Rock's Chalk: 11/9/05

Seahawks .NET writer Mark "Rockhawk" Olsen takes a look at what's hot and what's not in the land of Seahawks football. Then, guest columnist Nick Shelly gives his take on the upcoming Seattle-St. Louis contest.

On Fire

5. +4 turnover ratio – The Hawks defense forced 3 interceptions and forced a fumble on the way to a convincing 33-19 beating of the division rival Arizona Cardinals in Tempe. The Hawks didn’t have any giveaways.

4. Offensive Blocking – The Seahawk offensive line, fullbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers provided excellent blocking all day, paving the way for Shaun Alexander’s 173 yards and two touchdowns. LG Steve Hutchinson and TE Jerramy Stevens were especially good, as the Fox TV broadcasters noted.

3. Defensive INTs and Sacks – The Seahawks defense hasn’t been dominant, but 3 interceptions and 4 sacks of Cardinals QB Kurt Warner were a continuation of an aggressive and opportunistic defense that continues to improve from their below-average showing of the last few years.

2. Goodbye, Bye Week Blues! – The team was 0–6 in Holmgren’s tenure after bye weeks before this game. This was just the latest in a series of issues of the past that this team is putting behind them. They’ve won 4 in a row and can completely dominate the NFC West division with a win against the Rams this weekend.

1. Alexander the Great! – He is simply the best running back ever to put on a Seahawk uniform, and that’s saying a lot. His 88-yard run to begin the second half was a thing of beauty, showing his special ability to see the open lanes, use his blockers and cutback abilities, and a surprising speed. This is a future Hall of Fame running back in his prime, and I’m cherishing each run I get to watch.

* Honorable mentions to Matt Hasselbeck who controlled the game throughout, DE Bryce Fisher for his 2 sacks (7 total so far this year) and CB Jordan Babineaux.

Ice Cold

5. Lack of SeaGal restroom escapades– Two Carolina Panther cheerleaders were arrested for *ahem* working on their routines in a Tampa club restroom stall. How could this story not dominate the media coverage instead of T.O.? (When you’ve won 4 in a row, you can’t complain about much).

4. Shaun Alexander’s long-term deal – Seahawks? Sign him, now. Really, I mean right now. Get up and call his agent right now. I’m not kidding.

3. Soft “prevent” defense – The Cardinals drove down the field at will in the 3rd and early 4th quarters after the Seahawks went into their soft prevent-style defense, scoring their only touchdown of the day. Once the Hawk D went back into aggressive mode, they forced the Cardinals back into mistakes and won the game.

2. Defense on 3rd downs – The Seahawk defense seems to give up to many 3rd down conversions and large chunks of yardage before finally solidifying in the red zone, forcing 4 field goals in Sunday’s game. The run defense continues to impress, but the pass defense needs improvement.

1. Special Teams – It seems that there’s a penalty on almost every punt return or kickoff return this year. If there isn’t a penalty, a fumble, or a breakdown in blocking, then we still can’t get any breaks. Josh Scobey on kickoff returns and Jimmy Williams on punt returns have been bland with only a couple of good returns between them. This group needs to improve immediately or they will be the cause of at least one loss this season.

Next on the List
Professional sports handicapper Nick Shelly (nick@nsport.net) breaks down the Seahawk’s next game and gives his pick for the winner.

NSPORT Analysis - St. Louis @ Seattle, November 13

St. Louis is a poor man's Seattle as they have managed to overcome diversity and pull out wins against New Orleans and Jacksonville after losing Mike Martz for the season and Marc Bulger for several games. Over the last three weeks, the Rams have managed to go 2 and 1, but remember that Bulger and the Rams had a 17 point lead over the Colts when Bulger went down with an injury. Since then, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt have missed games, but amazingly, the Rams are still in the hunt for the NFC West title or at least a playoff spot. I like the fact that the Rams have hung in there over this span even though miracle finishes to both games turned a sure loss into a victory. The fact is, they're right there, and a few wins away from getting in to the playoffs. A win in Seattle would be huge for the Rams.

St. Louis: The injury report has not been released at the time of this writing, but frankly, I don't think it matters who is at QB for the Rams. The key position is WR, and if the Rams get Holt back, they will be able to beat the Seattle Cover-2, even if Jamie Martin starts. Another important player is Kevin Curtis, who again beat the Seattle secondary in their loss to Seattle this year. The Rams are on a revenge factor and recall the 2004 season when the Seahawks had a chance to put the division away and allowed the Rams to beat them twice in the regular season.

Seattle: Having Bobby Engram back is very important for this one. I can guarantee you Seattle won't beat the Rams with drag routes by Joe Jurevicius and Jerramy Stevens this time. We should see a similar gameplan to what we saw against Arizona where they will try to reduce the amount of possessions that the Rams will have over the course of the game. That means long drives; Shaun Alexander on first and second down and Engram/Stevens to pick up the first. You should see Jurevicius on the slant pattern at least three or four times and DJ Hackett going long at least twice in the first half. Long drives mean that Martin gets no rhythm, and the Seahawks can then focus on trying to contain Steven Jackson.

Vegas Line: Seattle -6.5, 51.5

St. Louis .7 .7 .3 ..0 - 17
Seattle ..10 .0 .7 10 - 27

Game Log: The Seahawks try to control the game in the first half but the Rams hang in there stride for stride. The second half is a different story as the crowd gets into it and the Seahawks avoid the first half scare. The defense is the difference as they rise up and make the adjustments necessary to put the game away. Fantasy alert: Alexander should get about 85 yards and just one TD, Hasselbeck will have 175 yards and 2 TDs. For St. Louis, Jackson should get off early for about 90 yards and 2 TDs.

Rock’s Final Thought

Any Seahawk fan that isn’t having fun watching this team should have their pulse checked. The offensive dominance and the continual improvement on defense are beginning to make me believe that we may truly be watching a truly special season. They can put themselves in a dominating position by beating the Rams this Sunday at Qwest field. One thing that’s hard to get used to is the feeling that we will win each and every Sunday. I’m a Seahawk fan, so I’m used to going into each game with the feeling that we have a chance to win, not with this feeling that I expect to win. It’s a good feeling, and one I hope will continue for several months.


- Mark Olsen writes frequently for Seahawks.NET. Feel free to send him feedback at seahawk94@comcast.net.

- Nick Shelly has been a professional sports analyst and handicapper for over 10 years. You can contact Nick at nick@nsport.net.


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