Seneca Wallace looked very rusty in his first extensive action of the season, completing 12 of 23 passes for 73 yards for a measly 3.2 yards per attempt. Wallace's longest completion of the night came on the game's final play, a 17-yard pass to Koren Robinson when half the Buccaneers defense was already in the tunnel to the locker room to watch the end of the Rays-Red Sox game.
Running back: C+
Sure, Maurice Morris might never break another 45-yard run like that again, and Julius Jones' 21-yard run did come on a draw play against a prevent defense, but 14 carries for 97 yards against a Top 10 run defense is solid production from this group. Also, T.J. Duckett should've added over 21 yards to that had umpire Scott Paxson a.) got out of Duckett's way and b.) kept his flag in his pocket.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: D
When you only have two pass plays of 10+ yards, there's not a whole lot to be positive about in the passing game. John Carlson led the team with 3 receptions, and while he did score a touchdown for a second consecutive game, he had a critical drop that thwarted the Seahawks first drive of the game. Koren Robinson and Keary Colbert are still getting acclimated or re-acclimated to the offense, and Seneca Wallace and Bobby Engram appear to have none of the chemistry that Engram and Matt Hasselbeck share.
Offensive Line: D
Seneca Wallace wasn't sacked on any of his 23 pass attempts. Aside from that, though, the Seahawks offensive line is just as culpable for the team's inability to sustain drives. The lack of sacks can be attributed to Wallace's scrambling ability and not holding the ball like Charlie Frye did a week ago against Green Bay. Seattle's success running the ball had more to do with individual efforts by Maurice Morris and Julius Jones than it did with the line.
Starting right tackle Sean Locklear appeared to struggle in pass protection and would split time with Ray Willis throughout the night. Whether I agree with the call or not, for the second week in a row a Mike Wahle holding call negated a big play in the running game, and Chris Spencer appeared to have snapped the ball too early, leading to a lost fumble after Seattle's kick return unit gave them their best field position of the night.
Defensive Line: B-
Seattle still has problems generating much of a pass rush, and too often lost contain on Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia, who used his legs and creativity to make plays outside of the pocket. However, they went toe-to-toe with a very physical offensive line and held their own. Darryl Tapp had 9 tackles and got a hit on Garcia, and starting defensive tackles Rocky Bernard and Brandon Mebane combined for 8 tackles, with Mebane notching the Seahawks only sack of the night. Patrick Kerney, Red Bryant and Craig Terrill played well in run support, limited the Buccaneers to just 2.6 yards per carry.
Leroy Hill created what should have been a fumble return for a touchdown, one that might have been the big play the Seahawks defense has been standing around waiting for. Instead, the Seahawks were granted possession of the ball at their own 4-yard line, and oh yeah, Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu suffered a concussion on the play and was lost for the game.
Hill and Tatupu nearly combined on an interception on the Buccaneers first drive of the game. Hill deflected Garcia's pass into the air, and both he and Tatupu had their hands on the ball as it came down, but neither was able to hold on as the ball fell incomplete. It's been that kind of season for the Seahawks.
Overall, Seattle's linebackers had their usual performance on Sunday night. They were solid in run support, average-to-below average in pass coverage, and below average in the pass rush. We know that Tatupu and Hill are better blitzers than they've shown, so I'm chalking the struggles in the latter two areas to the team's defensive scheme or lack thereof.
Kelly Jennings was victimized for a 47-yard touchdown pass, and if you removed the pass attempts where Tampa was trying to kill the clock, Jeff Garcia was 27-34 for 310 yards against the area of the team that was supposed to be this team's strength. For the umpteenth week in a row, Seahawks fans had to listen to how so-and-so just set a personal, team or NFL season-to-date best against the Seahawks secondary. 16 of Tampa Bay's 22 1st downs came via the pass, and that had a lot to do with the Buccaneers holding the ball for over 40 minutes.
Special Teams: B-
Last night may have been the best performance the Seahawks special teams has had this season. Jon Ryan punted well (5 punts, 42.8 net average) and Olindo Mare was 1 for 2 on his field goal attempts. Seattle's kick and punt coverage units, however, played well, limiting the Buccaneers to just 7 return yards on 3 attempts. Jordan Babineaux forced a fumble on the opening kick of the 3rd quarter, and even though the Seahawks couldn't recover it, it did give the team an emotional spark at the start of the half. Punt returner Justin Forsett gave the team a spark in the 3rd quarter with a 24-yard punt return that led to Seattle's first points of the night, however, Forsett committed a rookie mistake by fielding a punt inside his own 5-yard line. Kick returner Josh Wilson had two returns of over 40 yards, including a 61-yard return in the 2nd quarter that gave the Seahawks excellent field position inside Tampa's 30-yard line.
Others may criticize head coach Mike Holmgren for his conservative play-calling, but I won't be among them. In his offense, the pass sets up the run, and he has a backup quarterback, a patchwork group of wide receivers and a rookie tight end to work with. Seattle has had to rely more on the running game, and opposing defenses are aware of this. On Seattle's first nine runs last night before Maurice Morris' 45-yard run, Seattle averaged 2.6 yards per carry and had only 1 run over 4 yards. Offensively, this is a personnel issue, not a coaching one. The defensive problems, however, I lay right at the feet of the coaching staff. Opposing offenses are able to pick up Seattle's blitzes and know exactly where the holes in Seattle's defense are. It's almost as if they've seen it before
In addition to writing for Seahawks.Net, Brian maintains his own blog (www.macsfootballblog.com) and charts games for Football Outsiders. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so here.
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