Seahawks vs. Rams: 5 Takeaways from Seattle's 24-7 Win over St. Louis Rams
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The Seattle Seahawks went to St. Louis with the goal of earning their second road victory on the season. Combining solid defense with a few timely offensive plays, the Seahawks (4-6) did just that.
The Rams (2-8) had shown signs of life over the last three weeks, posting two wins and an overtime loss. However, Steven Jackson's string of three straight 100-yard games came to a crashing halt, gaining just 42 yards on 15 carries (2.8 YPC).
Seattle responded with a heavy dose of their own ground game. While averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, Seattle still posted 126 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns.
Tarvaris Jackson struggled early, throwing two early interceptions. However, he rebounded with a touchdown pass to Sidney Rice and finished with 148 yards on 14-of-24 passing.
The win is exactly how Pete Carroll said he wants to play. Seattle played strong defense and offered a conservative offense. It hasn't always been enough this season, but certainly worked today.
Seattle still has an incredibly slight possibility of making the playoffs. Their remaining schedule is quite favorable. They will travel to Chicago and host the 49ers, but there isn't a game remaining the Seahawks simply can't win.
Back in reality, the Seahawks fans will enjoy the wins. Some will lament the loss of playoff positioning, as every win puts them one step further from snagging an elite quarterback prospect in April. However, solid play down the stretch is more important than draft positioning.
Young players on the Seahawks roster will learn from winning, and the second half of the season can set a tone for the 2012 season. Head coach Pete Carroll will certainly not allow his team to stop competing and looking to find equilibrium on his units.
The defense is working through how much pressure they should attempt to apply on the quarterback vs. whom to drop into pass defense.
On the other side of the ball, Seattle is juggling an emerging run game with a struggling passing attack.
There will likely be several key new faces on both units in 2012. The core of this team is already in-house, though, which makes finishing strong a priority.
5. Marshawn Lynch's Agent Reminded Him It Is a Contract Season
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To be fair, the Seattle Seahawks had major issues on their offensive line at the start of the season. Not one of their starters had played together, and only one of the five had more than one season of NFL playing time.
The lack of offseason workouts, mini-camps and organized team activities certainly didn't help the young line.
That aside, Marshawn Lynch spent most of the first seven games looking like an afterthought in the conversations of quality NFL running backs.
Something changed in Week 9 in Dallas. Part of the improvement was due to improved blocking, but Lynch has simply looked like a different runner. He's running with purpose and is fighting for yards in a way that was missing earlier in the season.
Lynch has over 300 yards over the last three weeks with a touchdown in each contest. While Seattle may still look to add one of the talented running backs expected to enter the 2012 NFL draft, Lynch is battling to show he is worthy of a spot in the Seahawks backfield.
4. The Seahawks Defense Is Actually That Good
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Seattle's defense has been particularly stingy at times this season, particularly on the ground. They have also had moments where the secondary looked like a bunch of rookies trying to figure out the speed and complexity of the NFL.
The unit has also spent an inordinate amount of time on the field this season. The Seahawks have been floundering in the bottom few slots for time of possession this season, making it difficult for the unit to stay fresh.
Depth along the defensive line has certainly helped this season. They have reserves that can step in at defensive tackle and keep the pressure on opposing run games. They also rotate in situational players at defensive end, keeping big Red Bryant fresh.
The Seahawks have been in the top five this season for yards allowed per rush. They struggled early in passing yards allowed, but the secondary has been steadily improving.
Both were solid today, as Sam Bradford was held to 180 yards on 40 passing attempts.
The Seahawks' primary issue on defense has been an inconsistent pass rush. They apply pressure at times, but have appeared to largely take a conservative approach on defense.
They sacked Bradford five times today. They also forced and recovered two fumbles and had an interception, which were the keys to winning their fourth game on the season.
Look for the Seahawks to add a pass-rushing defensive end in the 2012 offseason. Options in the draft may be limited, though, which could leave the Seahawks competing for a player in free agency.
3. The Seahawks Will Be the Clear Competition for the 49ers in the NFC West
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While there is little sense to talk about playoff odds for the 2011 season, the Seahawks and their fans are in a position that is very familiar for the San Francisco 49ers.
Seattle has underperformed at times this year, losing games due to mistakes of young players. They have the youngest starting offensive line in the NFL, and the recurrent false-start penalties are an unacceptable representation of the unit.
Their starting secondary is also very young, and they have been learning on the job about just how little contact the NFL will allow them.
That aside, the Seahawks have a lot of talent on the roster. This will leave fans wondering about how good the team can be next season, a sentiment the 49er fans have been all too familiar with.
The 2012 season could see a resurgence of the NFC West, with the Seahawks and the 49ers battling for playoff seeding instead of just which NFC West team will represent the division.
2. Sidney Rice Was a Great Free-Agency Addition
Sidney Rice's reception put the first 6 points on the board for Seattle.
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Sidney Rice hasn't had the impact some might have expected this season, but he is certainly a difference-maker for the Seahawks.
He was involved in the nicest passing play on the day for Seattle, but not in the way fans would expect. Rice took the ball on an end-around to start the game and hurled the ball further than a few NFL quarterbacks can. The 55-yard reception by Mike Williams made a big opening statement and put the Seahawks in scoring position.
They should have let him throw the next pass, too, and Tarvaris Jackson threw the first of two consecutive interceptions on the next play.
Rice had Seattle's first touchdown on the day and ended up with more passing yards than receiving. He was also on the receiving end of a pass interference call that set up the team's go-ahead field goal.
The stats might not be what many expect, but Rice's presence on the field is certainly being felt by opposing defenses.
In 2012, expect his presence to be more obvious to the fans.
1. The Seahawks Need To Add a Franchise Quarterback in the 2012 Offseason
Tarvaris Jackson has been hit as much as any quarterback this season.
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To be fair, this is something most of us already knew. However, Tarvaris Jackson had shown some signs of improvement over the course of the season, causing some to wonder if he could be the solid game-manager coach Pete Carroll had spoke of.
Jackson may have managed to "win" this game, but his decision-making continues to be suspect.
Jackson's best trait this season has been his ability to take a beating and keep throwing the ball. While that is an important feature behind the youngest offensive line in football on the most injury-riddled unit over the last few seasons, it isn't enough going forward.
There are several options Seattle can look at in April's draft, as discussed in an article published earlier this week. There will also likely be a few options in free agency.
The Seahawks front office needs to determine which quarterback will make a solid mark in Seattle and make their move.