Who are these guys?

Posted Oct 25, 2011

After their polar-opposite performances in their past two games, the Seahawks will be looking for a Giant-sized effort rather than a Brown-out showing against the Bengals this week.

Who are these guys?

That question has been posed repeatedly as the Seahawks have ventured into the Eastern time zone for their past two games – first by New York-area reporters after the new-look Seahawks had upset the Giants in Week 5 and again last week as they were preparing to play the Browns in Cleveland.

After the Seahawks’ polar-opposite performances in those games, they’ve got me pondering the same question.

Are they the defensively opportunistic, no-huddling offensive team that rallied to defeat the Giants? Or, the defensively dominating, yet offensive-starter-deprived team that scored three points in letting a winnable game slip through their hands in Cleveland?

What the Seahawks are is a 2-4 team that hosts the 4-2 Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, then travels to Dallas to face the 3-3 Cowboys before playing the 4-2 Baltimore Ravens in Week 10.

The Seahawks are a play here and a play there from being 5-1. They were on the verge of grabbing a victory in their season opener at San Francisco before the 49ers’ Ted Ginn returned to kicks for touchdowns in less than a minute late in the fourth quarter. They ran out of time in a comeback effort during their two-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons. They could have – no, should have – beaten the Browns.

But, the Seahawks also are a different play here and a different play there from being 0-6, as they beat the Arizona Cardinals 13-10 and Brandon Browner returned an interception 94-yard for a touchdown in the final 90 seconds after the Giants had reached the Seahawks’ 2-yard line.

So, who are these guys?

All you need to know about the growing pains being experienced by the offense is evident in two statistically oddities:

Running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson did not play against the Browns on Sunday because of back and pec problems, but they remain No. 1 and tied for No. 2 on the team in rushing – Lynch with 239 yards; Jackson with 78, the same as Leon Washington.

Rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin did play against the Browns, but did not catch a pass. Yet he still leads the team in receptions (20) and receiving yards (330).

“We just couldn’t find the rhythm it takes to get it going,” coach Pete Carroll said of the Seahawks’ offensive performance after Sunday’s game. “We thought we could do more than this, particularly on offense, but it was just one of those games.

“We were getting in our own way.”

And they continue to not get enough big plays.

In addition to playing without Jackson, Lynch, center Max Unger and tight end Zach Miller against the Browns, those who did play didn’t make enough plays. Rookie right tackle James Carpenter was penalized twice for false starts and Lemuel Jeanpierre, who was subbing for Unger, was flagged for a third-down holding penalty that was declined – on the Seahawks’ opening possession that produced 27 of the 62 yards they would generate in the first half. Tight end Anthony McCoy and wide receiver Ben Obomanu dropped passes, and Baldwin was called for pushing off to nullify the one catch he did make. Charlie Whitehurst, who stepped in for Jackson, missed open receivers and threw into coverage on other plays.

“It was disappointing for sure,” Whitehurst said after the third start of his six-year NFL career. “We definitely had a chance to win the game and we didn’t do it. We couldn’t find a rhythm, we couldn’t convert and I couldn’t hit some guys when they were open.

“It was a tough day on offense.”

On defense, the Seahawks held the Browns to six points and 298 yards despite being on the field for 43 of the 60 minutes.

“I thought they controlled the line of scrimmage,” Carroll said. “I thought we rushed the passer really well, knocked balls down. We did a lot of really good things.”

Except on third downs, when the Browns not only converted 12 of 24 situations but produced 44 percent of their total offensive yards (130) on those dozen plays.

“The one thing that didn’t come through was the third down conversion stops,” Carroll said. “It was not where we would like it to be.”

Like it was on the Browns’ other 72 snaps, when the Seahawks held them to 168 yards – or an average of 2.3 yards; compared to 10.8 on the 12 third-down conversions.

The Seahawks had similar third-down problems in their losses to the Steelers, who converted eight of 15; and Falcons, who converted nine of 16.

An obvious culprit: Getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Chris Clemons leads the team with six sacks, including two against the Browns. But no one else has more than one and the other linemen have combined for 2½.

Now, they will be playing with their third option at left cornerback – rookie Richard Sherman – because starter Marcus Trufant (back) and nickel back Walter Thurmond (ankle) have been placed on injured reserve the past two Mondays.

Will returning to CenturyLink Field be enough to allow the against-the-Browns Seahawks to look more like the against-the-Giants Seahawks? Will possibly getting Jackson, Lynch and Unger back against the Bengals allow the Seahawks to look more like the Giant-steps-forward offense that scored 28 points against the Falcons and 27 against the Giants?

What has transpired the past two games really does leave you wondering: Who are these guys? And, more importantly, which team will show up this Sunday?