Perhaps no team in sports gives home-field advantage a bigger meaning than the Seahawks. So far this season, the Seahawks have faced two very beatable teams on the road, being the Broncos and the Rams. The Broncos man-handled the Hawks in a 31-14 win, and the Rams dealt with them rather easily as well, winning the contest 20-6.
Playing on the road has always been a problem for the Seahawks, but never has their defense looked so dull, and their offense so out of sync. Facing a team such as the Bears with Cutler playing well is going to be a tough challenge, and although it’s early, how they play could indicate how the rest of their season may go.
With the weak NFC West still looking for a team to step up and take first place, the Seahawks have shown that they are unable to be that team if they keep playing the way they do. Minimizing past mistakes will be key come sunday.
Let’s look at the keys to the game.
Offense: The offense has been sputtering along on the road, and Carroll’s obsession with going for it on fourth down when the Seahawks can put points on the board isn’t helping. Carroll needs to take points where he can get them. This isn’t USC where his defense will always bail him out, this is the NFL where points are hard to come by, especially with this offense.
The run game also needs to get going. If the Seahawks can effectively run the ball on first down, it opens up the playbook for a 2nd and 6 or 3rd and 4, which is much more manageable than a 3rd and 10 which seems to be the norm lately. The run game improving will also open up the passing game. I am not the biggest fan of Hasselbeck, but it would be hard for even Peyton Manning to be a QB on this team when the defenses are playing so pass-heavy due to lack of a running game. Hopefully, Marshawn Lynch can open up the pass a bit, and be a threat out of the backfield for Hasselbeck’s check-down’s.
Matt will also need to minimize his bad decisions resulting in turnovers, and his receivers need to run sharper routes to help him out. Hopefully the bye week gave them some time to get their timing down.
Defense: The defense needs to play with the same intensity on the road as they do at home. Period. If the defense can limit the Bears conversions on long third downs, something they have struggled to do on the road, they should be in better shape. They will also need to get to Cutler more. The line has a fine time getting to the QB at home, but again, they struggle to do that on the road. If they can pressure Cutler, he will throw a bad pass. He has a history of it. The Seahawks need to create turnovers, and pressuring Cutler is the best way to do that. The offense will need to stay on the field and even out time of possession to keep the defense fresh though, obviously.
Special Teams: Keep doing what they’re doing, but they won’t be able to bail us out every time.
Coaching: The play calling needs to be better, and the Seahawks need to take points when they can get them. This team cannot afford to give up 3 points here and there, especially against a team like the Bears. It will be interesting how Pete Carroll handles this week after some debatable play calling against the Rams.
The bottom line is, this team needs to play with the same heart and soul on the road as they do at home, and if they can follow these key’s to the game, they should come out with a win. This weekend should tell us what this team is really made of, and hopefully that is something more than a decent team when they play at home. A win this Sunday should make the Seahawks the clear favorite in the West, and it will be a huge motivation factor.
I don’t know about you, but I am ready for some football!