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!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Week One Recap: Seahawks 9, Lions 6

It's a little odd to be writing my recap basically after everyone else (the not lazy ones) have already written and posted very descriptive pieces of what happened on Sunday in Detroit. However, I do feel, in my own way, that I contribute something to the ongoing dialogue of being a Hawks fan and in our little online community. Thus, I will bore you all with yet another recap, along with this fan's thoughts of the good, bad, and ugly of the beginning of the NFL season.

Like many of you, I couldn't sleep the night before. Jenn and I had just watched four episodes from the Season Two of Lost (trying to get caught up before the new season begins), and that show makes you think, plus I hadn't watched the Seahawks play a meaningful game since February.

This offseason was a real strange one for me as a Seahawks fan. For the first time in my lifetime, I was confidant in the fact that we would enter the season as a favorite (gasp!) to make it to the Super Bowl. Even last year, I was excited about the team, but, no, I didn't expect us to make it to Detroit. Not when the season began, and then we looked so terrible against Jacksonville. This year, though, all offseason Gavin and I would repeat to ourselves the mantra that we were a favorite to get to Miami. A favorite. Not a dark horse team, not an upset pick, but a real favorite. I hadn't felt that since the mid-90s Sonics teams, with Payton, Kemp, Hawkins, etc.

Needless to say, it is a different experience to watch games as a favorite to go to the Super Bowl. Everything matters more. There is more to pick apart, more to criticize, and more to claim as "true" after the first week of the season.

Cowboys, Patriots, and Steelers fans can laugh at my inexperience in these matters. That's fine, I sound like a teenager learning anew what it means to "go steady".

I guess I say all that to set up what was a very emotional game for me to watch in Detroit, and just how much it meant to me for us to pull out this victory. A loss here would have, seriously, hurt. It would have hurt the Hawks chances for home-field, an almost MUST to make it to Miami. It would have hurt the Hawks confidence in themselves and in each other. It would have hurt our overall standing with the national media, who are waiting, just waiting, for them to fail. And it would have hurt my confidence in them as a fan who still holds plenty of old wounds from unmet expectations for the majority of my lifetime. Like, all of it until last year. Yes, I know it was only Week 1. My head understands that. But I don't know if my heart would have (God, that sounds so cheesy. Geez.).

So... on to my actual thoughts on the game.

The Good:

-- Matt Hasselbeck was back to his efficient self, not allowing himself to throw dangerous balls that would lead to easy points for the Lions. He used his safety valve numerous times (hence the record amount of catches for Mack Strong), and he showed the nice ability to escape under pressure. This is still a Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback leading this team.

-- Julian Peterson made an immediate impact on defense. That guy is everywhere, and lines up everywhere. D-end, linebacker, defensive tackle..... I saw his number flashing everytime I looked up.

-- Overall, the defense looked fantastic. Lofa doesn't look like he'll hit a sophomore slump, I already talked about Peterson, and the coverage shown by our guys wasn't half bad, except that we couldn't seem to cover some 5'10" white guy at all. Trufant pretty much shut down Roy Williams, and we appeared to confuse Jon Kitna at times with our schemes (not the most difficult thing to do).

-- Not too many silly penalties, as like last year.

-- The most "good" part of this game? The offense had been officially terrible all second half, and getting worse. The line had been swallowed by Shaun Rogers, the wide receivers couldn't get open, the MVP was going nowhere, and Hasselbeck was getting more and more frustrated. Suddenly, we had the ball with three minutes to go and a tie game. I watched the offense rush out onto the field. D-Jack was nodding his head and jumping about, the offensive linemen were walking with purpose, and Hasselbeck was standing there in the middle, exuding confidence. All of a sudden, the failures of the entire game were gone. It was the end of the Dallas game (nice catch, Field Gulls) all over again. Alexander, who had been getting stuffed, all of a sudden busted out with a 10+ yard gain. D-Jack reversed fields and scrambled for a HUGE first down. DJ Hackett, who I love, skied high to bring down a difficult Hasselbeck throw. And Maurice Morris found a glimmer of daylight and ran the Hawks into field goal range. At that point, I knew it was over. I wasn't worried about Josh Brown missing it. The Hawks knew they had a chance to win, and they grabbed the chance by the throat and took it. That was a championship caliber final drive. It was the type of final drive that great teams make, teams that know they haven't played up to par but also know that they have one final chance to make things right. We learned a lot about our team during that drive. Nothing was given to us. There was no penalty that went our way. No missed call. No lucky catch. Just good plays by star players asserting their superiority over a true up-and-coming Detroit defense, who I feel will surprise some other teams throughout the season. It was as if the rest of the game, the bad feelings, disappeared, and I watched the Seattle Seahawks offense play for the first time in the 2006 season.

-- We are now 1-0. That's damn good.

The Bad:

-- I don't know who else mentioned this (12th Man?), but Ken Hamlin was almost too excited to get back on the field and hit some people, because he tried to go for the big hit several times early instead of simply wrapping up the runner and tackling them. C'mon, Hamlin. Every hit doesn't hit to be earth-shattering. You'll turn into Roy Williams.

-- Once AGAIN, there was poor clock management at the end of both halves. You would think that Holmgren would finally become aware of this weakness and do something about it, but maybe he likes it better this way.

-- We did not generate a large amount of pressure when we only sent our front four. Wistrom did absolutely nothing (way to earn that paycheck, bro), and neither did Tapp or Bernard. Kitna was able to sit back several times, survey the field, and throw it to whitey (whoever his name was). One of our real strengths last season was generating pressure with just our front four. I would sure like to see that again.

The Ugly:

-- Can you talk about anything else? Our offensive line was truly horrible. Tom Ashworth especially looks nothing like a starter from the New England Patriots, getting immediately beaten for a sack when he was put in. Walter Jones even gave up some pressure on Hasselbeck. Tobeck looked old, and he was run over multiple times. This was a super-poor showing, and will only bolster those who believe that the loss of Hutch meant the loss of our Super hopes. That's balderdash. Our line absolutely sucked against Jacksonville to start the season last year. Shaun Rodgers played out of his mind, as did the entire Detroit defensive line. They will gel if we give them some time. Remember, Jones, Womack, and Tobeck all were injured for the majority of training camp. However, if this continues for a couple more years, hit the panic button.

Bottom Line:

We won with a superior defensive effort and a gutsy final offensive drive in a hostile environment on the road against a team that was EXTREMELY fired up to play for their new head coach. We are 1-0 and on the way to what really is a must-win game at home against Arizona. We can't afford to lose home division games, especially not to Arizona, who very likely might be our biggest competition this season.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:58 PM  1 comments

1 Comments:

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous eric said...

Thsi is one of those trap games that you ignore for analysis and just be happy to escape with a win. The season is a marathon and all about getting home field. All the experts seem to say Dallas and Carolina are our competition and they both took Ls.

Personally I think Philly and Chicago are the bigger threats, but time will tell.

 

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