Dang! Whoee! That was as good a start to a new regime as I've ever witnessed and I'm near speechless. I really thought that whole scenario could happen and I preached it before the game when I said it wouldn't surprise me if the Seahawks really took it to them but to see it actually take place put a whole new meaning on it for me. Here's what I liked about it the most.
Pete Carroll and staff caught my eye in the very first pre-season game when the Titans drove down on them a couple of times right off the bat and Pete's defense not having specifically prepared for them had no answers at first. By the end of the first quarter though, they were stopping the titans and playing evenly with their first stringers tit for tat. That pattern repeated itself in just about every subsequent pre-season game as it seemed they would start the game with a plain vanilla defense and offense and then the coaches were able to quickly dissect what the opponent was doing and make adjustments to counter it.
That's a huge part of the NFL game and one of the things Mora and Company completely failed at. It seemed that when the Seahawks went into the locker room last season at halftime, even if they were getting manhandled and beat every way from Sunday, the same team with the same scheme and same plays would come out of the locker room for the second half and continue to get their arses handed to them because the coaching staff couldn't make any adjustments to stop the slaughter. That was one of the most frustrating aspects of last years team and one huge reason I had absolutely no qualms when Allen fired Mora. Read more......
Even Mike Holmgren had trouble at times making adjustments especially on defense where his defensive coordinators had much the same problem as Mora and complete control of the defense. At times, it looked as if Holmgren just forced his team to play his game plan as drawn and emphasized perfect execution as the way to overcome situations where he was getting out-coached or his team was getting outplayed. Holmgren had the iron fisted control to pull that off and it actually worked sometimes.
Pete Carroll and his staff on the other hand seem to be able to rapidly figure out why what they're doing isn't working and how to tweak it so that it does work. Amazingly, they seem very adept at doing it on the fly as the game is progressing but give them a halftime where they can re-group in the locker room and watch out. Seattle had trouble stopping the San Francisco offense in the first half although Carroll and Bradley were making some adjustments by the end of the second half that was slowing them down pretty good.
Did you guys notice the team that came out of the locker room for the second half? They owned San Francisco and just kept taking it to them. By the time the score reached 28 to 6, the game was for all intents and purposes done. It's been along time since I've seen a Seahawks team make that kind of adjustment and it's one of my major indicators that this team and especially the coaching staff might be something very special. The last coach I saw that was able to make that kind of adjustments both during the game and at halftime was Chuck Knox. Chuck, along with his staff were masters of adjustment and won many games for the Seahawks with their ability to figure out where the problems were and then fix them. Pete and his staff seem cut from the same cloth and that's one of the most exciting aspects of this "new look" Seahawks to me.
If our coaching staff can continue to make those kinds of adjustments and our players respond by showing the ability to implement those adjustments quickly and efficiently, the Seahawks can play with anyone. In fact, I give the first game ball to Pete Carroll for first of all making it a fun game. His vitality and free spirited ways on the sidelines kept the whole team fired up and having fun with the game. It'll be interesting to see how it goes when we lose but Pete said how it could be and stayed the course with his goal and never wavered from his way of doing it while putting this all together according to his plan. Then he led his team into battle against their biggest rival for the West title and demolished them. He made the adjustments that took the Seahawks from having their booty booted to being the ones doing the bootin' by halftime. Pete deserves the game ball for game one. He was our most valuable component.
After writing the above, I noticed that Mike Sando apparently agrees with me in his post game writeup about Pete Carroll where he says:
"There was also substance behind Carroll's coaching style. Early indications suggest the Seahawks outcoached the 49ers in this game. Seattle adjusted offensively by going deep with double moves after the 49ers' aggressive coverage succeeded early. On defense, the Seahawks kept the pressure coming and got better as the game progressed. They were sound in the red zone (as the case was years ago when a healthy Lofa Tatupu was at his best)."
In the article I wrote last Saturday for Seahawk Addicts before the game "Seahawks Versus The Forty Niners", I stated:
"I've been impressed with the adjustments the Seahawks coaching staff made during pre-season games. It'll be great to see what they come up with for a game plan against a known team and then observe how they modify it as the game progresses to make it more effective. That's what's on the scoreboard for our coaching staff and one of the barometers of how well the coaching staff is "playing"."
I have to tell you Addicts, from where I was sitting, Singletary sure looked like a coach who was having his butt handed to him by the coach on the other side of the field for most of the game after his first two drives fizzled. Pete and staff sure out-coached Singletary and his staff yesterday. At any rate, the scoreboard for the coaching staff stands resoundingly at Pete and Co. one - Singletary and Co. none, nada, zip. Another reason Pete gets my game ball.
Just how good did our defense do?
