This was an heroic effort and exciting football. Arizona is pretty good this year. Standing at 6-3, the Cardinals should surpass ten wins. Seattle tore out to an early lead, but the defense crumbled against a sustained Arizona attack. Seattle was beat because it was the inferior football team. The Cards had thirteen meaningful drives and averaged 35.8 yards a drive.
There's a lot of game balls to give out, but first let's discuss some of Seattle's weaknesses. Sean Locklear looked a bit gimpy between snaps, so perhaps he is not fully healed. However Locklear is chipping away at his chance to stick at left tackle. Seattle faces an interesting dilemma with Lock. He could be a great right tackle in Greg Knapp's system, but even without the left tackle incentives, he is expensive for a right tackle. Seattle owns a fabulously cheap offensive line, so perhaps it could afford to pay Locklear well at right tackle.
Matt Hasselbeck had a hard game. Heroic is a great way to describe his play. A hero is someone that gets other people killed. Joss Whedon did not envision Hasselbeck's high pass to Deon Butler, but I did upon quoting him. There are many things Hasselbeck still does well. To build a good to elite offense around him, something Seattle would need to do to have a realistic chance at winning the Super Bowl, would require a massive investment. A more massive investment. Seattle has already sunk much of its cap into Beck, Walter Jones, Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The Objectivist is wonderfully free of Kyle Orton moments. Because Matt Hasselbeck can consistently make the right read and throw with accuracy, he can make an offense out of check downs. But it's a shit offense. And the second his reads are wrong or his accuracy flutters, it completely breaks down.
Seattle had very little chance to recover when it lost the lead. It does not have what Arizona has: A repeatable ability to gain big chunks of yards in one play. But it shouldn't have lost the lead. Seattle did exactly what it needed to: punch the Cardinals in the mouth early and force Warner to consistently face thick zones. The defense did not crumble because any one player played poorly, but because now it does not have a single great pass rusher. The defense Seattle wants to run needs someone to make Brandon Mebane's almost-snaply pistoning into the backfield and crushing the front of the pocket matter. It needs someone to keep the tight end away from Darryl Tapp. It needs a better edge rusher than Aaron Curry. It lacks that and it failed to sack Warner once.
Justin Forsett: Kid showed up and declared his an NFL player. Force showed quick feet in his cuts, power in the hole and the less recognized ability to run under tackles and through smaller holes. I don't believe in a feature back. So I am not calling for Forsett to get the majority of the carries, but he is no longer a specialty back. Force is a first and ten, I-formation back.
ME!BANE!: Said. Done. Master of the midway.
Darryl Tapp: Tapp is hybrid end-linebacker. His ability against the run is that of a linebacker, but he's a pure edge-rushing defensive end. Keep this guy and enjoy how he ages.
Josh Wilson: Who would think Wilson would look like the best cover corner Seattle had today? Pistol isn't too good at that, actually, but small samples may contain outliers. He needs to be facing the quarterback to be his best and the game plan to man up the Cardinals defenders and hope they can buy the pass rush time stopped working in the second. Wilson recovered well, showed some man ability and kept overall his guy close, boosting his campaign for starting right corner. He wasn't great, but he was good at something he doesn't do and against the league's best wide receiver corps.
Greg Knapp: It took some balls to swallow your assumptions and let Forsett run real runs. He also called a very nice game. Early, Seattle attacked with a suddenly successful rush game, and punctuated their Two-Headed Freak with a mid-range aerial assault. He saved the screens for desperation time in the fourth. It's hard planning around an injury wracked quarterback with fading arm strength that plays behind a piecemeal line, but Knapp squeezes production out of this offense with a mix of good timing and good play calling.
That's it folks. Seattle is no longer in the hunt to win the division. If it keeps up this intensity, it will enter the Wild Card chase, but only in a fanboy sense. Field Gulls is switching gears again. Like last year, the tape review will now focus on players key to Seattle's future. This week: Sean Locklear at left tackle and Brandon Mebane at the three.