Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gut check time

In St. Louis last Sunday, Seattle got outcoached and outplayed for the second consecutive week.

There was no shame in falling for that brilliant fake punt return... I have never seen anything like that in my life. St. Louis deserved to reap the benefits of incredible film study, diabolical design and epic execution.

But I saw that fake punt coming at the end of the game. I was yelling "Watch the fake!" at my TV in the seconds before the play. At the snap, all of the Seahawks turned and ran downfield to set up the return. I couldn't believe it.

Russell Wilson returned to greatness in the second half. If it were possible for one man to carry a team to victory, Wilson would have done it.

It will be easier to fix the problems with the offense and special teams than it will be to fix the defense. The chemistry is gone. We made a Rams reserve look like Tom Brady last week.

There are personnel issues. Loss of depth on the D-line, Bobby Wagner sidelined, a rotating cast of #2 cornerbacks, Kam Chancellor hobbled but playing with heart....

Good teams overcome these kinds of setbacks.

But our opponents have figured out our scheme. They have figured out how to use tempo to hinder our defensive line rotations, even as lack of depth has forced us to keep exhausted starters on the field too long. They have worked out how to game-plan around Richard Sherman. It was encouraging to see Sherman leave his side of the field to match up with the Rams' #1 wideout in a few key situations.

Players and coaches need to step up. Leaders need to lead.

At .500, it's time to channel the spirit of Jim Mora the Elder. This is no longer about repeating as Super Bowl champions. It is no longer about winning the division or qualifying for the postseason. ("Playoffs?") It is not even, with all due respect to Jim Mora, about just winning a game. As I used to tell my players, thinking about winning the game is a distraction, for the most part.

Football is always about executing your assignment and winning the current play. And then the next one. And the next one. Until the game is over, by which time the score and the winning and losing take care of themselves.

Carolina is having a bad year, but St. Louis was slumping, too.

The only sense in which our Super Bowl ring is relevant on the field is the fact that everyone wants to give us their best shot so they can say they beat the defending Super Bowl champions.

Feed the Beast. Sack Cam. Go, Hawks!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lord have mercy, we cut Percy

I still can't believe we lost to Dallas. At home.

The recipe for a Seattle loss is clear: Fail to feed the Beast, and let the opposing offense hold the ball twice as long as your offense.

I can't believe Darrell Bevell couldn't figure out how to integrate Percy Harvin into the offense. As a coach, I never had the problem of too many weapons, but it seems like it would have been a nice problem to have. For example, when Dallas showed they would swarm Harvin every time he touched the ball, I would have used him as a decoy while feeding the Beast and other playmakers until the defense adjusts.

Of course, the offensive coordinator is not to blame for Harvin's attitude problem. Picking fights with fellow receivers and your quarterback is bad enough, but refusing to enter the game in the 4th quarter was beyond the pale. Pussy Harvin now gets what he deserves: exile to a program of perennial losers, the dysfunctional New York Jets.

Bevell still has his work cut out for him. Future defenses will follow Dallas in modifying their pass rush and deploying a spy to contain Russell Wilson in the pocket. We need an answer for that, and it must involve 1) running the ball well and 2) receivers getting open. Neither task is easy, given the injuries to Pro Bowl center Max Unger and our top two tight ends, Zach Miller and Luke Willson. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse need to establish that they are credible starting NFL wideouts.

We can't blame Harvin or Bevell for Seattle's defensive struggles. We're giving up too many yards and too many points, generating too few turnovers, and giving opponents too much time of possession.

We have generally stopped the run (except against Dallas), but the pass rush needs to put more pressure and punishment on opposing quarterbacks.

Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas continue to play reasonably well, but otherwise, the secondary has become the Legion of Meh. We've been unlucky with injuries at nickelback and the other cornerback position. At strong safety, Kam Chancellor is playing hurt and it shows. I generally doubt that hurt starters can outperform healthy reserves.

It's gut check time. We're 3-2, just one win above mediocrity, holding third place in a four-team division. We can't afford to drop our first division game. The Rams are having another bad year, but under Jeff Fisher they generally put a good fight, especially at home.

Seattle needs to make a statement to exorcise the demons of last week's loss, get the season back on track, and remind the Rams that we still own them.

Go, Hawks!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Keep Ricardo Lockette!

I feel bad about having hate against Ricardo Lockette as the top story on this blog during its many months of dormancy.

Lockette was cleared of legal wrongdoing, though consorting with Colin Kaepernick still constitutes ethical misconduct in my book.

But Ricardo Rocket has won my heart. He is the most imposing gunner I have ever seen, the way he flies downfield like a molten bullet on punt coverage. It no longer seems possible for Jon Ryan to outkick his coverage because Ricardo Rocket runs so unbelievably fast. Opposing punt returners are quick to call for a fair catch because they've seen Lockette unload with Kam Chancellor-like brutality on the hapless fools who fail to seize that lifeline. (He runs hard on kickoffs, too, but Stephen Hauschka rarely kicks it shallow enough for the returner to catch the ball in the field of play.)

I appreciated the good personnel decisions the team made in the offseason. Losing Red Bryant was sad, but understandable. It was disappointing that the low-stakes Terrell Pryor gamble didn't pay off. I rued our failure to draft more O-linemen, and was really bummed about the injuries to Lemuel Jeanpierre and Michael Bowie and the latter's loss to Cleveland.

The O-line seemed improved through the first three games, but their play last week was disgraceful, and the loss of Max Unger hurts. Expect Dallas to try to confound the backup center Schilling with bizarre shifts, stunts and blitz packages.

Still, the first quarter of the season went well, marred only by the loss to San Diego.

Our run defense has improved, but the pass rush and the secondary haven't quite rounded into form. The potent Cowboy offense should pose a challenge, but the 12th Man might amp up the Legion of Boom and turn this into a repeat of the season opener where we made Green Bay's great offense look lame.

Future posts will likely continue to be sporadic. Personal and professional pressures have left me with very little time for anything. Not that it matters. Seattle is so good now that there is no shortage of coverage from local and national publications and blogs. I used to read almost everything published on the Seahawks, but my available my time and energy have dwindled as Seattle football coverage has exploded. I can't keep up with it. I barely find time to watch the games anymore. I certainly don't feel informed enough to attempt original commentary, even if I had time to do so.

I really appreciate everyone who used to read the blog sometimes, especially JB, who was kind enough to post comments on several occasions.

But when your mom is a hardcore Seahawks Diehard and even she won't read your blog, it is probably wise to conclude that you're wasting your time.

Go, Hawks!