Before the regular season began, I hoped the Seahawks could be 4-4 halfway through the season. They could have very well been 3-5, or 2-6 -- They played five games on the road; their three home games were against Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady; plus they were starting a rookie at quarterback.
I figured they would win in St. Louis and Arizona, and hoped they would win at least one of the three home games. San Francisco, Detroit, and Carolina all seemed to be tough road opponents, but I hoped the Seahawks coudl beat one of them to get them to four wins. Instead, they've mostly lost the games I thought they'd win and won the games I figured they'd lose, but somehow they still wound up 4-4. I consider that to be a successful first half of the season.
So, what have we learned? Looking ahead, the next eight games look to be more favorable to the Seahawks, with five home games and only three on the road. They should win at home against the Jets, Rams, and Cardinals, plus at least one of the road games (against either Miami or Buffalo). If they do that, to finish the season 10-6 they would still need to beat either the 49ers in Seattle or the Bears in Chicago. A 6-2 second half of the season is not out of the question. 10-6 should be good enough to get them into the playoffs, but 9-7 would most likely not.
We've also learned that the defense is not perfect. Third down has been their Achilles' heel this season. The short passing game on third and long has killed them at times, but the tradeoff is that long completions against this defense have been rare.
The defense was stout against Brady, Rogers, Romo, and Newton. Brady put up some passing yards, but when doesn't he? They dominated Romo, and Rodgers didn't have a very good hair day in Seattle. The D stopped Brady and Rodgers in the 4th quarter when they had to, which helped the Hawks win both games. In Detroit, Matthew Stafford tore them up and Titus Young had a party in the Seahawks secondary. San Francisco ran all over the defensive line in the second half of their game.
This may be difficult for Seahawks to admit, but the defense is manned and coached by mere mortals. It was the defense who lost the game in Detroit -- who would have thought? But even with that being the case, the Seahawks woudl be 1-7 or worse right now were it not for the high level of play from the defense.
What else have we learned? The offense is getting better every week. Maybe by the end of the season, the offense will significantly narrow the gap between their level of play and that of the defense. The 24 points scored in Detroit were all produced by the offense, nor did the defense contribute anything toward them. The offense had no short fields due to turnovers or long kick returns, and the passing game looked solid.
As everyone learned last season, the Seahawks running game is amongst the best in the NFL. In Detroit, Lynch had trouble running inside most of the game, but his 75 yard TD run made up for that. He also had some success running wide. Scatback Marshawn Lynch, who would've thought?
The o-line is improving one step at a time, especially in pass protection. They did a decent job against one of the best defensive lines in football last Sunday. That, along with moving the pocket around, allowed Wilson to be effective by giving him time to throw. When Carpenter gets more games under his belt, the left side of the line will be solid. The right side can be tweaked, but Moffitt's return should help.
The receiving corps is also improving steadily. They played well against New England, and they played very well against Detroit. Rice is looking like a #1 receiver -- the game-winning TD he caught against the Patriots was beatiful. Miller finally caught a TD pass. Tate has also improved. He made a few nice plays in Detroit and has contributed all year. I hope Baldwin can get healthy soon, because his production in the slot is sorely missed. Dropped passes most likely cost the team a win in San Francisco, but we already knew the receivers were mere mortals.
It's no secret that I believe Russell Wilson is the Seahawks' quarterback of the future, and by the end of the season it should be clear to everyone that he's also their quarterback of the present, too. He's got a strong, accurate arm, and he is slowly taking command of both the offense and the field of play.
The way he moves around in the pocket makes his size an advantage. Modern defensive ends are used to sacking tall, lanky quarterbacks, most of whom are taller than 6'3" and run around on extra-long legs. Wilson is much shorter at 5'11" and ducks under pass rushers with relative ease. He even seems to befuddle them on occasion. Carroll and Co. are just beginning to figure out how to use his unique talents.
One person who was at the New England game said to me that Wilson "owned the pocket. He also had a game-winning drive in the 4th quarter of that game and a potentially game-winning drive in the 4th quarter against Detroit (unfortunately, Stafford had two game-winning drives in that game). Wilson was effective passing the ball in both of those games, and against San Francisco the only thing more he could have done after throwing a number of dropped passes on the money was run down the field and catch the ball himself.
