Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seahawks Pwn Rams in Season Opener

2009 marked the beginning of a new era for the Seattle Seahawks under head coach Jim Mora. As often is the case with new things people worried about the changes to the team. How would the offense fair without offensive mastermind and devourer of clams, Mike Holmgren? With John Marshall gone would that mean no more zero blitzes for the defense? And if that was indeed the case people wondered what new surefire play would the 'Hawks design to give up first downs? All these questions and more haunted 'Hawks fans until Sunday afternoon.

I doubt anybody really expected the Rams to be any good this year, even Rams fans. That said the 28-0 ravaging of St Louis was still damn impressive considering all that separated the two teams last year was one win. If not for a turnover filled 1st quarter the game would have been even more of a blowout.

After a rocky start Hass looked as comfortable as ever under center. Hell, there was a decent number of plays where Hass took snaps from the shotgun, something Mike Holmgren only occasionally let Matt audible into.

Overall the thing that impressed me the most, other than Aaron Curry absolutely leveling Stephen Jackson, knocking him off his feet before escorting him to the turf with his shoulder, was the creative new play calls on both side of the ball. This was not The Walrus' ordered yet predictable West Coast offense. In fact, I'm pretty sure Holmgren must have knocked over his bucket of clams in anger and astonishment on more than one occasion while watching the game.

The quintessential play that demonstrated how far the play calling has come since the old full back draw was run out of a Sea-Cat formation. Seneca Wallace lined up at QB in the shotgun with Hass out wide on his right. After receiving the snap Wallace threw the ball to Hass who faked like he was going to go upfield with it before he threw the ball back to Seneca who took off up the sideline for a huge gain.

I've opined for years that Seneca, while a decent back-up QB, could be so much more than that given the chance. Like Antwaan Randle-el but with a better arm. I often dreamed of all the crazy plays that could be designed to use Senecea's athleticism and sighed knowing Holmgren would never dare to risk injury to Seneca even if the gain from such plays far outweighed the chance at injury. Seeing my dreams materialize in front of my eyes like that gave me a lot of hope for this season and a lot of love for this new coaching staff.

The run game looked decent with Julius Jones breaking off a 62 yard run that showed he still had some of his old speed still in him. Edge was serviceable, plodding forward and taking what he was given while always falling forward. Justin Forsett looked solid as a 3rd down back and proved worthy of wearing Maurice Morris' old number, 20.

The receivers went all Jack the Ripper on the Rams secondary carving them up all day. TJ Houshmazode(championship!) looked like Bobby Engram 2.0 running crisp routes over the middle, absorbing contact and making good yards after the catch. Deon Butler caught a couple passes and threatened with his deep speed. The true star was Nate Burleson. Always a great athlete Nate struggled with the demanding precision that Holmgren's offense required. The new coaching staff recognized his talent and instead of trying to force him into a role for which he is not quite suited they are trying to develop a role that takes advantage of his strengths. Bubble screens, quick hitches and getting the ball out to him fast if his man plays off were all part of the new Burleson repetoire.

Remember when people complained John Carlson was slow? Well, how does the fact that a slow player got off for 6 catches, 95 yards and 2 tubs grab you? I loved JC last year. In a lost season his play was a savior. As he develops more of a rapport with Matt he will become even more of a monster.

Defense was solid. Some fools worried that the 'Hawks had shown too much of their new defensive schemes in the preseason and that once the season started teams would be ready for our defense. Like I said before, no one expected the Rams to be good or even decent but a shut out is damn satisfying. The depth of versatile players on the defense means the days of zero blitzes with Brian Russel left in cover-1 are over. And thank Christ for that.

I have faith that the 'Hawks can regain their winning ways this season and prove last year's 4-12 record was a fluke. With the way 'Hawks played yesterday the division title will be back in our hands by the end of the season. And that, friends, is always a good time

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