Blogging The Boys: What's your take on Pete Carroll so far? What's he doing well and what's causing problems?
Field Gulls: I think Pete Carroll has done a fine job thus far, particularly in rebuilding what was a pretty old and low-talent roster that he inherited. Carroll and GM John Schneider have decided to purge most of the older players and go with youth, and they've managed to stay reasonably competitive in the process - making the playoffs miraculously in 2010 and beating the defending world champs, then showing flashes this season (though the Hawks record doesn't really reflect that this season).
Now, there has been some noise here in Seattle lately because of some of Carroll's coaching decisions and clock management, but every coach makes game-management flubs and on a whole I don't think Carroll has lost the team or made the kind of mistakes that call into question his job status.
Carroll is a defensive minded coach and has taken a near league-worst defense and transformed it in a matter of a year and a half. The Seahawks look to have a very promising young defense that's leading the league right now in stopping the run and is making improvements in their pass D.
All that said, the jury is definitely still out, and Seahawks are no where near elite, and it may be reaching to consider them middling. I think Carroll get at least another season to prove his model is working but people get impatient quickly with the Seahawks losing more than they're winning, and Carroll definitely has some critics in the local media.
Four more to go...
BTB: Is Tarvaris Jackson going to be healthy for the game? Will he play the majority of snaps? Also, do you feel like he's the Seahawks QB of the future (beyond this season), or should they be looking at options?
FG: It's looking like Jackson is a go this week and will make the start - he was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. He played hurt last week and threw the football just fine, so my guess is he will get the majority, if not all of the snaps. He passed for 320+ yards in two and a half quarters against the Bengals' stingy defense last week but failed to connect for any touchdowns and that hurt the Seahawks. He'll look to change that this week against the Cowboys.
In terms of being the QBOTF, I don't think anyone, even Pete Carroll, is expecting Jackson to be their future. What he could be is the bridge to that guy, and it's looking likely that if he continues to progress and play intelligently, he'll be the Seahawks starting QB in 2012 as well. Looking forward, I could see him starting for another season, season and a half, while the Seahawks groom their (after this Draft) recently-drafted QBOTF. A lot can change between now and then though, of course.
BTB: What's the problem with the running game so far? Is it mostly on the offensive line?
FG: Is it on the O-line? In a word - yes. The running game has failed to get much traction this year for a number of reasons, but principal among them is the inexperience on the offensive line. New line coach. New offensive coordinator. New, young players, and we're talking about, historically speaking, one of the youngest and least experienced lines in NFL history. New schemes. Short training camp. They're literally learning on the job and growing as a unit as the season goes on, and it's been pretty ugly. It didn't help that early in the season, the Seahawks had no passing offense either.
In a nutshell though, the run game has definitely suffered for a number of obvious reasons, but Pete Carroll, Tom Cable, and Darrell Bevell are committed to balance. That balance could come this week, but more probably it will come next season as the guys grow together and learn the schemes they're running. Continuity is generally a pretty good indicator of success for a line, and the Seahawks haven't had that in several seasons.
BTB: The defense for the Seahawks has been playing well. What stands out on that side of the ball?
FG: The run defense is all the rage here in Seattle, but it will get tested this week against the Cowboys. Carroll has stated from the day he got here that he wants to stop the run, first and foremost. They'll brought in some players - Alan Branch, Clinton McDonald - and re-signed others this season (Brandon Mebane, Leroy Hill) that have factored into their success there. Red Bryant is the biggest defensive end in the NFL, most likely, and has been effective for the Seahawks this season.
In terms of the secondary, it's been said in a few places that the Hawks have one of the best, if not the best young safety tandem in the NFL right now with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. The Hawks have had some major injuries at the corner position and now are relying on CFL transplant Brandon Browner and 5th Round rookie Draft pick Richard Sherman as their starters. It should be interesting to see how they match up with the Cowboys arsenal of weapons on offense.
BTB: When you look at the Cowboys, which areas worry you the most for the game? What matchups are in the Cowboys favor?
FG: One of Field Gulls co-writers Thomas Beekers actually broached this recently in an article at our site, and he brought up that the Seahawks may be hard pressed to mark Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin in the Cowboys high-octane offense. Apart from that, the Seahawks will have to find an answer for the Cowboys pass rush - something they've struggled with in the past few games and on the season in general. Protecting Tarvaris Jackson will be a key to getting the offense clicking, but that's a tall order against guys like DeMarcus Ware. Gulp.
Thanks for the knowledge, Danny. Visit Field Gulls for more on the Seahawks.