STEVE: The 24-0 crusher Sunday has to rank among the lamest performances in franchise history. At least it had the benefit of being a quick kill: 2 hours, 44 minutes.
ART: The only surprising thing was that nothing surprising happened. This outcome was visible to anyone from 50 miles away. But usually in the NFL, the underdog pops with at least something unexpected — turnover, big return, stealing home, something. But no — nothing.
STEVE: At this risk of offering this thought prematurely (just two games), the trend is not only not looking good, it’s smacking of historically inept. The Seahawks are averaging 186.5 total yards per game. In 1992, when they went 2-14, that offense averaged a franchise-low 210.9 yards per game.
ART: Not only that, the last time they played the Steelers, the Seahawks lost 21-0, meaning the Seahawks’ only touchdown in the last three meetings was in the 21-10 loss in Super Bowl XL.
STEVE: Not sure what Pete Carroll can do to get his offense — mainly his running game — untracked. There are so many new — and young — parts on the line that he may just have to let them play and hope for improvement.
ART: In his post-game remarks, Carroll said, “I told the guys in the locker room that I’m not helping them enough. We (the coaching staff) have to give them the confidence to play faster and more aggressively. We have to force it. We feel like the season hasn’t started for us yet. We have to find our way. We can’t live with this.” All true, and all predictable. The coaches chose this course, with so many new starters. They took the risk of letting go an experienced QB in Matt Hasselbeck for unproven Tarvaris Jackson, and Jackson is not yet close to being even an average NFL QB.
STEVE: Jackson certainly played faster, and a little more aggressively, than he did last week against San Francisco. But you’re right about him. On the other hand, the first time I saw Hasselbeck play for the Seahawks, he looked far worse than Jackson has so far. When Carroll says, “We feel like the season hasn’t started for us yet,” that seems to suggest that one of these days it will, in fact, start. Right now, I doubt it. And when he says, “we can’t live with this,” the fact is, that he may have no other choice — just as Tom Flores had no other choice in 1992.
ART: It’s unfair to lay so much on Jackson. The rap on him in Minnesota was that he doesn’t make good pocket decisions under pressure. That hasn’t changed in Seattle. The problem is compounded, however, when the new O-line can’t take any pressure off him with either pass protection or a running game. I get Carroll’s point that the season doesn’t seem to have started, but after another five-sack day that doesn’t include other Steel Curtain hits, Jackson soon won’t be available when the season does “start.”
STEVE: The Seahawks have turned over 81 percent of their roster since 2009, when Jim Mora (now a TV analyst) departed. I wonder how many hundreds — maybe thousands — of transactions the Seahawks need to make before Carroll has a team that can crack 40 rushing yards in a game (31 on Sunday after 33 last week).
ART: Except for injury, any more offensive roster shuffling is regressive. These five linemen and TE Zach Miller are the guys they want. The only real hope for an immediate difference is in opponent and location. They open at home next week against an Arizona team that gave up more than 400 yards passing in the Cardinals’ opener against Carolina and more than 300 Sunday in losing to Washington. When you’re stuck in a fight between mongrels, the only hope is the other mongrel is missing a leg or two.
STEVE: Question is, which is the most hobbled mongrel? The Seahawks went 2-for-12 on third-down attempts and even seemed listless.
ART: The biggest risk in the relentless personnel turnover is upon Carroll and GM John Schneider: A bad start slips quickly into non-belief. The Steelers still have 17 players remaining from the Super Bowl team that beat Seattle, and won another SB after that. The Seahawks have two left from 2006 — defenders Marcus Trufant and Leroy Hill. After the Steelers lost their opener 35-7 to Baltimore, the easy criticism was they were too old. Didn’t look like it to me Sunday. Coaches and players knew what they were doing in nearly every situation; the Seahawks have no such safety net, because they neither know each other, nor have they had success together. Another lousy game against the Cardinals, and Carroll’s cred starts to slip fast.
STEVE: Lots of internet chat today — call it “Charley Chants” — about Carroll turning to Charlie Whitehurst next week, or at least soon. I’m not sure that will happen because Jackson received the starting job without a preseason battle, and Carroll seems intent on keeping him in there. But many fans sure don’t like it.
ART: Same thing happened between Jim Zorn and Dave Krieg, and between Hasselbeck — who went 30 for 42 for 358 yards Sunday in the Titans’ upset of Baltimore — and Trent Dilfer. The fans’ quick fix is always the backup QB. Sometimes it’s worth a try. But fergawdsakes, let the starter have a couple of home games and a month under fire with the same teammates. What happens when Whitehurst, who obviously doesn’t have the coaching staff’s confidence — starts and is no better? Then the Seahawks turn back to Jackson and say, “We were wrong — you go, T.J.?”
STEVE: Backup quarterback is always the most popular guy in town.
ART: A more immediate decision needs to be made on defense, in the secondary. As much as Carroll likes size, the early returns on starting 6-4 Brandon Browner at right corner an 6-3 Kam Chancellor at safety aren’t good. As the TV broadcasters pointed out regularly, they aren’t using their size to advantage in press coverage, and aren’t fast enough to cover smaller receivers. In the Steelers’ opening series, Browner’s pass-interference call at the goal line told a sorry tale.
STEVE: Agreed. But this fact may be sorrier:.The Seahawks are paying TE Zach Miller $16 million and they targeted him twice Sunday. And finally, which offense is more dithering — Seahawks or Mariners?
ART: Think of it this way: The Sounders earlier in the summer were outscoring the Mariners, and this weekend the Sounders outscored the Seahawks. Let’s vote wild-and-crazy Sigi Schmid for commissioner of Seattle sports.