So anyway, sorry about that.
Regarding today's game, I normally watch a game looking for storylines, but the storyline of today's game was about as multi-faceted and incoherent as a David Lynch film. It was a weird game that mixed depressing realities with exciting indications. A game like that doesn't make for a good single narrative, so I'll just jump straight to the bullet points this week.
- If I had written about last weeks game, the headline would have been something like this: "Charlie Whitehurst sucks, is the ultimate teammate." Nothing takes the heat off a starter faster than giving the fanbase a full, vivid knowledge that the alternative quarterback is a hot stinking pile of doo. Whitehurst was terrible against Cleveland, and was much worse today than his line of 4/7 for 52 yards would indicate. Seattle couldn't move the ball almost at all with Whitehurst under center today, and it was simply night and day when Tarvaris Jackson entered the game.
- Now that I've made a point to disclose the amazingly obvious, lets talk about the more subtle reasons for Whitehurst's failings. I do not pretend to be an X's and O's guru, but even to a neophyte like myself, its pretty obvious that Seattle has not reverted or scaled back their offensive expectations to meet Whitehurst's abilities. In the preseason, Whitehurst was moderately successful in a simple "snap, step, and throw" offense. Its not uncommon for NFL teams to adopt similarly undemanding, highly structured schemes in real games too- if the quarterback in question is very young and not ready to have more on his plate. Andy Dalton is a recent example of that, with most of his pass attempts this season being less than 10 yards in the air. Whitehurst is not young, but he's limited in much the way a rookie quarterback would be. Yet rather than switch up the offense to tailor Whitehurst, Seattle tried to force him into playing the same free flowing point guard role Tarvaris Jackson uses, and obviously, Charlie Whitehurst is not a natural point guard type. In retrospect, the results have been completely obvious. Almost to the point where you could legitimately wonder if Pete Carroll set him up to fail.
- But then again, I can see the logic in doing so. Whitehurst does not have a meaningful long term future with this team as a simple one read quarterback. Pete has essentially thrown Whitehurst off a cliff to see how he'd handle it. Regardless of the outcome, the last two games have been valuable data for this front office when deciding whether or not to continue to invest in Whitehurst as a future option for this team's relatively unique quarterback role. If Whitehurst plays for the Seahawks again later this year, I don't expect anything to change. They'll keep giving him looks in the point guard offense, just on the off chance that he could somehow be molded into that type of quarterback. We can expect that Whitehurst will struggle, and we can expect that Whitehurst probably won't be a Seahawk next year. But its a good gamble to take in a season that's more about the next five years than this year.
- If I read in my morning paper tomorrow that Seattle set a record for dropped passes today, it wouldn't shock me. I was too lazy to keep a tally during the game, but I would guess that 8-10 passes hit a Seahawk on the hands and fell incomplete today. Seattle won the yardage battle today 411 to 252. They were only penalized by 10 yards more than Cincy. The turnover ratio was 0. Even if you take away the pick six and the punt return TD, they still would have lost 20-12. How is that even possible? Some redzone shenanigans, and a lot of drops. Drops were huge today.
- Not that Tarvaris Jackson was perfect, but I came away impressed with him for the third game in a row. Despite a deluge of drops, Jackson (21-40, 323, 0 TD, 1 INT) still managed a very impressive 8.1 yards per attempt. His lone interception came on a play where he was hit throwing the ball, although he was lucky not to have an interception on the drive prior, when he briefly thought a Bengals D-lineman was a teammate. He was slightly off on a few throws today, but the results were there despite the drops, and in terms of things like pocket presence and scanning the field, Jackson has looked as comfortable as ever in the role. It really does appear that Jackson turned a corner at halftime in the Falcon's game after all. Do I think Seattle can do better? Sure. But that said, its hard to see any other quarterback starting for Seattle in 2012 right now. Jackson has impressed me, and for a guy that still has a lot of improvements left to make, its heartening that he seems to continue making small improvements each game.
- Upon further review, Rice did appear to catch that throwaway pass for a touchdown. His left foot dragged, and his right foot, from the endzone angle, appeared to tap the ground a few millimeters before the white chalk. Seattle didn't challenge, but they should have. It could have changed the entire complexity of the game.
- I think Cincinnati got away with one on the final play before halftime. Sitting on the player with the ball to buy time is hardly anything new, but when a Cincy played appeared to bat the ball away, that clearly crossed the line, and should have warranted a no-doubter delay of game penalty. Pete Carroll came screaming on the field afterwards mouthing "YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" Pete was right, but the refs turned a deaf ear and Seattle still got hosed anyway.
- I really liked Pete's decision to go for it on the aforementioned play. Seattle was down by 14 and hadn't done almost anything in the first half, despite moving the ball decently well with Jackson under center. In a game like that, you can't win with an attitude that kicks field goals from the 3 yard line. It didn't work out, but it very nearly did, and it wasn't like it was the difference in the game.
- I found it very heartening that both Chris Clemons and Tarvaris Jackson returned after being hurt. A game isn't officially ugly until you have injuries to major contributors, and though Seattle is a deep football team in many areas, there are a handful of players they simply can't afford to lose, and Clemons/Jackson are two of them.
- Doug Baldwin is a stud, but as I've said before, I just don't see how his undersized body and slight frame can continue taking the hits they've taken for much longer. Baldwin seems to be taking more and more time to get up from them each week. Part of me wants to hold out hope that Baldwin can tough it out for the next ten seasons of great football, but intellectually, I'll be happy if he lasts three.
- For all the talk about "what happened to Mike Williams?", an equally valid question might be the same regarding Ben Obomanu. He really seemed to turn a corner in the 2nd half of the 2010 season, looking like a legit #2 WR. Until today, he had been pretty quiet in this new offense, so it felt great seeing him break 100 yards against the Bengals (as did Sidney Rice).
- Red Bryant continued to look like a stud today, forcing penalties over and over again.
- Anthony McCoy is the clear frontrunner for my imaginary "Courtney Taylor award:" which is the esteemed honor for being the most promising late round player to have his career destroyed by inexplicable drops.
- My gameball has to go to Richard Sherman, who made one of the prettiest interceptions I've seen in a good long while, and later made a great pass defense that tipped in Kam Chancellor's hands for another interception. I might have a post on this sometime in the future, but what Seattle has done with their shotgun strategy regarding the secondary has been nothing short of an impressive success. Now they just need to adopt that philosophy to other areas of the team (Running Back *cough-cough*)
Overall, this was a brutally ugly game. Turnovers, a ton of penalties, and a looming phantom of injuries. But it also left us with a lot of hope, and reminder that this front office didn't go about last offseason with 2011 in mind, but building a core towards a long term future. I've seen more than enough to conclude that they know what they are doing, and I'm excited about where this team will be two or three years from now.