Our level of cognitive certainty and emotional investment in the supremacy of the Wilson cannot help but lead to unpleasant shock after Sunday's first quarter. The secondary response is, "Russell? What's wrong? Was it something I did?"
"No plan of battle outlasts first contact with the enemy." That's a bit of wisdom I picked up reading The Wheel of Time, which no doubt can be attributed to some great military philosopher who will remain uncredited due to my laziness. Seattle is a run-first team. Seattle is the run-first team. Our opponents know this, Darrell Bevell knows that they know this, our opponents know that Bevell knows that they know this, ad nauseum until someone slips Iocaine powder into the 49ers Gatorade.
So for the second week in a row, Bevell came out with a more balanced set of play calls and a willingness to pass on first down. Wise and unpredictable.
Problem is, the 49ers were defending the pass. I couldn't see the all-22, but the commentators noted that San Francisco was committed to playing with 2-deep safeties on almost every down. Combine that with an all-pro linebacking corps playing off the line and you've got an uphill battle to complete passes. In the first half, Wilson threw at least 3 short- to mid-range passes into the proverbial tight window, none of which were completed. These are neither high-percentage plays nor bad decisions. They are passes that avoid the sack and take the best chance given.
But if we're so good on offense, even a top-notch defense like San Francisco should have been exposed to the rushing attack if they overplayed the pass, right? Y'all can just smell the spreadsheet coming, so here it is:
|Wilson Pass||Lynch/Turbin Run|
The passing game was still weaker than it should have been. But we can attribute a chunk of that to defensive priorities and a lag time before Bevell and company adapted to take what the 49ers were giving.
We're all excited about Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Some of us our excited about dumping Sidney Rice's salary next year. But none of that has any bearing on the quality of Rice's play, for which I see no evidence of any drop-off.
With about 2 minutes to play in the 2nd quarter, Sidney caught a 13-yard pass and was absolutely clobbered by Eric Reid. Rice held on, stood up, faced away from the defender, and gave the ball a little spin. Unfortunately, Reid suffered a concussion on the play. Seeing him lying on the ground, motionless and wounded, the refs allowed their emotional response to override proper application of the rules and they flagged Rice for taunting. I really hope the Seahawks submit this one to the league for review. It turns out not to have made a difference in the game result, but Rice deserves vindication.
As for the point of spinning the ball, which many have questioned: The point is, we aren't the New England Patriots. This team plays with emotion and confidence, and the two are synergestically related. A demand that Rice stop spinning the ball is purely reactionary to a single bad call. Do we want Pete Carroll to crack down on first-down gestures, post-sack chest-thumpings, sideline dances with the cheerleaders, and spiking the ball after a touchdown? Any of these could be mis-timed, misinterpreted, or poorly executed so as to draw a flag.
It should be noted that Carroll made a point before the game of stressing emotional control and not committing dead ball fouls. San Francisco was flagged once for unsportsmanlike conduct and twice for unnecessary roughness (and I'm not even counting the facemask, because that was a lack of physical control rather than emotional control). Other than the misbegotten flag on Rice, Seattle had none of these. All of our penalties were purely mechanical. There's a good balance point between control and enthusiasm, and it's being achieved.
As long as we're cutting guys some slack, how about forgiving Kaepernick for running off the field without a handshake? A reliable inside source tells me that this had absolutely nothing to do with sportsmanship, good or bad. Truth is, Kaepernick was fleeing because he was afraid that Cliff Avril was going to sneak up behind him and strip off an eyebrow.
The Fast and the Fewer-ous
After week one, Seattle was tied for the fewest scrimmage plays among all teams with 107, twelve fewer than average (can you guess who we were tied with? The Panthers. Duh). After week two, the Seahawks have only gotten better in the gettin'-it-done stat line. Among all teams who've played two games, Seattle's 232 scrimmage plays are the fewest, beating the league average (262) by thirty.
It looks even better on defense, where fatigue is generally considered more of a concern. The Seattle defense has played 101 downs, ten fewer than the next-most-rested defense (New Orleans at 111) and thirty fewer than the league average.
At this rate, the league-average defense will have played 1050 snaps by the end of the regular season, or 65.6 per game. Seattle will have played 808 defensive snaps by that time, the equivalent of just 12.3 games for an average team. How do you like that set-up for an epic playoff run?
Weather versus Will
Finally, on a philosophical note, the power of nature is awesome to behold. But the power of human will is greater still, for what it lacks in raw energy it more than makes up for with the qualities of purpose and persistence.
After a lengthy pause in the action caused by electrical storms, Cris Collinsworth declared victory for the weather: The storm delay had progressively disrupted and dislocated the fans, and undermined the morale of the Seahawk faithful to the point where their capacity for vocal interference was fatally weakened. Or something like that.
But the weather never had a chance. And, as if beer and bathroom breaks weren't enough to revitalize the home crowd, SmartAssCoug tells us that they played Collinsworth's comments on the big screen at the stadium. What a gem. Someone buy that Jumbotron manager a steak.