Week 3: A Better Way to Lose

Published on September 28, 2009 by     

Bears Seahawks FootballHere’s some interesting stats you should know – stats that tell us things.

The Seattle Seahawks ran 72 offensive plays on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Seattle got off an average of 44 offensive plays per game throughout 2008.

Seattle possessed the ball for 29 minutes, 36 seconds against Chicago. A middling figure, but the average was 26:38 per game in 2008.

Seneca Wallace passed 44 times on Sunday. That’s 15 more than the 2008 average, and it’s also the most single-game passing attempts by one Seahawks quarterback since, interestingly enough, the last time Seattle played the Bears – November 18, 2007.

Despite the fact that Seattle’s 25-19 loss to Chicago ended differently than the 2007 episode, these are stats that should not be ignored. They may offer the most revealing glimpse yet into the true potential of the 2009 Seahawks.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

I’m almost tempted to apologize for my article title. It sounds like a worn-out head coach slumping at the podium after a tough loss, feeling around for carefully stated positives to give the press, while millions of heartbroken Seattle fans scream at their televisions: “HELLO? You just lost the game!

That might be me under most circumstances. But when I compare our nailbiter against the Bears to the debacle last week against the 49ers…I gotta say, this is the kind of loss I feel weirdly positive about.

And I mean that. You should know that I’m hardly a blind optimist; show-me-first pessimism is more my game. I’m very aware that we’re 1-2 and that a road win next week against the Colts is unlikely. Nothing changes that.

But the fact is, we didn’t lose to the Bears like we did to the 49ers. Not at all.

From looking at our players in Candlestick Park, last week felt like much more of a blowout than the 23-10 score implied. Frank Gore was breaking off runs that made our defense look incompetent to a man. Their passing game needed only a meager 144 yards to keep the Seahawks pinned down. Our offense was overwhelmed. It was a disheartening defeat. Demoralizing. Debilitating. And it showed on the field.

This week was a different story.

Scroll back up and look at those game stats. They indicate that the Seahawks defense did what dominant defenses do: pressured Chicago QB Jay Cutler and got him off the field on third down. Consider what this pressure accomplished:

* Two sacks, a fumble recovery, and a interception induced by pressure from DT Darryl Tapp.

* Limiting Jay Cutler to 247 passing yards and 3 scores that would have been meaningless had our kicker done his job.

* Forcing the Bears to adjust on offense.

* Holding Matt Forte to a very pedestrian 66 yards on 21 carries, defying the trendy prediction by analysts that our running D was the perfect cure for Forte’s early struggles.

* Five three-and-outs. Seattle hasn’t pulled that off in 11 games, not even against the Rams.

Yes, the result was a loss. Yes, the Seahawks are still trailing the 49ers by a game within the division, and should rightly be trailing by two games.

But I place the blame for this loss almost exclusively with two players. Neither guilty party is on the defense, and one has a massive caveat attached to him.

Our defense played scrappy and determined football, folks. For them to keep the game as close and winnable as they did, for as long as they did, is probably the strongest, most unqualified, most positive single statement this 2009 team has yet made about itself. For the moment, them burgers smell good.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The first culprit in this loss is QB Seneca Wallace. The massive caveat attached to him is the fact that he’s the backup quarterback.

I mean, what were we expecting? Backups are backups for a reason. When a backup mans a position in place of an injured starter, it’s common sense to expect a dropoff in quality. Vegas wasn’t stupid when it favored the Bears once Seneca was finally declared the starter for this game.

Seneca made strides last year. He improved his accuracy. He stopped throwing dumb interceptions. He threw some spectacular highlight-reel deep bombs of the kind that Seattle fans were thirsting for after years of the methodical Matt Hasselbeck.

On Sunday, Seneca’s flaws were exposed. He tried to throw off his back foot and overthrew receivers who had beaten coverage. He ran when he should have thrown, and he threw when he should have run. He panicked and sidearmed an easy interception to Bears LB Lance Briggs – from his own end zone – and several other throws should have met the same fate, including the ill-advised scrambling throw that WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh spectacularly bailed him out on. Nate Burleson shed his case of the drops with flair (possibly transferring it to Housh in the process – it’s always somebody on this team, it seems) and had himself a 9-catch, 109-yard day*.

