After three games we can start to see a little of where this is all headed. As we pretty much all expected, they are an up and down team to start off with but there are some noticeable trends that give us some clues of where Pete Carroll would like the Seahawks to end up at the end of the rebuilding and once the team stabilizes. Here's a few observations that lead to a projection of what the ultimate Seahawks under Pete Carroll will look like.
"It's all about the ball".
Pete Carrolls mantra is the number one commandment for the team. On offense they protect the ball and on defense, they are all about getting it back again. Right now the Seahawks Giveaway/Takeaway quotient is zero after three games. That means they've taken it away from their opponent and lost it back to them the same number of times. It's been proven that teams that have positive GA/TA quotients usually have better records and win the most games in the playoffs. If not for the picks and fumbles at Denver the Seahawk's quotient would be positive right now.I do like the way the defense is always tearing at the ball and how they seem to have a heightened awareness of watching for a tip or fumble and then going for the turnover. The team works a lot on drills designed to make it a natural thing to be looking for opportunities to make those kinds of plays. This is certainly a much more ball hawking style of defensive play than we've seen from the Seahawks since the Chuck Knox days. That's a good thing that will win games for the team in the future. Read more..........
Seahawks are playing hard nosed defense.
Another thing that is looking like a trend is that the team doesn't fold under pressure. Even when they've been down, they don't fall to pieces and allow the opponent to pile it on and put the game out of reach. They play tough and you really wouldn't know whether they were winning or losing from observing the way they are playing if you didn't know the score. They don't let up when they're putting one on somebody or when it's them that's being shellacked.
That's one of the traits I most admired that Holmgren instilled in the team over his tenure. That got lost last year when the team quit on Mora and was the real nail in the coffin for me on Mora and Co. I never want to see my team quit on someone again but it spoke volumes to everyone about where the problem resided last year especially to owner Paul Allen. This new team fights from the opening whistle to the final toot and every place in-between. That's another thing that wins games.
Against San Diego, the defense's ability to fight hard at the end of the game after giving up a lot of second half yardage and being gassed from chasing Rivers and his receivers the whole half was the winning element in the game. The guys dug deep and tapped their last reserves then just shut the Chargers down to secure the win. It's already paying dividends to never give up.
The Seahawks aren't giving much away on either offense or defense.
Did you guys like the way Seattle would bunch up on the ball and then break out to their respective positions to set their formation at the last possible moment? I saw it happen on both offense and defense. It gave Rivers little time to look at the formation and also discouraged audibles. Rivers took a number of delay of game penalties looking over the Seahawks. Milling around out of formation and all bunched up certainly looks like something a college team would do but it also looked pretty effective in disguising their formation until the last possible moment and that can help keep the opponent off balance. Why wouldn't you use it if it works college ploy or not?
Seattle is using a lot of balanced formations where the on field personnel can run or pass out of the same formation and the personnel can execute either without substitution (which could give away the play) to keep the defense guessing where the play is going. A lot of this stuff is new to the team and they are perfecting it a little more each time they play. Right now I suspect the Seahawks are one of the hardest teams in the league to game plan for.
They have played three different styles of offense in three different games each one tailored specifically for their opponent that week. Right now, the Rams probably don't know what to expect next week since there's three different teams to figure out on game film and they have to just make a pure guess at what we might trot out to use against them. The Seahawks have dominated the Rams recently even during the terrible stretch of the last two years. This team is better than those teams and I don't think Bradford will make that much difference at this point in his career. I think the team has a very good chance of coming up 3 - 1 at the bye. Not many would have given us a chance at that record before the season started. Sando predicted we'd lose our first 6 games including at the Rams next week. Take that Mike!
Bend but don't break philosophy was the answer against San Diego.
Phillip Rivers is going to make big plays. You're not going to shut him down. He's got the receivers to march down the field as we all witnessed during the game. Against other opponents going back to last year, he's made the long pass behind defenders to score a touchdown one of his bread and butter plays. No one got past the Seahawks last line of defense Sunday though to haul in one of Rivers long bombs. The defensive backs kept the plays in front of them and even though Rivers was able to use short passes underneath and then mid range passes when we went into our prevent defense at the end of the game to move the ball down the field, when he reached the red zone, the Seahawks defense time and time again tightened up and with less territory to defend, kept the Chargers from running up a big score. The Chargers were inside the red zone 6 times Sunday and only came away with 20 points.
It's one thing to give a hot quarterback a 50 yard by 50 yard box or bigger to spread everyone out in letting the receivers find open space and quite another to cut that down to the 20 yard by 50 yard box we call the red zone where 22 big men will end up occupying most of the available space. When you can shut down the run and force a team to pass, the red zone gives defensive backs a lot less territory to cover and the receivers only so many places to go. It was the only way to play a big home run hitter like Rivers and have a chance to stay in the game. Keep it all in front of the safeties and concede yardage if you had to but not letting them hit the big play for a touchdown. Make them have to drive with the ball and take it in from the red zone where it's easier to defend. Good red zone teams run the ball effectively and run defense is the strength of the Seahawk's defense. That was a good game plan and well executed by the defense who had to be on the field a for long stretches in the second half and even though tired at the end of the game hung on to keep the Chargers out of the end zone on their last drive with Thomas picking off his second Rivers pass to seal the deal.
The Rookie class and key additions Carrol and Schneider have brought to the team or kept from the former team are making their presence felt and getting valuable game experience playing together as a team.
Trufant was injured and left the game. Immediately, Rivers tested his replacement Walter Thurmond and found out why the Seahawks consider him to be such a steal in the draft when he went up and batted the ball away in the end zone to save a big play and force a field goal instead of a touchdown. He played well the rest of the game in relief of Trufant. Golden Tate continued to make plays with four receptions and a 31 yard return. Dexter Davis recovered a fumble that Kam Chancellor caused.
The Seahawks had a "two for the price of one sale" going Sunday. Leon Washington ran two kickoff's back for touchdowns (averaging a hundred yards each) to shatter Seahawk all time franchise records for kickoffs returned for touchdown. Clemons had two sacks. Bryant recovered two fumbles. Thomas had two interceptions. Roy Lewis had two passes defended in the end zone in relief of Trufant. Double your pleasure, double your fun!
So where do the Seahawks seem to be headed in terms of a team identity?
I see a team that wins the turnover battle more often than not. I see a team whose defense will keep the team in any game they play. That defense will be aggressive, fast, big up front, and always looking to strip the ball or intercept an errant pass. The team as a whole will battle hard regardless of the circumstances. I see a team that won't be pinned down to a certain style of play with the ability to make game plans tailored for whatever team they are facing making them a hard team to scout and prepare for. Above all, I see a team that doesn't quit and will compete hard for the whole game whether down by 20 points or up by 20 points. That team will be well coached and will have the ability to make game changing adjustments as the game progresses. Pete Carroll looks to be a serious competitor and that will rub off on the team he leads. His players seem to love playing for him yet he maintains discipline and no one gets complacent. I see a championship caliber team in the future who will compete every year for the title.
What's in your wallet?