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Friday, November 4, 2011
The Other Side: Danny O'Neil, Seattle Times

By Calvin Watkins

Seattle Seahawks beat writer Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times answers some questions for us. Check out the Seahawks blog here.

Q:So who is the starting quarterback for this team? Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Pete Carroll? Who?

A: Tarvaris Jackson is going to start. Anyone who thought there was a question about Seattle's best quarterback found out the answer when Charlie Whitehurst struggled in his two starts. Jackson was considerably better than Whitehurst last week, which is telling because Jackson a) had a high-grade strain of his right pectoral muscle; b) Whitehurst had all the reps in practice. Jackson has two 300-yard passing games in his career and they have come in his past three games for Seattle.

Q:Penalties seem to be a major issue for Seattle. The Seahawks have been penalized the fourth-most times in the league this season. What's the problem?

A:Youth. Brandon Browner is a cornerback in his first season in the NFL. A CFL All-Star the past four seasons, he is a tall, at times ungainly and very physical cornerback. He has been penalized 10 times, most of any Seahawk. Tackles Russell Okung (second year) and James Carpenter (rookie) have been penalized eight and seven times respectively. The fact Seattle has flip-flopped quarterbacks because of injury over the past three games isn't helping the Seahawks remain disciplined along the line.

Q: The run game has struggled this year. Is it the offensive line or the running backs?

A:The line. Marshawn Lynch is an established back, who averaged four yards per carry in Buffalo. He's averaging 3.5 since coming to Seattle. The Seahawks averaged 89 yards rushing last season, fourth-fewest in franchise history. The rate is the exact same this season as Seattle has struggled to find any headway. The Seahawks have allowed the most sacks in the league and are averaging the second-fewest rushing yards of any NFL team, which says what you need to know about the line.

Q: Are you surprised at how bad Seattle is this year considering they lucked into a postseason berth last year?

A:I'm not surprised Seattle struggled. When you change over the offensive line, start two rookies and don't have any two starters who've ever started together, there are going to be some growing pains. It was clear when the season started that the Seahawks could get worse before they got better. But unlike last season, I think this is a team that will improve as the year goes on. I think they will be markedly better on offense the second half of the season compared to the first half. And one more thing I'm surprised about is this defense. It's legit. Very tough against the run, fast and aggressive.

Q: How has Pete Carroll been in Year 2? Does he have a command of what's going on or still building the team?

A: Pete Carroll is an aggressive coach, but he also had the confidence to watch a number of serviceable veterans walk away from Matt Hasselbeck to center Chris Spencer to safety Lawyer Milloy. Those moves cleared the way for Seattle's next generation to emerge. This team has suffered in the short term for the turnover -- especially without offseason workouts -- but the team will be better for the long term provided one thing: They find their quarterback of the future, and while Carroll hasn't ruled out the possibility Jackson could be that player, he hasn't tied the team's future to Jackson with a long-term commitment either.