Monday metatarsal musings

Posted Oct 31, 2011

Or footnotes: A look at three things that worked in the Seahawks' 34-12 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, and three things that need work heading into this week's game against the Cowboys.

For a few fleeting seconds on Sunday, Richard Sherman the NFL cornerback reverted to being Richard Sherman the college and high school receiver.

Sherman’s past and present crossed paths on an Andy Dalton to A.J. Green pass in the fourth quarter of what turned out to be a 34-12 victory for the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks might have lost the game, but Sherman came up with a winner of the play on that 39-yard pass.

“For just a second, I was back to being a receiver,” Sherman explained on Monday. “The ball got in the air, so I sped up to catch up to the ball. He went up. I went up. I saw that he had his hands on the ball, so it would have been a hard play. Because when it’s even, they’re going to give the ball to the receiver every time.

“So I was like, ‘I’m going to get it out.’ Luckily, Kam was there.”

That would be Kam Chancellor, the strong safety who made the interception of the pass Sherman broke up.

Sherman was served from the entire NFL smorgasbord of situations and emotions in his first NFL start. The rookie gave up a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Simpson in the first quarter. He got his first interception as a pro in the third quarter – at the Seahawks’ 9-yard line – to stop a Bengals’ scoring threat and help set up a 25-yard field goal by Steve Hauschka. He finished with five tackles and three passes defensed – to tie and set career highs in the seventh game of his NFL career.

“First start, everything goes,” Sherman said with a smile.

Which leads to the obvious, and age-old, question: Why would anyone with the athletic ability to play cornerback want to play cornerback?

“Because this is one of those positions,” Sherman said. “They call you the best athlete on the field. You get to do the hardest job.”

But his best play was the one where Richard Sherman the receiver took control of the body of Richard Sherman the cornerback for a few seconds.

“Not just his skills, but his mentality,” said rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who played with Sherman the receiver and Sherman the cornerback at Stanford. “He played receiver at Stanford, so he has the mentality of a receiver. He knows different concepts, he knows routes, he knows the way the receivers look when they come off the ball and if they’re going to run an out-route or an in-route.

“That’s just a tribute to the type of player he is. He’s very smart, very intelligent. I’ve said this since Day One, even though he was drafted in the late rounds he’s always been an underrated player and I just think that (what he did Sunday) goes to show that he proved he belongs out here.” 

The Seahawks are going to need everything Sherman can give them as their third starter at left cornerback this season, as the defensive tries to hold its thing together while the offense tries to get its thing together.

As coach Pete Carroll put it after the disheartening loss, “We have to execute and complement to what we’re doing on defense.”

With that said, here’s a look at three things that worked against the Bengals and three things that need work as the Seahawks prepare for this week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys:


The run defense – Again. Still. The Seahawks have not allowed a 100-yard rusher and Sunday they held a fourth team to fewer than 100 rushing yards. The Bengals came close (92), but it took 27 carries, which made for a 3.4-yard average. The Seahawks continue the lead the league in per-carry average allowed (3.2 yards), are No. 11 in rushing defense (102.9) and No. 13 in total defense (340.0).

Yes, the Bengals put up 34 points, but 20 were scored on the defense – and only three in the second half.

“We had mental breakdowns at times, but I still think we held up,” free safety Earl Thomas said. “I think we only gave up two touchdowns, really, on ‘D.’ We’ve just got to keep working.”

Tarvaris Jackson Even when less than 100 percent, it’s 100-percent sure that Jackson should be the starting quarterback. The coaches were hoping to steal another week to allow his strained pectoral to get even better, but the Seahawks were down 10-3 and going nowhere fast by the time Jackson stepped in for Charlie Whitehurst in the second quarter.

All Jackson did was pass for 323 yards, and Sidney Rice (seven for 102) and Ben Obomanu (four for 107) became the first Seahawks to have 100-yard receiving efforts in the same game since 2004.

The no-huddle – But only if Jackson is running it. The Seahawks kind of stumbled onto something that worked in the second halves of their previous home games against the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons and the big win over the New York Giants at the Meadowlands. Then they kind of stumbled with Jackson out of the lineup.

“We went to our movement and tempo stuff, and we had some success with Tarvaris leading the charge,” Carroll said. “He’s good at it. We forced Charlie into a situation where he is not as adept and not as experienced at it.

“We experimented with really speeding things up, and it hasn’t worked out right – basically because Tarvaris hasn’t been there to come back and do it again. He’s the guy that has to get it done.”


The running game – The idea here is to setup the play-action passing game with the running game. But the running game is, well, averaging 77.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks 31st in the league; and 3.8 yards per carry, which is better than only five other teams. Against the Bengals, the Seahawks weren’t even up to those less-than-average averages (61 and 3.1).

“We’ve got all the pieces we need,” leading rusher Marshawn Lynch said after being held to 24 yards on 16 carries. “We’ve just got to put them together and play with them.”

Penalties – Again. Still. This time it was 11 penalties for 80 yards. The number of penalties tied the Seahawks’ season high from the opener against the San Francisco 49ers. The wrong-way yardage was a season high.

But it’s what the penalties were and when they came that was so maddening: from four false starts on offense to a defensive personal foul on a third-and-6 play and an encouragement call on third-and-1.

“That needs to go away,” Carroll said “When you continue to make the same mistakes at the line of scrimmage, we’re just not settled enough yet.”

Only three teams have more than the Seahawks’ 60 penalties; seven teams have more than their 435 penalty yards.

The pass rush – The effort is there. The end result is not. Or at least not consistently enough. The Seahawks got to Dalton for one sack, after collecting eight in their previous two games. They have 13 sacks in seven games. Five of those have come from “Leo” end Chris Clemons and no one else has more than one.