Three things we learned: Bengals 34, Seahawks 12
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned
- Tarvaris Jackson is Seattle's best quarterback choice.
There can be no dispute now, can there? Charlie Whitehurst started the game and the Seahawks failed to gain a first down on two of their first three possessions, and that one drive they did manage to move the ball was helped greatly by a dumber-than-dumb personal-foul penalty on Cincinnati, negating a third-and-long situation. Jackson played with a sore wing and still threw for a career-high 323 yards in just three quarters, and while you can dispute that those yards were of the quantity-not-quality variety, there can't be much doubt that he is Seattle's best option at quarterback for the remainder of the season.
- Pete Carroll is just wrapping his arms around the size of this rebuilding project.
The man doesn't just see the best in everything, he expects it. So when he looked at his young team in training camp, he saw all the talent he wanted and believed he could get things cracking this season. After all, he grew accustomed to 30-percent annual turnover on his roster at USC and he kept the Trojans at the top so why couldn't he have these Seahawks contending overnight despite the extreme makeover? Well seven games into the season, his team has allowed more sacks than anyone in the league, gained the second-fewest rushing yards and has had an overall miserable offense save for one six-quarter stretch. Remember when some people thought it would get worse before it gets better? Well, it has.
- Richard Sherman is going to be just fine at cornerback.
Can't blame anyone for wringing hands after Seattle lost two starting cornerbacks in the span of seven days. This franchise has seen emergency situations in the secondary before whether it was signing mortgage-man Pete Hunter at the end of the 2006 season or starting Nate Ness in a game last year and waiving him less than a month later. Sherman acquitted himself well Sunday. Yes, he got beat on a slant route by Jerome Simpson for a 14-yard touchdown in the first half, but his coverage down the sidelines against A.J. Green led to a pair of second-half interceptions. That performance showed why Seattle was willilng to trade cornerback Kelly Jennings.
Three things we already knew
- Brandon Browner has to slow his roll.
He's a physical cornerback who's going to be flagged for his aggressive coverage as officials become, ummmm, accustomed to his style. That's not unreasonable. Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman is a good example of someone who's been able to stay in the league despite a very grabby coverage style. But Browner got a 15-yard personal foul for executing a gut-wrench supplex of Simpson, and that's something else entirely. Through seven games this season, Browner has been penalized 10 times, leading to eight opponent first downs.
- Pete Carroll is not bashful around the goal line.
There's a lot of adjectives you can put on Carroll's decision to go for it on fourth down at the end of the first half. Surprising is not one of them. Carroll has shown in his season and a half in Seattle that he's one of the most headstrong coaches in an NFL headset, and if the gamble doesn't work, he'll fess up, take the blame and call it a mistake and then go out and do the exact same thing again if the situation presents itself. The question at this point is not whether Carroll will temper those impulses, but whether his team will get good enough to cash those checks his coaching guts keep writing.
- The special teams is not what it was last season.
The Seahawks thought they had gotten past giving up big chunks of yardage on special-teams plays. Nope. Seattle allowed two punt returns of more than 50 yards as well as a kickoff return of 45 yards. Brandon Tate's 56-yard return resulted in a fourth-quarter touchdown and the other two returns gave the Bengals a field-position boost on drives that produced field goals. A year ago, special teams was the single biggest strength for Seattle. This season, special teams is getting in the way of Seahawks' victories.
Three things we're still trying to figure out
- How is Pete Carroll going to temper his team's penalties?
Cincinnati's offense earned 13 first downs Sunday, but were given five more by Seahawks penalties. Rookie right tackle James Carpenter has been called for seven penalties this season, while left tackle Russell Okung has been penalized eight times. The Seahawks have been called for 74 penalties this season, nearly twice as much as opponents, who have committed 40. Seattle isn't going to start winning until it stops hurting itself.
- At what point will Seattle's defense buckle?
The Seahawks defense hasn't allowed a second-half touchdown either of the past two weeks, which is remarkable considering just how much time that unit spent on the field in Cleveland. The defense's resiliency is impressive, but it's going to be a challenge to maintain that resolve if the Seahawks don't start scoring points because at some point, it's natural for a defense to feel like it's left out on an island watching an offense that doesn't do much more than take on water.
- The significance of net offensive yardage.
Seattle finished with 411 yards of net offense, 159 more than the Bengals. It's the second time the Seahawks have lost despite outgaining their opponents while Seattle has been outgained in both of the games it has won this season. It's something to keep in mind as everyone goes ga-ga over the large passing totals this season. Yards don't always translate to victories.
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