Behind Enemy Lines: Seahawks/Broncos, Pt. 3

In Part Three of our exclusive four-part Seahawks-Broncos preview, syndicated writer Michael Schon of asks Seahawks.NET Editor-in-Chief Doug Farrar the final five of ten questions. This time, Michael asks about Seattle's struggles on the road and the season's expectations.

Michael Schon, Syndicated Columnist, What’s been the biggest factor for the Seahawks' struggles on the road this year, and does Denver pose a real threat to Hasselbeck’s high powered offense?

Doug Farrar, Editor-in-Chief, Seahawks.NET: Injuries haven’t helped, but maddening inconsistency and an inability to sustain drives have just killed Seattle on the road. Away from Qwest Field, Seattle is 2-3 in 2006. They have started 60 drives, and only 16 have resulted in scores (8 touchdowns/8 field goals). 10 have resulted in turnovers. Scoring on 27% of your drives isn’t a recipe for success in any league.

Conversely, at home, Seattle is 5-1, and 26 of 74 drives (35.1%) have ended with a score (10 touchdowns, 16 field goals). 13 have resulted in turnovers, but with the scoring percentage that much higher, the team has enough momentum to overcome an similar turnover percentage. Example: last Monday night, the Seahawks turned the ball over four times in the first half, but they scored seven times overall.

Denver’s defense is a high-quality unit, so yes, they do pose a threat. The Seahawks will play three of their last five regular-season games away from the friendly confines. They must find a way to be more consistent on the road.

MS: With fan support at an all-time high right now, what are the expectations for this year’s squad and was there a lot of added pressure for key players to return too quickly off of injuries?

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 27: Safety Ken Hamlin #26 and linebacker Julian Peterson #59 of the Seattle Seahawks attempt to intercept a pass against the Green Bay Packers on November 27, 2006 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. Donald Driver #80 of the Packers and linebacker Leroy Hill #56 of the Seahawks follow the play. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

DF: I don’t think there has been any pressure for players to return too quickly – teams are dealing with such enormous investments now that I don’t think you’re going to see marquee guys brought back too soon with regularity.

Depending on who you talk to, the pre-season expectations ran anywhere from a total implosion (the moronic “Super Bowl Losers’ Curse” theory) to the optimistic view of a return to the Super Bowl. I saw the team regressing a bit, perhaps to an 11-5 record. I expected the offensive line to struggle a bit, but not nearly as much as they have. The defense has been a disappointment.

Given the injuries and overall issues surrounding the team, I think Mike Holmgren had done an estimable job of coaching. We’ll just have to see what happens down the stretch.

MS: At times, Seattle’s run defense has looked awesome and yet at other times they appear to be struggling to even make tackles. What’s caused their inconsistency this year – and do you think a lack of size has been a contributing factor?

DF: Lack of size is a factor – there isn’t that huge run-plugger in the middle. The main problem has been one of overpursuit – when the team gets behind and tries to do too much on every play instead of just using proper technique and stopping drives. Losing Marcus Tubbs for the year to a knee injury was a big blow. Tubbs was the best run-stopper on the interior defensive rotation, and he played in only seven games in 2006.

Seattle’s run defense was so effective last year because they would fly to the ballcarrier as a unit, and they seemed to know where a back was going before the back did. This year, things seem a lot more fragmented, defensively – I don’t see the same level of teamwork.

MS: Last season tight end Jerramy Stevens played a major role in the Seattle offense and this season he seems to have disappeared. What’s been the problem, is he in Holmgren’s dog house?

DF: Holmgren has made some recent remarks about Stevens being his own worst enemy, which is certainly the case. He’s got every physical tool you could ever want – a 6’7”, 265-pound tight end with the speed and agility of a receiver should be one of the more dangerous offensive threats in the league.

But Stevens seems to suffer from lapses in concentration, and occasionally boneheaded behavior on the field. Drops have been a problem, and that’s not so much technique as focus. I don’t know if Stevens has it in him to live up to his great physical potential – a guy in his fifth NFL season should be showing more than this.

MS: On paper, both teams match up pretty evenly but I’ve noticed there’s a huge gap in turnover differential with Seattle at -7 (26th in the league) and Denver +4 (9th in the league). I know you’ve had some significant injuries this year, but are there any other factors that account for such a huge drop off from last year?

DF: Well, the corners don’t intercept passes. I know that’s a foreign concept to Bronco fans, and you should consider yourselves fortunate. The three interceptions Seahawks cornerbacks got from Brett Favre last Monday night were the first by any Seahawks cornerbacks this season.

Marcus Trufant and Kelly Herndon are good tacklers who play with intensity, but technique is a real issue with both of them. This lack of ability to capitalize on the mistakes of their opponents puts the front seven at a disadvantage, and adds pressure to the offense.

This is yet another example of how everything that determines success and failure on a football team is intertwined. Elements that worked in concert last season for the Seahawks just aren’t doing so right now. Everyone has to work harder for wins, and that’s why the team is struggling. Top Stories