Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Arizona Cardinals are no doubt knee deep in a depressing week. And knowing that feels so, so good. The Seattle Seahawks, over the past two seasons, have resembled but a minor bump on the road to the playoffs for the high-flying [Wordpress requires cheesy, bird-related puns when appropriate] Arizona Cardinals. But on Sunday, Arizona found themselves on the the losing side of the scoreboard. Again. This time, at home. In two games, the Seahawks have outscored the Arizona Cardinals by 30 points, thrown for 524 yards, rushed for 254 yards and sacked Arizona’s quarterbacks 7 times. So without further adieu: suck it, Cardinals. The boys in blue are back.
So since this game is 2 days ended, and it’s likely everyone’s tired of reading about it, let’s briefly analyze the good, the bad and the ugly.
Matt Hasselbeck. The touchdown bomb to Deon Butler was something I thought I’d never again see from Hasselbeck. See the highlight (you have to click the name of the clip) – it’s worth the replay. If someone told me that Hasselbeck was cloned years ago, and his 26 year old doppleganger took the field in his stead, I’d have believed it (and fully supported it). Matt had a very solid game playing behind a slowly gelling (but not yet 100% healthy) offensive line, against a very poor pass defense and pass rush. Will we see this Matt again this year? I very much hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.
Brandon’s Back. Thank f#&$ing goodness Brandon Mebane is back. Seriously. The linchpin of the defensive line triumphantly returned and did his thing. I doubt many even noticed. Mebane’s interior presence is disruptive every play, and constant double teams free up Chris Clemons to do his thing. And did his thing he did: two sacks, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. When single teamed, as often is the case when lined up next to Mebane, Clemons is a demon. In Mebane’s four game absence, Clemons collected 1.5 sacks (less than what he did in one game to the Cardinals). When alongside Mebane, Clemons has 6.0 sacks in in five games. Huh. Funny how that works.
Run Blocking. The offensive line continues to struggle. It was able to keep Matt clean most of the game, but that’s not saying much: Arizona has a fairly poor pass rush, and even then, Matt was flushed out of the pocket numerous times. The offensive line still struggles to run block on early downs and the Seahawks’ backs are being met by defenders in the backfield on far, far too many plays. Luckily, Lynch thrives after contact, so the results aren’t disastrous as they’ve been in the past (good riddance, Julius Jones). I have a hard time seeing this change much in 2010. When Okung returns, he alone will free up a blocker for interior run blocking, and that should help. But Pitts and Andrews are struggling at guard, and Locklear is having … what’s the complete, polar opposite of a career year? Yeah, one of those. Offensive line has got to be making a good push for #1 priority next offseason.
Pass Defense. I’m a bit surprised. In 2009, the Seahawks secondary was lit up, due in part to a complete lack of a pass rush. Opposing QBs had all day to throw. This year, in just nine game, the Seahawks are two sacks away from their 2009 total, yet the secondary is still giving up a lot of yards (and this year, they’ve played far inferior QB talent). The Seahawks were able to sack Derek Anderson five times and rush/hit him plenty others, yet he still threw for over 330 yards. It goes to show you that a good pass rush truly isn’t enough to cover for a pass defense. It isn’t enough that the secondary consists of players like Earl Thomas, Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond. The Seahawks have to pursue another elite cornerback. The modern NFL is a passing league, and the defense needs another semi-elite cornerback to complete the secondary. On top of that, Earl and Walter will continue to grow and improve, and hopefully that should make for a very good pass defense.
Albeit a complete pleasure to watch, the truth is that the Seahawks beat up on a pretty weak team. I’m excited about the win, but I’m also forcing myself to remain realistic here: this seasons, the Seahawks have lost to teams with a combined record of 17-18. Not even .500. They’ve won with teams with a combined record of 19-24 (I counted the Cardinals’ record, prior to Sunday’s game, twice because it’s no different than winning with two different teams with the same record). That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the Cardinals, once a formidable foe, are now a fairly poor team. And the more good news is that the Seahawks continue to get healthier and more effective on both sides of the ball. If the defense can stay healthy, and the offense can regain Russell Okung, Brandon Stokley and Michael Robinson, we should see some good, competitive football.
Any comments? Concerns? Anything glaring that I missed?