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Plight of the Seahawks
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Seahawks team that flew here on Friday for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants is not the same collection of players who lost 44-6 the last time the Seahawks met the Giants on the East Coast.
In fact, it only vaguely resembles the Seahawks team that dropped a 41-7 decision to the Giants in Seattle last November.
Just ask Tom Coughlin.
“It’s a new team,” the Giants coach said this week, as his 3-1 team was preparing to host the 1-3 Seahawks. “Five new starters on defense, 10 new on offense. So it’s a new team.”
The five new starters on defense from last November: tackle Alan Branch, linebackers Leroy Hill and K.J. Wright, cornerback Brandon Browner and strong safety Kam Chancellor. If Chancellor’s deep thigh bruise won’t allow him to play, Atari Bigby will start and he’s new, too.
But 10 new starters on offense? There’s quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, wide receiver Sidney Rice, right tackle James Carpenter, right guard John Moffitt, center Max Unger, left guard Paul McQuistan (who’s subbing for an injured Robert Gallery) and tight end Zach Miller. That’s seven. But the concussion wide receiver Mike Williams got in last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons could prevent him from playing on Sunday; left tackle Russell Okung missed last year’s game with a sprained ankle; and the Seahawks opened in a two-tight end set last year, with the second tight end being the since-released Chris Baker.
So 10 it is, which also makes it difficult for the Giants to get a read on just what to expect from the Seahawks.
“I think you’re best suited to try to understand this team and how they play and where they’ve come from,” Coughlin said. “Our offseason work was obviously intended for last year’s team, but this year we quickly note with so many changes you should be studying this club.”
Which also can be difficult, because the Seahawks have been so sporadic in their first four games.
Which offense will show up Sunday? The one that scored four touchdowns against the Falcons last week, including three in the second half? Or the one that scored three touchdowns in its first three games, and was blanked by the Steelers in Pittsburgh?
Which defense will the Giants be facing? The one that has been so difficult to run on? Or the one that had so many problems getting off the field on third downs against the Steelers (8 of 15) and Falcons (9 of 16, including 6 of 8 in the first half)?
Which special teams units will be on display at MetLife Stadium? Those that achieved 11 of the 12 weekly goals established by coordinator Brian Schneider against the Falcons? Or those that gave up scoring returns of 102 and 55 yards in less than a minute to the 49ers’ Ted Ginn Jr. in the opening-day loss at San Francisco?
If it makes Coughlin feel any better, the Seahawks don’t even know the answers to those questions.
Pete Carroll has seen improvement by his young team, but he’s also the first to admit that it’s not yet the team it needs to be – and can be.
“We’re not as consistent as we need to be,” the Seahawks coach said this week. “There’s so much improvement occurring.”
That comment was in response to a question about the Seahawks’ 31st-ranked running game, but it also serves as a blanket statement on the state of the Seahawks after the first quarter of the season.
They’re getting better, but still aren’t good enough – at least not consistently.
One change that might help – or can’t hurt – is the switch in venues. This game will be played in the new stadium that opened last season. It’s next to where the old stadium stood; a place where the Seahawks were 1-6 against the Giants and 0-5 against the Jets.
“It’s a combination of things,” cornerback Marcus Trufant said when asked about the past problems the Seahawks have had here.
Trufant is one of the few who would know, because he’s one of three starters who are still around from that game against the Giants here in 2008 – Hill and tackle Brandon Mebane being the others.
“But I think it comes down to they’ve got a good crowd, they’ve got a good team. Any time you’re facing a good team and you’re on the road it can be tough. And it’s going to be tough, so we’ve got to go in there with our game faces on and just be ready.”
Ben Obomanu, who will start at split end if Williams can’t, never has played in The Big Apple – or at least across the Hudson River from it. He was on injured reserve for that ’08 game.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Obomanu said. “It will be a good challenge for us, especially because the game is in New York – even though we’re going to be in New Jersey – with all the things that surround that city and that team.”