Weekend analysis: Bye week comes at a good time as Seahawks regroup

Sorry about the late weekend analysis! Things have been busy at school, and it's been tough finding time to write. That said, here we go ...

One of the great things about having been a full time journalist in the past is that it's often easier for me to step back and look at the big picture when it comes to bad things that happen to my favorite sports teams.

Take, for example, my weekend, which involved a narrow loss by the Cougs to No. 3 USC and the Seahawks getting their, ahem, backsides handed to them by the Bears. The temptation is to second-guess Bill Doba, or panic about the Seahawks looking not just bad, but outclassed.

I'll resist both urges.

Mike Sando of The (Tacoma) News Tribune I think put it best when it comes to the Seahawks, which obviously was the most disturbing of the two losses:
"You cannot manufacture the 'edge' Chicago brought to this game. The Seahawks certainly could not. This seemed to be a case of only one team being on a mission. This happens on occasion. It probably happened with New England at Cincinnati on Sunday. Are the Patriots better than the Bengals? Perhaps. Are the Bengals as bad as the score from that game indicated? No way. The Seahawks need to fix some things. The bye week probably comes at a good time. A year ago, this team was 2-2 and answering questions about its third-down defense (and play-calling) at Washington. That team responded. This team has a chance to do the same. We'll see if it does."
The Bears clearly viewed this game as more important than the Seahawks did, and both teams played like it. The Seahawks simply looked unispired -- save for Hasselbeck, who turned his personal angst into a pair of ill-advised passes that were intercepted. Were the Bengals as bad as their final score Sunday? New England that good? Are the Giants as bad as they played in Seattle last week? The Seahawks that good? The truth usually is in the middle, especially in the NFL, where the difference between winning and losing on any Sunday can sometimes be just emotion.

The only thing that I found a bit disturbing was the way our lines got manhandled -- on both sides. That's something you cannot simply chalk up to intensity. For the first time, our lack of athleticism on parts of the offensive line was a major flaw, and our lack of size on the defensive front was exposed.

As for the offensive line, I think time will cure most of what ails it. Chris Gray looked just physically overmatched last night, a fact that cannot be helped by recovery from a knee injury. Sean Locklear also still is recovering from a knee injury. Walter Jones has been banged up since the preseason; I think he's more hurt than he's letting on. And Chris Spencer -- who appeared to be primarily responsible for at least two sacks -- will only get better with time and experience. In battles between young, athletic offensive linemen and young, athletic defensive linement (such as Tommie Harries), the advantage almost always goes to the defense. The bye this week certainly will help all of these issues.

As for the defensive front, I think the solution is clear: Undersized, speedy defenders cannot be on the field for 60 percent of the game, as they were on Sunday. They will wear down in the face of constant pounding when the offense can't move the ball. While it's a good defense, this unit clearly is not a defense on par with Chicago, Baltimore or San Diego. It is not going to be able to carry this team should the offense falter for extended periods as it did on Sunday.

The good news is, that shouldn't happen to the offense again for a good, long while, if at all. There still is loads of time left in the season, and that's something to keep in perspective right now. (Scoop Jackson wrote a nice column about that here.) It's just one loss, and if last year showed us anything, this team has heart, and the coaches are good enough to fix the flaws and build momentum as the season continues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A demoralizing loss? Sure. But it is impossible to win the game when you enter it with the full knowledge that you don't need to win it. You're right. Chicago needed to win this to prove a point, more to themselves than to the NFL. Carolina went into Chicago last January and proved then that even Soldier Field can be tamed when both teams enter it with an equal passion to win.

Jay Bates