I'm looking forward to the second half of the season. Let the games begin.
So good to see you writing articles again! Lets be completely honest here, we do have a lot of talent on defense and they came out strong as hell the first 5 weeks. The last two though have been disappointing to say the least. I do think a lot of it has to do with the defensive scheme that Bradley is calling in, and responsibility also has to fall on Bobby Wagner. As the middle linebacker you are basically the defensive QB, calling audibles and adjusting your players as you see what the offense is doing. If Wright is the one out there calling the shots then it falls on him, but I believe that would be Wagners job. If we had Ray Lewis as our middle linebacker do you think the Niners would had been able to REPEATEDLY cram Gore down our throats right up the middle? Hell no! A veteran middle linebacker would know how to make those adjustments. So in that regard, I feel that part of it is how young our defense is and Bradley not calling in the proper adjustments as well.
Regarding 3rd downs, I read a stat the other day that the Seahawks D is dead last in the league defending against 3rd and longs, and we are 27th in giving up 3rd down conversions total. THAT my friends is truly what has to be fixed. Countless times this season we as fans have watched a 3rd and 12 or so come up and sat back pleased that our defense did their job. Then WHAM! They hit a receiver on a check down (yes I said check down) right in the middle of the field and he runs past the first down markers. Depressing.
Probably the worst part about the loss in Detroit is that I was so excited to see how well are passing game has gotten. Wilson seems to be maturing rapidly this season and at least in Detroit our receivers were not being plagued with a case of the dropsies. In fact, Miller caught a ball that really looked out of reach but just made the play. Beautiful! I am still upset that the Hawks did not go after Bowe by the way. I have been checking online status updates all week to see if we picked him up in a trade. Instead I hear about how exciting the entire coaching staff is that we "finally" got to add Kearse to the 53 man roster. In addition we added Tuinei back to the practice squad. Don't get me wrong, I am excited about Kearse finally getting his chance and all, but I want to win football games now and I think Bowe would have made a huge impact here from day one. He is veteran and a proven one at that. From the sounds of it, they were damn near having a parade for Kearse down at the VMAC. I just hope he does well. Knowing the Hawks, I bet he will get the ball thrown his way on our first possession, quite possibly on first down. That seems to be how PC likes to try out his new toys.
So my question to all of you is, what is our solution to the soft underbelly of our defense?
It is frustrating to see all of those 3rd and longs get converted to 1st and 10's. One thing that Carroll and Bradley seem to do well is to make adjustments, and I hope they can do that. In most of the games this year, they've held at the end of the game to give the Hawks a chance to win. For the most part, the Hawks have been very stingy giving up points.
You are absolutely right about Wagner. He's still a kid (rookie). We have a kid quarterbacking the defense, and a kid quarterbacking the offense. That makes me very optimistic about the next 6 to 10 years. I hope for some super bowl parties when these "kids" grow up.
@LouisLouis Well said! Given we have 1st year players calling the shots on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, we should have a pretty bright future! I am curious if anybody knows how many times in history a team has started a rookie QB and rookie MLB in the same year. Probably doesn't happen all too often.
Marshall, you are correctimundo about the White / Jones combo. That's what I would expect them to address in the draft this year. It wouldn't surprise me to see a wide receiver, a big, fast, physical, wide receiver taken in the first round.
Also, I wouldn't look for many teams that have done what Carroll and the Schneid have done because they seem to travel to the beat of a different drum. They pick all of these big, fast and physical players to man the team, then they pick a Ruskelish guy to man the quarterback position.
@Matthew Heuett @LouisLouis And as of the 2008 season the Falcons have been to the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years. They lost in the first round every year, but hey, they made it? This year they are kicking ass and I think thats because last year they added Julio Jones to pair up with Roddy White, making them a very dangerous combo. That is why I was hoping for Bowe to finish off the year but I know how tight PC and John are with money and draft picks. We can only hope that they shoot for an offensive weapon in the first or second round next year.
Thanks for looking up those stats Matthew!
@marshall21 @LouisLouis You're right, it doesn't. I only looked at teams that had rookie QBs who started at least half the season, but it would appear that it's only happened three times in NFL history: the 1999 Browns (Tim Couch and Wali Rainer), the 2008 Falcons (Matt Ryan and Curtis Lofton), and the 2012 Seahawks (Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner).