Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

NFL Week 10: Hawks vs St Louis

St Louis Rams: 4-4
2005 Away Record: 1-3

First Meeting: Seattle 37, St Louis 31

Offense:

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck (1877 yds, 10 TDs, 5 INTs) vs Marc Bulger (1769 yds, 11 TD, 8 INTs)
Marc Bulger is back, and not one game too soon for the Rams. After finally succumbing to the abysmal offensive line and play calling of Mike Martz to miss a few games (as Gavin called) Bulger is healthy and rested, ready to rip our defense to shreds. As you can tell, I am a little nervous about this game. It will probably show in most of this writing. Bulger, if healthy, is a very streaky quarterback, capable to both overthrowing a wide open receiver on four consecutive passes and then hitting four impossible throws perfectly. That was pretty much how the game at St Louis went. He vacillated between scintillating and mediocre. As for Hasselbeck, this is going to have to be a game in which he steps up. Regardless of our defense, we need to score a ton of points to take this one, at least 30. To do that, we need Matt to be a lot better than last week at Arizona. Luckily, the Rams defense is a heck of a lot worse than Arizona's. Look for Matt to get on a roll early and often, and when Matt is comfortable good things always happen. Advantage: Push

Running Back: Shaun Alexander (949 yds, 14 TDs) vs Steven Jackson (659 yds, 6 TDs)
I've mentioned this before, but since we're halfway through the season it bears mentioning again. Shaun Alexander has fumbled the ball twice. Both of those fumbles were recovered by Seattle. Alexander used to be a bit fumble-prone, and at terrible times (like the Jets game last year). In fact, while Alexander was running directly towards Colin and I last week on that 88 yard jaunt, I took a look at all the defenders chasing him and had flashbacks to the game at St Louis last year when in a similar situation he was hit and fumbled it away. All that to say... he sure better not pick this game to start. It shouldn't be much of an issue. Not against this defense. Steven Jackson finally has been given a chance to show his talents under new coach Joe Vitt, and is the primary reason the Rams are enjoying a 2 game winning streak. His power running up the middle helps the Rams come closer to winning the time of possession battle, and his ability catching the ball spreads the linebackers out. He is one of the top running backs in the league. Luckily, so is Shaun. Advantage: Push

Receivers: Seattle (228 receiving yards/game) vs St Louis (266 receiving yards/game)
Man is this a group of receivers on both sides that are pretty darn solid. On the one hand Bobby Engram has had one week to get back on the field and get his legs under him. On the other Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce return to torment the Hawks secondary. The Rams may have the deepest set of receivers in football, as Kevin Curtis has continued to emerge as a 3rd receiver (and even as a 1st in the absence of the abovementioned) and Shaun McDonald. Seattle has a lot more confidence with Joe Jurevicius (especially of course after Jurevicius had a career day against the Rams earlier in the year) and even DJ Hackett. We still miss Darrell Jackson's playmaking ability. My prescription for the game is simple. Feed Bobby Engram the ball early to get him in the groove. He has the route running ability to run circles around the beleagured Rams defense. Also use Jerramy Stevens to soften up the middle, as he is proving himself the playmaker we always hoped he would become. Still, when one team has Holt, Bruce, and Curtis, the advantage is theirs. The game will be won if they are or are not controlled. Advantage: St Louis

Offensive Line: Seattle (160 rushing yards/game, 15 sacks) vs St Louis (104 rushing yards/game, 24 sacks)
I do have to give the Rams some credit. They are playing much better recently since they don't have to pass block each and every down. Orlando Pace is still a difference maker, although not the top tackle in the game as in previous years. Basically, they are not quite the liability they used to be, although they will have their hands full protecting Bulger against the #2 sack team in the NFL (yes, I love to write that line). Look for them to try and push us right up the gut. Still, they can't hold a candle to what our line has been able to accomplish. Halfway through the season we are averaging 160 yards a game on the ground. That is Madden ridiculous. Advantage: Seattle

Defense:
D-Line: Seattle (106 rushing yards/game, 27 sacks) vs St Louis (127 rushing yards/game, 22 sacks)
Finally I get to quit giving out quite so many compliments. This Rams defense is still poor. They are just getting fewer opportunities to prove how poor they are. Averaging 127 yards allowed is a testimony to the weakness of Jimmy Kennedy and Ryan Pickett in the middle, and is a bad omen against the Hawks. The sack number is pretty darn respectable, however, the a lot of pressure will be put on Sean Locklear, who will be going against Leonard Little. The other defensive end isn't even worth mentioning, since he's preparing to enter a world of Walter Jones induced pain. Our defensive line is still learning how good it can be, which is good news for us. Marcus Tubbs still can play better, especially rushing the passer. Our strength is in the depth we've discovered with Colin's favorite new player, Craig Terrill, and Rocky Bernard. Bryce Fisher gets another chance to torment his old club, but the x-factor for me is Grant Wistrom. If he's able to penetrate Orlando Pace we will be able to slow down the vaunted passing attack of the Rams. Advantage: Seattle

Linebackers: Another of a series of mediocre defensive players for St Louis. Seriously, how on earth did they think they had improved going into the year? I do like Piso Tinoisamoa, who plays with a lot of heart, if not a ton of skill. Dexter Coakley is aging, and Chris Claiborne is still a disappointment. This group also has serious coverage problems against routes like the ones the West Coast offense thrives on. There was a reason we had a couple of incredibly easy touchdowns (Jerramy Stevens and Joe Jurevicius) in our first meeting and it had a lot to do with these jokers. For Seattle, we are definitely going to miss Jaime Sharper, who hasn't been brilliant, but who has been solid. Leading NFL defensive rookie of the year (shameless plug) candidate Lofa Tatupu is going to have to take charge of a really young group that will include DD Lewis and Leroy Hill. I'm satisfied with those three (the stats bear it out), but am fairly concerned about our depth. One injury and we might see Isaiah K. Bad news. Advantage: Seattle

Secondary: Seattle (203 receiving yards/game, 8 INTs) vs St Louis (241 receiving yards/game, 5 INTs)
We need to remember that we are playing a team that simply cannot create turnovers... unless like against the Saints they are created for them. Allowing almost 250 yards a game through the air is an awful stat halfway through the season... essentially this pathetic defense gives up 370 yards a game of total offense. Any other questions on why we will see a lot of scoring? The Rams cannot defend man-man, so expect to see them stay in soft zones, perfect for Engram and Jurevicius to exploit. The one defense that has worked against our passing attack (man press) can't work here. For us, we need everyone healthy, but our depth has been tested and is true. Between Trufant, Dyson, Herndon and Babineaux we have four quality cover corners for the Rams to try and beat. In Marquand Manuel we may not have a huge hitter but he will make fewer mistakes than Ken Hamlin. Michael Boulware can still get turned around everynow and then and we need both he and Manuel to make sure that no one gets behind them. We've done a good job of avoiding big plays. This trend has to continue. Advantage: Seattle

Special teams: Special teams almost won us this game earlier in the year, giving us terrific field position throughout the game that we were able to capitalize on. They will be called upon again. Still, Tom Rouen is sucking and we can't return anything longer than five yards. Advantage: St Louis

Prediction: It comes down to this... if we win, we lock down the NFC West and start thinking about first round byes. If we lose, we get to look in the rear view mirror for the rest of the year. I was at the game last year. It sucked. It really sucked. Let's hope the team remembers, gets going and puts its foot down. Hawks by 6.

posted by Gavin @ 11:26 AM  0 comments

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