Seattle Seahawks Week 11 Report Card: Grading Each Unit vs. St. Louis Rams

Darin PikeContributor INovember 21, 2011

Seattle Seahawks Week 11 Report Card: Grading Each Unit vs. St. Louis Rams

0 of 9

    There is been plenty of blame to go around for the Seattle Seahawks six losses this season. The same holds true following their fourth win on the season, a convincing 24-7 win against the St. Louis Rams (2-8).

    Despite appearing the better team on paper, this is the type of game the Seahawks managed to lose earlier this year. They had two early turnovers, the second leading to a 7-0 deficit.

    Their losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys turned on three turnovers and special teams lapses.

    Losses to the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and CIncinnati Bengals were due in part to two turnovers in each of those games.

    Seattle could have easily let their early struggles derail their game on Sunday, too...but they didn't.

    Tarvaris Jackson rallied after throwing interceptions on his first two passes of the game. Even without those passes, his day won't go down as one to remember.

    Seattle did rally and followed their game plan on Sunday. They played stingy defense and ran the ball well enough to effectively control the pace of the game.

    The offense was far from dominant, as Seattle managed just 3.2 yards per carry and failed to reach 300 yards in offense. That won't lead to a win in most games.

    However, Seattle forced three turnovers and held the Rams offense in check.

    For this game, the Seahawks offense did enough. More importantly, the team effort was a demonstration of how the Seahawks intend to win games.

    If only they played the Rams, whom they've beaten in 12 of the last 13 contests, more than twice a season.

Offensive Line: B-

1 of 9

    I admit this might be a bit high for the unit in this game. They did allow Tarvaris Jackson to be hit early and often rushers had short or no gains.

    However, Jackson was to blame for a few of the sacks and the ground game was good enough to facilitate two solid touchdown runs.

    Considering the Seahawks had two new starters on the right side, the line played well today.

    Seattle has had a string of injuries on their offensive line, but that is nothing new to the team. Rolling out a new offensive line almost every week has become a bit of a tradition for the Seahawks in the last few seasons.

    If Seattle can keep the current crew on the field over the final six games they should see solid results. That is a big "if" for the Seahawks, though.

    The offensive line continues to rack up penalties for false starts and holding. Russell Okung was also flagged for unnecessary roughness when he arrived to the pile following a play. He applied a hit that can best be described as playing patty-cake, but it was still good for a drive-killing 15 yard penalty.

    In years past, I'd expect the coaching staff to keep the quarterback and offensive line after practice to drill snap counts into their heads. However, that is a bit more complicated this season due to the new collective bargaining agreement.

    On the flip side, officials continue to throw flags on the Seahawks for infractions that are ignored on most teams. I'd struggled with how much of that measure was a bias.

    Officials spend the week leading up to the game scouting the teams and reviewing infractions from prior weeks. It seems as though officials enter the games looking for certain infractions. Whether they actually see them is debatable at times, but they are predisposed to thinking they will. 

Wide Receivers: B

2 of 9

    The Seahawks' best play of the game involved two wide receivers. That is a bit odd for a passing game, but odd seems to be a norm for a team that loses to the Browns but beats the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens.

    Seattle's first play from scrimmage was a huge completion from a former Minnesota Viking to Mike Williams. It wasn't Tarvaris Jackson throwing the ball, though. It was Sidney Rice who tossed a perfect pass 55 yards downfield, hitting Williams in stride.

    Rice later had a 14-yard touchdown reception, giving the Seahawks a 7-7 tie.

    Seattle receivers caught the passes they should have—with perhaps two exceptions. They showed hustle and effort before and after the catch, as noted by Mike Williams' big reception and a Doug Baldwin catch that covered 35 yards.

    The total yards on the day were a marginal total, but they were efficient. Seattle average 13.5 yards per catch on their 15 receptions.

    One could argue that Ben Obomanu should have been working back towards Jackson on the second interception of the game. He appeared to have settled into a spot without enough separation from the Rams' secondary.

