"Weak One": An Unabashed Review

On the initial drive of the game, all looked well in Seahawks Land. Matt Hasselbeck found open receivers with ease. He sat in the pocket like Luke Perry, using all 8.5 seconds, to shred the Lions defense, the highlight being a 36-yard toss to Tim Ruskell's off-season "middle-finger" free agent, Nate Burleson.

It appeared that the Hawks were going to continue where they left off; using and abusing opposing defenses like DeNiro did DiCaprio in “This Boy’s Life”. Oddly though, the drive halted before the end zone. Eventually leading to a blocked field goal attempt by Bill Parcells’ off-season wet dream, Josh Brown.

From that point on, offensively, all I could see was evidence that a wormhole somehow placed the 2002 Seahawks offense on the field, leaving the 2005 version somewhere in an alternate universe (hey, maybe in an alternate universe the media pays attention to the Seahawks?).

To say the game was ugly isn’t doing it justice. That game may have set football, literacy rates, and modern medicine back at least fifty years. I was so confused by the game many thoughts crossed my mind.

I suggested both teams strap on leather helmets and revert to a single-wing offense. I wondered if I was watching Rainman and DiCaprio’s character from “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” play Madden ’07? Or would it be better to let Josh Brown and Jason Hanson fight on the fifty-yard line to decide the outcome? We all know Jason Hanson would have the upper hand throughout the much of the fight, but he’d inevitably make some bone-headed grapple, leading to a Josh Brown knockout. You can take the Coug out of the Palouse, but you can never take the Coug out of the man.

With all that, there were some positives to take out of the game. I’m not going to delve into strategies, X’s and O’s, or coaching blunders. We have actual qualified, knowledgeable journalists that handle such analysis. Besides, I’d somehow make it all about me, anyways.

The first thing to realize is this was the definition of a “trap” game. I’ve been saying since June that the Lions game could very well end up being a loss. Besides the Lions players’ enthusiasm for a new coach, a feeling of a new era, and an electric full house, the team the Seahawks beat on Sunday will be giving fits to the rest of their opponents. Especially in the overrated NFC North. Yup, I’m not sold on the Bears quite yet.

The fact that the Hawks offensive line struggled in particular shouldn’t be a surprise either. Make no mistake about it, Rod Marinelli is to defensive lineman what Mike Holmgren is to quarterbacks. That unit, and the entire front seven, will be terrorizing backfields every Sunday, leaving bruises through Saturday. Marinelli’s also a coach very familiar with Holmgren from his years at Tampa Bay and Holmgren’s in Green Bay . Add in the facts that the offensive line unit has had limited time to practice together and Marinelli’s brilliantly devised and executed game plan, and you’ve got your reasons for the struggles. I have faith, as does Holmgren, that the line will be fine.

On the other side of the ball, you had the Seahawks going against another familiar face, one that I’m sure to this day Holmgren has nightmares about, Mike Martz. Say what you will about Martz and his reckless coaching, but he’s always owned Holmgren.

I think the fact Martz was in a booth calling plays, lead to a somewhat passive, “straight-up” defensive attitude in the first half. I’m sure the entire coaching staff had visions of Mike Furrey embodying Kevin Curtis, scurrying untouched down the sidelines. The good news is, despite the passive defensive play calling, the Seahawks defense has more talent than a Miami Beach party offering free cocaine, and can perform regardless the game plan. That’s quite a refreshing change for Seahawks fans.

In the end, the game played out like knowledgeable fans and I expected, given the circumstances and everyone’s familiarity with each other. The slugfest feel of the game got the Seahawks attention, which will lead to refocus and hard work in practice. There’s no better reminder that it’s a new season, no one cares about last year, and their not NFC Champs anymore, than playing smash-mouth, ugly, physical football.

Good teams find ways to win ugly games; and that’s exactly what the Seahawks did Sunday.

A Crushing Injury

To this point, I’ve remained unfazed by any injuries besetting the Seahawks roster. I have confidence in Tim Ruskell’s ability to scourer the waiver-wire; transforming other teams trash into Super Bowl contributors. But even King Midas himself wouldn’t be able to turn the latest injury into gold. A loss, that to me personally, is like a stingray barb right to the heart.

Of course I’m speaking to my personal hero, Canada’s greatest export, the part time linebacker, part time long snapper, and full time Seattle treasure, JP Darche – a/k/a/ “Mr. Seahawk”.

Since 2000, there’s been two certainties heading into Seahawks training camp: Mack Strong will be the Fullback, and Darche would prove historians correct - French-Canadians are to long snapping what Cubans are to cigars.

It’s in their DNA, they just know how to get the job done. While Americans are lazily playing basketball and football, Canadians are playing hockey, curling, and long snapping. If you pass by any playground in Canada, you’ll see no pick-up games of hoops, dodge ball, or any nonsense like goofing around on a swing or a slide. Nope, you’ll see school kids repeatedly long-snapping footballs to each other. Most of the time they’ll be doing this while donning a Darche jersey.

Obviously, from a strictly football standpoint it’s going to be tough to replace his exploits. But, the main setback will be off the field; in the locker room. Mr. Darche routinely introduced his teammates to unpronounceable cheeses, explained that showers are always optional, and touted the genius of Air Supply, his favorite band.

From a team chemistry standpoint, this is a tough one.

Branch Roots Down in Seattle

It’s no coincidence that the heartbreaking on and off field loss of Darche, led Ruskell to pull the trigger on a trade. The man brought in to fill the shoes of Darche is Deion Branch (Editor’s Note: Huh?), arriving in exchange for a first round pick from the New England Patriots.

Upon the confirmation of the coup, I was appalled at some of the moronic comments from Seahawks fans. I’ve read and heard a few of the most random and moronic arguments against the sign and trade, but I’ll limit my self to only tackling two.

Q: “Why would we trade for a WR when we have offensive line problems?” Joe the Internet Forum Guy

A: “Well Joe, because the Seahawks don’t have a problem at offensive line. What happened last Sunday can be attributed to the unit not playing much together and a well designed game plan”

Q: “Long time listener, first time caller (cornball sound effect). We need secondary help. We’re awfully thin there” Billy Bob from Tukwila, of sports radio fame.

A: “Billy Bob, you have to understand the philosophy of the Seattle defense. It’s inside-out. Which means, the defense is designed to get pressure first and foremost, limiting the DB’s exposure. Basically, the defensive backfield is about as irrelevant as you are. Thanks for calling”.

It’s true that WR isn’t exactly a need for the Seahawks. In fact, you could go as far and say they’re loaded at that position already. But whenever you get a chance to add a great player – you do it whether you need it or not. The philosophy “best player available” is germane all year, not just April..

Besides, drafting a “need” got the Texans Andre Bruce Jr., the Saints Reggie Bush, and Charley Casserly fired.

Mule Sniff

As much as I want this segment to be non-Seahawks and non-sports related, I can’t help it. The performance Matt Hasselbeck rolled out last Sunday was for the ages, earning him a savory sniff. He showed more guts than a swine slaughterhouse. He just kept getting up after every sack, knockdown, and even a cheap shot to the head, ending the day going 25-30, for 210 yards, willing his team on a final game-winning drive.

Known very well to friend and foe as "pehawk" in our fan forums, Ryan Davis provides a fresh voice on the Seahawks, Seattle sports in general, and life in a nutshell. Feel free to send your thoughts, recriminations and mule sniffs to Ryan here.

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