What we learned in Week 7: Seahawks vs. Arizona edition

I. Three things we learned

1) Seattle’s offense hasn’t turned the corner. Not yet anyway.
The Seahawks went through another one of their prolonged funks, going more than 20 minutes without gaining a single first down. It scored only one touchdown despite getting five turnovers, three of which gave the Seahawks possession of the ball inside the Cardinals 20-yard line. The Seahawks had a season-high in rushing yardage, but the proof of productivity was in the points and Seattle didn’t score nearly enough given the field position it had.

2) Why Russell Okung was chosen with the No. 6 overall pick.
It wasn’t a coincidence that when he left the game, the Seahawks stopped running the ball successfully. With Okung in the game, Seattle gained 55 yards on six carries. After he left, the Seahawks gained 91 yards on 30 carries. Is it too simple to say the Seahawks offense started skidding once Okung left with an ankle injury? “I don’t know that,” Carroll said. “I think it is (too simple to say that). We might have lost our thought that we could stay with it because he wasn’t in there more than that.”

3) Mike Williams gives Seattle a dominant physical presence on the outside.
Arizona is a team that likes its secondary stocked with size, and he didn’t just stand up to that challenge, he stood out. He made 11 catches, three of which had a high degree of difficulty. The Cardinals couldn’t bump him out of position or disrupt him, and the way Williams is playing right now, he’s showing that he can be that big-bodied, No. 1 receiver.

II. Three things we don’t know

1) Is Russell Okung injury prone?
It’s too early to draw that conclusion or apply the term chronic to anything. The injuries have occurred to different ankles, each caused by a teammate falling into him. That’s hardly some sort of warning sign, but Okung has been injured for the second time this season and he’s playing the same position as Walter Jones, who missed a total of four games because of injury in his first 11 seasons in the league. Okung did suffer an injury to his right ankle during his senior season at Oklahoma State though he never missed a game.

2) Has Matt Hasselbeck turned the corner in terms of interceptions?
He wasn’t picked off for a second consecutive game, a significant improvement for a player who had been intercepted at least once in eight consecutive games from Week 13 in 2009 to Week 4 this year. This is a different role for Hasselbeck. He’s no longer the engine and the rudder of the offense as Mike Holmgren demanded his quarterbacks be. He’s a distributor who’s expected to avoid turnovers above all else.

3) Did Arizona reveal a fundamental flaw in Seattle’s rush defense?
For the first four games, strongside linebacker Aaron Curry gave Seattle a definite advantage, setting the edge and preventing opponents from running the stretch play outside to the strongside. He simply shucked the tight end’s block whenever he wanted. Well, against Arizona, Curry got blocked at the edge, caught inside, allowing the Cardinals running back to get around the edge. One of those blocks was delivered by guard Deuce Latui, who will never be accused of being the most mobile of linemen. Expect teams to learn from that, not leaving it to the tight end to handle Curry outside.

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

1) Why was everyone so up in arms about trading cornerback Josh Wilson in August?
Seems kind of silly now, doesn’t it? Kelly Jennings has been more than adequate as a starter, and when he was out Sunday with a hamstring injury, rookie Walter Thurmond showed why the Seahawks considered him a first-round talent. He was still available in the fourth round because he was coming off knee surgery, but he thrived in Sunday’s game, showing a physical presence that this team has lacked at right cornerback in recent years.

2) How does Arizona extricate itself from this mess at quarterback?
The Cardinals cut Matt Leinart, benched Derek Anderson and now they’re on Max Hall, who might be competitive and charismatic, but he not only showed a lack of arm strength Sunday, but an elongated delivery. Arizona has a Ferrari of a receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, and they’ve entrusted the keys to someone who doesn’t appear qualified to own an NFL learner’s permit.

3) What’s up with Golden Tate?
Six games into his rookie season, the second-round draft pick has caught the same number of passes (eight) as Brandon Stokley, who has been with the team less than a month. He did play some receiver in Sunday’s game, but you’re forgiven if you didn’t notice. He was targeted once, and didn’t catch the ball that one time it was thrown to him. His 52-yard catch in Week 2 at Denver remains Seattle’s longest play from scrimmage in six games, but in a season when so many rookies have already contributed, Tate has been a disappointment