    Player

    REC

    Yards

    TD

    Long

    Targets

    Mike Williams

    2

    62

    0

    55

    5

    Doug Baldwin

    3

    60

    0

    35

    5

    Sidney Rice

    3

    35

    1

    14

    3

    Golden Tate

    1

    16

    0

    16

    3

    Ben Obomanu

    1

    11

    0

    11

    4

    Zach Miller

    1

    10

    0

    10

    1

    Michael Robinson

    1

    6

    0

    6

    1

    Justin Forsett

    1

    2

    0

    2

    1

    Marshawn Lynch

    2

    1

    0

    5

    2

    Team

    15

    203

    1

    55

    25


Running Backs: A-

3 of 9

    This grade is definitely an average of the positives and negatives in the ground game. 

    The positives were obvious. Seattle ran the ball 39 times, controlling the ball for 35 minutes. They also added two rushing touchdowns today, one of which belonged to Marshawn Lynch. This extended his streak to six straight games with a touchdown.

    Seattle did manage just 3.2 yards per carry, though. Most of that can be blamed on a wall of defenders facing the ball carriers, though.

    Marshawn Lynch was a workhorse on Sunday, handling 27 of the carries. While Lynch looked disinterested at times earlier in the season, he has shown energy and drive in the last three games. 

    Lynch has been hitting holes with purpose and a head of steam. Improved blocking has likely improved his outlook and expectations can certainly be a driver for a running back. This being a contract season for Lynch doesn't likely hurt, either.

    Name

    Carries

    Yards

    AVG

    Tds

    Long

    Marshawn Lynch

    27

    88

    3.3

    1

    12

    Justin Forsett

    4

    31

    7.8

    1

    22

    Tarvaris Jackson

    2

    10

    5.0

    0

    8

    Leon Washington

    6

    -3

    -0.5

    0

    1

    Team

    39

    126

    3.2

    2

    22



Quarterbacks: C-

4 of 9

    Immediate reaction to this grade may very well be that Tarvaris Jackson doesn't deserve a grade this high.

    I would readily agree.

    However, I'm taking some liberty and looking at the passers in this game, not just the quarterback position. Jackson can thank Sidney Rice for his actual grade not being printed.

    Jackson had a very difficult start to the game. Poor decision-making early on led to interceptions on his first two passes. It also contributed to being sacked four times on the day. 

    It is understandable if Jackson was a little wary headed into this game. He was, after all, playing behind the 10th different starting offensive line combination in just 10 games this season. Perhaps it is actually just the eighth combination, but the point remains.

    Jackson had two new starters on the right side of the offensive line after rookies John Moffitt and James Carpenter were lost for the season over the prior week.

    Jackson eventually found his rhythm. He completed 10 of 16 passes in the final three quarters with a touchdown and 124 yards. Forgettable numbers, perhaps, but it was exactly what the Seahawks needed from him.

    Using the new espn.com rating system, Jackson's overall performance was slightly below average. His 43.5, as reported by NFC West blogger Mike Sando, is far from terrible on the 100 point scale where 50 is an average/neutral score.

    The land of futility was found by two other NFC West quarterbacks on Sunday, including that of the Seahawks opponent. Sam Bradford posted a very disappointing 13.7, while John Skelton  tallied an almost unbelievable 0.9. 

    Yes, things could be worse for the Seahawks at the quarterback position. They could also be better.

    Name

    C/ATT

    Yards

    AVG

    TD

    INT

    Rate

    Tarvaris Jackson

    14/24

    148

    6.2

    1

    2

    55.6

    Sidney Rice

    1/1

    55

    55.0

    0

    0

    118.8

    Team

    15/25

    163

    6.5

    1

    2

     

Defensive Line: A

5 of 9

    The Seahawks are earning a reputation as a tough run defense. Solid play from the defensive line, along with quality support from a big, physical secondary, have kept the Seahawks in the top five for yards per carry.

    The concern with the defensive line has been their ability to pressure the quarterback.

    While some of the lack of pressure is the result of a defensive scheme that drops defenders into coverage, Chris Clemons has been the only consistent threat to get to quarterbacks this season.

