– Russell Okung left the game with a twisted knee, although it’s unknown at this stage how long he’s going to be missing. This is becoming a familiar story with Okung unfortunately. Since being drafted with the 6th overall pick in 2010 he’s injured both ankles, torn a pec and now suffered a twisted knee. He had a long streak of starts at Oklahoma State but was injured (knee) just before his final college appearance – a bowl defeat to Ole Miss where he struggled badly in the second half. Tonight was probably his worst individual performance since that game. Yet even a below-par Okung is better than no Okung at all. The Seahawks come up against DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews and Chris Long in the next three games. The starting left tackle could be Frank Omiyale. And if he misses considerable time again this year with injury, there’s going to be understandable concern. At what point does he earn the injury prone tag? We won’t break out the Brennan Williams (OT, North Carolina) tape just yet, but Okung needs to get back on the field quickly.
– It’s no big surprise that tonight’s game flashed up Seattle’s need at receiver. What is more concerning is the lack of fight among the group. How often did a Seahawks receiver complete a route and give up on the play? It wasn’t difficult to notice, given the number of times in the second half where Wilson was protected well but had nowhere to go. The TV replays zoned in time after time on a receiver that didn’t fight to come back to the quarterback, they were giving up on the routes and quitting. This has happened before in Seattle, most noticeably when Charlie Whitehurst played last year. They should be made to watch Larry Fitzgerald’s performance on repeat. That’s a receiver determined to drag his team across the line, whoever’s throwing the ball.
– Going back to the need at receiver, it’s telling that on the last play of the game Seattle was relying on Braylon Edwards to win the game. Perfect pass from Wilson, falling agonisingly through the hands of Edwards. Sidney Rice had a good performance overall but he can’t do it alone. I couldn’t help but think during this game that Wilson required a safety net. Rice is a capable option on the outside, he’ll make plays when he’s healthy. He’s earning the money of a #1 and hopefully he’ll prove he’s worth it with a big year. But who is Wilson’s version of Dallas Clark? Who is the guy that Wilson goes to when Rice and some like Edwards is covered? Who is Bobby Engram or Wes Welker for this team? At times last year it was Doug Baldwin, but he doesn’t look 100% after missing pre-season. I can’t help but feel for Wilson to succeed, he’ll need a consistent checkdown option, someone he can build real chemistry with. And that’s why I still kind of think a guy like USC’s Robert Woods is necessary for this offense.
– I wasn’t a fan of the play calling tonight, but it’s easy to sit at home and judge. There wasn’t much rhythm to the offense early and with Arizona blitzing and creating constant pressure, I was surprised they didn’t quicken it up. The Seahawks seemed to stick by a lot of longer, developing routes rather than just three-step drop and throw. It would’ve been nice to see a few slants and developing RB screens to try and slow down the pass rush, rather than testing deep to keep the defense honest. I’m not sure why Darrell Bevell flirted so often with the lateral-style pass that eventually led to a turnover. And it’s also disappointing the team couldn’t kill off a drive at the end despite multiple plays and chances in the red zone with the game on the line. I’m still at a loss as to why they didn’t run at least one boot leg at the end in the red zone – let the play develop, a guy might get open and you’ve always got Wilson’s running ability. Tight end option anyone? I think they made life easy for Arizona.
– Russell Wilson wasn’t spectacular, but it was a solid start. Despite a lot of hype in pre-season (some over the top and unfair) he’s very much a young guy learning his trade. It was a good first game for experience because the Cardinals defense put on a clinic. There were some negatives. I wasn’t keen on two occasions where he chose to run on instinct instead of looking upfield. You can forgive the guy given his success running the ball against Kansas City, but hopefully that’s an area for improvement. There were also three plays I noted where he rejected the inside option, preferring to throw outside in the red zone. I’d like to see him show more willing to look inside – I’m not sure if this is a total play call thing, but if they have guys running inside routes you presume he is allowed to look their way. Even so, it’s tough to judge a guy against this defense on debut, especially considering the play calling and supporting cast.
– Bruce Irvin struggled tonight. At one point he got so frustrated rushing the edge, he dipped inside and wasted at least 2-3 seconds looking for a suitable hole to rush. By that point John Skelton had thrown from a clean pocket to Todd Heap for a first down en-route to a touchdown. Of most concern is the way Arizona ended his challenge at the point of contact. He’s going to need to show more when a tackle gets the hands up – even if it’s a counter move. Irvin doesn’t want to get so wide he’s rushing from a difficult angle, and he doesn’t want to start dipping inside trying to squeeze past a guard. He was drafted for elite speed off the edge and the Seahawks need to back up their investment by finding ways to make that speed a factor. Tonight he was a complete non-factor.
– There will be a lot of overreactions to this defeat, which’ll be harder to take given the nature of the loss and the fact it was against a division opponent. The first defeat is always the hardest. The 2011 season ended 7-9 rather than 9-7 or even 10-6 because the Seahawks couldn’t win close games. Cleveland, Arizona, Washington – three games in 2011 that ended in defeat that probably should’ve been won. That’s how close the Seahawks were to 10-6. If they’re going to avoid another 7-win season they need to start winning a few of these. Even so, getting to 5-5 at the bye would be far from a disaster. The schedule after the bye reads: Miami (A), Chicago (A), Arizona (H), Buffalo (Toronto), San Francisco (H), St. Louis (H). There are opportunities to end strongly within that run. The team just has to make sure it doesn’t give itself too much to do with a slow start.
2013 prospects that look good for Seattle tonight:
Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina) – the Seahawks struggled for pressure in the first half, but the edge rushers didn’t get a lot of help inside. Williams has the potential to be a top-end interior pass rusher.
Robert Woods (WR, USC) – Marqise Lee would’ve been even better for those red zone plays, but the Seahawks lacked a guy they could rely on to run good routes and provide a safety net for Russell Wilson. There were a few occasions in this game where I pictured Woods in motion, taking a quick pass and exploiting the blitz to break off a big run. At the very least, he’ll fight to come back to the quarterback.