Three things we learned: Browns 6, Seahawks 3
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned
- Charlie Whitehurst is a backup, not salvation.
Remember last year when there was a camp of fans adamant Whitehurst would be an improvement on Matt Hasselbeck. Then Whitehurst started a Week 9 game against the New York Giants, a game the Seahawks lost 41-7. Remember three weeks ago when there was a camp of fans adamant Whitehurst would be an improvement over Tarvaris Jackson? Well, Whitehurst started Sunday in Cleveland, completed 12 passes, just four of them to wide receivers and only one for more than 11 yards. The Seahawks have scored a total of 26 points in his three regular-season starts.
- The growing pains aren't over.
So you thought the Seahawks turned a corner, huh? You believed the last game and a half constituted the Great Leap Forward as the Seahawks scored a total of 57 points. Well, that wasn't a step backward in Cleveland or a stumble, but a full blown face plant. Seattle gained 137 yards, the second fewest of any game going back to the start of the 2001 season. Ouch. The offensive line that had shown so much improvement gave up another three sacks in the first half, and rookie James Carpenter was penalized twice for false starts. For all the promise Seattle showed in the second half against Atlanta and its victory at New York, Sunday's game showed Seattle still has a long way to go.
- Eliminating the huddle isn't a permanent solution.
The Seahawks tried to accelerate the pace. They really did. They ran the first six plays of the game without a huddle, but that drive stalled. So did the next one. And when you're not getting first downs, you can't keep running to the line. As it was, Seattle had the second-lowest time of possession in franchise history. The no huddle is like a shot of espresso. It's a nice pick me up, but you can't exist on it exclusively without an elite, Hall of Fame quarterback like Peyton Manning or Jim Kelly. At some level, Seattle needs to find a meat-and-potatoes staple it can rely upon.
Three things we already knew
- Red Bryant is the most important single component of this defense.
He is the strongest player on Seattle's defense and the biggest reason the Seahawks have been so rugged against the run. The fact that he was able to block not one field-goal attempt, but two, is further testament to his size and significance. Seattle suffered injuries across its defensive line last season, but it was the loss of Bryant in the first half of Game 7 that took the biggest toll. A free agent at the end of the season, his importance to this defense is no longer a question.
- Tight end isn't the strength it was expected to be this season.
Remember back in August when this was going to be the deepest position on the team? Then John Carlson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and now Zach Miller is out with a concussion and neck injury. That left Seattle starting Anthony McCoy -- who sometimes looks as if he has feet for hands -- and using Cameron Morrah, who had been practicing for all of four days before the game. That pair were targeted on seven of Whitehurst's passes. McCoy is an adequate blocker, someone the Seahawks considered a steal when they drafted him in the sixth round last year, but his hands are questionable at best. While he caught two passes in the game, he was targeted on five and had at least two balls bounce squarely off his hands, including a critical third down in the third quarter.
- No easy answers at quarterback.
The two simplest proposals to immediately improve Seattle's situation at quarterback were taken off the table this week. First, Carson Palmer was traded from Cincinnati to Oakland. He is someone the Seahawks would have been interested in should he become available though certainly not at the price the Raiders paid. Then, Whitehurst showed that for all the chants and conspiracy theories about why he wasn't starting, he's simply not an upgrade from Tarvaris Jackson, who is clearly Seattle's best option for the remainder of this season. So take a deep breath everyone. Improving the quarterback situation won't happen until the offseason.
Three things we're still trying to figure out
- How is Seattle going to deal with injuries in the secondary?
The Seahawks were deeper on defense this season, but they're going to have to be. They've lost two starting cornerbacks in the span of a week. First, Marcus Trufant was lost for the year to a back injury and then Walter Thurmond suffered a season-ending leg injury in the first half Sunday in Cleveland. That moves Richard Sherman to starting left cornerback across from Brandon Browner. Cornerback Byron Maxwell and Roy Lewis are going to have to be ready to play in a hurry.
- What happened to Justin Forsett?
He has been one of Seattle's most efficient runners in his previous three seasons with the team, someone who was strong and had just enough wiggle to get through the hole. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry last season, most among Seattle's running backs, and 5.4 yards in 2009. That has changed this season as Leon Washington has become a preferred option in some of Seattle's one-back sets. With Marshawn Lynch out Sunday, Forsett got his heaviest work load of the season and wound up averaging only 2.8 yards. He is averaging 2.5 yards per carry through six games.
- How much longer until Seattle's offense finds some consistency.
Seattle has played six games this season, and it has failed to score in two of them and been held to fewer than 20 points in two others. This may be the price of the extreme makeover the Seahawks executed by swapping out so many starters, but if Seattle remains as ragged in December as it is right now, it will be real cause for concern because players like Sidney Rice, Mike Williams and Marshawn Lynch aren't young pups. They're players who should be in their prime, but Seattle currently lacks the horsepower at quarterback to make the most of that.
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