Week One: What 2006 Taught Us

To most Seahawks fans, and their NFL counterparts, 2006's failed expectations would be considered anything but satisfying. Anything short of a championship, for a team in the position of the 2006 Seahawks, is rightfully considered a let-down. And in most years I'd goose-step behind the masses in that sentiment.

But 2006 was different. 

From the onset of the 2006 campaign, the Seahawks were ravaged by injuries at key positions. 

The offensive line stumbled out of the gate, due in part to the loss of Steve Hutchinson, obviously, but also the nagging injuries that beset Pork Chop Womack and Robbie Tobeck.  The injuries and scramble to replace the All-Pro Hutch, left the line in shambles throughout the entire season.

In week three, the Seahawks were dealt another blow, via the non-miraculous broken bone in reigning MVP Shaun Alexander's left foot.   Alexander's injury, combined with the aforementioned folderol overtaking the offensive line, left 2005's best rushing team unable to establish a ground game in 2006.

Four weeks after that, the leader and heart of the team, Matt Hasselbeck, went down for a month.  And while Seneca Wallace played well considering his experience, neither the Seahawks offense nor Hasselbeck ever seemed to get into a rhythm the entire year.

Defensively, the loss of Marcus Tubbs left the Seahawks without their only big-bodied, run-stuffer.  His absence, coupled with the lack of a running game, left the undersized Seahawks defensive unit on the field too long.  By the second half of any contest, the Seahawks defense was easier to step on than a "bindle" personally delivered by Pablo Escobar. 

And by the end of the year, the Seahawks were so desperately thin in the secondary, they were signing "Joe Lunchpails" off the street to suit up.

Yet, in the face of all that adversity, and some I've overlooked, the 2006 Seahawks continued to "pound that rock" like Jon Gruden would say.   Unlike any Seahawks team I can recall, the 2006 squad kept fighting, scratching and clawing their way to the playoffs. 

Being a long-time Seahawks fan, the injuries last year's team faced were nothing extraordinary.  The Seahawks seemingly lead the league in injuries throughout the 90's.  But, unlike those teams, the 2006 squad didn't fold like Paul Sorvino's stomach. 

Too many times during my 31 years on the planet, I've been subjected to mentally weak Seahawks squads buckling at the first breeze of adversity or twisted ankle.  Up until last year, I had zero faith in my Seahawks ability to get tough when the going got rough.

Yes, the 2005 SB "runner-up" squad showed heart, but they showed more dominance.  That 2005 team, because healthy and with Hutch, was just better than any squad in the league.  They rarely, if ever, had to rely on their heart.

The 2006 team and staff was the guttiest, scrappiest and most tenacious Seahawks team I've ever had the pleasure to witness. 

That's why it's little surprise, at least to this biased hack, that the Seahawks hit the ground running in their opener, dismantling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2.5 quarters. 

The determination and guile our mighty Hawks learned last year, carried over. 

While the offense seemed a bit out of rhythm to start, that's to be expected with a timing-based passing attack.  I'm not worried – in the slightest.

On the other hand, the defense, channeled demons from the Old Testament, unleashing pain and carnage upon any Buccaneer caught in their wake.  The Hawks defense looked more like a typical Buccaneer defense, than the Buccaneer's did. 

It'll be interesting to see how opposing offenses fare the week after playing the Seahawks.  Something tells me they may be a bit sore and lethargic.

Meet Marcus Trufant, the Second-Best Corner on His Own Team

I cant recall whether it was the first, second, or third play the Buccaneers threw at the Seahawks defense…the long completion to fan favorite, Joey Galloway.  But on that play, even though it was a completion, it cemented in my mind that Kelly Jennings IS the best corner back currently on the Seahawks roster.

Say what you will about Galloway – but until the Buckeye-mandated week four hamstring pull occurs – he's one of the fastest and most physically gifted receivers in the NFL.  Yet, Jennings stayed with him step for step.  Eventually, forcing Joey to leap and make a miraculous catch.  The kind of brilliant catch you only see coupled with picture-perfect coverage.

