Monday, January 14, 2013

Takeaways: Season Ending Loss, but a Great Season Nonetheless

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Seahawks in Atlanta. The first half did not go well at all with a poor start, a Marshawn Lynch fumble, the inability to convert on 3rd and 4th and one in Atlanta territory, and poor time management at the end of the first half. All of these events put Seattle down 20-0 at halftime. The 'Hawks didn’t back down though and after a wild fourth quarter actually took the lead by one with about 30 seconds left. However, the Falcons used their timeouts and drove down the field to give Matt Bryant an easy game winning field goal. It was a rollercoaster ride of a game, but it boils down to the fact that the Seahawks season is over. As sad as it is, it is fair to say that the 'Hawks exceeded most people’s expectations and had a really great season. I will list a few things to take away from a tough loss, but a great season.

Matt Ryan was the most relieved person in the U.S. once he saw Matt Bryant's kick go through the uprights.

1. The Defense is Still Young
Obviously the Hawks defense was superb throughout the season, leading the league in points against. However, this game against the Falcons showed that they are still maturing. With youth at virtually every position, the 'Hawks defense is not quite as polished as we would like it to be. This slight immaturity combined with lack of size in the front seven lead to the Falcons gashing the Hawks in the run game with both Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. Hopefully the defense can bulk up and gain some maturity in the offseason while potentially adding some free agents to really solidify the defense as the best in the league. Look for the Seahawks to make a run at DT Henry Melton. Takeaway: The 'Hawks defense is not quite at the point we would like it to be, but with improvement in the offseason the sky is the limit with this unit.

2. Russell Plays Big
Russell Wilson. 3rd round, 75th overall pick on the 2012 NFL Draft. Last rookie quarterback standing. He won over the Seattle fans in a matter of weeks and brought the national spotlight to Seattle with his late season performances and brilliant play in the playoffs. After the first quarter of this last game, he showed up as the Russell Wilson we have all come to know and love and proved that he is officially a superstar. Another great playoff performance on the road proved to the world that he is for real. This is great news for the Seahawks going forward as Russell Wilson should be able to lead this team deep into the playoffs for years to come. Takeaway: Russell Wilson has proven he is the best young quarterback in the game and will be leading the Seahawks to conference championships and super bowls for years.

Russell Wilson has a very bright future ahead of him. What a season.
AP Photos

3. Front 7 Needs Help
The Seahawks have the best secondary in the league in my opinion. Richard Sherman is the best cornerback, Earl Thomas is the best safety, and Brandon Browner and Kam Chancellor are two big, physical players who can be difference makers at times. The weakness of the Seahawks defense, as shown by the Falcons game, is the run defense and the pass rush. The loss of Chris Clemons really proved not only how vital Clemons is to this defense, but how badly the Seahawks need to get another pass rusher. We could not put any pressure on Matt Ryan all day, and this allowed him to pick apart the defense. The lack of ability to stop the run, plus the fact that this past season could possibly be linebacker Leroy Hill’s last, tells us that we need to acquire another linebacker either through the draft or free agency. Takeaway: A pass rusher and a run stopper need to be added to this Seahawks defense before it can be truly elite.

4. Zach Miller
Zach Miller not only had his best game as a Seahawk against the Falcons, totaling eight receptions and 142 yards plus a touchdown, but he did so with a torn plantar fascia. After the Seahawks third offensive play, Miller went to the locker room with an apparent foot injury, but obviously returned, seemingly without any problems with the injury. It was only after the game that we found out Miller actually tore his plantar fascia on that play. The plantar fascia is the thick connective tissue which supports the arch on the bottom side of the foot. Now one can only imagine the pain when running and cutting on a torn plantar fascia, and Zach Miller had his best game as a Seahawk with this injury. Takeaway: A position that was once thought to be a weakness for the Seahawks may turn out not to be so, as Zach Miller is emerging as the player he was once thought to be, and is becoming Russell Wilson’s main security blanket in the passing game.

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