Pete preaches that the game is all about the ball. Protecting it on offense and taking it back when on defense. The Seahawks defense started out the season +1 on takeovers/giveaways after making two interceptions while Matt threw only one of his own on the first play of the game. They limited The Forty Niners who were being touted as a powerful running team to ironically just 49 yards on the ground. Gore had 38 of those as the Seahawks got revenge for the "goring" they got last year in San Francisco in week two. Their two picks included a pick 6 by Trufant as he ran it back for his first career touchdown. The longest play the defense allowed was a 23 yard pass to Gore. His longest run was 10 yards. No other 49'er play gained over 19 yards. Big Play Babs is back on defense again and made the second pick for the Seahawks. San Francisco only managed 1 first down in 15 third down attempts all day. Our defense really shut down the 49'ers after Pete and Co. made their adjustments. Our defense played very well today. I wouldn't trade our defense for the Forty Niner defense who was declared the class of the NFC West division on defense by numerous analysts. Although the Seahawks are 7th in total defense after week one (measured by yards given up per game), they lead the NFL in one very important category that is probably the most important defensive statistic of all. The Seahawk defense is the number one team in the league right now in points given up per game with 6. What's scary about that is that's exactly where the Seahawks defense was last season after the first game in which we blanked the Rams. I refuse to believe this team has anything in common with last year's team!
Who was good you ask?
Kelly Jennings was the hero of the first quarter when the Forty Niners could have started the game ahead by three touchdowns. He drove Morgan out of bounds in the end zone to save a touchdown on San Francisco's first drive. Later, he stopped Crabtree from making a clutch catch and made a couple of nice one on one tackles in the red zone that saved a first down or touch down. Kelly hasn't looked so good since his rookie year.
Thomas continues to be around the ball and Aaron Curry was playing more like he did last year when Lofa Tatupu was on the field. Lofa once again made a big difference and demonstrated why he's the quarterback of the defense getting guys set and making pre-snap reads. All the Pete Carroll reclamation projects including Williams, Branch, Spencer, Jennings, and even Jones played well today justifying his faith in them. An even bigger deal is that it reveals that Pete has an eye for talent. Even talent others have discarded or talent others don't see nearly as readily. That's another very useful trait for a head coach to possess.
On the offensive side of the ball, Hasselbeck distributed the ball to 8 different receivers spreading the ball around efficiently. While San Francisco had more net yardage (263 to 242), the game was decidedly a defensive contest as the statistics indicate. The Seahawks got points from both their offense and defense which accounts for their high score and low total yardage. Williams was the leading receiver for the Seahawks with Carlson second. Forsett was the leading ground gainer with Jones second. Washington had a 41 yard kickoff return as the Seahawks made big plays in every facet of the game with Williams catching a 35 yard pass and Forsett breaking a run for 32 yards. Hass was 18/23 for a 78% completion rate. When you're hot you're hot and for the second and third quarters, the Seahawks were hot.
Pete was in rare form today too and watching him as one of the officials had to restrain him from running out onto the field when Babs made his big interception, he reminded me of a proud parent watching his boy play Pop Warner ball and just not able to restrain himself from wanting to go out and give his kid kudos and a high five for making a big play. Pete obviously loves being on the sideline and motivating his players.
Did you guys notice the huddle with his defense just before they held the 49'ers on 4th down. Gathered around Carroll, his intensity was tangible and you could feel the energy oozing out even over the TV set. He seemed to be infusing them with power to go out and hold the line. They did too. That's the first time they did it in the regular season but you can bet with the way they made successful goal line stands several times during the just concluded pre-season and now in the regular season against a powerful running game, teams are going to learn that the best option is to punt or try the field goal on 4th down and not challenge that defensive front to a duel with first down on the line for the winner. With Bryant, Mebane, Cole, and Balmer averaging around 315 across the front four and backed up by Curry, Tatupu, and Davis averaging 250, that's a whole lot of beef to fight your way through for a measly few inches.
Of course, some grain of reality must be retained and we all have to realize that we've started out like this before notably last season. I think we all agree though that this doesn't feel like last season and there is hope for believing this is real and it will be sustained starting next week in Denver. Jeremy Bates should have some good inside information on the Bronco's and hopefully he can design an offense while giving Bradley enough Intel to design a defense that will have the Seahawks giving the Broncos what they gave San Francisco which was all they could handle and a whole lot more. The Forty Niners play the Saints next week. It shouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine the Seahawks at 2 - 0 and the 49'ers at 0 - 2 after the first two weeks. That would go a long way towards satisfying my itch to get back at all the sports writers and analysts who relegated the Seahawks to the bottom of the NFC West pile while San Francisco was anointed as the new NFC West champion without playing a single game yet.
So Addicts, what did you find most telling about the game good or bad? Do you think that Pete Carroll and staff out-coached the Forty Niners coaching staff? Is there a possibility we can sustain this intensity and continue to win with our exuberance and hard play? Are there still those among you who think the last minute roster changes were ill advised? Did we miss Housh or Wilson? Does anyone want to revise their estimate of the number of wins Seattle will get this season? Has everyone had some Kool Aid today?