And that's not all.  Jennings also made at least two open field tackles that I can recall.  No, they weren't the types of bone-jarring hits we saw from Kelly Herndon last year.  But, they were effective.

But finally, the most important thing I've noticed with Jennings is the next time he's caught in a situation similar to the one past Sunday – the ball will either be deflected or intercepted.  He doesn't appear to repeat mistakes.

It maybe a little premature to talk about it, but with this being Trufant's contract year, I cant help but wonder if he'll go the way of Ken Lucas.  With Tim Ruskell letting another team pay #1 corner money, to the second best corner on the squad.

Hawks D Laying Lumber

As I alluded to above, the Seahawks defensive performance Sunday was as much an exercise in execution as it was clubbing violence.  Every play, Seahawks defenders seemingly transformed into instruments of destruction, unleashing snot-bubbling hits and bone-snapping trauma.  The defenses looked so physical, I couldn't help but hearken back to the last time I saw a defense that imposing.

That being 1992.

Of course, I'm not going to say that this defense will even come close enough to orbit around that great squad of yesteryear.  But, that's the last time I can remember a squad demonstrating demoralizing physicality.

More Mo, Please

As one of the last believers in Maurice Morris (aka. The Only Good Thing to Come out of Oregon), I was overjoyed with his big play on Sunday.

Morris doesn't have what he takes to be any teams number one back.  But he sure does have more than enough to be a change of pace, third down, or flanker type weapon.  And it's time he sees a little more time.

There's a reason why Shaun Alexander was the best player on the field in the playoffs last year, in the Hawks two games.  He was fresh because of his injury.  Morris is more than qualified to shoulder 25% of Alexander's load this season.  Enough to insure a fresh SA come January.

Slick Hits

  • Something tells me Thursday's Drew Brees performance is truer to his ability than all of last year. 
  • Can the Seahawks please hire Brock Huard?  In his first ever game, Huard shined brightly during Saturday's Husky television broadcast.  I actually learned something – imagine that.
  • Welcome to Erickson ball, Sun Devils fans!  I only watched bits and pieces of the game, but in that time I saw ASU penalties on virtually e very special teams play, personal fouls, and the Sun Devils spotting their opposition two touchdowns.  But unlike in the pros, all Erickson college teams end up fighting back, most of the time coming back to win comfortably, just like Saturday.
  • Marshawn Lynch is way better than I thought he'd ever be in the pros.  Yes, even after one week.  He was a beast this past week.  So much for the Cal RB stigma.
  • As much as it bothers me to admit – I cant help but envy the Denver Broncos and their fans.  Mike Shanahan, while a cheater, is genius with his play-calling.  First play from scrimmage is an option, from their own two, you kidding me?   And Jay Cutler is the real deal.
  • Welcome back, Randy Moss!  I missed seeing your on-field artistry, but missed your soundbites even more.
  • Bob Costas has the comedic timing of a cadaver.  Enough with your obscure references, stupid.  You're not Dennis Miller or even Keith Olbermann.
  • Tiki Barber reminds me of the friend we all have in our lives, that dumps his current girlfriend, to play the field.  Only to find that their not that appealing to begin with – and their old girlfriend was the best they could do.  Enough Tiki – it's obvious you view the Giants and Tom Coughlin like an ex does their former lover.
  • Anyone notice that Jason Campbell's Hail Mary, to end the Skins-Dolphins game, was a 73 yard laser?  The scary part is it didn't seem like he put his all into it.
  • Big "ups" to my boy Chad Johnson for his sideline HOF jacket gimmick.  I don't care if it's self-promoting and unsportsmanlike.  It was entertaining, creative, and funny.
  • Does Tom Coughlin have any expressions other than this one?

Ryan Davis is an armchair quarterback with a vibrating recliner. Feel free to e-mail him here.

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