Hawks lose battle of identity

Nov 28, 2010, 4:48 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:52 pm


By Mike Salk

Maybe it would have been different if Mike Williams had played. Maybe it could have gone differently if Colin Cole was healthy to plug up the middle. And maybe things would have changed if Marcus Trufant hadn’t been dinged up early.

Those were things the Seahawks couldn’t control. On the other hand…

Maybe it would have been different if Deon Butler hadn’t dropped consecutive passes with the game still within reach. Maybe it could have gone differently if Dwayne Bowe hadn’t been allowed to catch 13 balls for 170 yards and three touchdowns. And maybe things would have changed if the Hawks could have stopped Jamaal Charles from busting a 29 yard run on a key third-and-2 from the Hawks 42 yard line in a one-score game.

Heck, maybe it came down to the Seahawks refusing to commit to the run (at one point throwing 19 straight passes) or throwing a risky fade pass on fourth-and-1.

The truth is, the Seahawks didn’t lose to the Chiefs for any one reason. They didn’t lose for just a few reasons either. They lost for many reasons, not the least of which was that the Chiefs beat them in the most basic element of the game: physicality.

When the game mattered most, the Chiefs were the more physical team. It makes sense … that is their identity. They are a power running team that tries to control the football and beat you up. On Sunday, they were true to their identity.

What I liked about the Chiefs in this game was their willingness to call any play in any situation. They threw twice on first down to start the game. They ran the ball with Charles on second-and-long inside the red zone. They converted third downs both on the ground and in the air and they did it 11 out of 17 times. Those conversions helped them keep the ball for more than 41 minutes in the game. And at the end of the day, the combination of their ability to control the ball, their physicality and their unpredictable offense seemed to take its toll on the Hawks defense.

On the other side of the ball, Matt Hasselbeck never quite found a rhythm without Williams in the game. He connected a few times deep with Ben Obamanu and used Brandon Stokley effectively as a possession receiver. But Butler was a non-factor and even hurt the team with a few key drops.

Quite frankly, I thought the game plan was flawed. Is this a team that should be throwing 19 times in-a-row without its top receiver? Should Marshawn Lynch rush the ball just seven times? While I like their recent trend towards deep throws, I don’t think this offense is high-powered enough to eschew the run. And while I’m happy for them to go for it on fourth-and-1 inside the opponent’s 40 yard line, I don’t think a risky fade pattern down the field makes a lot of sense. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates did not have his best game, in my opinion.

So, what can we take from this? Two things:

1. The Hawks can get by winning games with special teams plays and capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes. But that only works when they don’t make a ton of mistakes themselves. They have to play better on third down on both sides of the ball and they can’t turn it over three times.

2. If the Chiefs are a good model for rebuilding, the Hawks might not be that far behind. I like the way that Chiefs team is built. They have a GM (Scott Pioli) that knows what kind of identity his coaches want and finds the right players for their schemes. They built a team around power and security but that’s not the point. It seems like John Schneider and Pete Carroll are similarly on the same page when it comes to finding their own type of player to fit their own identity. We know Rome wasn’t built in a day but identifying the right targets for your scheme is a great start.

* * *

– I’m not usually a big fan of running backs. I think, for the most part, that they are interchangeable. Jamaal Charles, though, was an X-factor on Sunday. He broke so many tackles and made so many good decisions. His 29-yard run on third-and-2 in the third quarter was a game-changer. I also thought he was the difference on his touchdown run … Kentwan Balmer and Brandon Mebane both had shots at him in the backfield on that play and he stepped through both tackles. His 173 yards were, in a word, impressive.

– With both Chris Baker and Cameron Morrah making big plays in the passing game, I can’t help bit wonder why John Carlson continues to struggle. Anyone else thinking his time here may be shorter than originally planned?

– The Hawks seem to be struggling with physical players, especially running backs. Charles and Chris Ivory have shown that in the last two weeks. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle Stephen Jackson in a potential big game later this year. Put Dwayne Bowe in that physical category too. He reminds me of a more talented David Boston.

– Where was Aaron Curry today? I saw him make a decent play to hold a reverse to just a four yard gain then scream so much on the KC sideline that both the players and referee looked at him funny. He made five other tackles but didn’t get significant pressure on the quarterback.

More on the game…

Obomanu, Seahawks’ special teams play well in loss

Cassel leads Chiefs past Seattle 42-24

Chiefs give Seahawks’ slumping defense fits

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