Before we get into our first official Rookie Report of the season, I wanted to post a few notes I took both during the game and on 2nd look, outside of the obvious stuff that might have clouded the view of most fans.
Let's start with the offense:
-- Russell Wilson is having trouble seeing. There - I said it. He has looked lost and somewhat frantic in situations where he has been asked to look down field between the tackles - meaning situations whereby he appears to be looking for a target that would've required him to see between the "A" gaps (lanes on each side of the center, between Max Unger and each guard), or over the center. I've seen this a few times already this year, and he's handled it like....well...a rookie.
This doesn't tell me anything that I didn't already assume would happen. Even a 6'3 QB will have sight/vision issues when trying to see "through" 6'5 and 6'6 linemen. What I'm looking for here is how well he adjusts his feet and position in the pocket to flow with O-line movement and "create" throwing lanes. This can be done, but he hasn't been doing it with regularity. Instead, his reaction has been to spin out of the back of the pocket and roll out. We saw a devastating sack by Nick Perry that demonstrated why exiting the back of the pocket can be a bad idea. He needs to improve here and start moving forward (climbing) and/or laterally to extend plays. He did it at Wisconsin, and did it in the preseason, so we know he can do it. I expect opposing defenses to start utilizing a "squeeze-down" or "pinch" along their D-line in passing situations, to clog Wilson's middle sight lanes, and force him to adjust, particularly in light of what they're sure to see on film from the first 3 weeks of play.
-- Penalties once again made it tough for Seattle to run the ball with as much regularity as the could/should have, despite Marshawn Lynch running exactly as he needed to, grabbing 3-5 yard chunks of grass every time he touched the ball. With the real refs back in now, you won't see as many penalties, however, you will see false starts called just the same.
-- Speaking of false starts, one of the calls on Anthony McCoy was not a false start. That said, the rest were all pretty legit, and there needs to be more discipline along that front line. Russell Okung has been disappointing in this regard, and needs to lead better by example.
-- Despite the silly penalties, Okung controlled and contained Clay Matthews as well as anyone will. There's no doubt that Okung is right up there with the best in the league at his position, and should be a Pro Bowl contender for a lot of years. The holding call against him on Clay Matthews was also pretty nit-picky and wouldn't have been called by a lot of "real" officials, so don't read too much into that penalty. Russell Okung is the real deal.
-- Ball control and ball protection are Pete Carroll's top concern and focus on offense. The majority of these offensive plays are designed to keep possession of the football. Right now, Seattle can afford to play like this because of how well their defense is playing, but a key injury on the other side of the ball or along the O-line could lead to an overnight need to start opening up the passing attack.
-- Receivers are still struggling to get consistent separation. Braylon Edwards appears to have very little left, in terms of his ability to stick his foot in the ground, sink his hips with any kind of suddenness and shake defenders. Ben Obomanu is still probably the best route-runner of the bunch, but just isn't seeing the field a ton. I would expect to see more of him as the weeks progress, particularly if Doug Baldwin struggles to get back to 100%. Baldwin's quickness and short area burst are much needed right now, as the ‘Hawks desperately need a go-to guy in 3rd down situations that's not a tight end. Sidney Rice is a "range" catcher who will do more with his body and hands to create separation, than he will with his feet, but he's not playing as physical off the line as he should.
-- Golden Tate provides the physical toughness you want in your WR and certainly has some vertical juice to separate down the field. As good as he is vertically, though, he doesn't sink his hips naturally when asked to stop or cut with suddenness, and could still be a better option, I think, from the slot, where he can find space down the seam or underneath, and make things happen after the catch. He has improved in terms of getting a good release off the line against press, and is much more aggressive physically than he had been prior to the 2nd half of last year, so there are signs he can be a long-term big-play guy. Still lots of work to do on the route tree though. I will say that on the first TD catch, he exhibited really strong burst and explosiveness on that double-move to shake Tramon Williams. If he can become that explosive on the sharper routes, look out.
-- Breno Giacomini is still getting a bit dirty past the whistle, and I don't think he's going to be able to get away with it for much longer. You love the toughness and "nastiness" that he brings, but keep it between the whistles, buddy.
-- Zach Miller knows how to get open, and is so, often. Right now, Wilson has no "favorite" or "go-to" guy that he has been able to establish a rhythm with, and I think Miller could be that guy. The route-running and hands that he exhibit should not go wasted, especially considering that Anthony McCoy has shown to be a more-than-adequate blocker who can move over to the "Y" and provide the extra protection that Miller has been asked to bring since coming over from Oakland. Wilson needs to look his way, more. He's the perfect west coast TE, and rarely requires you to "force" the ball into unnecessary windows, like a couple of the WRs will. If your core focus on offense is ball protection, then use your tight end and ‘backs more in the passing game. Quick slants, quick outs, and seam routes are all "plus" patterns for Miller and he could be utilized a lot more here.
-- Didn't see a ton out of Robert Turbin in this one, but Lynch never broke anything long or looked winded until later in the game, where he was certainly needed down the stretch. Turbin will continue to be worked into the offense, but for now it will only be when needed - as Lynch gets tired or nicked up, and on some passing downs. By mid-season, you should be seeing more designed sets for Turbin. Much like Wilson, I think the ‘Hawks would like to work Turbin in slowly and not demand/ask too much of him initially. He'll be a lot more important down the season stretch if SEA is pushing for a playoff spot.
-- On the 22-yard completion from Russell Wilson to Sidney Rice on the final drive, you can see what kind of arm strength Wilson possesses. There was some serious mustard on that throw.
-- Pass-protection for Russell Wilson was above-average in this contest. Both tackles did really well to mirror their opponents, and Max Unger looks elite. We did see John Moffitt exit in favor of J.R. Sweezy for a series, probably due to soreness, but when he was in there, Moffitt did nothing to hurt himself from a depth perspective. Paul McQuistain continues to be solid at LG. Much better than he looked in week 1.
-- Run blocking was as good as it's been in any of the three games. Had it not been for penalties, this probably would've been more noticeable, as Lynch would've had more carries. Guys are targeting quickly, squaring up at the 2nd level, and Lynch is anticipating really well.
-- Seattle is clearly making a concerted effort to get Evan Moore involved in the offense. He was open on a few occasions and certainly is not to blame for the pass that became a reversed interception (due to penalty). The ball was thrown behind him and would've been tough to catch. Moore's length and ability to separate from the seam should earn him a continued increase in snaps, and he should be considered in all red-zone passing situations.
Derek has transitioned from doing league-wide NFL Draft analysis at his blog to a more focused and specific Seahawks-centric draft - free agency - pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." It's now up - and it's definitely a site you must bookmark.Derek also maintains a really great free agent tracker that is much more in-depth than most places because of his background doing deep scouting of NFL Draft prospects. It's updated daily.