SEATTLE - OCTOBER 02: Wide receiver Mike Williams #17 of the Seattle Seahawks talks into a camera after being knocked out of bounds near the goal line against the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field on October 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Falcons defeated the Seahawks 30-28. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
I haven't had time to sit down and analyze the game blow-for-blow, but I'm rewatching it as I type this. We're 1-1 over the past two weeks, both home games, which is roughly where we should be considering our matchups. Both games were close, and could have conceivably gone either way.
I don't think either the Arizona Cardinals or the Atlanta Falcons are very good teams. I was banging this "Falcons aren't very good" drum prior to the season but I don't think anyone was taking me seriously. Pending what should be a win by Tampa Bay tonight, the Falcons are third in their division at 2-2, with a 0-1 divisional record. It was pretty clear in the playoffs last year that they desperately needed help on defense, instead they traded the house for a wide receiver. Julio Jones is certainly not a bad addition, but he doesn't change much on how that team fundamentally works. The passing options means they don't need setting up the run quite as badly, but they do still need the run, and that defense is really, really bad. Cutler hung up 312 yards on them, Bears scoring 30, Vickafka put up 314 yards, the lowly Eagles (yes, it's time we start referring to them as that) scoring 31, and now Jackson puts up 319 yards, the team scoring 28 points. That's not a championship defense.
So, is hanging with the Falcons a huge accomplishment? I don't think so, though the situation we did it in (coming back) and hanging right to the end is damn impressive for this young team.
That said, these past two weeks have shown different parts of Pete Carroll's vision coming together. Last week, our defense played aggressively and with passion, and while it's far from how I would think Carroll envisions it, it was getting closer. The run defense has been solid so far and should remain so all season, the challenge is then getting enough pass rush and man coverage to make it pay off, which we did against the Cardinals, but the Falcons simply had too many options, and especially with Chancellor out we didn't have enough good players to respond. Their offensive gameplan was all about running and quick, one-read-and-throw passing, which effectively negated any rush we tried to get.
But where our defense dropped the ball this week, the offense picked it up. And again, we're seeing Pete Carroll's plan paying off, but not yet perfectly. We failed to get the run game going, and had to abandon it pretty quick. Special teams contributed, in the form of Leon Washington. But mostly, it was about giving Tarvaris Jackson time and fairly simple (but multiple) reads. He is obviously more comfortable with Sidney Rice than Mike Williams (though that seems to be growing), and while his accuracy and decision-making have been erratic, Tarvaris has the arm to throw a pretty ball deep if given the time - and he was given much more time this game. We opened it up a bit more this week than previous, particularly using the no-huddle offense effectively, and Jackson answered with a good performance. He's also kept turnovers down despite what the numbers say, of the four interceptions he's thrown only one can be put on him (forcing the ball to Mike Williams in the middle this game), and two are essentially meaningless as they came on hail maries.
Remember these two games in weeks to come, because I don't expect this inexperienced team to play as well away as at home, and there are still glaring holes in important positions in the roster. Tarvaris Jackson hasn't suddenly become a good quarterback, but hopefully he and the offensive line are getting more comfortable, and then this Seahawks team has enough weapons for any quarterback to succeed, including Tarvaris. It helps that we don't face many good defenses, which should help the young pieces of the offense grow, rather than just be curbstomped all the time.
This game did come with a bit of a cost. Mike Williams was concussed blocking for Lynch on his backflip-TD-run, though the severity isn't known. It's not that hard to guess the severity of Matt McCoy's injury, I'd be shocked if he isn't done for the year. He is a valuable player as the nickel linebacker and on special teams. We'll probably look to replace him with his preseason understudy, David Vobora.