What we learned: Chiefs 42, Seahawks 24

Published on November 29, 2010 by     Seahawks.Com News (Feed)

I. Three things we learned

1. Red Bryant really did make that much of a difference in Seattle’s rush defense.
Through the first 22 quarters of this season, the Seahawks allowed an average of 3.3 yards per carry by their opponents. Why is that time frame significant? Because those were the 22 quarters that Red Bryant played before suffering a season-ending knee injury at the end of the first half in Oakland. Since then, Seattle has given up an average of 5.1 yards per carry, and on Sunday the Chiefs ran for 270 yards — the most rushing yards Seattle has allowed in any game in 10 years.

2. Seattle’s offensive renaissance really was only as durable as Mike Williams.
The Seahawks passed for more than 700 yards over their past two games, but all that offensive momentum the Seahawks engendered didn’t go too much farther than Matt Hasselbeck’s connection with his biggest wide receiver. When Williams was unable to play because of a foot strain, the Seahawks managed all of three first downs and 71 yards of total offense in the first half of Sunday’s loss Kansas City. The Seahawks are a team that can’t run the ball, and Williams is the team’s only consistent receiving target.

3. Special teams are the best thing about this team.
The Seahawks’ offense ranks No. 29, gaining 299.3 yards per game, and their defense is No. 30, allowing 399 per game. Special teams won the game against San Diego with two kickoff returns for a touchdown in Week 3 and kept Seattle in Sunday’s game by blocking a field goal and then a punt, which was returned for a touchdown.

II. Three things we don’t know

1. Will Seattle get traction in the ground game?
The expectation was Russell Okung’s return at left tackle would stabilize the offensive line. Well, in the two games since Okung’s return, the Seahawks are averaging 2.7 yards per carry. That’s not a reflection on Okung. He has played very well. It shows that his return isn’t enough to buttress an injury-ravaged offensive line. Seattle rushed 12 times Sunday, and two of those carries were by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks have rushed for 847 yards through 11 games, which puts them on pace to finish with 1,232 rushing yards. That would be the fewest by any Seahawks team in a 16-game season.

2. Will Seattle’s offensive line ever stabilize this season?
The Seahawks have started nine different offensive-line combinations so far this year, and center Chris Spencer couldn’t finish Sunday’s game because of a leg injury, missing the final two plays. Mike Gibson slid to center, Tyler Polumbus entered the game at left guard – a position he hasn’t played since, well, since ever. Given that instability, Seattle has been fairly good at protecting the quarterback with the exception of the loss in Oakland, it’s the running game that has been historically problematic.

3. What happened to Seattle’s pass rush?
This comes with the caveat that Chris Clemons has been very productive with 7.5 sacks this season, but the Chiefs were missing starting left tackle Branden Albert, and the Seahawks managed one quarterback hit in Sunday’s game. Seattle has not sacked the opposing quarterback in two games, which is simply not good enough.

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

1. Seattle’s fourth-down thought process.
The Seahawks have gone for it on fourth down 11 times this season and converted three of those to a first down. That percentage is fourth-lowest in the league. Facing fourth-and-1 in the first quarter Sunday, Seattle threw a fade to Golden Tate, who is 5 feet 10. It was a play that epitomized both the Seahawks’ lack of confidence in their rushing game, and the lack of options in the passing game.

2. Has the Seahawks’ rush defense bottomed out?
Seattle gave up 270 rushing yards, the highest single-game total since the Seahawks allowed 301 rushing yards to the Broncos on Nov. 26, 2000. Defensive tackle Colin Cole is probably more than a week away from returning, Bryant is out for the year and it’s not like there are a lot of options for Seattle up front. The Seahawks simply don’t have the depth. That is evident considering that three of the defensive linemen currently on the roster were not on the team in training camp, meaning that Seattle found upgrades among players other teams cut.

3. What does this team do well?
Aside from special teams, that is. What is this team’s strength on offense? Hard to pick one aside from the connection between Williams and Hasselbeck. How about on defense? It was the ability to stop the run earlier in the season, but that’s now a distant memory. The Seahawks haven’t been able to defend the pass, either. They’re allowing 278.6 yards per game, third-most in the league, and Dwayne Bowe caught 13 passes, matching the most by any Seahawks opponent in team history.

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