The first thing I want to mention is that this game wasn't especially depressing for me. I think in years past I would have been really bummed out about yesterday, but the Seahawks were about who I expected them to be. The offense took an excruciatingly long time to get going but they eventually did. I like to see that resilience. They didn't just fold.
The offensive line did about as well as anyone could expect, honestly. They gave up a lot of sacks and pressures, but even veteran lines (COUGHbearsCOUGH) give up more. For a group this young and this inexperienced, they held it together more or less. I realize that's a bit generous, but we're looking at this thing long term, right?
The Seahawks receiver corps is pretty damn good. Sidney Rice was out, and that probably hurt, but Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin looked very serviceable out there. Williams did his thing -- making fingertip catches on the sideline and picking up first downs. 4 catches for 34 yards doesn't seem like a lot, but we're not talking about a well-oiled machine on offense here. This offense is in it's infancy. Those four catches made up one fifth of Jackson's total completions.
I also think for Mike Williams to be more effective, Tarvaris Jackson has to throw him the ball (amazing analysis, I know). I don't have coaches tape so I can't see how closely Williams was blanketed on every pass play, but the theme I'm seeing develop is that Jackson tends to hold on to the ball for way too long. A west coast offense like this requires quick timing passes and precision throws into tight windows. Williams doesn't have the speed or wiggle to get open in the flats or deep very often but does possess the body control and size/length to bring down passes most couldn't if you throw it up to him.
Matt Hasselbeck and Williams had great chemistry last season but if you look at the games where Williams came up big the passes to him were almost always into a small window. Outreached hands, through two defenders, falling out of bounds. These are the passes that Williams excels at catching. Tarvaris just needs to learn to have that same trust. It should happen with a little more time.
The same could be said about Sidney Rice, really. On the other hand, the receiver that best possesses the ability to run good routes and get separation on the Seahawks offense is Ben Obomanu and we saw him targeted quite a bit on Sunday. Same with Doug Baldwin. Speaking of...
Doug Baldwin continued to impress. He came up with several receptions for first downs on key third downs. He's looking more and more like the real deal. Dare I say Stokley-esque? (I should probably never say "dare I say?" actually).
On the other side of the ball - I thought the positional groups looked pretty damn good. Outside of the lack of pass rush, the defense looks promising. The linebackers held their own. KJ Wright got the start in the middle and did fine. Matt McCoy came up with some big stops. Curry played well.
The secondary looked good as well. There's a physicality about them that we haven't seen lately. Even our smallest guy, Earl Thomas, was laying hat on running backs and receivers. Kam Chancellor ... well we all knew he could lay hat but he was in position to make plays on passes as well. Between Kam and ET, they had four tackles for a loss so you know they're seeing the play develop well.
Brandon Browner has been a surprise all camp and continues to be. He got flagged a few times but apart from a few close calls, held his own. He's violent as a tackler. He really doesn't look intimidated by anyone. He'll only get better as he catches up to the NFL speed.
The defensive line did what it was designed to do -- stop the run. It's pretty apparent that the front line of Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, and Alan Branch was not put together to be a swift, pass rushing unit,-- they were put together to plug running lanes and get push on the line. The three of them combined to shut down the 49ers run game for all intents and purposes, and it's a foundation to build on. The Hawks do need to figure out a way to get pressure on the passer though, and this is something we've harped on all off season. Chris Clemons wasn't able to do much on Sunday, but we'll see what kind of adjustments the Seahawks make for Pittsburgh.
At this point I've said just about everything I can say about the game without re-watching it. Overall, I came away vaguely encouraged and mostly upbeat. The loss hurts of course, especially a game that we really COULD have won, but it's not all gloom and doom. I talk a lot more about that here, so go check it out.
In the next couple days, Thomas, myself, and probably a few other FG writers will try and bring you some more in-depth looks at the game.