- The trade off to scripting the first 15 plays of a contest is that when something goes amiss, say you get back to back false starts, you're left with a predictable and pointless play call. On the fourth play of the Hawks' first drive the Hawks aligned in an I-Back, two wide, single TE formation. I didn't see the false start, but the official deserves the benefit of the doubt. Now first and 15, the Hawks run a similar look but with split backs. False start again. Now first and 20, the Hawks duplicate the original formation: I-Back, two wide, single TE. The first time they ran the play it was after three successive receptions to the right side. When Alexander started through the hole the Cardinals linebackers were playing back. When Seattle called the exact same play no one in America was fooled, and the linebackers quickly flew forward to fill. It's not like a first and 20 rush is likely to be effective anyway, but when you've already previewed the play it's a slam dunk failure.
- A lot has been made of Seattle's rushing struggles and I think I've figured it out. Stay with me here, this might get a little complicated: Shaun Alexander is really, really slow. Simple? Crushingly so. On five separate occasions I watched Alexander get chased down from behind. He doesn't hit the hole, he has no moves and when he breaks free, his first gear is so staggeringly slow that lineman regularly run him down. Seattle fans have suffered enough from a veteran fetish, it's time Holmgren gives looks to the field: Leonard Weaver is significantly quicker than Alexander, Alvin Pearman looked able in limited plays and Maurice Morris has more than proven himself. Alexander is still the Hawk's best red zone back, that's where he should stay. Bench Shaun Alexander.
- Matt Hasselbeck had a great half, if Seattle could muster a real running game this offense could truly bust out.
- I hate questioning the character of a team, but Seattle made some obvious mental mistakes. Both Sean Locklear and Rob Sims simply gave up on blocks after Matt Hasselbeck couldn't find an open receiver. That's unacceptable. Sims' turned into a sack, Locklear's a throw away. Couple that with blown assignments by Julian Peterson and Marcus Trufant and fans have a right to be pissed with the team's showing. Both blown assignments turned into touchdowns, Peterson biting on a play-fake and leaving Leonard Pope wide open for a score. Trufant getting sucked up on Edgerrin James' cutback touchdown run. The Hawks were outsmarted, outcoached and out-hustled in the first half.
- Speaking of blown blocks, Michael Green owns the blocked punt. Sean Morey put an inside move on him and the rest was pretty straight forward.
- Kelly Jennings performed admirably despite a terrible mismatch. He recorded three good coverages and just one blown coverage. The blown coverage? When Larry Fitzgerald jumped over him.
- Brandon Mebane has earned more plays and perhaps a start. He absolutely blows back the opposing linemen. If he were out there more often I think teams would be forced to double him. A lineman that forces the double team would be a real boon to this rush defense. A defense that looked overmatched versus Ken Whisenhunt's power running scheme. The man in front of Mebane, Chartric Darby was all but invisible in the first half.
The Tape: First Half Reflections 9/17
By John Morgan