Seahawks midseason report card
It's Week 10 in the NFL, and the Seahawks play the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. At this time last year, Seattle was also preparing for a division...
Seattle Times staff reporter
KIRKLAND — It's Week 10 in the NFL, and the Seahawks play the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
At this time last year, Seattle was also preparing for a division showdown with St. Louis. But circumstances were a bit different.
In 2005, the Seahawks were 6-2 and enjoying a four-game winning streak. Their Super Bowl run was taking shape.
This year has brought some adversity.
"The fact that we're 5-3 at the halfway mark, considering we've been a little unlucky with the injury department, I think is OK," coach Mike Holmgren said. "Now hopefully we start getting some guys back for the stretch. Honestly, our expectation level was higher but sometimes seasons don't unfold exactly the way you'd hoped. It is what it is."
So, also, are the following evaluations of the Seahawks at the midpoint of 2006.
Matt Hasselbeck will probably admit he could have started the season a bit better. But his only less-than-average performance came at Chicago.Losing Hasselbeck to injury at first appeared to be the worst thing that could have happened. But Seneca Wallace has stepped in and played well, improving and showing an ability to lead productive drives. He has as many touchdowns as interceptions (four), but has brought a different dimension with his ability to make things happen on the run.
Running backs: C+
The Seahawks have been without Shaun Alexander for five consecutive games and are facing a sixth. The running game is 17th in the league, not bad, but it could certainly be better. Not having a healthy Alexander, who was actually hurt in the first game of the season, has allowed opponents to pay less attention to the run and load up on the pass rush.
Maurice Morris had a huge game last week (138 yards). He has done some good things, but without Alexander this part of the offense has been inconsistent.
Deion Branch has proved to be one of the best acquisitions of the year. Darrell Jackson is statistically one of the best in the NFL. Bobby Engram has missed four games with a thyroid condition, but was effective in the first four. D.J. Hackett has made several big catches and has taken playing time away from Nate Burleson.
At tight end, however, Jerramy Stevens is still trying to get back into the flow after an injury cost him the first five games of the season, and Itula Mili and Will Heller don't get a lot of chances.
Offensive line: C
It has been a tumultuous first eight games for this group, during which just three of the five starters has played in every game Injuries to LG Floyd Womack and RT Sean Locklear have forced Seattle to give significant playing time to youngsters Chris Spencer and Rob Sims, as well as veteran Tom Ashworth, who has struggled.
Every original starter has had an injury, and there have been run-blocking and pass-protection issues. Some point to the loss of LG Steve Hutchinson in free agency as a big cause of the problems.
Defensive line: B-
Where would this group be without the use of LB Julian Peterson as a rush end? It certainly wouldn't have 30 sacks (second in NFL). At times, the pass rush has been out of this world, and at other times virtually non-existent. Monday against Oakland, 7 ½ of the Seahawks' nine sacks were by defensive linemen.
This group has shown its depth and talent. Russell Davis, Craig Terrill and Grant Wistrom have each played well in at least a couple of games. DT Marcus Tubbs has been bothered by a troublesome knee.
The strength of the defense has been linebacker, and the group has stayed relatively healthy. Peterson is the MVP of the defense with eight sacks and countless other disruptive plays. Three of the team's four leading tacklers are linebackers — Peterson, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill.
This is a fast, instinctive, aggressive and talented group that could stand to improve its pass coverage and angles on a couple of opponents' long runs, but overall the linebackers have played well.
Defensive backs: D+
The pass coverage has underachieved, and not until the most recent game had the Seahawks prevented long pass plays. It's difficult to see what has gone wrong — technique problems, missed assignments, badly timed jumps or failure to make a play on the ball or secure possible interceptions. It's probably a combination of all. The Seahawks have made one change in the lineup — Jordan Babineaux at strong safety for Michael Boulware — and it's not a good sign when no cornerback has an interception.
Special teams: C+
The Seahawks had two field goals blocked at Detroit in Week 1, but Josh Brown has made two kicks to win games. The protection has improved, and holder Ryan Plackemeier has saved a couple of field goals by catching off-target snaps.
Seahawks opponents have a higher yards-per-return average on punts and kickoffs than the Seahawks. Willie Ponder and Isaiah Kacyvenski had to be released to make roster space for players because of injuries, and they are missed.
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