Updated Apr 4, 2011 - 7:52 pm
The Seahawks are regressing
By Brock Huard
Coaching in the NFL is a very difficult job with an immense amount of responsibilities. It requires smarts, patience, endurance, toughness, guts and perseverance, just to name just a few qualities. Yet, at its most basic level, the job demands a coach to get the most out of his players, and to develop their talents.
I watched Jim Zorn transform Matt Hasselbeck’s game, tempo and presence in the pocket. I watched Howard Mudd (former Colts offensive line coach) maximize the strengths of undrafted free agents while minimizing their weaknesses to work within Peyton Manning's system. To study how Nick Saban and Monte Kiffin get their defensive personnel to recognize routes and react so quickly is impressive.
Had I written this blog six weeks into this Seahawk season, it would have read very differently than it will today. On Halloween, the praise would have been thick and heavy for nearly every position group and coach on the team. Mike Williams, Red Bryant, Colin Cole, Earl Thomas, Jordan Babineaux, Roy Lewis and Kelly Jennings all vastly improved and were put in a position to succeed. The eye in the sky, however, doesn’t lie; the NFL is a bottom line business, and after losing five of their last seven, by 30, 34, 15, 18, and 19 points, I question the development of the Seahawks personnel.
Outside of Mike Williams, David Hawthorne and Ben Obomanu, who has really flourished and grown as this season has progressed?
Maybe Justin Forsett, Leon Washington and Will Herring? Jon Ryan and Olindo Mare have been solid, and I will not pretend to know how every offensive lineman has graded out and progressed without studying the coaches' film. Many are not developing, however, and I am growing more concerned as the weeks pass and defeats mount, especially with the following players:
1. Aaron Curry. The first player Pete Carroll studied his first day on the job has climbed the learning curve very slowly. There has been very limited growth with his play in space and he is lacking a pass rush arsenal. It also bugs me that every play is celebrated and glamorized with screaming and posing and wasting of energy.
2. Earl Thomas. The fastest Seahawk has slowed down as the season has moved along. His playmaking early was a breath of fresh air and his flashes of brilliance on the back end made Jennings and Marcus Trufant better. Now, his tackling in space is problematic and no doubt, the rookie wall is winning.
3. John Carlson. Where has the golden domer gone? The franchise’s most prolific pass receiving TE has disappeared as the year has moved along. Granted, pass protection and spot duty at fullback have hurt his game, and a hip flexor injury doesn’t help. But time and again, Carlson is getting one-on-one situations and not winning, and he is not playing fast enough.
4. Kelly Jennings and Marcus Trufant. I was hoping to see more aggressive man to man coverage and the ability to play the ball. The two starting corners have just one pick apiece and have also not been able to tackle in the open field. Outside of Earl Thomas’s five interceptions, most of which were early in the year, the rest of the team has just five interceptions total.
5. Beast Mode. Too many fumbles and at 3.2 yards/rush only three other RB’s in the league are gaining less per carry. Forsett has been more productive and gained more yards after contact too.
6. Golden Tate. An ankle sprain slowed him down, but this season has been a missed opportunity. Route discipline and consistency, urgency, trust - they have all been issues and it's disappointing in a year of injuries to the wide receivers that the second rounder couldn’t step up.
The list continues on. Lofa Tatupu and Hasselbeck, as leaders and captains, are struggling through injuries and not playing at the level this team needs or they have in the past. Chris Clemons and Brandon Mebane started fast, but as backups have surrounded them on the defensive line, they have been neutralized by added attention. Jordan Babineaux and Roy Lewis were winning battles early in the year, but now are soft in their zones and losing in man-to-man situations.
Pete Carroll told us very clearly on Monday that the momentum is not going in the right direction. The loss Sunday felt an awful lot like some of the losses at the end of last season, and what was once such a promising start has dissolved over the last seven weeks.
The coaches are not getting the most of the players.
The players are not progressing and winning their battles. In a rebuilding year, with a lot of veterans signed to one year deals, I wonder just how many guys have gained the trust of this staff and John Schneider.
These are three very critical weeks, not just to try and get to eight wins and claim an NFC West title, but for a coaching staff to re-develop their roster, find building blocks for the future, and capture a fan base that so desperately wants to jump aboard the bandwagon.
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