What we learned: Steelers 24, Seahawks 0
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned
- Protection isn't the only problem on offense.
Tarvaris Jackson had more time to pass this game. Or t least he did in the first half, and still Seattle's offense was every bit as immobile in Pittsburgh as it was during the first half at San Francisco. Opponents have been able to drop seven defenders into coverage consistently, fairly certain they can get pass pressure without blitzing. The Seahawks' receivers aren't getting separation from the coverage, and it's not like there are wide-open targets Jackson is missing.
- Seattle's defense isn't as good as it looked in Week 1.
The Seahawks were again stout in the red zone, give them that. But Earl Thomas' tackle to force a turnover on downs at the Seattle 1 was the only time the Seahawks stopped the Steelers in the first half. Seattle's lack of pass pressure was evident both by Pittsburgh's third-down efficiency and the fact that Seattle did not force a turnover for the second consecutive week.
- There's a learning curve in that secondary.
Brandon Browner is a first-year starter who spent the past four years in the Canadian Football League, and he struggled with the speed of the Steelers' receivers. Browner doesn't have the straightaway speed to stay stride for stride with someone like Mike Wallace. He absolutely must get contact within those first 5 yards and disrupt their routes. There were times he gave clean releases and it proved costly. It was unrealistic to think Browner's jump from the CFL to starting in the NFL would be seamless. The real test is whether he improves after Sunday's game.
Three things we already knew
- Seattle's rushing problems have not been solved.
The Seahawks' running game was every bit as ineffectual in the first half on Sunday in Pittsburgh as it was in Week 1 at San Francisco. The difference was Seattle never picked up the pace against the Steelers. The Seahawks rushed five times in the second half, and gained 6 yards. For the second consecutive week, Seattle averaged fewer than 3 yards per rush.
- Seattle's pass rush -- specifically its lack thereof -- could be a problem.
Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock each had career bests in 2010, Clemons leading Seattle with 11 sacks while Brock had nine. The difficulty in expecting two veterans to replicate career years has been shown in the first two games. Seattle had two sacks in Pittsburgh, which was two more than they managed in San Francisco, but so far Seattle has been largely incapable of generating the pass pressure necessary to disrupt an opposing offense.
- "The Road" is the Seahawks' post-apocalyptic wasteland.
This one has been covered pretty thoroughly, but Seattle is now 1-12 in games played on the East Coast. Of the last seven road losses the Seahawks suffered in the Eastern time zone, six were by 10 or more points and four were by 20 or more.
Three things we're still trying to figure out
- Why Zach Miller and Mike Williams aren't more involved in the offense?
Neither was targeted for a pass in the first half, which just doesn't make sense. Williams led the Seahawks with 65 catches last year while Miller has more than 60 catches each of the previous two seasons. Perhaps Jackson needs to develop a comfort level throwing to Williams, whose size makes him a unique target who doesn't require a great deal of separation. Miller has more blocking assignments after the injury to fullback Michael Robinson, but given the depth of Seattle's offensive struggles, a good starting point would seem to be making an emphasis upon getting the ball to the most proven receiving options.
- Will Seattle be able to run the ball against lesser defenses?
Coach Pete Carroll wanted to run the ball. That was clear months before the season started. It's why he made changes to the offensive coaching staff, firing Jeremy Bates and bringing in Tom Cable to coach the offensive line. It's why the team spent its first two draft picks on offensive linemen. After two games Seattle is worse on the ground than it was a year ago, but those two games were also against San Francisco and Pittsburgh who are considered two of the better defenses in the league, specifically up front. The Steelers allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL last year, the 49ers the sixth-fewest. The Cardinals are currently 29th in total defense.
- Will Tarvaris Jackson start taking more chances?
You can't criticize Jackson for the way he took care of the ball Sunday as it wasn't mistakes that sunk the Seahawks in Pittsburgh. But at some point, Seattle has to look downfield, and force the defense to react. So far, Jackson has opted for discretion, but after being outscored 33-0 in the first half this season, the Seahawks have to start looking downfield more.
Dec 24 - 6:10 AM Looking back: Revisiting Sunday's scouting report
Dec 24 - 1:09 AM Seahawks' scoring binge
Dec 24 - 1:01 AM Video: Summing Seattle's victory
Dec 24 - 12:58 AM Video: Russell Wilson post-game comments
Dec 24 - 12:21 AM Rookie passing roll call