall. Their two wins have been against New York (4-2) and Arizona (2-4). Seattle has shown a real talent for stopping the run and that will be one of the keys to winning in Cleveland.


Of course the other key will be whether Seattle can move the ball on Cleveland like they did in New York. Robert Gallery is reported to be ready to return to the starting line up. How long will it take to make the adjustment of adding a different left guard?

Yes, Gallery was meant to be part of the starting lineup, but he hasn't had a lot of time with the line. He has missed four out of five games so far; will his insertion into the line be an advantage, or will it take a game or two to get communication going? Furthermore, is he in playing shape?

The no-huddle offense is physically demanding. I think we might see Paul McQuistan subbing for Gallery on a few series in Cleveland, and possibly against the Bengals in Seattle next week until Gallery gets his game legs under him.

The other game stats are remarkably similar for these two teams. I think it will come down to whether or not the Seahawks can take the same determination into Cleveland that they did in New York, and whether they can get to Colt McCoy

I believe the answer to this question is yes. Seattle will start the game on an emotionally high note. Carroll has figured out how to motivate professional players and players of high caliber. This is the difference between his current team and the teams he coached before he went to USC. Whether it was an epiphany from studying John Wooden or something else, he has figured out how to win. He will have the Seahawks ready beat Cleavland.