Seahawks not in elite class

Nov 7, 2010, 5:46 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:52 pm

By Mike Salk

As it turns out, we don’t have a quarterback controversy in Seattle. But you already knew that. Some of you knew it before the game. Everyone else found out no later than 2:30 pm on Sunday when the Seahawks went into the locker room down 35-0 at halftime.

That was when roughly one-third of the fans at Qwest Field exited the premises. Of those that remained, I think another quarter were wearing Giants blue (or red or white). By the time it ended, I walked out onto the field and saw birds circling. I’m not sure if they were crows or vultures, but you get the point: it wasn’t pretty.

But again, you already knew that.

The defense, which admittedly has been beaten up, was not great. They’ll bear the bulk of the responsibility for 34 points but were not even close to the Seahawks worst unit. The offense takes that dubious honor. For three quarters, their offense failed to play anything even resembling winning football.

Before garbage time in the fourth quarter, Charlie Whitehurst completed just 10 of 20 passes for 69 yards. Throw in the two red zone interceptions and there was virtually nothing positive to be gleaned. Before you argue that the team should have been running the ball more, consider the stats: Marshawn Lynch mustered only 18 yards on 9 carries. And as bad as those numbers look, they don’t even accurately gauge how bad the team truly looked.

Watching the Seahawks this year, we’ve all been struck by their ability to win by playing smart football and forcing the other team to make mistakes. They have been well-coached, their defensive line stopped the run, their safety play has been improved and they have used the noise and energy generated by the 12th Man to stay perfect at home.

They did all of that though, against a group of opponents that were far from the NFL’s elite. Say what you will, but the Seahawks have played an easy first half schedule. When you see them matched up against a quality opponent like the Giants (potentially the first playoff team they have faced all season), the differences are obvious. For instance:

-The Giants have an offensive line that keeps pressure off it’s quarterback and moves the line of scrimmage in the running game. The Seahawks have an injury-riddled group that cannot develop any level of continuity, let alone protect and open up holes. Both teams have elite level running backs (in fact the Hawks probably have the better back in Marshawn Lynch), but New York finished with 197 yards rushing for a reason.

-The Giants have a legitimate “Number 1 Wide Receiver” in Hakeem Nicks. He may only be 6′ tall but he plays bigger than that. He has the ability to get open and the ball skills to catch in a crowd. Steve Smith is a good complement on the other side. The Seahawks have Mike Williams as their “Number 1 Wide Receiver.” Yes, he has the size and hands to earn that title. But he does not have elite speed and after he dropped touchdowns in consecutive games in key moments, you have to question his consistency. Watching these two receiving corps, there was a very clear distinction. We spoke often last season about the lack of a big play threat; watching the Hawks the last two weeks has to make you at least wonder if the same is still true.

-The Giants have Pro Bowl caliber defensive ends and a pair of run stoppers between them. While they didn’t generate a ton of pressure on Whitehurst, they were able to shut down the running game, contain the edge, and force the Hawks to gameplan specifically for them. On the other hand, the Hawks defensive line generated no push, left huge holes in the running game, and allowed Eli Manning enough time to check down to his underneath receivers over and over again.

I try not to overreact to losses – even blowouts. As I said last week, the way this team is constructed may lead to a large proportion of its losses coming via one sided affairs. But after watching them get blown out twice in a row by a combined score of 75-10, I am starting to wonder if they are on the verge of reverting back to where they were last year.

After the game, Pete Carroll was asked if he was worried how the team would respond after the second straight loss. “Heck yeah!” he said. And I think it’s a legitimate concern. This is the time to see how well the guys have bought in. This is the time to see how the deep the roots of his philosophy have penetrated the team. It’s easy to buy in when you’re winning. The challenge is how you respond to adversity. Jim Mora’s team went south in this situation last season. Pete Carroll’s squad takes the field in Arizona on Sunday.

Every Monday morning at 9:20 am, Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll joins us to break down the previous Sunday’s Seahawks game. Submit your question for Coach Carroll here and if we ask the coach your question, you’ll win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Seahawks game at Qwest Field. It’s the Pete Carroll Show every Monday at 9:20 am on Brock and Salk.

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