Ah, the joys of travel. Flight to Chicago canceled, rebooked through Portland to get into Cleveland 3 hours later than scheduled, then flight reinstated, though right on the cusp so I have to try to make it from Concourse C to F in Chicago in 5 minutes or I miss my connection. Ah well, I guess I could be leaving on a 10-day trip with the Sonics.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to this game tomorrow against Cleveland to see what, if any, progress the Seahawks have made. It's interesting to listen to the national perspective of the Seahawks, who have been labeled for the most part as a middling team that doesn't scare anybody any more. I wonder if Shaun had not fumbled that ball in Arizona and they were 5-2 instead of 4-3 if the perception would be the same. Because I, like Mike Holmgren, still think they have not played their best football. I don't think they are 2005 level, but if they can get a little run going after this week, when they play five straight teams with losing records, who knows what that does for their confidence, and in the NFC that is everything at this point.
How they play in Cleveland I think will say a lot. They don't really have that many excuses. They are playing at 4, so their body clocks are intact, they get an extra hour because of daylight savings time, and they went in a day earlier to get adjusted. They have had a week off to nurse their injuries, and they are facing a team with a putrid defense. I know this isn't apples to apples, but if you take their 33-6 victory over St. Louis and compare it to Cleveland's 27-20 victory, you would think that Seattle would win this thing easily, just on the strength of their defense. Darryl Tapp and Brandon Mebane have a fresh confidence, Patrick Kerney seems like he is ramping it up and the D backs are pretty solid. The immovable object argument is Cleveland's penchant for going over the top and Seattle's ability so far this year to stop the deep pass. That was exclusively Brian Russell's job in Cleveland, so I would hope that he protects the deep part of the field against his former team.
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The thing to really keep an eye on is the running game. Mike Holmgren has finally fired some shots across the bows of the offensive lineman. While Chris Gray may know better, Rob Sims has been affected, particularly since he is going home to play in front of a lot of people. With his late father having played for the Browns, let's just say he is motivated, as is Shaun, who is desperate to have the criticism leveled at him stopped. If they get in close, I can't imagine Holmgren doesn't call a few TD runs for him, his claim that he doesn't play notwithstanding. It would boost Shaun's ego and give the line confidence.
I find it interesting that Holmgren's former team, the Green Bay Packers, are having success without a running game. If Alexander is unable to get going this week, I want to ask Holmgren the question of why he thinks he can't have success in the NFC with a pass-only attack when he sees his former team doing it. Granted, Matt Hasselbeck is not Brett Favre, but he has enough talent and enough receivers to dink and dunk. If they can't get the run game going against Cleveland, of all teams, does it make sense to keep banging their head against the wall? Holmgren probably is not comfortable adopting a new philosophy at this point in his career, but it's an interesting premise.
Other things to watch:
How Darryl Tapp plays following hand surgery. Will he have the same aggressiveness and the same capability he did when he had four sacks against St. Louis?
Is Hasselbeck really healed from the oblique injury? He looked like it in practice this week, but when he has to scramble from the rush will it be a hindrance?
How closely is Shaun's wrist to being healed? I think he has a very legitimate excuse for not being able to run the same way because of the injury. I want to see what he is doing when the wrist feels close to 100 percent.
How will Charlie Frye be treated in his return home? Not that he will see the field but it will be interesting to see if the former Akron star is razzed or appreciated for his college and high school exploits.
Is Leonard Weaver starting to pick up the offense more readily? The coaches keep saying he has to learn the fullback position rather than being a halfback and receiver out of the backfield. He seems like a willing participant, though I still think he'd much rather do the running and receiving than blocking. Then again, who wouldn't?
That's it for me. I am traveling the rest of the day, hopefully I can get there before midnight, or at least kickoff.