Doug Farrar: No, I’d say that the O-Line and the cornerback rotation would vie for that spot. The run defense has been a problem, but I think it has more to do with coaching and discipline than anything else. They have the talent to rank in the top ten in run defense – even with DT Marcus Tubbs on the Injured Reserve list – but the players aren’t getting it done. The defensive performance against the 49ers was especially disturbing, because San Francisco’s offensive line isn’t going to win any awards this year, and Frank Gore was able to get to the secondary before getting a hat put on him far too often.
The defense is tackling poorly, they’re overpursuing – they’re trying to do too much. They need to stop looking for the big play and just do their jobs together.
TK: What has been the most improved area of the Seahawks this season?
DF: Ironically, the special teams, which had been Seattle’s bugaboo for the last two seasons. Rookie punter Ryan Plackemeier ranks fourth in the league in gross punting average (45.6). Though his net average and punts in the 20 are a bit lower he’s an enormous improvement over veteran Tom Rouen, the desperation choice last year. Nate Burleson ranks fourth in the league in yards per punt return and won the Rams game with a 90-yarder. Kicker Josh Brown makes the key field goals when they’re needed
This isn’t a top-five unit overall, but Seattle’s special teams would have to take a sizeable leap forward to hit the average, and that’s pretty much what they’ve done.
TK: Do the Seahawks miss safety Marquand Manuel, or do you think they are glad that he is in Green Bay?
DF: I think they missed him more in the Super Bowl than they miss him now! Both Ken Hamlin and Michael Boulware have had problems with tackling and in coverage, but I think both players are better than Manuel. In my opinion, the Seahawks got Manuel’s best when he replaced Hamlin after Hamlin’s head injury last year, and the Packers overpaid based on a small sample size of performance.
TK: Besides Hasselbeck and Alexander, who is the most entertaining player on the Seahawks to watch?
DF: Linebacker Julian Peterson, without question. When the Seahawks acquired Peterson in the off-season, I was very excited to see what he could do in a simpler, faster 4-3, and how he’d add to Seattle’s young and talented linebacker corps. He has either met or exceeded all expectations, depending on where you stand. He leads the team with eight sacks, and he’s one of those rare outside linebackers who can do everything the position requires – line up as a rush end, cover a tight end, help in run support. He’s also made his mark as a real leader on the defense.
TK: How do you think the Seahawks will go about beating the Packers Monday Night?
DF: If the Seahawks play within themselves, they will win this game – but that’s not a certainty. They have to contain the short game in all ways – the short pass, the two-yard run – and they have to avoid underestimating Green Bay’s offensive line. Conversely, overestimating the receivers, and backing out of pressure to cover, would be a real problem. Favre looked horrible last week when the Patriots got after him, and the Seahawks must continue that pressure.
Offensively, I’d expect Hasselbeck to spend as much time as possible picking on Green Bay’s weak secondary, and drawing attention away from the running game, which is almost a liability at this point. They must play with the discipline they haven’t recently, and they must find a way to put together a balanced attack. It’s all about “staying within” – stay within yourselves, stay within your lanes, stay within your gaps.
All the Seahawks have to do is play as they’re capable.