I started this column last week. I teach High School when I am not obsessing over Seahawk football and thought it might be fun to combine the two. Each week I will pick a few aspects of the game and assign them a grade. I’m still kind of feeling this out, so feel free to offer up any suggestions.
Earl Thomas: A+
Yep. That’s right. E. T. gets his own grade. This guy is unbelievable. He is Entertainment Tonight. Get it? E. T.? Alright, so we still need a nickname. I love watching this guy play. His tipped ball that prevented Arizona from converting on 3rd down may very well be the play of the game. If I was going to buy a jersey for this year, it would have to be his. Thomas had a very strong showing at the beginning of last season as well. I thought he was actually going to make a run at the Rookie of the Year. This year, Thomas is starting the year out with the same intensity. My favorite thing about him is that he can make any defensive play from anywhere on the field. He defends passes, stops the run, and tips passes at the line of scrimmage. If the defense is showing signs of life, this guy is the heartbeat.
Offensive line: D+
The Hawks finally capped a 100 yard rushing game. Lynch had 73 and Washington 29. Unger had a great game as he seemed to be the key block in most of the big running plays reeled off by Lynch or Washington. There were still mistakes, but this was a definite improvement over the past 2 games. Note to Okung: stop getting called for false starts. That’s at least one in each game. Jackson still took 4 sacks which is too high a number, however, it is one less than in each of the first two games, so it could be classified as improving with a ways to go yet. I did find myself wondering why Washington is not receiving more carries. I love watching him run. He is one of the most fluid guys I have seen, and his speed seems nearly immeasurable.
Tarvaris Jackson: C-
On Sunday afternoon Hawks fans finally saw some of the chemistry between Rice and Jackson. In fact, Jackson’s 32 yard reception during the 2nd drive might be one of his best throws all year. That being said, I still think Jackson struggles tremendously with accuracy issues. He just about got Golden Tate killed throwing too high, and continues to have issues getting the ball to Mike Williams. It was the commentators’ opinion that Jackson lacks the confidence to run this offense once he is forced to improvise, and I would have to agree with them. Jackson looked confused at times during the game. One play, however, that contradicts this is his TD run. Amazing! To watch it was a thing of Beauty. I wish we could put Matt Hasselbeck’s brain into Tarvaris Jackson’s body. Jackson still finished with less than 200 yards and no passing tds which is what prevented him from moving any higher up my grading scale. To be honest, I think I’m being pretty generous with the current grade.
Let’s start with the Fitzgerald td. This is the reason Larry is considered one of the best football players in the NFL. There was pressure on the play which forced Kolb to throw up a prayer off his back foot knowing he was going to take a hit. On the other end Browner and Thomas were both in a position to make the play, but Fitzgerald just out jumped them both and came down with the ball. I don’t fault either defender, but reluctantly tip my hat to Fitzgerald. I wish the Hawks had a guy like that. The Hawks also held Arizona under 100 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving. I wouldn’t use a word like dominating to describe this defense, but they are pretty good. Trufant and Chancellor each had clutch interceptions at the end of the half as well as the end of the game. Leeroy Hill looked great leading the team in tackles, picking up a sack, and having a key 3rd down stop behind the line of scrimmage. He could absolutely be a comeback player of the year if he can stay healthy and playing at this level. All in all they looked good against a mediocre team at best. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching this defense, and they will continue to improve throughout the season, but they’re not ready for a rematch against the Steelers just yet.
One Call in Particular: F-
One call that drove me nuts was when Chancellor was called for unnecessary roughness when he laid out Todd Heap. Heap: a tackler + Chancellor: a blocker = devastating hit. The announcers made it sound like it was some kind of cheap shot, and it wasn’t. Maybe the refs should start throwing women’s panties instead of yellow flags. This is football and hits like that used to be admired. Heap is 6’5” 288 and Chancellor is 6’3” 232, so it’s not like Chancellor was going after someone half his size. Quite the opposite in fact. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but it sure seemed like a clean hit to me.
All in all this team showed signs of improvement which is all fans can really expect to see this year. It was an exciting game at times and the crowd at Seahawk Stadium (Hell no, I’m not calling it whatever some corporate told me to) was rockin’ as usual. I still don’t believe Jackson is the future, but I am starting to see the potential in many other players on the team. Right now I have hope for the future, and am excited to watch this team develop over the course of the season. Will they be a playoff team at the end of the year? NO. However, they will be the most improved team, and that’s better than anything else we’ve seen over the last three seasons. I’ll take it.