Sunday, September 21, 2008

How bad are the Rams? How bad have the Seahawks been?

by: Chris Sullivan

I think we all understand that this is an important game to win, and I think at the start of the season, and especially after that first loss to Buffalo, we saw this game as a gimme. It isn't anymore. The Seahawks could lose today, and they need to enter the game understanding that. Frank Hughes pointed out on the Insider yesterday that only two teams have gone 0-3 and still made the playoffs, and neither of those teams emerged from the first round victorious. That is no way to send Holmgren out, and I have to believe that we won't allow that. We must win today, but winning today will do very little to prove we are back. Why not?

For one, the Rams are absolutely terrible, or at least thus far they have been. Defensively they are ranked 31 by Football Outsiders' DVOA -- 30th against the Rush, 32nd against the Pass. Seattle is 20th, which is atrocious for this group of veterans, but the DVOA shows the distance between 20th and 31st: we are 5.7% worse than average (thats a simplification, but it'll do), whereas the Rams defense is 62.8% worse than average. Offensively, we're both pretty pathetic thus far: the Hawks are 26th (-19.6%) and the Rams are, again, 31st (-37.9%).

Still, Seattle is being dragged down by its all but non-existent passing game (29th ranked). I believe we all think that will improve this week with McMullen having an extra week in the system, and the new WRs in there possibly giving Matt fewer drops if nothing else. To succeed today, the Hawks will have to open up the passing game and do so successfully.

I think we can look for Holmgren to simplify the playbook a bit this week, as he has done in the past. With virtually no experience amongst this WR corps, we need to call a straightforward game and let our players win, not our coaches. We still don't know how effective Koren will be today, so this game will ride on the backs of McMullen and Colbert, with Bumpus and Taylor needing to step up and be who they must be for Matt to succeed. If Hasselbeck can complete 55-65% of his passes, I don't see us losing this game.

The secondary also has to step up and play like their paychecks indicate they should be playing. The Hawks need to shut down the passing attack and keep Stephen Jackson contained as much as possible.