Ten Questions from FalconInsider.com

In preparation for Sunday's Seattle-Atlanta matchup, Scout.com sites Seahawks.NET and FalconInsider.com give the inside skinny on both teams. Here, .NET's Doug Farrar answers ten questions from FI's Dean Legge.

FI: Quarterback play is so critical in the NFL, where is Matt Hasselback in his development? Is he ready to take the Seahawks to the next level in the playoffs?

.NET: Hasselbeck, who signed a six-year, $49 million dollar contract in the offseason, had better be ready. After a dead-on preseason when he impressed with his accuracy, the season opener against Jacksonville was a huge disappointment. Hasselbeck’s primary weakness – his tendency to unravel in the face of a blitz – was very much on display. Expect most every team who can bring serious pressure to do so until Hasselbeck shows an ability to make defenses pay for it.

FI: So much was made at the end of the season about Shaun Alexander’s situation – what is the latest in the locker room on that seemingly touchy situation?

.NET: After Shaun signed his modified one-year tender offer in late July (including a provision which specifies that the Seahawks can’t franchise him again next season), there’s been nary a peep from the formerly vocally dissatisfied star running back. Alexander knows that he’s got a pretty big payday coming up if he can get through this year healthy, and the Seahawks may want to go in a different direction with their running game in 2006.

FI: The last time these two teams played Atlanta sat Vick for most of the contest. What is Seattle doing to get ready for him this season?

.NET: Hard to say – they’re not tipping their hand. Rookie linebacker Leroy Hill is recovering from a knee injury and might play Sunday. He’s the only linebacker with the speed to “spy” Vick, if the Seahawks go that route. The danger of spying Vick, of course, is leaving yourself open to attack from Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett. It’s going to be a tough game of checks and balances.

Keep in mind, though, that Seneca Wallace, Seattle’s second-string QB, is Vick’s near-equal in terms of speed and elusiveness. That gives the Seahawks a fairly sizeable advantage when it comes to gameplanning in that they’ll have a decent feel for what Vick can do.

FI: How will the Seahawks stop the Atlanta running game?

.NET: They’ve obviously got to be very stout up front – defensive tackles Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby need to be ready to bring it big time. Lofa Tatupu, our starting middle linebacker, will be asked to shed blocks better than he has to this point. There really isn’t a way to stop a running attack that was #1 in the NFL last year – all the Seahawks can do is keep it under control.

FI: Overpaid Peerless Price is gone, but Atlanta’s passing game is not dead. How will Seattle’s corners and secondary contend with Atlanta’s young, but fast receivers?

.NET: Seattle will stick to Ray Rhodes’ conservative defense, which occasionally allows a bit too much cushion at the line. Rhodes is recovering from a hospital stay after recurring dizzy spells, and linebackers coach John Marshall will be running the show for the second straight week. Cornerback Andre Dyson will probably get Roddy White if he's Mora's number-one wideout. I’ll be interested to see how Seattle plans to cover Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler, Vick’s favorite target.

FI: Allen Rossum, a specialty return man, is taking over for Kevin Mathis who tore his ACL at Wednesday’s practice. What will Seattle do to attack Rossum?

.NET: Assuming Rossum will be taking over the nickel slot, expect a full day of Bobby Engram and Joe Jurevicius leading the charge in the short passing game opposite the expected DeAngelo Hall-Darrell Jackson matchup.

FI: Speaking of Atlanta’s secondary, it seems very questionable right now. Does Seattle have the receivers to make Atlanta pay?

.NET: Seattle does, but it’ll be a gradual thing. Aside from Jackson, the team doesn’t have any vertical threats in the starting lineup. As in any West Coast Offense, it’s all about timing and yards after the catch.

FI: Has there been any real fallout from Mike Holmgren’s days of running the Seahawks? It seemed that he might be gone as head coach a time or two in the past – does that affect his leadership now?

.NET: It’s fairly common knowledge that from an administrative standpoint, that this is now Tim Ruskell’s team. Holmgren had years to put it together, and he couldn’t get it done. If Seattle’s 2005 season is a disappointment, you could see a change in the coaching ranks.

FI: How talented are the Seahawks’ special teams?

.NET: The special teams unit looks to be a sight better than last year’s…but given how bad last year’s was, there’s nowhere to go but up. Returners Josh Scobey and Peter Warrick, punter Leo Araguz and kicker Josh Brown are the pointmen. This is not a unit that will win games for the team – the object at this point is not to lose games via special teams.

FI: Atlanta is a dome team, Seattle is not – will weather this early in the season be any factor in this game?

.NET: Not likely. Local forecasts have Sunday as partly cloudy with temperatures in the high 60s.


Dean Legge is the Publisher of Dawgpost.com (Scout.com's excellent Georgia Bulldogs site), and FalconInsider.com, Scout's portal for Atlanta Falcons news. You can e-mail Dean here.

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. You can e-mail him here.

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