Friday, September 23, 2011
2011 Seahawks Week 2: Five observations
By Mike Sando
Five things I noticed while watching the Seattle Seahawks during their 24-0 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2:
- The goal-line defense remains strong. Seattle ranks fifth in touchdown percentage allowed when opponents have goal-to-go situations. Safety Earl Thomas stood out more than once when the Seahawks turned over the ball on downs after Pittsburgh had first-and-goal from the 1. He's just so fast and explosive. Not many players Thomas' size could have brought down Rashard Mendenhall so decisively at the goal line on that fourth-down play.
- The unbalanced lines seem gimmicky. The Seahawks face personnel challenges with tight end John Carlson on injured reserve and fullback Michael Robinson sidelined indefinitely. They have reacted by occasionally using unbalanced lines. This doesn't seem to accomplish much. Tight end Zach Miller lined up at left tackle on third-and-9 from deep in Seattle territory. He did a good job chopping down Steelers linebacker James Harrison, but running back Marshawn Lynch went nowhere anyway. The Seahawks have yet to target Miller as a receiver on third down this season.
- Special-teams coverage is a concern. Antonio Brown's 41-yard punt return late in the first quarter came to mind. Richard Sherman slipped, Kam Chancellor lost sideline containment, Justin Forsett got blocked and Clint Gresham missed before linebacker K.J. Wright tracked down Brown near midfield. Wright will be starting at linebacker this week, possibly affecting his special-teams reps. Coverage units are a concern against Arizona's Patrick Peterson and, possibly, LaRod Stephens-Howling.
- It was time on Aaron Curry. The lineup change from Wright to Curry for Week 3 seems appropriate after watching this game more closely. The interception Curry dropped allowed the Steelers to sustain a touchdown drive for a 14-0 lead. The Steelers scored that touchdown when Curry rushed toward the line of scrimmage and ran right into pulling guard Ramon Foster, who cleared the way for Isaac Redman to find the end zone. Chancellor and linebacker Matt McCoy missed Redman, with Chancellor overrunning him. None of it happens if Curry makes what should have been a routine interception.
- Tarvaris Jackson must do more. The Seahawks' quarterback has too often faced pressure quickly. He needs to better maximize opportunities when he does have time. A third-and-9 play midway through the second quarter comes to mind. With Miller helping in protection, Jackson had plenty of time. When he finally did throw, he missed Ben Obomanu high for what should have been a 20-yard gain to the Pittsburgh 32. Obomanu should have caught the ball anyway, but a more accurate throw delivered earlier would have helped. Jackson has completed none of his five pass attempts this season when the ball traveled more than 20 yards downfield. He's had receivers open, too.
I'll generally post these earlier in the week. The Monday night game in East Rutherford, N.J., threw off the usual schedule this time.