The defense was also trying to come to Seneca’s rescue, keeping Cutler off the field and giving Seneca his 44 attempts. Julius Jones, who I was close to dismissing, kept pressure off Seneca by propping up the run game with 98 rushing yards and by slipping a poor Charles Tillman tackle for Seattle’s only touchdown.

Heck, even the Bears tried to help Seneca out, first by losing LB Brian Urlacher to injury and then losing his replacement, Hunter Hillenmeyer.

And with all that assistance, Seneca Wallace did almost enough to win. His 261 passing yards were a career best (his previous record, ironically, was his very first career start in 2006). I expected he’d find success against a depleted Bears back seven, and he did. It was pretty close to being enough – Seneca did get them to the Chicago 21 on that final, desperate drive.

In the end, it was his decision-making and lack of composure on the field that undid his efforts just enough. Seneca kept several games achingly close during the lost cause that was our 2008 season, but he didn’t have the decision-making and the crunch-time poise to finish games, not quite. Those qualities are what make Matt Hasselbeck the best starter for any Seahawks team that wishes to contend.

Even so, the guys over on FOX’s “Fringe” would tell you that there’s an alternate universe in which the debut of Seattle’s new lime green jerseys is not being remembered as the game where Seneca Wallace proved he’ll never be a franchise QB. That’s because, in that universe, Olindo Mare didn’t shank two field goals, and the Chicago 21 was easily close enough for a last-minute game-winning upright-splitter. Result: Seneca, though an ugly winner, is hailed as a winner nonetheless.

So Mare’s the other culprit. I don’t think I need to say anything more about him. I’m sure Seattle fans will prove more than adequate for that task, and I like that Jim Mora isn’t mincing words about it either.

ODDS AND ENDS

This loss really was a shame, because individual performances abounded on this team. Rookie LB Aaron Curry had his first big play, forcing a fumble on his very first NFL sack (*sniff*…growing up so FAST!). Burleson had his 9 catches and also prevented an interception. MLB David Hawthorne shook off last week’s Goring and racked up an extraordinary 16 tackles and an interception. Jon Ryan’s punting remained solid and, more importantly, he wasn’t being seen every five minutes.

The defense was stifling all the way through, despite some important miscues. The secondary allowed enough big plays to keep Cutler confident, and not just in coverage. I remember seeing Kelly Jennings get brutally blocked out of a play, Jordan Babineaux in tissue-soft coverage allowing a big catch, and Ken Lucas losing containment on a run – all in the same drive. If this defense has an Achilles’ heel, I still worry it’s the secondary, and that doesn’t bode well for next week’s journey to the den of Peyton Manning.

Oh, and whose idea was it to cover Bears TE Greg Olsen with a defensive end on the goal line? Worse yet, an old defensive end who’s not even supposed to be playing end, but tackle? Ugly.

On offense, Seattle got off to just the strong start it needed, and made precious progress in running the ball. The value of Julius Jones’ success here cannot be understated. It allowed Seattle to be multi-dimensional, leaning back and forth between run and pass, keeping the Bears on their toes, and helping the defense keep Cutler on the bench. Our offensive line was solid, benefiting hugely from the return of center Chris Spencer. I hope guard Rob Sims isn’t out too long; there was an immediate drop-off in pass protection once he was replaced by Mansfield Wrotto. I suppose it wouldn’t be a Seahawks game if nobody got injured.

Let me tell you the one thing that drove me nuts: the running call on 3rd and 13 from the Bears’ 26 right before the half, Seattle up 13-7. Instead of going for the throat of the Bears’ secondary, which had proven porous already, and extending the lead beyond a single touchdown (an easy matter with a gunslinger like Cutler), Knapp decided not to risk blowing the lead by throwing, instead calling a 1-yard run that could have had no likely result other than a field goal attempt. It looked almost timid.

Well, they blew the lead. Mare shanked the attempt from 43 yards out, and you could almost feel the momentum bleed lime-green from the Seahawks. Knapp treated the field goal as an automatic thing, and Seahawks, of all teams, should know better. Tony Romo, anyone?

