Are the Seahawks Climate-Controlled?

As the Seattle Seahawks take stock of their strengths and weaknesses, there is some thought that they might be better off actually dropping into the fourth seed in the NFC rather than staying in the third seed, ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The thought is that if the Seahawks defeat their first-round opponent, their passing game and overall offense would fare better against the Dallas Cowboys in the confines of Texas Stadium than against the Green Bay Packers in the frozen trappings of Lambeau Field.

Rightfully, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren says that he only wants to worry about whomever the team's first-round opponent is, and that he can't control the other stuff anyway.

But in a general sense, Holmgren does admit that the climate can have an adverse effect -- and he should know given that he coached in Green Bay for seven years, and knows all too well that the Packers have lost only one game at Lambeau, against Atlanta in 2002.

The subject has been raised because the Seahawks were seemingly so impacted by the poor weather -- 18 mph winds -- in Carolina on Sunday.

Their running game has been a disaster most of the season, and their passing game was rendered inert by Sunday's conditions.

If the Seahawks remain in their current slot, and then win their first-round game at Qwest Field, the prospect of playing a game in frigid Green Bay in the middle of January is not appealing, a postseason loss there in 2004 a painful reminder of the difficulties. (That is the game where the Seahawks won the coin toss in overtime, prompting Matt Hasselbeck to say, "We'll take the ball and we're going to score." He then threw an interception to Al Harris that was returned for the game-winning touchdown.)

On the other hand, going to Dallas and competing in the relatively controlled confines of Texas Stadium could be more advantageous, particularly since the Seahawks defeated the Cowboys in the playoffs last year, when Tony Romo fumbled a snap at Qwest Field, preventing a game-winning field-goal attempt.

The Seahawks have left on their schedule Baltimore at home this week and a season finale in Atlanta, while Tampa Bay travels to San Francisco and then hosts the Carolina team that just beat the Seahawks.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Former University of Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, whose gambling indiscretions sent the football program into turmoil, revisits Seattle this week as quarterback coach with the Baltimore Ravens. His replacement and former offensive coordinator, Keith Gilbertson, is an assistant line coach with the Seahawks.

--The 17 yards that Shaun Alexander gained against the Panthers on Sunday was the lowest output of any start in his entire career. "You all watched the game," Alexander said. "You know that our running game is not the same as it once was."

--Seattle coach Mike Holmgren was recently given a mural by the team captains commemorating his 81st victory with Seattle, which moved him past Chuck Knox as the most successful coach in franchise history.

--Retired fullback Mack Strong had successful neck fusion surgery on Sunday. Strong herniated a disc in his neck on Oct. 7 against Pittsburgh, which ended his career. He had an MRI over the weekend, which revealed the need for surgery.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--DT Rocky Bernard will not practice this week because of a persistently sore groin but is expected to play against Baltimore on Sunday.
--WR D.J. Hackett, out with a high-ankle sprain, could practice this week and possibly play on Sunday against Baltimore.
--CB Josh Wilson, out with a quad strain, could practice this week and possibly play against the Ravens.
--Holmgren said that WR Bobby Engram, who achieved his first 1,000-yard season on Sunday, should make the Pro Bowl.
--Long snapper Jeff Robinson has solidified the position, Holmgren said, and hopefully will mean that the team can stop looking for improvement at the position.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
REPORT CARD VS. PANTHERS

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was 27-for-41 for 274 yards and a touchdown, though the touchdown came with one second remaining and the game's outcome already decided. At least three passes were dropped, two by Leonard Weaver and one by Shaun Alexander. The wind caused several balls to sail out of Hasselbeck's hands, though Matt Moore, Carolina's undrafted rookie free agent quarterback who was making his first start, didn’t seem to have any problems. Hasselbeck was sacked three times by the worst pass rush in the league -- the Panthers came into this game with only 16 sacks.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- Troubled all season, the Seahawks' run game was worse than it has ever been, 44 yards on 14 carries, 11 of which came on a scramble by Hasselbeck. The one other big play, a 20-yard run by Alexander, was fumbled before being recovered. On two important short-yardage plays, Mo Morris was thrown for a one-yard loss and Alexander was thrown for a six-yard loss. On Seattle's second play from scrimmage, right guard Chris Gray let defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu and linebacker Jon Beason through virtually undefended. Kemoeatu hit Alexander like a truck for no gain.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Seahawks' pass rush, second in the league in sacks, never even got close to rookie quarterback Matt Moore, who was 19 of 27 for 208 yards and a 92.7 passer rating. WR Steve Smith had eight receptions for 72 yards. The strategy seemed to be to play coverage, though the Panthers had a good scheme for NFL sack leader Patrick Kerney -- they frequently doubled him with a tight end and right tackle Jordan Gross probably had his best game of the year.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Until DeAngelo Williams broke off a 35-yard touchdown with about a minute to play, Seattle kept Carolina in check. Even with that long run that sealed the game, the Panthers averaged only 3.0 yards a carry.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Punter Ryan Plackemeier had eight punts averaging 40.3 yards, including three inside the 10, and one downed on the 2. K Josh Brown made a 23-yard field goal. And new long snapper Jeff Robinson did not have any errant snaps.

COACHING: C -- Mike Holmgren said he thought the team was not focused. He also made a questionable play-call on third-and-five from Carolina's 8, calling a run play for Mo Morris that went only four yards, forcing a field goal.


SeahawkFootball.com Top Stories