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Originally published September 18, 2011 at 8:44 PM | Page modified September 18, 2011 at 11:51 PM

Jerry Brewer

The Seahawks' offense is playing a sad song

Blame the lockout. Blame the Seahawks for committing too strongly to this youth movement. But it doesn't change the reality that the Seahawks have built a 2011 roster that must struggle before it makes progress.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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PITTSBURGH — Contrary to the popular postgame cliché, there's a definite rhythm to the Seahawks' bumbling offense. It makes for a nice bass line to a song.

A blues song.

Punt punt punt punt PUNT!

Um, hit me?

Don't expect this sad ditty to get any radio play.

The Seahawks punted after eight of 10 offensive possessions against Pittsburgh on Sunday. The other two "drives" (and we use that term loosely)? The first half ended on one, and Seattle failed to convert a fourth-down play on the other. It's no surprise then that the Seahawks didn't run a play in the Steelers' half of the field until the 9:39 mark of the fourth quarter.

Final score: Steelers 24, Seahawks 0. And it feels like we should add a few zeros to emphasize the nothingness.

It was that kind of game (Punt punt punt punt PUNT!)

Full of offensive shame (Punt punt punt punt PUNT!)

So many to blame (Punt punt punt punt PUNT!)

Start with Pete Carroll's name (Punt punt punt punt PUNT!)

In the first of what could be many acts to take pressure off his young team, Carroll threw this loss on his shoulders, saying, "I told the players in the locker room I'm not helping them enough."

It's an admirable smoke screen, but the truth is that no amount of coaching 'em up can hide the inexperience on this offense. The Seahawks are too young, and they changed too much on offense to be ready for a season that arrived too soon. The lessons some of these players — particularly the offensive linemen — would've learned during offseason workouts are now embarrassments they must endure when the games matter and the scrutiny is intense.

Blame the lockout. Blame the Seahawks for committing too strongly to this youth movement. Blame God and his new pal, Aaron Curry (well, he did that drop interception), if you must. But it doesn't change the reality that the Seahawks have built a 2011 roster that must struggle before it makes progress.

Long term, the plan will work as long as the front office has evaluated talent properly, which I think it has. But right now, it's hard to see the future when you're busy covering your eyes.

The offense is operating at an elementary level. The Seahawks have to focus so much on protecting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson — they used skill-position players to assist the offensive linemen on too many plays in this game — that they can't attack the defense in a sophisticated fashion. They can't stay on the field long enough to develop any rhythm. They can't run the ball, and even when Jackson has time, receivers either aren't open or the quarterback is too reluctant to make throws in tight spaces.

And forget about a vertical passing game. The Seahawks' longest offensive play was a 17-yard reception by fullback Eddie Williams, a player they grabbed off the Cleveland practice squad last week to replace injured Michael Robinson.

The only thing the 0-2 Seahawks offense has done so far is help boost punter Jon Ryan's Pro Bowl stock.

"This is a process we are in, and it is a hard lesson we have to learn to come out here and go at these guys and really not accomplish anything at all on offense and get knocked around some," Carroll said.

Jackson, who completed 20 of 29 passes for 159 yards, referred to the performance as "embarrassing." The Seahawks gained just 164 yards. Through two games, they are averaging 191.5 yards and eight points. Their top two available receiving options, Mike Williams and Zach Miller, caught one pass each in this game, and what's worse, neither had a ball thrown his way until the second half.

"We've got to be real with ourselves about the negative things," wide receiver Ben Obomanu said. "There are things to fix. We never got into a rhythm, never got into our tempo. When you struggle early, you don't get a chance to utilize your whole playbook. There were things we had practiced that we believed would work that we didn't even get to run."

The Seahawks ran just 47 plays against a stellar Steelers defense that needed only to be patient and make routine plays. Seattle's longest drive was nine plays. It failed to get a first down on four drives and finished the game with just eight first downs. It's impossible to evaluate any individuals when the entire team is functioning that poorly.

"It just feels like we're on the field running plays," Carroll said. "We're not getting any continuity, and we're not getting the rhythm."

Oh, there's a rhythm: Punt punt punt punt PUNT! And the Seahawks are singing the blues.

The our-punter-is-too-popular blues.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com,Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer

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