The Seahawks never seemed to establish a true identity offensively. Or, perhaps better stated, the identity they did establish was dull. The run game provided little spark, in part because running back Marshawn Lynch did not have the patience or initial quickness to thrive in a one-cut scheme. It’s surprising that Justin Forsett became such an afterthought after Lynch showed up.
Whoever was running the ball had to overcome a very average offensive line. Right tackle Sean Locklear looked sloppy and inexplicably sluggish at times. The interior linemen weren’t horrible but lacked range in the run game. The first-round rookie left tackle Russell Okung – a real natural – stood out when healthy, but when his ankle injuries forced Tyler Polumbus into the lineup, the pass protection crumbled.
Everyone lauded wide receiver Mike Williams for his comeback. Yes, Williams was quicker and swifter. But in the end, he was still just a big No. 2 possession target. The nonexistence of downfield speed in the receiving corps made Seattle’s passing attack far too easy to defend. That may have partly contributed to Matt Hasselbeck’s unusually high number of bad decisions and turnovers.
Seattle learned what everybody already knew: you can’t play soft zone coverage in the N.F.L. if you don’t have a dominant pass rush. Defensive end Chris Clemons was productive and impressively limber given his size and strength, but he wasn’t enough of a down-to-down force to carry a mediocre front line.
Much of the blame must be placed on the cornerbacks, particularly Marcus Trufant. The effects of his knee problems showed up whenever he had to change directions quickly. Trufant, like the rest of the secondary, rarely got burned but was frequently picked apart.
The supposed strength of this defense – the linebacking threesome – looked disconcertingly mundane. Middle ’backer Lofa Tatupu was instinctive vs. the run but struggled to patrol large spaces in coverage. On the weak side, David Hawthorne proved far less effective operating east and west versus the north and south he got to operate in while filling in for Tatupu last year, while strongside linebacker Aaron Curry made very few big plays.
The Seahawks have their starting WR duo in Ben Obomanu and Mike Williams
Both are plodders who lack the speed to get over the top (Obomanu especially). Neither changes direction particularly well, which restricts the routes they can run. Seattle gave both players contract extensions last season, but offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will find it very difficult to use spread formations with these two on the field.
Defensive end Red Bryant was a fantastic playside run defender. Maybe that’s to be expected from a 318-pounder. There was a staggering decline in Seattle’s run defense once the 2008 fourth-round draft pick was lost for the season (knee) in November. If healthy, Bryant will have a stellar career as a first- and second-down end, especially if he ever gets to play in a 3-4.