Football is a game of momentum. Missed field goals are the stuff that comeback wins are made of. A six-point game and a nine-point game are completely different animals, with their own separate philosophies and playbooks. One big play, one missed scoring opportunity, can reverse the morale of a team and alter the landscape of a game quicker than Peyton Manning can accept a TV commercial offer.

Maybe Knapp didn’t trust Seneca. Maybe he didn’t trust Housh. Maybe that’s understandable. I don’t know. Nor do I know why Nate Burleson vanished on that last drive, or why our own defense chose Chicago’s go-ahead drive to start letting rushers through.

What I do know is that fans expected Mike Holmgren’s departure to mark the end of conservative play-calling at Qwest Field, and they don’t see it yet.

What I do see is a defense that played its heart out and managed to achieve that elusive combination of speed, awareness, and hard-nosed attitude. I saw receivers on the field working their routes like paperboys to bring Seneca home. I saw Julius Jones showing the good-old-boy versatility and everyman production that we’ve been hoping for since his signing. I saw the team keeping its cool, coming back from long Chicago drives, and playing 60 minutes of football.

That, Seattle, is a much better way to lose.

* WR Nate Burleson is now 2nd in catches among NFC wide receivers and 5th in receiving yards. He’s also Seattle’s receiving leader after a quiet day from TE John Carlson, leaving Houshmandzadeh in third.

Here’s some interesting stats you should know – stats that tell us

things.

Seattle ran 72 offensive plays on Sunday against the Bears. They got

off an average of 44 offensive plays per game throughout 2008.

Seattle possessed the ball for 29 minutes, 36 seconds against

Chicago. A middling figure, but the average was 26:38 per game in

2008.

Seneca Wallace passed 44 times on Sunday. That’s 15 more than the

2008 average, and it’s also the most single-game passing attempts by

one Seahawks quarterback since, interestingly enough, the last time

Seattle played the Bears – November 18, 2007.

Of course, that game ended in different fashion.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

I’m almost tempted to apologize for my article title. It sounds like

a worn-out Mike Holmgren slumping at the podium after a tough loss,

looking for carefully stated positives to feed the press, while

millions of heartbroken Seattle fans scream at their televisions:

“HELLO? You just lost the game!”

That might be me under most circumstances. But when I compare

Seattle’s 25-19 defeat to the Bears against our loss last week at the

hands of the 49ers…I gotta say, this is the kind of loss I feel

weirdly positive about.

And I mean that. You should know that I’m hardly a blind optimist;

show-me-first pessimism is more my game. I’m very aware that we’re

1-2 and that a road win next week against the Colts is unlikely.

Nothing changes that.

But the fact is, we didn’t lose to the Bears like we did to the

49ers. Not at all.

Last week was a blowout that was nowhere near as close as the 23-10

score implied. Frank Gore broke off runs that made this defense look

incompetent to a man. Their passing game needed only a meager 144

yards to keep the Seahawks pinned down. Our offense was overwhelmed.

It was a disheartening defeat. Demoralizing. Debilitating.

This week was a different story.

Scroll back up and look at those game stats. They indicate that the

Seahawks defense did what dominant defenses do: pressured Cutler and

got him off the field on third down. Consider what this pressure

accomplished:

* Two sacks, a fumble recovery, and a interception induced by

pressure from DT Darryl Tapp.

* Limiting Jay Cutler to 247 passing yards and 3 scores that would

have been meaningless had our kicker done his job.

* Forcing the Bears to adjust on offense.

* Holding Matt Forte to a very pedestrian 66 yards on 21 carries,

defying the trendy prediction by analysts that our running D was the

perfect cure for Forte’s early struggles.

* Five three-and-outs. That hasn’t happened in 11 games, not even

against the Rams.

Yes, the result was a loss. Yes, the Seahawks are still trailing the

49ers by a game within the division, and should rightly be trailing

by two games.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/09000d5d812f33ea/WK-3-C

an-t-Miss-Play-Favre-s-game-winner

But I place the blame for this loss almost exclusively with two

players. Neither guilty party is a defensive player, and one has a

massive caveat attached to him. For our defense to show up with the

sort of hard-nosed, scrappy, relentless football they did is probably

the strongest, most unqualified, most positive single statement this

2009 team has yet made about itself.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The first culprit in this loss is QB Seneca Wallace. The massive

caveat attached to him is the fact that he’s a backup quarterback.

