Seattle Seahawks 17 vs.
Washington Redskins 20
Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington
November 23rd, 2008
Play of the Day: It seems like only a week ago I was writing about a big defensive performance late in the game nullified by a Matt Hasselbeck interception. It's the same story this week. Hasselbeck threw two interceptions today, not three, but overall turned in an even weaker performance than Seahawk fans were subjected to last week. Whether you deem it injury, bum receivers, or old age, Hasselbeck has been terrible this season, and this game exemplifies that.
Bringing Their "A" Game: LB Julian Peterson played excellent against Washington, notching ten tackles and a sack DT Rocky Bernard is best as a pass-rusher, but did a good job against the run, causing havoc in the backfield and grabbing 9 tackles KR Josh Wilson ripped off another big return, continuing his streak of a big return a game that has spanned almost the entire season Cornerbacks Josh Wilson, Kelly Jennings, and Marcus Trufant all had solid games at cornerback S Brian Russell didn't have a great game overall, missing tackles as usual, but he did make an excellent play in the 4th quarter to force a fumble that could've led to the tying or go-ahead score RB Maurice Morris did quite a bit of damage running the football despite no passing attack worth mentioning and an offensive line that was merely competent P Jon Ryan had a surprisingly solid game
Things That Made Me Go "Blech": QB Matt Hasselbeck stunk WR Koren Robinson stunk WR Bobby Engram didn't play bad, but was the leading receiver with only 34 yards The normally stout run defense was gashed by Redskins RB Clinton Portis, who wore away the defense for 143 yards That Redskins WR Santana Moss caught 4 passes for 72 yards against Seattle when he shouldn't even have been on the field after that swing at Wilson definitely made me go "Blech!" The offensive line paved the way for a strong running game but rarely got any kind of push, relying on Morris to tip-toe through miniscule holes
Referee Report Card: How does Santana Moss take a swing at Josh Wilson, get caught by the officials, yet remain in the game? The pass interference call on Kelly Jennings was terrible at best, not that there wasn't some contact (though until the ball had hit Moss, there was equal contact) but there was nothing near the 14 yard line, where the call was made. Just a terribly officiated game that hurts the NFL's already poor credibility. (NFL, please don't fine me like you have everyone else who has called a spade a spade this year)
Offense: Hasselbeck is terrible this year. He has three touchdowns against seven interceptions, a completion percentage just barely above 50%, and is likely playing hurt. If the goal is still to win as many games as possible, there is nothing to be gained by playing Hasselbeck because right now Seneca Wallace is playing better football. If the goal is to prepare for the future, all we are going to do is continue to watch Hasselbeck make mistakes trying to win the games despite no help, and that could create bad habits, not to mention the very possible risk that his chance at injury increases.
Asking who matters more, the WR or the Quarterback, is quite a bit like asking who came first, the chicken or the egg. We've seen Chad Ocho Cinco play terrible with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball in Cincinnati, but looking at New England we see Matt Cassel throwing the ball like Tom Brady. The truth likely lies in the middle - your quarterbacks AND your wide receivers need to be capable in order to form a cohesive passing attack, and right now Seattle isn't getting good play from either position. If Seattle brings a healthy Hasselbeck who is back to playing well, chances are he still struggles with these WRs who are ineffective. On the flip side, we could bring in both Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson and unless we get better play next year from Matt, we'll still be a poor offense. Tim Ruskell really needs to take a step back and figure out an offensive game plan, because unless some guys currently on the team take huge steps forward, we're looking at another rebuilding year.
And, because most of this article is so negative, I'd like to spend a paragraph speaking positive things about Maurice Morris. There's no guarantee he will be with the team next year, but against the Redskins Morris did an excellent job of finding small holes, accelerating, and gaining good yardage. Julius Jones only got a few carries but also made the most of them. Yet, for all the love Jones receives from the fan base, it is curious that nobody sticks up for Morris, who does just as much as Jones does with each and every carry. My own belief is that we tend to overvalue our players, but Morris is a curious example of a guy who has been undervalued by fans despite never saying a bad thing about the team, the fans, or the city, all while quietly producing. So, for one paragraph, keep up the good work Maurice.
Defense: Really, the defense had a tough job and overall played very well. A lot of the credit goes to the secondary, who bounced back after allowing enough big plays for a Cardinals highlight video all by themselves last week. Jason Campbell was rarely blitzed, which doubtlessly helped tighten up the coverage, but there were multiple plays where the defender made a good play on the ball. Some credit should also be given to Marcus Trufant, who has tightened up his coverage significantly in the past two weeks. Defenses are becoming a little one-dimensional in their passing attack, rarely throwing right, and eventually even Marshall will begin to exploit that advantage. Maybe.
Brian Russell is much maligned,
and for good reason. Generally, if a safety can't tackle, he should be good
in coverage, and yet we can all agree that isn't the case this year. However,
while he has no place on a 2009 Seattle Seahawks defense, he did make an excellent
play when he forced a fumble late in the 4th quarter. Sure, that fumble was
squandered soon after when Hasselbeck threw his 5th interception in his past
two games, but had the offense succeeded in driving for a touchdown we'd be
praising Russell. That the offense is inept should not detract from what was
a great play by Russell.
Conversely, one strength of the team all season long has been a typically solid run defense. Washington, however, brought in Clinton Portis and a ground attack that has been excellent all year long. As befits a Seahawks season, when two strengths meet, the Seahawks lose that battle. Washington has excellent success running all-around, but excelled on running outside the tackles, an area where Seattle should excel given their linebackers. However, Seattle's defensive ends were too easy take out of the game, giving Portis a lot of room to run before he was tackled. Portis only had one run of 20 yards, but wore Seattle down with sheer consistency. Losing DE Patrick Kerney on the edge hurts a lot, because he is a rare DE who gets sacks while playing tough against the run. Looking on the bright side, Ruskell will be able to have game-tape to evaluate his DE's and see which ones have a place on next year's squad.
Special Teams: K Olindo Mare really struggled today. His kickoffs lacked the normal depth Seahawk fans have been spoiled with, and he missed a 53 yard field goal. Now, 53 yards is not an easy shot and we shouldn't kill him over it, but it ended up being a big miss (if Hasselbeck hadn't taken a sack the play before, Mare might have made the kick). Justin Forsett and Josh Wilson played well, and I'm going to get tired praising them after a while. Wilson especially deserves a spot as a return man even when Burleson comes back from injury, and Forsett could provide quality depth at HB and both return spots. The coverage units were a little better than normal, but did nothing to convince me that ST Coach Bruce DeHaven deserved a job in 2009.
Conclusion: Holmgren promised changes after last week's loss to the Cardinals. So, coach, where are they? Morris got more carries, and did a lot with them, but otherwise this team looked exactly the same as the team that lost to Arizona. It would be a shame if Seattle continues to lose while playing their starters - give youth a shot and regroup for the next year. That begins with putting Matt Hasselbeck on IR, to protect him from further injury and to protect him from developing any more bad habits.