Slow quarter. Not as much to report as I'd like, but the inactivity lent me a chance to investigate a hunch.
I couldn't be much less impressed with Matt Forte who looks more like a three-team retread than a young feature back. On the second play of the quarter, Forte cut into center Olin Kreutz and essentially tackled himself. You can give partial credit to Leroy Hill for forcing the cutback and partial credit to Craig Terrill for steering Kreutz, but full discredit to Forte who looked slow, stiff and upright on almost every rush.
Seattle's first drive was mistake riddled. Walter Jones and Jeb Putzier botched blocks on the third play, sandwiched by botched blocks by Mike Wahle on the second and fourth plays.
Some of the blame is Charlie Frye's. Frye takes an eternity to pass, and that weakness is all about his very limited read. If you are wondering how Kent was targeted seven times in the first half, and the rest of Seattle's wide receiving corps was targeted just twice, you need only look at Frye's eyes. He locks onto one receiver and waits until that man is open. Kent earned Frye's confidence on Saturday and became a de facto Steve Smith. Even when Frye checked down, he almost invariably found the underneath man on the same side of the field as Kent. Kent played mostly out of the split end formation on the offensive left. Frye targeted his backs on 7 passes, 1 to the right, 2 up the middle and 4 to the left. The pass right was a swing pass to Morris out of split backs on 3rd and 3, with Morris the designed target. Limited read sounds fixable but reading coverage is an essential skill for a quarterback. Frye, even at Akron, has always waited on his man. Until he evolves his read, and it is likely he won't, Frye will always be a magnet for sacks and encompassed by interceptions.
Moving on from that cheery note, let's talk T.J. Duckett. Duckett, poisoned from the start by some selective quoting and since slagged for not fumbling the ball, did what everyone's been pissing and moaning for him - really, any Seahawk - to do, and did so against a top 10 team at preventing it: Duckett converted short yardage.
Fourth play of Seattle's second drive of the second quarter, 4th and 1, Chicago 38. Seattle breaks in the keenly disguised 1 WR, TE, Hb, I-formation. The Bears, naturally, break in a Base 4-3, with 10 men in the box. Duckett takes it up behind the right guard, finds nothing, plunges forth and splits Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs for two and the first.
Watching that almost beautiful, almost touchdown pass from Frye to Kent on the eighth play of that same drive, I thought someday Kent makes that catch. And on that someday, Seattle should have real-deal #1 wide receiver.
Josh Wilson had another fine quarter. He's a disruptive blitzer, where his quickness off the edge is startling and enough to force panic throws even if Wilson is easily blocked. And, not to get ahead of myself, but you might not have noticed that Wilson made three plays in pass coverage: two pass defenses and a tackle for -2 yards. Otherwise, the Bears didn't even bother to target his man.
Good double coverage by Kelly Jennings and Deon Grant to prevent a touchdown, but how the hell did Chicago get so close in the first place? Seattle's defensive scheme was almost permissive and that moronic strategy got me thinking: Didn't Seattle employ this same quasi-prevent last season? Let's see.
Here's my criteria, and no, I don't know the results starting this:
Drives Started by the opponent with less than four minutes remaining in the second quarter, but not less than 30 seconds.
Over the 16 game regular season, Seattle faced 12 such scenarios. Those drives averaged 29.6 yards and 1.67 points per drive. In 2007, Seattle was the league leader in both yards per drive (24.24) and points per drive (1.39). Assuming Seattle was attempting to bend and thereby kill the clock, the 29.6 yards might be justifiable, but the 1.67 points allowed is not. In theory, a defense with the clock on its side has the advantage, but 1.67 points per drive would drop Seattle's defense from best in the league to middle of the pack: between the Jaguars (1.65) and the Giants (1.68).
In other words, John Marshall, cut out all the stupid, damn, ultra-conservative, quasi-prevent defenses to close out the second quarter. You're hurting your team.