NFC West: Montrae Holland

2011 Seahawks Week 9: Five observations

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
3:29
PM ET
Five things I noticed while watching the Seattle Seahawks' most recent game, a 23-13 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9:
  • Fullback hurt Seattle's defense. Teams cannot always justify playing time for a fullback. The Cowboys did not use one to start the game, but once Tony Fiammetta came onto the field, he was a difference maker. The Seahawks' linebackers had a hard time with him. Murray gained 32 yards on a play resembling the one he broke for 91 yards against St. Louis. Guard Montrae Holland occupied linebacker David Hawthorne. Fiammetta eliminated Malcolm Smith. I'll be interested in seeing how Seattle handles Baltimore's two-back offense. The Ravens' Ray Rice has 111 carries for 444 yards and six touchdowns with fullback Vonta Leach on the field, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
  • Okung's progress continuing. The Seahawks had to like what they saw from left tackle Russell Okung. When Okung plays with confidence, he makes the extra shove. I saw that from him early in the game. Okung pushed Demarcus Ware legally but unnecessarily as a play was ending. The whistle had not yet blown, but Ware wasn't a factor on the play. Ware walked toward Okung after the play and said something in his ear, but Okung didn't seem to care. Okung generally fared well when matched up with Ware. He showed good awareness and hustle in retreating to help with Ware on the play Tarvaris Jackson saved with a penalty-drawing throw for Mike Williams.
  • Two problems with 39-yarder to Bryant. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo made his 39-yard pass to Dez Bryant up the left sideline appear routine. He had help from the Seahawks. Cornerback Brandon Browner was pressing Bryant at the line of scrimmage, but he gave Bryant a clean release. There was no jam. The Seahawks sent free safety Earl Thomas on a blitz, but Thomas appeared to run into a wall. The Cowboys absorbed him. Blitzing without getting pressure was bad enough. Playing press coverage without getting a jam made it worse.
  • Where Robert Gallery stands. At times this season, the Seahawks' veteran left guard and free-agent addition from Oakland has reminded me of another AFC West alumnus in a Seattle uniform. Back in the late 1990s, the team signed Brian Habib from Denver for veteran leadership on the line. Habib started 32 games over two seasons, but he played hurt a fair amount of the time and struggled. Gallery was playing hurt early this season. Ware made him look bad on one play Sunday, but overall, this game represented a step forward. Football Outsiders' Ben Muth, a former Stanford lineman, had some more technical observations on Gallery.
  • Strong goal-to-go defense. The Seahawks have gotten quite a bit bigger on defense. This could account for their success in goal-to-go situations. Their big cornerbacks have less ground to cover, so they can play aggressively without giving up the deep ball. They have big, strong players along the line, from Alan Branch to Red Bryant to Brandon Mebane. The Cowboys scored no touchdowns on two goal-to-go possessions. The Seahawks lead the NFL is lowest TD percentage allowed in goal-to-go situations at 38.5 percent. The league average is 66.4 percent.

I'm heading for the airport in a few hours. Hoping to post similar files for the San Francisco and St. Louis games. Already hit Arizona earlier in the week.

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