Don't Panic!

"Our offense, supposedly some kind of Maserati, has been running like a 1982 Honda Civic. Holmgren's famous West Coast Offense has been nowhere to be seen of late, and in its place has been a dysfunctional version of Ground Chuck."

“Don’t Panic” — Douglas Adams, from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Life in Seahawks land has been bumpy of late, to be sure. Being swept by the Rams is a very disturbing turn of events, and hardly foreseen back in August.

Our offense, supposedly some kind of Maserati, has been running like a 1982 Honda Civic. Holmgren’s famous West Coast Offense has been nowhere to be seen of late, and in its place has been a dysfunctional version of Ground Chuck. Oh, the running game has been working aces the past few games, but there is still a problem.

You see, all that running doesn’t help much if the team can’t capitalize on it. Normally, one would think that play action passes would work just fine under these conditions. However, the receivers still have to catch the ball. If you add into the mix that they get fewer chances to do so, it’s not surprising that they can’t improve. It’s a bit of a vicious circle.

Passing game not working. Switch to running game, which is working fine. Fewer opportunities in the passing game. Efficiency drops further. That’s a downward spiral that seems right now to have no end in sight.

We might be able to continue winning games, at least until someone decides to stop Alexander. Then what do we do?

Welcome to town, Miami Dolphins.

Given their defensive rankings of near last in the league against the rush, and near the top against the pass, it would appear that the Seahawks could at least continue with what has worked over the past few games. Give it to Shaun Alexander a lot, and pass as little as necessary. If Shaun can get another 175 yard game, we should be able to grind out a win, right?

With Hasselbeck hurting and Trent Dilfer likely starting today, that’s not a bad plan anyway. One would have to assume that Trent, as good as he is, will take a quarter or so to get into a groove. Hopefully, by the end of the first quarter, we’re up a score or two to take the pressure off.

The problem with our Seahawks, though, is that we seem to bring out the best in other teams. Why is a good question, but that’s the way it seems. Look for the ‘Phins to do everything in their power to clog the running lanes. If they succeed, it could end up being a long day for the home team.

On defense, the return of Grant Wistrom should add a shot in the arm to the D-line, but we will be playing with 3 middle linebackers, which means that at least two of them are playing out of position. One apparent strength offset by a potential weakness. At least the secondary is mostly healthy.

Our biggest problem on defense might be knowing what to expect. The Dolphins have a new coach and a new quarterback, which probably means the Seahawks can chuck most of the film they have on them out the window.

It would be nice to revert back to the ball-hawking days of early in the season. A couple of turnovers would really ice the game for us.

Our offense can take solace in the fact that the Dolphins defense probably won’t change overly much. Except that with the DC embodied in the Head Coach, there could be a change in the number of risks they are apt to take on defense. In one way of thinking, the new head coach will trust his defense more than his offense, and will be willing and perhaps encouraged to take more chances on that side of the ball. Our O-line, in particular, should be wary of this.

Seahawks fans are getting antsy. After losing for the second time this year to the Rams and giving up the tiebreaker to them, many fans are beginning to question the team. Rightfully so.

After all, it would appear that someone didn’t get the memo that the regular season has started. These games really count.

Most people would tend to think that 9 games is long enough to overcome a “slow start.” A reasonable person might even think that it a bit past time to start anything. Memo to the offense, let’s start, eh?

But, slow start and all, the team is not doing that badly in the standings. Luckily, conference- wide, there are only two teams that have really won a lot of games in the first half, leaving our Seahawks in decent shape to make a late season run.

The problem, from a fan’s perspective, is that there has been precious little evidence that the team is ready to make that run.

Certainly, this home stand comes at a good time. We’re coming off of the most difficult stretch of the season, having played four of the last five games on the road. The good news is that we managed to win two of those games. It could have been worse. Now we face three home games against teams we should beat.

Meanwhile, our division rival Rams face a stretch with four of their next five games on the road, including trips to cold weather cities Buffalo and Green Bay, and a trip to an improved divisional foe Arizona.

So all is not lost. Our Seahawks can still get it done.

What appears to have been missing lately, though, is a sense of urgency. It’s long past time to get over late starts in games and a late start to the season and get busy winning. Hopefully, they can notch some in the win column over this next stretch, starting today.

Meanwhile, long-suffering Seahawks fans the world over are wondering when the fireworks are going to start. For them, I can only offer a couple of things to say in the way of advice.

We have a winning record nine games into the season. We have some winnable home games coming up where we can hopefully pad the record a bit. Go to the game. Cheer them on. Have a beer and enjoy the show.

But mostly, don’t panic.

Steve Utz writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Sunday. Send your feedback to Steve at Top Stories