By Mike Salk
There you have it. That, ladies and gentlemen, was the perfect Seahawks win.
No, it wasn't necessarily pretty to watch. It wasn't dominant. It didn't look like the high-flying attacks that get the prime-time spots on the national networks.
There weren't a ton of highlights.
But that was exactly the way they drew it up.
The 2011 Seahawks are not a dominant group. They don't have an elite quarterback. They are never going to be THAT much better than the team they're matched up against. They won't post a lot of blowout victories. They do, however, have an excellent defense, a physical presence and an offense that simply does not (or, at least, cannot) turn the ball over.
Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has thrown two interceptions in three games, both coming on Hail Mary passes. (AP)
A Seahawks win will likely involve the following ingredients:
• Physical defense. They certainly got that against Arizona as Kam Chancellor set the tone early with his vicious (and legal) hit on Todd Heap. Brandon Browner man-handled Larry Fitzgerald throughout the game, keeping one of the game's best off the scoresheet in the second half. Aided by the noise of the 12th Man, Chris Clemons generated consistent pressure on Kevin Kolb and disrupted the timing of the Arizona offense.
The interior of the defense was a physical force -- rendering the Cardinals' ground game moot. Alan Branch, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant simply do not get moved off their spot. They have effectively controlled the line of scrimmage in all three games, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry.
• Forced turnovers. It looked liked they had one early, but it was called back due to an iffy illegal contact penalty on Browner. Eventually, they made the play when they needed it -- Chancellor stepped in front of a Kolb pass to end things late.
• A win on special teams. The Hawks' coverage units are still works in progress, but the special teams absolutely outperformed the Cardinals' today. Much-maligned Seattle kicked Steven Hauschka drilled a 52-yard field goal. Mouthy Arizona kicker Jay Feely failed to kick it past the ladies tees from 49 yards out in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks won by three points.
You do the math.
• One good drive. The Hawks offense isn't explosive and it definitely isn't going to light up the scoreboard. It was, however, able to find a rhythm for one drive in the third quarter. For one drive, Tarvaris Jackson was the Platonic form of himself. That is to say, he did what he does best. He used his feet to escape pressure and his arm to take safe completions down the field. He was decisive and accurate, moving the chains slowly and surely down the field before plowing into the end zone.
• No turnovers on offense. Through three games, Jackson has just two interceptions. Sounds good, right? Actually, it's even better. Both of those picks were Hail Mary attempts at the end of first halves. They were irrelevant.
So, in three games, he has yet to hand the ball to the other team. He hasn't been very aggressive, but he has been careful. While that wasn't enough to overcome two special teams mistakes in San Francisco nor the power of the Steelers in their own building, it was enough to get a win at home.
Of all these points, I imagine it is the final one that will generate the most controversy. Many of you want the Seahawks offense to look like the other offenses in the NFL. You want to see Jackson mimic not just stars like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady but fantasy surprises Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cam Newton. Here's a newsflash: it isn't going to happen.
The Seahawks offense is set up to complement the defense. At its best, it should do just enough to win without losing the game for the team. It should capitalize on good field position but not be expected to quickly cover the length of the field in a few plays. It is safe by design and Jackson is running it the way it is meant to be run.
Yes, they were more aggressive against Arizona than they had been so far. That makes sense though, considering that this was their first game with Sidney Rice and their first at home. Jackson told me that they had some aggressive plays drawn up, but that they were covered well and he checked down to open receivers underneath. That is OK.
Remember, the Hawks likely would not have won this game if they had even a single (relevant) turnover. So while you consider your feelings on Tarvaris, give him credit for keeping possession of the ball and remember that that is VITAL for the Seahawks to have a chance.
Look, I understand the calls for more offense and I'm not here to blindly support Tarvaris Jackson. I think you need a franchise quarterback to win in the NFL and I think the Hawks will be limited by their lack of an explosive passing game. But I also know that they need to find ways to win without that elite passer and this is one (hopefully temporary) solution to that problem. It isn't a long term recipe for success; but hopefully it gives them a chance to win some games while they search for that franchise guy.