Seahawks Insider

Monday morning review

Post by Dave Boling / The News Tribune on Oct. 18, 2010 at 6:17 am with 18 Comments »
October 18, 2010 6:17 am

The thrust of my Sunday preview of the Seahawks-Bears game was that although the Hawks were given little chance to win, it didn’t mean that they didn’t have the chance to make statements in some very critical areas.

In so many of those, they responded in the most positive of ways with a 23-20 win. In fact, this seemed like something of a landmark win as it slaughtered so many of the monkeys that had been on the franchise back for years. I may examine this as some kind of psychological, belief-building breakthrough effort for tomorrow’s column after collecting interviews this afternoon.

For now, a look back. We pinpointed the need for Matt Hasselbeck to find his rhythm and comfort after having thrown five interceptions in the last three games. Hasselbeck used the bye week to study and prepare. He missed some passes, but was very much in control, completing 25 of 40 with a touchdown and NO INTERCEPTIONS. He got rid of the ball in a hurry without the kind of judgment errors that could cost the team. This was a very positive game in a difficult environment.

His quick decisions helped keep the Bears without sacks. Amazingly. But another of the showcase elements of this one was the play of rookie left tackle Russell Okung against Julius Peppers. Because of an ankle injury Okung had played just 26 snaps this season, but he performed well above reasonable expectations and Peppers came away with just two tackles and zero sacks. Okung played with great balance and strength and patience, and didn’t overcommit to Peppers’ moves. Perhaps most encouraging should be the way he dealt with some of the twists and tackle-end games they threw at him. For the most part, he got a good punch on Peppers, and then was able to feed him off to the guard knowing that the tackle or another threat was coming his way. He’s also a terrific run blocker. On the Forsett touchdown, he got a body on Brian Uhrlacher and completely handled him. The statement his effort made for the future of the franchise was truly significant.

Of course, we wanted to see what impact the acquisition of Marshawn Lynch would have. Enormous. One of the most misleading stats of this game is Lynch’s modest rushing totals 17-44. Some of Lynch’s best runs of the day were behind the line of scrimmage, turning sure losses into no-gains or small gains. Several times as I was charting the game, I highlighted Lynch runs that were just back to the line of scrimmage. In the past, those loses had been drive killers. His efforts certainly helped create a “change-up” factor for Justin Forsett, who picked up 67 yards on 10 carries. This 1-2 punch will change the look of this team the rest of the season. And Lynch came at the cost of a fourth-round pick. Huge addition.

We knew that the trade of Deion Branch to New England would open the way for other receivers, Deon Butler, specifically. He had a nice day, with four catches and a touchdown. But it also looked like the time to get Mike Williams more involved. He had seemed like such an obvious target that they had not yet entirely exploited. He was Sunday, with 10 catches for 123 yards. Hasselbeck’s increasing trust and reliance on him was rewarded, and it will be a connection that will create secondary match-up problems the rest of the way.

We noted an obvious point, that the Bears had been inconsistent with their protection of Jay Cutler, a possible vulnerability. With a beautiful blitz scheme, the Hawks got six sacks from a variety of players, including a sack for safety out of Jordan Babineaux.

The final element previewed was one of the most important: How this staff used the two-week bye period to build schemes and confidence heading into this one would be illustrative of the coaching “chops” these guys have. They responded in so many ways: The effective blitz package; the pass-blocking scheme, some interesting plays (the little trap-draw that Forsett scored on was perfect); and mostly the attitude the team took on the road.

After having been shellacked twice on the road this season, this team easily could have crumbled emotionally when the Bears came out and scored with no trouble on the first drive. A fragile team would have. This bunch did not. They came back and scored, and eventually took control of a game on the road, against a quality opponent, in a 10 a.m. start, after a bye – reverting form on so many of the factors that had doomed them in the past.

It added up to what should be an enormous confidence-building win for a team in the early stages of rebuilding.

Leave a comment Comments → 18
  1. BrianBlades says:

    The team was prepared and did not fold despite the start (the 58-yard PI call that led to a quick 7 for the Bears).
    This is all new, and welcome, territory for these Hawks.

