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Monday metatarsal musings
“Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this mama said.”
So did Pete Carroll, and that old song by the Shirelles could be his theme song as he tries to explain the Seahawks’ 0-2 start – especially that pointless effort against the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Seahawks’ coach has been talking about growing pains since the team used its first two picks in April’s NFL Draft on right guard James Carpenter and right tackle John Moffitt and anointed them starters.
The growing pains were only intensified as general manager John Schneider and Carroll made 150 transactions from the week training camp opened in late July until Saturday’s moves to replace injured defensive end Dexter Davis with cornerback Kennard Cox – to go with the 284 moves they made last year.
The Seahawks now have new starters at eight positions, and four other players starting at new positions.
And they are key positions: Quarterback, where free-agent addition Tarvaris Jackson did not start practicing with his new team until Aug. 4; right cornerback, where Brandon Browner has stepped in after playing the past four seasons in the CFL; center, where Max Unger is the fulltime starter after playing three games there in 2009 and sitting out last season with a toe injury that requires surgery; and the right side of the offensive line, where Carpenter and Moffitt are getting a baptismal by blowtorch.
“We’ve got to figure out better ways to move the football with the guys that we have, at the stage we’re at,” Carroll said after Sunday’s 24-0 loss – the first time the Seahawks have been shutout since the last time they played in Pittsburgh (21-0 in 2007).
“Regardless of this developmental process, we’ve got to find our ways. We can’t live with this, so we’ve got to do something about it.”
And it needs to start with Sunday’s home opener against the Arizona Cardinals, who have yielded an average of 466 yards in a seven-point win over the Carolina Panthers and a one-point loss to the Washington Redskins. The matchup at CenturyLink Field will pit the league’s No. 32-ranked offense against the No. 29-ranked defense.
With that said, here’s a look at look at three things that worked against the Steelers and three things that need work this week as the Seahawks prepare for Sunday’s home opener against the Arizona Cardinals:
Matt McCoy. The defense was on the field for almost 39 minutes against the Steelers, and McCoy made the most of his opportunities. After not playing a down at linebacker last season, McCoy is seeing action in the nickel and also the base defense. Sunday, he had seven tackles – and added two more covering kicks on special teams. He now ranks fifth on the team with 10 tackles in two games, and it’s difficult to decide which has been more impressive: The times McCoy has gotten himself into the right spot at the right time, or what he has delivered by being there?
Jon Ryan. Eight of the Seahawks’ 10 possessions against the Steelers ended with punts. Ryan was up to the task, averaging 48.1 yards with three inside the 20-yard line and a long of 59 yards.
Kris Durham. The rookie wide receiver from Georgia caught three passes for 30 yards in the fourth quarter of his NFL debut. After being inactive in the opener, Durham had a 12-yarder on third-and-9 and a 10-yarder on second-and-2 during the drive that produced the Seahawks’ deepest penetration in Steelers’ territory (the 26-yard line).
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The offense. From top to bottom, side to side and every other direction. This wasn’t one of those more-punts-than-points performances; this was punts rather than points. In eight quarters this season, the offense has failed to score in six of them.
Third-down defense. The Steelers converted eight of 15 third-down situations, but were seven of 10 at one point. As good as Ben Roethlisberger was for the entire game (22 of 30 for 298 yards), he was even better on third downs (9 of 13 for 171 yards). This after the Seahawks held the 49ers to one of 12 on third downs in the opener.
Penalties. Still. The Seahawks were flagged six times against the Steelers, five fewer than in the opener and also below their average from the preseason (nine). But the six-pack this Sunday proved to be damaging, as one was a 39-yard pass interference call against Browner in the end zone; another was a false start on left tackle Russell Okung after the Seahawks had crossed midfield (the Steelers’ 47) for the only time in the first half; and another was a delay-of-game call on fourth-and-3 from the Steelers’ 26 in the fourth quarter.