Monday, September 22, 2008

A Credible Case For Optimism



The Seahawks biggest weaknesses in the past couple of years has been their ability to run the ball and their ability to stop the run. Through three games this year, they are showing signs those could be turning into strengths.

OFFENSE (NFL Rank)
Rushing Yds/Game: 166.3 (4th)
+65.1/Game compared to 2007
Rushing Yds/Attempt: 4.9 (6th)
+1.1/Attempt compared to 2007

DEFENSE (NFL Rank)
Opposing Rushing Yds/Game: 88.0 (9th)
-14.8/Game compared to 2007
Opposing Rushing Yds/Attempt: 3.5 (7th)
-0.4/Attempt compared to 2007

That's a net 79.9 yards/game swing in the right direction! We went from losing the ground game by an average of 1 yard per game (we yielded 102.8 and gained 101.2) to winning it by 78 yards. That is a stunning turnaround. And while the game results have not been great, there is reason to believe this sets us up to surprise some folks.

Let's pretend for a second that Engram and Branch will not make it back, or will not remain healthy. We all saw how much more Hasselbeck was in sync with his WRs this week than last. I expect that to take another step forward with two weeks of practice before our next game. Even though the game was against the Rams, anyone who watched could see that the ball was coming out of Hasselbeck's hands with more confidence and his WRs were in the right spots more often. We have a good QB, a line that has yielded two sacks in the last two games, and a coach who is going to the Hall of Fame on the strength of his passing game.

Think for a second what opposing defenses will be doing when they study our film. What coach wouldn't stack 8 guys in the box and force us to beat them in the air? Now add back in that we should get a noticeable boost from at least Engram, and let's just say I'd much rather be struggling passing than running right now.

Random question: Does anyone else wonder if it is a coincidence that our breakout running games this week and last happened after Chop replaced Rob Sims?

Defensively, it's a similar story. I'd much rather have opposing offenses testing us over the top than pounding us up front. The problems in pass defense have been much more about coverage decisions than about losing physically. I trust guys like Brian Russell, Deon Grant and Lofa can get that corrected. You can't really correct getting thrown around by an opposing offensive line.

We will find out very quickly if this was just a two game mirage against bad NFC West opponents at home.

Next 5 Games:
@ NY Giants
Green Bay
@ Tampa Bay
@ San Francisco
Philadelphia

The Giants have arguably the best offensive/defensive lines in the game. On offense. they don't allow sacks and they pound the ball with a big fullback and halfback. On defense, they sack the QB (#1 in the NFL) and stop the run. However, their last two games have been against 0-3 teams as well (Bengals and Rams).

There is no way they will look at the 1-2 Seahawks and people like Billy McMullen at WR and think this will be a tough game at home. We're horrible coming out of the bye week and playing at 10 AM PST, so we certainly shouldn't expect a win, but it's not out of the question.

I, for one, am sick of this "finesse" label that's hung around our necks. Nothing would be nicer than to see the Hawks shock the world by featuring a smash mouth running game and run stuffing defense.

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Dohh....Password isnt working again. This is Funballad.

I was surprised at how JJ could spin and how Duckett looked like a freight train. Sure Duckett is there for short yardage but once he hits the line he leans and finds his way into the open for extra yardage and once he finds an opening he is hard for anyone to take down. I went back and looked at his stats. He seems to do best when he gets a few carrys to warm up. He sure did that yesterday too.
First game no carrys.
Second game 3 carrys 2 yards 1 TD
Third game 19 carrys 79 yards 2 TD
Sure he isn't a barn burner but once he gets warmed up watch out.

hawkblogger said...

I do think Duckett would logically be more effective in the second half after teams were worn down a bit, but I think it's more about staying committed to the run than it is about any one player.

when most RBs get to the second level of the defense, they are dangerous because they can shake someone. With duckett, it's more a danger of running over the smaller DBs.

I think Julius Jones turned a few non-gainers into big plays yesterday whereas Duckett got big runs on plays that had enough room for any RB to run through.