It is almost frightening.
Once again, the Seahawks look far superior on paper. The 49ers look like a MASH unit, with seemingly more people on the injury list than healthy. The Seahawks, with injury issues of their own, look pretty complete by comparison.
On defense, our opponents this week look a lot like the 2002 Seahawks, with more starters out than in. Even on offense, they seem to have a choice between a bad young QB and a bad veteran QB. Once again, health may decide for them.
We at least are back to where we are only missing one starter on defense, that being Grant Wistrom. The LB corps looks to be back to full strength, with Anthony Simmons pushing a quick return before Tracy White steals his job. Nothing like having a young stud play your position for a couple of games to speed up the healing process.
On offense, things are a bit more problematic. Probably, we’ll see a large dose of Shaun Alexander again. His performance last week, coupled with the Niners’ depleted linebacking corps would lead one to believe we can run the ball this week with some success. Since we will be suiting up a couple of rookies for the first time this week at wide receiver, you could make a case that we will be a little shaky in the passing game.
But wait a minute, now.
With Taco Wallace and Jerheme Urban signed and active this week, maybe we should consider this an opportunity rather than a liability.
We should always remember how we got to where we are. Everybody knows that the deep ball has been an Achilles heel for the Seahawks over the past few weeks. One thing to think about is that often it has not been the stars of those teams that have beat us. No, we’ve been giving up the long ball to the likes of Shaun McDonald and Bethel Johnson. Good young players, yes, but hardly household names.
Some thoughts come to mind here.
First, our secondary might have been just a little complacent. They covered the front line of the opponents receiving corps in those games fairly well, only to be burnt by the 3rd or 4th options. Our secondary is still young, and might not have grasped just yet that unlike a typical college team, NFL teams have good players 3 and 4 deep at most positions. Our nickel and dime cover men have to work just as hard as our top 2 or 3 corners every down.
Second, and this is a little more subtle, is that because these receivers reside a bit lower on the depth chart, there is very little film on them. It’s hard to get a look at their tendencies and idiosyncrasies if you can’t study them.
In either case, it doesn’t absolve our defensive backs from their responsibilities. If there are receivers out there, they have to be covered. D’uh.
However, there may be something we can use here, for the same reasons.
Nobody has film on Urban or Wallace, other than some pre-season archives. Could we use that as an advantage?
Team and Holmgren history would say no we can’t. The team, and Holmgren, have been way too conservative for that, right?
You have to give credit where credit is due. Both Mike Martz and Bill Belichick were willing, at key points in games, to try and get the ball to those kids. In the Rams game, you could argue that they were trailing big anyway, so no chance was too risky to try, but the Patriots were leading at the time they got the ball to Bethel Johnson. Brady spotted the weak spot in our coverage and exploited it, effectively ending what was looking like a legitimate comeback attempt by the Seahawks.
Mike Holmgren always claims that he has those deep pass attempts in the game plan, but they never seem to materialize on the field. Some have criticized Matt Hasselbeck’s arm strength, but I don’t buy it. He can get it deep enough. It’s not like we’ve never gone deep. We have.
The game today looks like a prime opportunity. We are playing an injury depleted defense. We have young fast guys on the roster, who aren’t banged up by 7 or 8 games of pro football, with fresh legs. Nobody has any film on them.
NFL head coaches are notorious control freaks. As a group, they tend to be very conservative, preferring structure and strict adherence to their game plans and systems. Holmgren is no different than any of a dozen or more head coaches. He eschews trickery and needless risks, favoring a philosophy of meticulous planning, preferring to outplay the opponent, rather than outsmart him.
For once, it would be nice to see some sandlot football. Just line up and let it fly.
You know. Just tell Jerheme or Taco, “You go long!”
Steve Utz writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Sunday. Send your feedback to Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.