In an effort to manage the length of these, I'm going to split my reflections into offense and defense. Offense first, defense in about an hour.
- Leonard Weaver offered some small antidote to our rushing woes by way of receiving. When the ball hits his hands he's off, proving a mismatch for New Orleans linebackers. His ability to be a true threat out of the backfield gives Seattle's split-back and to a lesser extent I-back formations new life. With Pittsburgh, and in the early going, New Orleans sitting on our receivers deep, Weavers' ability to explode from underneath could provide an invaluable scheme buster.
- I make a lot of notes that never find their way into these recaps, one such note is simply "good run". It's a generic way for me to indicate that no matter the outcome of the rush that the player running the ball contributed positively. Alexander wasn't really an impact player on Sunday, but he did run better; not really well, but better. Four times I recorded what I considered a good run by Alexander. He followed his blockers, he hit his hole, he found a good cutback lane. Simple stuff. Those runs were for 11, 6, 3 and 2 yards. Damning with faint praise? Perhaps a little bit. The other half of this story is the classic "the mind is willing but the body's not able" dilemma. Sometimes Alexander saw his hole, his cutback lane, made the right decision and ran his hardest but still failed. A couple runs really stood out to me, so I watched them with particular scrutiny. The seventh and eight plays of Seattle's fourth drive, both runs, 3 and 4 yards respectively and in both plays Alexander took more than 3 seconds to get past the line of scrimmage. And both plays, not surprisingly, ended with a DB tackle. When people complain about Seattle's run blocking, some of it is that their spoiled on Hutch and Jones gashing canals through the opposition's defense, some of it is worthy critique, but I would contend most of it is that Alexander simply takes so long to get into and through the hole that it closes in front or around him. He dances too much, yes, but he's also slow to the hole and slow in and out of his cuts. I don't mind Alexander's style, Madden described it as "weaving" without a hint of irony, but if his body is no longer capable, he must adjust. He must move forward and hit the hole that's provided him or be benched.
- Bad DBs make even iffy receivers look good, and so Seattle's awful trio of Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson and Ben Obomanu looked decent. That's three slot receivers, one who can run his routes, and two guys playing their way off the 2008 squad. Burleson and Obomanu found some holes in New Orleans' zones, but it's clear that Matt Hasselbeck simply does not trust them. Sometimes, when Beck's throws look off, you can tell he's playing conservatively to a fault. Sailing passes because Engram is covered or putting triple strength Joe Montana touch on the touchdown pass to Obomanu. You watch him and want to yell "Grow a set!" but in some ways his skittishness is justified. It's got to kill you when your team is down a score, the offense is driving and you launch a flawless pass to Burly only to see him gain position on the corner and then swat the ball to the ground. Burleson jumps, turns 180 so that he's facing the line of scrimmage, uses his body to screen the defender out of the play and then flubs a pass directly between his hands pointing towards his sternum. Absolute, bush-league garbage.
- Walter Jones is playing better, but Chris Gray may have finally hit the wall. Gray, from his belly, watched the globular Hollis Thomas amble towards Hasselbeck for his 18th sack of his 11 year career. After lobbying the NFL to weigh him in hogsheads, Thomas is listed at 306. (Yes, I'm aware that hogsheads are a measure of volume, you can save your pedantry, I happen to think hogsheads sounds funnier than stones.) My stat sheet has this note beside the play: "BB = Gray (Abused)", and so he was, thrown aside and down by a simple swim move and then walked over untouched towards Hasselbeck. Gray is 37, last season he was awful, this season he has been quiet through five games, (perhaps all that can be asked of him) but his strength and agility rest on a razor's edge. Any decline, due to fatigue or injury puts his athleticism below the minimum requirements to play guard in the NFL. This could be the first indication that the long season is wearing on his old bones. If and when he must be subbed due to injury or decline, Seattle has but Fatchop (who sucks) Mansfield Wrotto and injured Ray Willis to sub in. Willis plays high and gets no push but is serviceable in pass pro, Wrotto is talented but very unpolished. Porky is a conditioning nightmare who has clung to this roster almost inexplicably. So, yes, this offense could get much worse.