How he feels about the contributions that Patrick Kerney has made as a FA addition?
Kerney has been an outstanding addition to the team, though he had slow going in the first half of his first season with the Seahawks. He amassed 3.5 sacks in the first eight games, then blew up for 10 in the last six, including three games with three sacks each.
Though he was shut out in the sack department against the Panthers last week because of frequent double-teams, he was able to make an impact on defense by covering in zone blitzes and providing run support.
He's more well-rounded than I gave him credit for -- he's not just a speed rusher who can't do anything else, though pass rush ability is his primary attribute. You have to wonder how many years he has left like this at age 30, but there are no complaints so far.
How have injuries affected the Seahawks' game plans?
I don't think it's been injuries as much as positional shortfall. Receiver D.J. Hackett has been hurt and that's affected Seattle's pass-happy offense to a point, but Nate Burleson has stepped up there.
Losing defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs in preseason seemed that it would be a huge deficit in run-stopping, but rookie Brandon Mebane has done an amazing job in tandem with veteran Rocky Bernard. The offensive line is Seattle's primary liability, and there are some guys who are banged up and still playing, but the main concern is that there just isn't the push there used to be.
What is wrong with Shaun Alexander? He had an MVP season not too long ago and seemed to have fallen off bigtime with the departure of Hutchinson. Was his production more the result of a superior offensive line? Has he really declined THAT much? Do the fans still support him?
Last question first - the fans are very impatient with a running game that has been problematic for two straight seasons. As a result, Alexander has been hearing some boos at home. He is dependent on a great line more than most other backs, because this style is less "one-cut-and-go" and more patiently waiting for seams to open. That has led to a tendency to dance behind the line at the best of times, and a quick look at the stats will tell you that these are not the best of times for Seattle's backs.
He has also declined, and it's pretty easy to see. His burst is gone for the most part, and he's a lot slower with cuts than he used to be. The problem is that the Seahawks now need a back who is more versatile -- someone who can pass-block and catch screens. Alexander is more Terrell Davis, and they need Ricky Watters at this point.
How do you think Hasselbeck will do against this injury-depleted secondary?
Hasselbeck has probably been the team's most valuable player. After an early November overtime loss to the Browns, the Seahawks changed their gameplan and went to the air.
As long as the weathers held up, Hasselbeck has been excellent, though he ran into problems in a windy game against Carolina last Sunday. The secondary is a concern if the Ravens can get pressure. But if you give Hasselbeck time, he'll generally slice your defense to ribbons. He's a rhythm passer who is very dangerous when he's in a groove. Conversely, he can be rattled with pressure.
Do you think the Seahawks will alter their game plan to account for Troy Smith even though there isn't much game film on him? Does he remind you of any other NFL quarterbacks?
Altering their game plan is exactly what they shouldn't do.
Last week, the Seahawks inexplicably went away from an aggressive pass rush against undrafted rookie first-time starter Matt Moore, and Moore was able to complete underneath routes over and over with Seattle's 10-yard cushions.
Seattle's pass rush and secondary are good enough to bring pressure and play press coverage, and they need to do that especially when they don't have too much film on a quarterback. Make the rookie prove that he can handle pressure.
Seems pretty simple, no? Smith's height and mobility have some comparing him to Jeff Garcia, but it's difficult to know what a quarterback's going to be until he sees some real time in the NFL. Many with his collegiate skillsets never stood a chance at the next level, though initial impressions have me thinking that he might be the exception.
Doug Farrar covers the Seattle Seahawks for Seahawks.net.
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