Week Eleven: Rawls Roars.
Yesterday, the Seahawks didn’t just play a good game or get a much needed victory, they said, “You know what? So far what we have been doing hasn’t been working, so we’re changing.” Whether it was putting Rawls in for the ailing, ineffective Lynch, to running some offensive plays with a hot receiver, to benching Cary Williams, to attacking the red zone, the Hawks found a lot of answers in attempting to do thing differently.
The story of the game is–of course–Rawls. All year long I’ve been saying this is a passing team, but I’ve been saying that because Lynch had seen his last days as an effective every down back in the NFL. With the kind of putrid games he was putting up, it was impossible for the Hawks to use him and get the yardage necessary to create opportunities in the red zone. With Rawls, the opposite is true. He is so fast and so decisive that the Hawk’s read option and play action game returned to them. Will he get 200 yards every week? No, he won’t. Does he have to? No, he doesn’t. If teams are afraid that he will become a first down converting machine, they will have to build their game plan around him.
Fun story: The last time a Seahawks running back went for 200 yards was Shaun Alexander against the Green Bay Packers on 11/27/2006. I was at this game with Seth Myers. It was a snowy game and it was not fluffy, nice snow, it was wet, heavy snow. I felt like I was fifty pounds heavier when I left the game wet like I had taken a shower. Driving home, the snow had already frozen, and Seth had to maneuver through cars that were scattered like shuffleboard pucks all across the Aurora Bridge. Oh, the days when Seattle had winters.
The LoB is still a really, really confused squad. Benching Cary Williams for Burley or Shead or getting Lane back might help reboot these guys mentally. What makes having a legendary secondary difficult is that you have to have a sixth sense about working together. Who should go high, who should go low, who handles the trade off on crossing routes, who crashes on the run, who contains to the sideline… There is so much space to cover and they’re only 4-5 guys to do it. It’s no easy task. Williams has never fit in here, and it’s disrupted chi of the thing. You now have to ask yourself, “Where is Richard Sherman?” because he’s all over the field. Also, Kam Chancellor just seems confused. He just stands around confused. He never seems to be in the right spot. He always plays run when it’s a pass. He’s always getting beaten on a pass because he played run. It’s epically terrible. Really, it is.
My buddy Jem Baslak defined the Seahawks to two words. “Disappointment. Potential.” I have to get on board with that assessment. They’re clearly the most talented 5-5 squadron in the pack of NFL mediocrity but will these changes be enough? The Seahawks have a tough schedule to close the season. Starting with the Steelers this week, followed by the Vikings, and closing the season with the Cardinals in Arizona, which one can already imagine with be either for the NFC West or for a wildcard spot. To get into the postseason, 9-7 may be stretching it. 10-6 is the way to feel safe. Well, the Seahawks can prove a lot by defeating the Steelers. All year long good quarterbacks have torched the Hawks and Ben Roethlisberger is one of those top ten guys that have been dishing the Hawks fourth quarter meltdowns.
Despite all the ups and downs, the season is not over for the Hawks. There’s a lot left to play for if they start righting the ship week by week. Hard to say what will come but I will say this, if the Hawks get to the post-season, no one is going to want to play them. They’re too talented and too unpredictable. If they get hot at the right time, there’s no one who they cannot defeat.