Monday, November 14, 2011
2011 Seahawks Week 10: Five observations
By Mike Sando
Five things I noticed while watching the Seattle Seahawks' 22-17 home victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10:
- Seahawks had the better QB. Tarvaris Jackson outplayed Joe Flacco by a shockingly wide margin. Jackson hung tough in the pocket when pressure was mounting and delivered the ball accurately, including to Marshawn Lynch. But the most impressive play for Jackson showcased his strong arm. Jackson, supposedly limited by a strained right pectoral muscle, threw a pass 45 yards in the air to Doug Baldwin on an across-the-body throw while rolling hard to his left. Not many quarterbacks can make that type of throw. Flacco repeatedly missed receivers. He missed one potential touchdown on a deep pass and another when tight end Dennis Pitta slipped behind linebacker Leroy Hill in the end zone. Flacco overthrew both passes. He also threw into double coverage in the end zone on another play. Seattle's Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas collided while trying to make the pick, or else this would have been an interception.
- Offensive line depth improved. The Seahawks lost starting right guard John Moffitt to a knee injury early in the game. Lemuel Jeanpierre replaced him and proved, again, that Seattle's depth along the line is not longer such a liability. The personnel department has done a good job in that area. Jeanpierre seemed to function well despite facing a formidable Ravens defensive front. He made a positive impression starting at center against Cleveland a few weeks earlier. Right tackle James Carpenter still has problems protecting. Officials flagged him for holding on a third-and-goal play from the 3. Carpenter's right foot was outside the 5-yard line before the snap in an effort to get a jump in protection, but it wasn't enough. The line's strong blocking for Lynch helped Seattle take an early lead and minimize obvious passing situations. That was huge for the line.
- Letting Mare leave worked out OK. Seattle wanted to re-sign kicker Olindo Mare, but the Carolina Panthers made on offer the Seahawks weren't willing to match. The offer was sensational from Mare's perspective, but also above market. A contending team might have found a way to keep its kicker, but the Seahawks remained in rebuild mode. Mare has made 14 of 18 attempts this season. Steven Hauschka made all five attempts for Seattle against Baltimore. He has now made 15 of 17 attempts. Mare has more touchbacks.
- Gallery's veteran savvy shows up. You had to watch carefully, but with about 4:17 left in the second quarter, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis inexplicably fell down while closing on Jackson in the Seattle backfield. The fall gave Jackson time to escape the pocket and throw away the ball without risking a penalty for intentional grounding. Lewis had beaten Seahawks left guard Robert Gallery on the play, but as Gallery was down on all fours, he made sure one hand snagged Lewis' right foot. Lewis stumbled, got up quickly and raised his arms in protest as if to say, "Hey, what was that?" It's tripping, but only if the officials see it.
- Seattle needs another Lynch. At one point during the Fox broadcast, analysts said Lewis had called Lynch the Seahawks' heartbeat. Seattle lacks another big halfback on its roster, however. If Lynch misses a game, as he did at Cleveland, the Seahawks cannot play offense they way they want to play it. Lynch should have a strong second half of the season as the line continues to improve. I'm just not sure how long he'll hold up carrying the ball as much as he has in the last couple games. He has 55 carries and 61 total touches over the last two games. It'll be fun to watch Lynch and the St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson in the same game next week. Defensive players will want to keep the ice packs handy. Seattle might want to add another big back in the offseason, though.
I'm writing this from San Francisco 49ers headquarters following Jim Harbaugh's news conference and will be heading to the airport shortly. More to come once I'm settled.