    Nice work to Pete Carroll and the FO.

  2. Dukeshire says:

    Well said, Eric. I will be interesting to read player comments the day after.

    One of the few negatives from yesterday was Golden Tate Dropped pass and a very shaky day returning punts. He’ll be better.

  3. So Ruskell is in Chi-town now right, haven’t seen many comments gloating about how we “got revenge”, lol. Also, was the Bears O-line this bad before Ruskell came there? The way the Bears line played reminded me of the O-line Seattle has had the last few seasons, couldn’t block anybody, quarterback getting pressured as soon as he got the snap, hit on a lot of plays, it was not pretty, glad we are more stable on both lines.

  4. Just think of the talent infusion this year: Okung, Thomas, Tate, BMW, Lynch, Thurmond, etc.

    Hitting on the first-round draft picks is so important (look at what Bradford is doing for the Rams). But so is finding diamonds in the rough, like BMW.

    Speaking of him, did he sign a one- or two-year contract?

  5. I believe he’s under team control through 2011. I asked that very question some months ago.

  6. Yes. Way more positives from yesterday than negatives.

    The negatives:

    Although the OL did well (good scheme too) in pass protection yesterday, the run blocking still isn’t good. When Lynch has to make great runs just to get back to the LOS or gain a yard or two, that’s pretty pathetic. The OL must get better.

    Our TE needs to make tougher catches (beaten like a dead horse yesterday on the blog).

    Tate – see Duke comment above.

    Giving up the long pass plays on defense needs to be done more in moderation.

    I’d like the positives, but there are so dang many of them and most were already covered. Great win yesterday. Great win especially after digging an early hole. Great win! Dang great win! Golly-Gee Gosh Darn Win! Happy-Happy Joy-Joy Win! Our troops really showed us something and gave themselves confidence and us a reason to be proud of Seahawks football again. I know it’s only one game and if they lose next week this one really doesn’t mean much, but it’s a huge step nonetheless.

  7. Dave Boling says:

    Yes, BobbyK … I didn’t get to many of the negatives in this post because there were so many positives to touch on.

    The punt to Hester when everybody in the stadium knew that was the only way the Bears could get back into the game????

    Stacy Andrews with another penalty? I think guard play is still a concern.

    A couple dropped passes that looked like lapsing concentration rather than physical shortcomings. Not good.

    A couple of Matt’s throws seemed to lack conviction.

    There were a few others, too, but none cost them the game as would have been the case in so many other road losses we’ve seen.

    One point that jumped out at me as I looked at the standings: Who would have believed that the Hawks would have a better record than Green Bay at this point, and have as many wins as Dallas and Minnesota — combined?

  8. Thanks, BobbyK. Would be great to see BMW turn into the player he was supposed to be.

    We sometimes forget that a great team is not just about individual stars, but about chemistry. And PC seems to building that.

  9. I feel like Tony the Tiger — That’s Greeeaaat! lol

    Good stuff.

  10. Dukeshire says:

    Sorry Dave, I did it again.

  11. One thing that I feel has been totally overlooked in how we are starting to be more competitive is our special teams. (Tate’s day included)

    The overall benefit of the million and a half roster moves they have made is the fact that we have young , HUNGRY, players who are willing to sell out on Special teams.

    Look at our kick coverage teams. When the other teams score they immediately have to worry about Washington having a big run back on them and there is like a 1 in 3 (made up numbers – not based on fact) chance that we are going to start past our own 40 with a short field to have to respond to the score with.

    When we score I think we are the league leaders in field position after a kick off. Which is putting us in good position to get the ball back in a good spot.

    Ryan is a STUD. now he out kicked his coverage yesterday on the one punt but how much of that had to do with the wind pushing the ball back towards the middle.

    Tate and the Punt team will continue to get better, but I don’t think it will be long before teams have to worry about Tate like they worry about Washington on the kick offs!!

    All of these things added with an improved Offense can be great things that contribute to winning on the road. Win the field position battle and you will have a chance to win.

  12. Great wrap-up of the game, Dave. You really hit the major points. And the major points of improvement for our team were HUGE yesterday.

