What we learned: Seahawks 27, Chargers 20

Published on September 27, 2010 by     Seahawks.Com News (Feed)

I. Three things we learned

1. Seattle’s acquisition of Leon Washington was a real steal: The Seahawks didn’t even have to wear a mask when they robbed the Jets for Washington. Seattle gave up a fifth-round pick New York used to select fullback Dan Conner for Washington and a seventh-round choice. Anyone wondering about Washington’s quickness should look at how fast he set a Seahawks’ franchise record for kickoff returns in his career.

2. Seattle can’t keep winning while getting outgained like this: The Seahawks have allowed more yards than they’ve gained in each of their two victories this season. How have they still won? Turnovers mostly. Seattle has seven takeaways in its two victories this season, and it can’t necessarily count on those to keep nullifying the opponent’s edge in yardage.

3. Justin Forsett is Seattle’s most productive runner: He led the team in yards per carry last season when he averaged 5.4 yards. He’s leading again this year at 4.7 yards. Julius Jones didn’t carry the ball at all Sunday against the Chargers as Forsett is getting the opportunities that he’s earned with his production.

II. Three things we don’t know

1. How much of a setback will the injuries to Seattle’s defense be? The Seahawks were missing three defensive starters by the end of Sunday’s game: linebacker Aaron Curry (hamstring), cornerback Marcus Trufant (left ankle) and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf). None of those injuries are season-threatening, but all were very important in explaining why San Diego’s Phillip Rivers was able to pass for more than 300 yards in the second half alone Sunday.

2. Can Chris Clemons take his pass rush on the road? His speed is clearly an asset at home where the noise of Qwest Field gives the defense an edge. He has three sacks in his two games at home and four quarterback hits. Seattle now has 20 quarterback hits in its two games at home, but hit Denver quarterback Kyle Orton only once on the road in Week 2. The Seahawks play their next two games on the road, which means the pass rush will be critical.

3. Do people realize how well linebacker David Hawthorne is playing? He is a middle linebacker with great instincts for that position, but outside linebacker requires a different skill set and an ability to play in space and move laterally. Would Hawthorne’s impact be diminished by moving outside? Nope. He has played exceptionally well and had two of the biggest hits in Sunday’s game, one of which forced Mike Tolbert to fumble. Hawthorne’s play is lessening Leroy Hill’s absence to injury and the possibility Hill could face further league discipline.

III. Three things we’re still trying to figure out

1. How to evaluate Matt Hasselbeck’s performance: In Week 1, he steadied Seattle after its early struggles and played an outstanding game. In Week 2, his three turnovers seriously hobbled the Seahawks’ chances at winning. In Week 3, he was, well a non-factor. He certainly didn’t play well, missing several potential huge plays like the third-and-1 pass in which he overthrew tight end John Carlson. He also avoided mistakes, his only interception a deep heave to receiver Mike Williams that was as much about the play call as Hasselbeck’s decision. He is, after all, a quarterback whose deep ball will never be his strength and Williams had just returned to the game from a shoulder injury. Hasselbeck was as close to a non-factor in Sunday’s game as an NFL quarterback can be in a seven-point game.

2. Why in the world San Diego kept kicking to Leon Washington: OK, so maybe the 101-yard kickoff return to begin the second half wasn’t reason enough to avoid him entirely. Those plays happen. Washington is a gifted returner. But when Washington very nearly returns a subsequent kickoff for a touchdown, stumbling over his own feet as he attempted to evade kicker Nate Kaeding then maybe — just maybe — it’s time to start kicking away from him. Nope. Washington got another chance and his 99-yard kickoff return with less than 7 minutes remaining proved to be the difference in the game.

3. Was Phillip Rivers’ second-half passing total a sign of things to come for Seattle’s secondary? Rivers is certainly one of the very best quarterbacks in this league, and yes, Seattle was missing three defensive starters in the second half. But Rivers threw for 337 yards in the second half alone, which was not a good sign for a secondary that allowed the most passing yards in the NFL in 2008 and the second-most in 2009. Was it mostly a product of the situation as the Chargers attempted to rally from a double-digit deficit or was it the first signs of some serious problems in Seattle’s secondary?

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