Bye Week and Beyond

Louis Bacigalupi posts comments on the site as LouieLouie.  He’s an accountant by trade and worked in a USFL front office.  He can be reached by email at Louie@fiercelyI.com.

As I suggested I might do a couple of weeks ago, I went shopping with my wife the Sunday the Hawks had the week off.  That didn’t turn out to be such a good idea, as the “bye” week turned into the “buy” week – it was almost as painful as last Sunday’s loss to Miami.

The Miami Game

What was it that lost the game to the Dolphins?  The difference in the game was that at crunch time, with the score tied and time running out on the clock, the Seahawks tried to play it safe on both sides of the ball, while Miami let ‘er rip and won the game.  As I’ve heard it said, real teams play to win instead of just playing not to lose.

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In my last article, after commenting that the defense lost the game in Detroit, I asked a rhetorical question: how often will that happen?  I was hoping that the answer would be “not very often at all,” but as it turns out we only had to wait until the Seahawks’ next road game.  The ultimate factor in losing the Miami game was coaching, but the defense’s play in the second half didn’t help much.

Even Earl Thomas contributed to the loss with an untimely roughing the passer penalty that canceled out a very timely interception end zone that would have made it much more difficult for the Dolphins to mount a comeback.  We can tsk-tsk him for the mistake, but the other side of E.T.’s ledger – the side that lists all the things he’s done to help Seattle win games – has by far the greater total.  We may have to give him a mulligan for Miami.

Had they won, there were potentially two Seahawks who would have been included on the top-ten plays highlight reel for the week.  One of them was, as usual, Golden Tate.  His reception along the sidelines, made while he was tumbling over the defender, was as good a catch as any of us will ever see.  

Tate’s catch ended up being included on NFL Network’s top ten list anyway, but Leon Washington’s kickoff return for a touchdown was not, but it should have.  Once he gets past the first volley of defenders, he is BAD-ASS.  But, if given a choice, I’m sure neither Washington or Tate would hesitate to trade those plays away, straight up, for a W.

Ultra-conservative playcalling wound up being the deciding factor in Seattle’s loss.  The Dolphins kept doing what worked and put the ball in the hands of their rookie quarterback, but Carroll and Bevell did not.  There is more to this Seahawks team than Marshawn Lynch, and Wilson, Rice, and Tate played better in Miami than Bevell was coaching.

For the last drive of the game, Bevell went back to the same playcalling that netted zero first downs in the first quarter: run on first down, run or short pass on second down, then get stopped on third and long.  Miami completely controlled the middle of the line, but at no point in the game did that stop Bevell from continuing to call runs up the gut [On runs through the interior of the line, Lynch averaged just 2.36 yards per carry. –Ed.]  A common definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If this pattern of playcalling continues, it may be time for all Seahawk Addicts to call for a complete psychiatric examination for both Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell, just to play it safe.

Around the League

Colin Kaepernick has the look of a quarterback of the future for the 49ers, while Alex Smith has the look of a soon to be ex-49er.  In an abstract way, Kaepernick reminds me of Russell Wilson, albeit with a slightly different skill set and a little more height.  I expect to see the two of them play many games against one another over the next decade.

Mike Holmgren, whom Seahawks fans should remember fondly, has stepped down as general manager in Cleveland.  I believe that he succeeded in putting together a solid nucleus that the Browns can build a team around.  They played tough in Dallas, then defeated a Charlie Batch-led Pittsburgh team.  Holmgren drafted a starting quarterback and running back this year, the defense is improving, and they are a very young team.  I didn’t always like his personnel decisions when he was GM in Seattle, but he has left Cleveland in good stead.  There are some rumors about him going to Dallas, but who knows.  If he’s smart, he’ll retire in Santa Cruz and just ride his Harley-Davidson.

Aaron Curry was recently cut by the Raiders and may be washed up in the NFL.  Is the former 4th overall pick of the 2009 draft a loser?  Thanks to Tim Ruskell, he certainly is not.  He signed Curry to a contract with $34 million guaranteed, which was the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history for a rookie who wasn’t a quarterback.  Both he and JaMarcus Russell, the first pick of the 2007 draft, can sit around their swimming pools until they die at a ripe old age, if they so choose.  I’m not suggesting they take that course of action, but that doesn’t sound like losing to me.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one NFL player that I don’t mind seeing injured.  I won’t comment on his off-the-field issues, but I will say that he gives the game a bad name.

The two teams most likely be blown up this offseason are the Jets and the Eagles (duh).  There will probably be some head coaching changes as well in San Diego and Dallas.  Besides the Seahawks, the up-and-coming teams are the Buccaneers, the Panthers, the Dolphins, and the Browns.  They all have young, talented quarterbacks, improving defenses, and, except for the Browns, head coaches who will be around for a while.

As far as the playoffs go, the team that I fear is most likely to edge out the Hawks is Tampa Bay.  The Buccaneers are a tough, young team that plays a physical game of football, and I have always liked their quarterback Josh Freeman.  I see them as the Seahawks’ peers in the NFL this season.
 

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