    He had a bit of help on Sunday, but it was hard to notice.

    Clemons kept his barrage on opposing quarterbacks, compiling three sacks and three quarterback hits. He forced two fumbles and added a pass defense, leading to an interception by Seattle's other star defensive end, Red Bryant.

    Bryant saw more activity in the passing game on Sunday. His interception came one play after recording a sack on Bradford. His best move of the day was the stiff arm on his interception return. 

    Seattle held the Rams to just 2.5 yards per carry. The unit has much better depth in 2011, possibly contributing to improved health. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can rotate in players without the huge drop in production that was the concern during the 2010 season.

Linebackers: A-

6 of 9

    It is difficult to find issues with a defensive unit that surrendered just seven points and less than 200 yards of offense. 

    The linebackers for Seattle had their best outing of the season, involving themselves in rushing and passing defense. They even helped pressure the quarterback, with Leroy Hill's sack of Sam Bradford among the highlights.

    The tight ends haven't been productive for St. Louis this season. Seattle's linebackers made sure that continued in this game—and area where the team has struggled this season.

    Another difficulty has been limiting running backs in the passing game. Jackson had three catches for just 19 yards.

    The re-emergence of Leroy Hill has certainly helped this unit, providing a quality player and a veteran presence. Rookie K.J. Wright is picking up the defense, offering a good outlook for this unit.

Defensive Backs: A-

7 of 9

    I'd like to personally thank the members of the Seahawks secondary for their solid play over the last several weeks. Aside from the enjoyment they are giving their fans, their play is supporting several assertions I've made about how good this group actually is.

    Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman both joined Seattle in the offseason. Sherman came in a traditional route via the NFL draft. Browner was a John Schneider find from the CFL. Both had two pass deflections in the game.

    Along with the best young safety tandem in the NFL, Seattle's corners helped keep the Rams offense in check on Sunday. 

    There is some work that needs to be done by this unit. They continue to rack up penalties along with pass deflections. Kam Chancellor is facing a large fine and possibly a suspension for his second helmet-to-helmet hit in as many games.

    Chancellor's penalty on Sunday is difficult to address. There is no evidence he intended to collide with Lance Kendricks' head. Chancellor was going in for the tackle as Kendricks began to fall. Their heads met, which drew the penalty.

    Asking Chancellor to pull back on his play isn't in the cards, but expecting him to keep his head up in certainly needed.

Special Teams: A

8 of 9

    Some analysts denounce the idea that special teams is a third of the NFL game, sharing equal status with offense and defense.

    For the Seahawks this season, the argument could be made that special teams needs a higher billing.

    Breakdowns in the coverage units cost the Seahawks a chance to win in Week 1 and Week 8 games. On the flip side, two forced fumbles and stingy kickoff coverage were critical in their Week 10 win.

    I've discussed the bi-polar nature of the units in previous weeks. It was refreshing to see the Dr. Jekyll version still on the field for the Seahawks on Sunday.

    Sunday saw the continuance of solid special teams play. Leon Washington contributed to the Seahawks solid field position with 74 yards on seven returns. His 25-yard return to the St. Louis 40 helped set up the Seahawks first touchdown on the game.

    Jon Ryan continued what should be a Pro Bowl season. He averaged 49.7 yards on nine punts, including two huge field-position changing punts. 

    Place kicker Steven Hauschka didn't get the opportunities he had last week, but hit on all four of his extra point-distance kicks. He was also proficient on kickoffs, keeping the Rams at their 20 yard line on three of his four kicks.

Week 8 Predictions: B-

9 of 9

    After Seattle's Week 8 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Bleacher Report ran a series of projections for the second half of the season.

    My projections for the games against Dallas and the Ravens turned fairly close to projections, both in the type of game and the final outcome.

    This week things went sideways. I had predicted Seattle would visit St. Louis to play a Rams team riding the high of a three-game winning streak. That didn't happen, and neither did a close win by the Rams.

    On a contrary note, I did forecast an end to my streak headed into this game.

    A predicted loss to the Chicago Bears, who are now without Jay Cutler, could also be in jeopardy.