    I am still amazed at this game. I woke up this morning pinching myself. Did it really go down this way in Chicago? Really?

    Amazement #1: The Seahawks won on the road, without the roar of the 12th Man, outside the NFC West, for the first time in years. This required a complete team effort. Allow no sacks. Allow no interceptions. Allow no fumbles. Take it to the home team’s offense. Take it to the home team’s defense. Keep them off balance. Never relent. I did not believe these young Seahawks could do this for 60 minutes. This team now believes in themselves. And every fan should believe in Pete Carroll and his coaching staff.

    Amazement #2: The O Line was transformed by Russell Okung. The line was not simply better, it was qualitatively different. Gone was the TE blocking alongside the LT on most plays. Gone was the backfield’s obsession with pass protection. Russell Okung handles Peppers and his talented teammates with the confidence of an old pro. Okung’s balance and strength are something we have not seen at LT in two years, and it changes what the offense can do. Matt Hasselbeck looked more confident in the pocket than he has looked since Walter Jones protected his blind side.

    Amazement #3: Pressure from everywhere. Pressure from the Leo, from Safety blitzes, everywhere. The Bears line and backfield could not account for Gus Bradley’s Wrecking Crew. This was supposed to be the weakness of the Seahawks, too few talented pass rushers. Bradley threw the kitchen sink at the Bears offense and kept them off balance in their own home stadium. Great Coaching and defensive effort.

  13. Dave Boling says:

    Interesting tidbit from our friend Mike Sando on his ESPN NFC West blog: “The Bears are 0-for-25 on third down in Jay Cutler’s past two starts and 4-for-45 in his past four.”

  14. CHawkFanIn9erLand says:

    This win put a big smile on my face. I’m still cracking up that i actually woke up, remembered the game, and started smiling again. I’m still impressed that the team had the confidence and belief in each other to execute after the opening TD from da berrs. The difference I saw from this game … people did their job, held to their assignments. Each player competed, which allowed us to make plays. It’s huge, being 3-2 and knowing, KNOWING we can make the plays when we need to, and on the road against a good team. It’s a nice change heading into week 7 without reading articles discussing how the team isn’t mathematically out of the playoffs. It’s a small sample, but the trend lines for improvement on this team are pretty remarkable. I actually believe that coach PC has a vision and a plan that will get this team somewhere special. SWEET!

  15. This win shows that Hasselbeck has still got what it takes– especially in the leadership department. Where are all the haters today?

  16. variable575 says:

    rodman-

    Ditto!

    What a suprise. Protect Hass and provide a running game and look what happens!

    In all fairness to ML, his stats should include the yardage on those running plays that got blown up 10-15 yrds behind the line of scrimmage and the yards that he gained getting back to it.

  17. Carlsonkid says:

    I think the up-tempo offense really helped Matt out a lot . Matt just plays better when the hustle up to the line of scrimmage and don’t dawdle in the huddle . The communication between him and Bates seems to be pretty good – certainly no problem getting the plays in on time like San Fran .

    But I have to question the play calling by Bates at the start of the 4th quarter where we obviously needed to run the ball and eat some clock and he calls 3 passes in a row ?! I think there was a little under 12 minutes left in the game at that point . That was a little upsetting – one thing I think the coaching staff still needs to improve on is clock management . The Bears were down 10 points at the time and needed 2 scores to get back in it – you want to eat some time off the clock and not give them let them get too comfortable thinking they will get 2 more possessions .

    Great game Seahawks ! Now it’s back home to the Q and some 12th man love , bring on Arizona and their rookie QB !!

  18. bird_spit says:

    Cutler’s issue is the Martz scheme would require top flight O-LINE. Cutler is left so vulnerable. When Cutler is not there, Martz has more balance with the running game. My point is, I have no doubt Cutler is a good young QB, but his oline is not good enough for the scheme.

    So even QBs with strong arms, and young legs look like they are not so good. Much like the issues that Hass has faced the past few seasons. Cutler will be injured again if they keep this up.

    Just think, Tim Ruskell will be helping build a winner there. Timmy, some advice. It’s the line play!

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