Posted at 12:46 a.m., Tuesday, November 6, 2007
NFL: Can Seahawks' get well? Only if they take to air
By Steve Kelley
The Seattle Times
How could something so good slip away so fast?
Two years ago, the Seattle Seahawks were a Super Bowl team. Now, they are the worst 4-and-4 team in football. They are the worst division-leading team in history.
Two years ago, they were the best team in their conference and, arguably, the best regular-season team in the league. And now this.
Ask Dr. Pigskin.
Q: Yo, Doc, what happened to the Seahawks' running game? Back in the day, they had a streak of 13 consecutive fourth-down conversions. Now they can't get 18 inches on fourth down.
A: The offensive line got old and young at the same time. The veterans like Chris Gray and Walter Jones are beaten up from more than a decade in the trenches. And the kids like Ron Sims and Chris Spencer aren't ready.
They're making the wrong calls. They're not getting a push on short yardage. They're just not very good.
Q: Come on Doc, are you saying Shaun Alexander is blameless in all of this?
A: Alexander is looking more and more like a beaten-up, old running back. In the cruel world of professional football, it happens that fast, even to the best backs.
He never was a good blocker, never was a pass catcher and now he's got a sprained ankle, sprained knee and has to wear a cast on his left wrist for the rest of the season.
He scored 27 rushing touchdowns two years ago. He has two halfway through this season. He's not the Alexander he once was.
Q: So what's the answer, Doc? More Mo?
A: Absolutely not. Maurice Morris couldn't convert on Sunday's fourth-and-18-inches. Morris is a change of pace back. Think of him as Alexander's occasional pinch runner.
Q: So answer the question. What's the secret to turning around the running game?
A: Simple. Throw the ball. Turn the offense into a two-minute drill for 60 minutes.
As Seahawks' coach Mike Holmgren said yesterday, "I'm going back to my roots. I've been three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust. Well, actually, 2.5 yards-and-a-cloud of dust."
Well, actually 17 inches and a cloud of dust.
Holmgren liked what he saw in the passing game and he's going to start throwing it even more. He has no choice.
Q: Who's better the St. Louis Rams, or the B.C. Lions?
A: If you're asking if the Seahawks are going to win the weakling NFC West and host a playoff game, the answer is yes. If you're asking if winning the division should be good enough for this team, well, you know the answer.
Q: I have a follow-up question. Can Oregon beat the San Francisco 49ers?
A: Seven-and-nine will be good enough to win the West. Does that answer your question?
Q: Hey Doc, everybody's talking about the problems on offense, but the Hawks scored 30 points on Sunday against Cleveland and lost. Aren't you guys being too easy on the defense?
A: Mea culpa. The Hawks have a total of 20 sacks in their four wins and only three in their four losses.
Q: Yeah, but 13 of those sacks came against St. Louis and San Francisco combined. Should they count in the official stats?
A: I'll ignore that.
This defense is built to prevent the big play. The secondary is small and has trouble stopping big receivers and it plays so soft.
Quarterbacks with three-and-fire-step drops like Cleveland's Derek Anderson are killing the cornerbacks. And remember how New Orleans' Drew Brees picked them apart last month?
Q: NBC has announced it is ditching the Seahawks' Sunday night game Nov. 18 game against Chicago. Instead it is moving New England at Buffalo into that slot. Should the Hawks be insulted?
A: Considering the inconsistency of the first half of the season, less exposure is good. The Hawks should be relieved.
Q: Look Doc, I was looking forward to a great second half from this team. Is this season salvageable?
A: Depends on your definition.
The offensive line isn't suddenly going to play like 2005. The cornerbacks are going to grow. But Matt Hasselbeck is having a Pro Bowl year and if Holmgren turns this thing into an aerial circus, the Hawks have a chance to make the second half of the season more entertaining than the first.
This is my revised best guess. They finish 9-7. Win a playoff game over the New York Giants at home. Then get blown away in Dallas or Green Bay in the conference semifinals.
And, by my definition, this season will be a disappointment.