MMQB - "Death By Hubris"

Super Bowl participants? Playoff contenders? Look a little lower. After suffering a season sweep at the hands of their key division rival, the Seattle Seahawks must take stock and decide what manner of team they really are.

Sunday, November 14, 2004
St. Louis Rams 23, Seattle Seahawks 12
Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Missouri

hu•bris n. - Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance.

"At the end of the year, we'll be so hot that we'll be unstoppable. We'll be our own defense. We'll defend ourselves." – Darrell Jackson

There are times when the Seattle Seahawks make it very difficult to support them.

Times when receivers who can’t hold on to the damn ball remain arrogant enough to mouth off to the media about their greatness. Times when it gets hard to breathe with all the hot air. Times when coaches appear to have been watching the wrong team in the film room all week. Times when our esteemed play-calling genius doesn’t seem to realize what makes the offense go. Times when our defensive coordinator is so afraid of his own shadow – so terrified of giving up the big play – that he puts schemes out there that make it virtually impossible for the defensive players to gain any manner of advantage. This defensive coordinator will also refuse to address the media, but will infer, through others, that it is up to the players to make the most of some misshapen shell of a plan.

Times when a quarterback who thrived in one system in 2003 looks to have completely lost it now, so overwhelmed by option anxiety, inconsistent targets and his own inability to handle opposing pressure. Times when the team doesn’t seem to understand the urgency of the situation. Times when the team appears to be content to be in the NFL while other teams aren’t happy unless they’re on top of it.

Times when it looks as if the thing that Mike Holmgren has created might be better off without him in the long run.

Handouts To The Standouts: Hmmm. Well, Josh Brown nailed 4 of 4 field goals, not that he should have had to. And Shaun Alexander had yet another outstanding game (176 yards on 22 carries)…too bad that it’s the fourth-quarter fumble he’ll be remembered for today. Too bad Alexander’s coach doesn’t seem to have a clue as to his propensity for finding the end zone.

Things That Made Me Go, “Blech!”: Everything. Offense, defense, coaching, playcalling, lack of intensity…I’m reminded of John McKay’s famous quote. When the old Buccaneers head coach once was asked, “What do you think of your team’s execution?”, McKay responded, “I’m in favor of it!” What was so very troubling was the importance of this game to the Seahawks’ season, and the Seahawks’ seeming ignorance of that importance. The Seahawks looked like they were running through minicamp drills, while the Rams looked like they were in a playoff game. Which, to a very large extent, they were.

Offense (First half – F. Second half – D.): From the very first play on offense, when Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck tripped over each other, the Seahawks could not find a consistent groove. That first drive ended with Holmgren calling a draw to fullback Mack Strong on 3rd and 17. Yes, you read that right. This after the Rams had ripped Seattle’s alleged “defense” to shreds on their opening 6-play, 71-yard drive.

Seattle’s second drive saw Shaun Alexander rush for 33 yards on five carries, and Matt Hasselbeck end the threat with an ill-advised pass to Jerramy Stevens which landed in the hands of St. Louis CB Jerametrius Butler at the Rams' 1-yard line. This would be the first of many instances in which Holmgren would use his very hot running back to establish supremacy from the 20 to the 20, only to inexplicably give the ball to his ice-cold quarterback in the red zone. At this point, it was St. Louis 14, Seattle 0, as the Rams had again ripped Seattle’s alleged “defense” to shreds on their second drive, a virtually uncontested 9-play, 73-yard bulldozing which ended with a Steven Jackson 4-yard TD run.

When Isaac Bruce fumbled with 6:42 left in the second quarter, giving the Seahawks the ball on the Rams’ 41-yard line, Seattle’s answer was as follows:

Illegal Contact penalty on the Rams’ Tommy Polley – ball on the Rams’ 36.
Shaun Alexander run for no gain.
Offsides penalty on the Rams’ Bryce Fisher – ball on the Rams’ 31.
Shaun Alexander run for 19 yards – ball on the Rams’ 12.
Hasselbeck incompletion to Jerry Rice.
Hasselbeck incompletion to Jerramy Stevans.
Hasselbeck incompletion to Darrell Jackson (a virtual gimme in the end zone)…
Josh Brown 30-yard field goal.

And so it went. With a truly mystifying combination of horrible playcalling and abysmal execution, Seattle’s offense stubbornly kept itself out of the game, even though the Rams gave the Hawks opportunity after opportunity to get back in it. Seattle was a big fat GOOSE EGG for five in the red zone. Inexcusable.

Shaun Alexander rushed for over 150 yards for the third straight game, a statistic that was about as meaningful as the concept of a “moral victory” in the end. Alexander’s fumble at the St. Louis 9-yard line with 12:05 left in the fourth quarter (which really ended any chance of a Seahawk win) was most distressing to this reporter because St. Louis safety Aeneas Williams ran the length of the field to punch the ball out of Alexander’s hand – a play Seattle’s defense would never have made on this day. That’s a LOT of effort, after all…

Defense (First half – F. Second half – D): As with the offense, the first play set the tone. With DC Ray Rhodes rushing four and backing the corners off the Rams’ receivers, Marc Bulger found Isaac Bruce over the middle for 21 yards. This would happen all day – something that would not surprise anyone who has watched the passive, ill-executed schemes this defense puts forth on a regular basis.

The Rams were able to rack up 214 total yards in the first quarter, and with the Seahawk offense’s crushing inefficiency, that statistic was merely another accessory to a loss. Bulger was able to reach his receivers through the middle of the field over and over - the Seahawks’ D were too busy resembling the Eleven Stooges when handing the receivers off from the corners to the safeties in zone play to stop anyone.

For every Terreal Bierria hit on Torry Holt, there was a missed tackle on a blitz or blown assignment on a coverage to keep the Rams in control of the game. For every Isaac Bruce or Marshall Faulk fumble which threatened to turn the momentum back in Seattle’s favor, there was a corresponding miscue by the Seahawks’ offense which decided the outcome.

And so the worm turns…

Special Teams (B): Again, a nice effort by Brown, kicking four field goals and all. With a coach who knew how to call an offensive drive, he might have actually kicked some extra points as well..

Summary: You’re going to hear a lot of stuff coming out of Kirkland this week – undoubtedly a great deal of damage control and spin after this pathetic loss. You’re going to hear about the fact that the Seahawks are “still a young team finding their way”. You’re going to hear that, “Well, I guess the Rams just wanted it more”. But if you’re looking for comfort, you’ll also undoubtedly hear that “We’ve just got to turn this thing around and we’ll be fine”. After all, “It’s just one game, and there’s still a tomorrow”. After all, “There’s a whole season to play”, right? And why should Seahawk Nation worry when “The team will catch fire through November and December like we always do”? We’ll believe the players when they tell us, “At the end of the year, we'll be so hot that we'll be unstoppable. We'll be our own defense. We'll defend ourselves", right?

What reason would we have, other than the overwhelming evidence on the field every week, not to believe them?

It’s more “fun” to believe than to know, right?

Right?

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at doug@seahawks.net.


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