Well that was fun wasn’t it?
One of the most surprising aspects of the Seahawks win over the Ravens on Sunday was the total dedication to the run game against the impressive Baltimore Ravens defense. What was even more shocking was the Ravens total dedication to every aspect of their offense that didn’t include Ray Rice running the ball.
Let’s take a look at three aspects of Sunday’s game that I loved, and three that drove me nuts.
Things I loved:
The Dedication to the running game: Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, and Leon Washington combined for 36 carries on Sunday. Of which, 19 came on first down. Huge credit goes to the offensive line, for what could be their statement game of the season. The much maligned unit put their big boy pants on, and pushed the Raven’s Pro-Bowlers up and down the field all day. The fact that players like Ray lewis, Ed Reed, H. Ngata and Terrell Suggs made very few plays, and almost 0 impact plays says something. Anybody that follows me on twitter can tell you that I am a huge fan of that philosophy. Running early and often can really set tempo, and the overall mood of the game. Offensive lineman love to fire out and hit, over constant retreat, and protection. That’s not to say the other method isn’t successful, I’m just saying that for whatever reason, NFL coaches seem to be very paradigm locked into a pass first, past often approach. I love the fact that Pete Carroll does not subscribe to this philosophy, and that fact may make us very difficult to handle in the future. Teams are building defenses with speed, and cover ability all over the league. A large, physical run first, and run often team causes a huge match up problem. This is one reason I think some people may be missing the point on the Seahawks QB situation. Pete Carroll, and company may not need the Peyton Manning, Tom Brady type QB to win. I hate to say this, but the 49ers are what Pete Carroll is building the Seahawks to resemble, just one year behind. Large, physical, hard running, a game manager at QB, and an elite defense. Oh by the way, that model is currently 8-1.
The Play of Richard Sherman at the corner position: I ran out of adjectives yesterday trying to describe Sherman’s play. It’s astonishing to see a man his size with such a rare combination of speed, strength, and extraordinary hip flip ability. He plays the ball in the air, and is not afraid to get physical with receivers without constant PI calls. He could easily develop into a Pro-Bowl caliber player within 3 years if his progression stays on track.
Tarvaris Jackson: Call me crazy, but I have a strange feeling that if the Seahawks are unlucky in the draft this year (Forced to draft project guy in later rounds) I wouldn’t be surprised to see one more year of Tarvaris as the Seahawks QB. He has not been stellar, but he has played very solid ball, and considering what the Seahawks want to try to become, I can see him filling a Alex Smith type roll while a young 2nd-3rd round pick waits his turn. Yesterday Tarvaris Jackson was 17-27, 217 yards and had 0 turnovers. The turnover stat made me extremely happy considering the pressure I thought he’d be under. I just knew Ed Reed was primed for his break out game of 2011, and Tarvaris was going to help him get there. Man I love it when I’m wrong.
Things that made me want to throw something at the TV.
Penalties: I’m not sure what it is about this team, but I guess I’m just used to the smarter brand of football Mike Holmgren gave us for nearly 10 years. Youth is a huge factor here, but man, 13 penalties for 100 yards is tough to overcome if you are team in transition. I got into a small debate last night with another former coach I respect about the overall impact of penalties, and how that translates into winning or losing. He contended that they don’t have the impact I think they do. Well, without someone doing a 20 year study on penalties by down and distance, time remaining, score when penalty occurred, and many other variables, we may never know. All I know is this. Penalties that stop the proper progression of play calling, and put our offense in the hole, are in a word…Bad. I also know that penalties that extend opponents drives, and give them huge chunks of yards on 3rd down are umm….Bad. Not sure you can dispute that. So far this year, the Seahawks have inflicted so much damage to themselves in important to critical situations they have made winning very difficult to achieve.
The Mike Williams problem. After watching Mike Williams live, and at a very close distance (Thanks to my Wife for the great seats in Denver) one thing stood out to me. He does not separate from defenders..at all. Now, that’s not the worst thing if you have a top flight QB who can put the ball on the back shoulder of a fly from 20 yards, but we do not currently have that guy on the roster. Actually, neither does 97% of the NFL. Williams can be a huge asset to this team, but his skill set does not seem to mesh well with Jackson’s. This is not a Mike Williams capability issue. This is a proper utilization and execution issue. His height and size need to be a huge part of our RedZone package at least. Get it done Bevell.
Covering the TE.
Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, and the superstar Ravens TE Ed Dickson. Okay, okay, I went over the top on praising those Gonzales, and Witten nobodies, but my point is our linebackers, whether by scheme or poor technique, struggle to cover pass catching TEs. Dickson had to feel like he was running route drills on air all day. This has been a troubling trend all year, and one that I honestly thought could be repaired when Aaron Curry left. Not so much.
This chart just gives a glimpse at how the Seahawks have fared against TE’s this year. Not overly awful, but definitely an area teams are focusing on when they face us. Time to tighten that up.
Game Balls: Steven Hauschka (5 FGs), Marshawn Lynch (32-109, 1TD, 5 Catches-58yds), Richard Sherman (2 Pass defenses, and stellar play all day), and of course Baltimore Ravens KR David Reed..
After that video I’ll leave you with this: The next four games (@Rams, Redskins, Eagles, Rams) are all very winnable games. With quality wins against the Giants, and Ravens, it’s not a capability issue if we don’t..
So what’s your take?