On the “up” side, it’s early and this is bye week. And the nature of the NFC West is such that a dreadful loss at St. Louis doesn’t put the Seahawks out of anything. I think most of us might have thought 2-2 would be a decent record going into the bye. They’ve played better at home than one might have expected. But to lose like this on the road to the Rams?
I didn’t think the Rams were that good or the Seahawks were that bad. I thought the Seahawks would be able to run the ball, as the Rams had been giving up 133 yards per game rushing. The Hawks finished with 64 yards.
The most worrisome issue from early in camp was the offensive line. Until Sunday, the Hawks had done a reasonable job of piecing together replacements into a scheme that allowed them to operate. I’m not sure how many total healthy legs there are in the Okung-Polumbus-Locklear tackle triumvirate, but it’s not enough. Aside from their issues, there were several plays where Chris Spencer and Stacy Andrews just looked overmatched.
It meant they couldn’t run the ball or protect Hasselbeck. And it all falls apart from that point.
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The bye week will give us plenty of time to chew over the Hasselbeck situation. I thought he was under a lot of pressure, but once again did not elevate the team. Personal opinion: He’s thinking too much. He has talked about there being a “fine line” between playing cautiously to avoid turnovers and being so concerned about it that you don’t play instinctively. On the third-down scramble in the Red Zone, he spotted an open man in the flat, but tucked it and ran it instead. It look to me as if he just was reluctant to take the chance. And in this case, it seemed like the better option.
Didn’t it also look like he had trouble holding onto the ball. At times, it reminded me of the latter days of Dave Krieg when he would just lose the ball on occasion, or would wind up to really fire a ball into a window, but it would wobble on him or come out before he could step into it. And then there’s the rash of tipped balls. I suspect some of that is just a function of the pocket getting collapsed. Still, it was an inordinate number and perhaps another symptom to be diagnosed.
This loss wasn’t only about him. Dropped passes, blown assignments, penalties, curious calls … this one had the regular buffet items of road losses for the Hawks. I think the fake field goal will get some criticism, but I didn’t scratch my head over that one as much as the decision to make the first challenge. They won it, but gained, what, 4 yards? Those things are too precious to waste for such little payoff.
I think part of what made this one difficult to see coming was the years of seeing the Rams as walk-overs. This team is much improved. There were several passes that Bradford threw in there – sometimes against really good coverage – that were just amazing displays of accuracy and arm strength.
But the coaching looks better than it’s been there, too. I think the Rams’ special teams package was exceptional, and entirely shut down what had been one of the main strengths of the Seahawks.
The Hawks? I think we all knew this season would be a process. A lot of changes had to be made … and more likely will be in store. If the bye week will help them solve some of their offensive-line health issues, that will be a big step.