I had some company over yesterday after the game and didn't have time to knock this out. It's unfortunate, because we probably would've doubled our visibility over at ESPN. Mike Sando has been linking to us with some regularity at his/ESPN's NFC West blog. His post this morning, here, included Van's post here at TST with post-game thoughts (here).
Hopefully by next season, we'll have an even larger readership and get a more consistent fan base showing up. Thanks to all of you who take the time to read this stuff. Grades after the fold.
Another solid performance out of Bulger. Just shy of 60% completion, over 200 yards and a TD. Most importantly, though, no interceptions. Bulger really had it going in the first half which earns him at least the B-, but we relied almost entirely on the passing game in the second half to no avail. At least you can't blame today's loss on Bulger.
The tale of two halves. You have to wonder what the staff wanted out of our offense in the 2nd half. Jackson rushed 17 times for 81 yards in the first half, averaging more than 4.75 yds/rush. The second half saw SJ log 7 rushes for just 10 yards; that was 3 rushes in the 3rd quarter for 5 yards, and 4 in the 4th for 5 more. I'm hesitant to blame Jackson for the low production on those seven second half carries. The line struggled to consistently block. Often, they couldn't even hold their position, allowing Seattle's DTs to get 2-3 yards into our backfield. It's a shame to see such a great first half spoiled by such a poor second half. It was the first time SJ rushed for a touchdown since week 7 when he ran in 3 TDs against the Cowboys.
Torry Holt and Donnie Avery put up respectable numbers, but this group disappointed me. Bulger had numerous plays where he had time to drop back and go through his progression and couldn't find anyone open. Combine Derek Stanley and Joe Klopfenstein's play, and it brings it from a C+ to a C-. And we need to find a real return man. Dante Hall, Derek Stanley, or Dane Looker: I don't care for any of them on return duty. I'm still holding out for Avery to take over.
The numbers don't reflect how confused this group looked yesterday. Jackson ran well, Bulger threw for more than 200 yards, and we only gave up a sack, but poor run blocking, important play mistakes, and penalties exposed the line's weaknesses. And Incognito has completely lost any support he might have ever had from Rams fans.
This was the hardest group to grade this week for two reasons. First, we were blitzing so often and so well that before a D-lineman had a chance to even make a play, Jason Craft (who will never have a half as good as the first half he played on Sunday) or O.J. Atogwe was already in Seneca Wallace's face. The other reason was that we were using a 3-man front pretty often. It worked very well with the blitz in the first half, but in the second half, the Seahawks did a solid job of running through the blitzes.
Another tale of two halves. The first half saw a LB corps that really held their positions well which meant they didn't do much. The blitzes were containing the run and forcing Seneca Wallace to throw the ball away as often as he was throwing it to John Carlson, his TE. In the second half, Maurice Morris weaved through the blitz and Wallace was able to get a passing game going. Pisa Tinoisamoa compiled 3 tackles in the first half and 6 in the second. They did a decent job, but the coverage in the second half dropped their grade.
Seriously. Successful blitzes and coverage in the first half, failed blitzed and a lack of coverage in the second. It was tough to watch the inevitable unfold as you could just tell Seattle was going to come back and win it. On a positive note, Ron Bartell is turning into a very good CB. We'll need to retain him for a while if we're serious about putting together a tough pass defense. On a not so positive note, O.J. Atogwe is pretty poor at man coverage. He's got a great nose for fumbles and providing solid zone coverage, but if he gets manned up against a WR, his footwork is just too clumsy.
Donnie Jones deserves to go to the Pro Bowl. Josh Brown was perfect from 36 and 48. Defensive coverage on punts was the best by any team I might have ever seen. Credit much of that to Donnie who can get great hang time on the ball. Justin Forsett held down punt return duty for Seattle yesterday and returned 3 punts for just 25 yards. That's an 8.3 punt return average. Stellar. Kick return coverage was not nearly as good as Josh Wilson returned each kick for what seemed like 35 or 40 yards. I still could have given them a solid A except for return duty. Kenneth Darby looked like he might be able to do some damage on returns, but his top speed won't get him a return TD. Maybe he's a gap-stop answer until next year.