I mean, what were we expecting? Backups are backups for a reason.

When a backup mans a position in place of an injured starter, it’s

common sense to expect a dropoff in quality. Vegas wasn’t stupid when

it favored the Bears once Seneca was finally declared the starter for

this game.

Seneca made strides last year. He improved his accuracy

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d80d1d6b1/WK-14-

Seneca-Wallace-highlights. He stopped throwing dumb interceptions. He

made some of the spectacular highlight-reel deep bombs

(http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/09000d5d80c25f4e/WK-9-

Can-t-Miss-Play-Wallace-to-Robinson) that Seattle fans were thirsting

for after years of the methodical Matt Hasselbeck.

On Sunday, however, his flaws were exposed. He tried to throw off his

back foot and overthrew receivers who had beaten coverage. He ran

when he should have thrown, and he threw when he should have run. He

panicked and sidearmed an easy interception to Bears LB Lance Briggs

– from his own end zone – and several other throws should have met

the same fate. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh spectacularly bailed him out on

one such ill-advised scrambling throw in the second half. Nate

Burleson shed his case of the drops with flair (possibly transferring

it to Housh in the process – there’s one every year, it seems

http://www.nfl.com/players/korenrobinson/profile?id=ROB604848) and

had himself a 9-catch, 100-yard day*.

The defense was also trying to come to Seneca’s rescue, keeping

Cutler off the field and giving Seneca his 44 attempts. Julius Jones,

who I was close to dismissing, kept pressure off Seneca by propping

up the run game with 98 rushing yards and by slipping a poor Charles

Tillman tackle for Seattle’s only touchdown.

Heck, even the Bears tried to help Seneca out, first by losing LB

Brian Urlacher to injury and then his replacement, Hunter

Hillenmeyer.

Seneca Wallace did enough to win. His 261 passing yards were a career

best (his previous record, ironically, was his very first career

start in 2006). I expected he’d find success against a depleted Bears

back seven, and he did. It was pretty close to being enough – Seneca

did get them to the Chicago 21 on that final, desperate drive.

In the end, it was his decision-making and lack of composure on the

field that undid his efforts just enough. Those qualities are what

make Matt Hasselbeck the best starter for any Seahawks team that

wishes to contend.

Even so, the guys over on FOX’s Fringe would tell you that there’s an

alternate universe in which the debut of Seattle’s new lime green

jerseys is not being remembered as the game where Seneca Wallace

proved he’ll never be a franchise QB. That’s because, in that

universe, Olindo Mare didn’t shank two field goals, and the Chicago

21 was easily close enough for a last-minute game-winning

upright-splitter.

Mare’s the other culprit. I don’t think I need to say anything more

about him. I’m sure Seattle fans will prove more than adequate for

that task, and I like that Jim Mora isn’t mincing words about it

either.

This loss really was a shame, because individual performances

abounded on this team. Aaron Curry had his first big play, forcing a

fumble on his very first sack (*sniff*…growing up so FAST!).

Burleson had his 9 catches. MLB David Hawthorne shook off last week’s

Goring and racked up an extraordinary 15 tackles and an interception.

Jon Ryan’s punting remained solid and, more importantly, wasn’t

occurring every five minutes.

The defense was stifling all the way through, though there were some

important miscues. The secondary allowed enough big plays to keep

Cutler confident, and not just in strict pass defense. I remember

seeing Kelly Jennings get brutally blocked out of a play, Jordan

Babineaux in tissue-soft coverage allowing a big catch, and Ken Lucas

losing run containment – in the same drive. If this defense has an

Achilles’ heel, it’s the secondary – which doesn’t bode well for next

week’s journey to the den of Peyton Manning.

Oh, and whose idea was it to cover Bears TE Greg Olsen with a

DEFENSIVE END on the goal line? Worse yet, an old defensive end who’s

not even supposed to be playing end, but tackle? Ugly.

On offense, Seattle got off to just the strong start it needed, and

actually managed to find room running the ball. The value of Julius

Jones’ success here cannot be understated. It allowed Seattle to be

multi-dimensional, alternating between run and pass and keeping the

Bears on their toes. Our offensive line was solid, benefiting

immensely from the return of center Chris Spencer. I hope guard Rob

Sims isn’t out too long; there was an immediate drop-off in pass

protection once he was replaced by Mansfield Wrotto.

Now to the play-calling. And I’m not just talking about that doomed

reverse to Deion Branch, which was sniffed out well by the Bears

defense. I don’t even mean the endless short dumpoffs from 3rd and

long.

I mean the timid running call on 3rd and 13, instead of going deep

from inside the Bears’ 26. Instead of going for the throat of the

Bears’ secondary, which had proven porous already, Knapp played not

to blow the lead and opted for an easy field goal.

Well, they blew the lead. Mare shanked his first field goal right

after that run from the 26, and you could almost feel the momentum

bleed out of the Seahawks. Field goals are not automatic in football,

as the Seahawks should know better than anyone.

Football is a game of momentum. One big play, one missed scoring

opportunity, can reverse the attitude of a team and alter the

landscape of a contest, even just in purely numerical ways. A

six-point game and a nine-point game are completely different

animals, with their own separate philosophies.

Maybe Knapp didn’t trust Seneca. Maybe he didn’t trust Housh. Maybe

that’s understandable. I don’t know. Nor do I know why Nate Burleson

vanished on that last drive, or why the defense chose the final drive to start letting Chicago rushers through.

What I do know is that fans expected Mike Holmgren’s departure to mark the end of conservative play-calling at Qwest Field, and I don’t see it yet.

* WR Nate Burleson is now 2nd in catches among NFC wide receivers and

5th in receiving yards. He’s also Seattle’s receiving leader after a

quiet day by Carlson, leaving the “Pro Bowl-bound” Houshmandzadeh in

third.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (0)




WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

REMEMBERING A LEGEND!

LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS

wilson-entourage

Russell Wilson isn’t “Black Enough,” Seahawks Players Allegedly Say

After Percy Harvin was traded to the Jets, the leaks began almost immediately. Harvin physically fought teammates. Harvin ...
hi-res-c36ccb423dec27409ba5c600d9a89b53_crop_exact

Seahawks say they are far from buried

Here’s something to help the morning coffee go down more smoothly: Sure, these aren’t the same Seahawks who blew ...
Oct 19, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs the ball for a touchdown during the second half of a football game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won 28-26.  Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson is first player in NFL history to have 300/100 game

Peyton Manning wasn't the only NFL quarterback who made history in Week 7, so did Russell Wilson.In the ...
505963447TW00040_Seattle_Se

Percy Harvin gave Golden Tate black eye before Super Bowl

The Seahawks stunned the NFL world on Friday night by trading Percy Harvin to the Jets, less than ...
o-MARSHAWN-LYNCH-facebook

Darrell Bevell: I must get Marshawn Lynch the ball

Darrell Bevell has heard you, Seattle Seahawks fans. The offensive coordinator heard the rampant consternation and deep-throated queries wondering ...
goywh.AuSt.5

Seahawks trade WR Percy Harvin to Jets for draft choice

Well, that’s the end of that problem of getting Percy Harvin the ball down field more, or too ...
131230bennett6vgdfgdgdfg60

Less dancing, more tackling from Seahawks, please

As the Dallas Cowboys were giving them a beating last Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks defense provided a CenturyLink ...
17YsDE.AuSt.5

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: “Whenever we’re running the ball, we’re fine”

Marshawn Lynch sprinted down the right sideline untouched, into and out of the end zone. But he wasn’t carrying ...

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at NFLShop.com

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at NFLShop.com
 

lat-noise-wre0011368363-20130915

WELCOME TO THE SEAHAWKS 12TH MAN ARMY.

WE TAKE PRIDE IN GIVING SEAHAWKS FANS AROUND THE CLOCK UPDATES,  ALL SEAHAWKS ALL THE TIME. SO IF YOU WANT THE LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS DELIVERED FOR FREE RIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL BOX ONCE A WEEK, SIGN UP AND ENJOY!

WE HAVE BEEN PROUDLY SERVING DIEHARD SEAHAWKS FANS SINCE 2004.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz