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Seahawks look better than expected (but not good enough)

Ben Obomanu, Pete Carroll

Seattle Seahawks Ben Obomanu after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons is congratulated by Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll in the second half of a NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)


We’re checking in with each team during their bye week to look at their state of the franchise.

We’ve written about the Titans, Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers this week. The Seahawks are up next.

Season-changing win

Seattle’s Week Five win in New York changed the early complexion of the Seahawks season. Instead of looking like “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes entrants, Seattle may just be a steadily improving young team.

Pete Carroll’s crew looked poor as expected in losses to San Francisco and Pittsburgh. They have won two of three since, with a narrow home loss to Atlanta.

No quarterback controversy yet

Charlie Whitehurst closed out the win against the Giants, but Pete Carroll made it clear that Tarvaris Jackson will keep the starting job if he’s healthy after the bye. Jackson has a strained pectoral, so that’s a big “if.” Jackson’s five games have mirrored the team. He looked awful early, but has steadily improved to “eh, not terrible"while showing some toughness.

More production from surprising places

Carroll and G.M. John Schneider have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough. Undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin leads the team in receiving yards with 330. Guys like safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker K.J. Wright have also stepped up.

Evaluating the offense

Sidney Rice has arrived as advertised: injury-prone and explosive when he plays. It’s surprising that tight end Zach Miller has been an afterthought. Last year’s success story Big Mike Williams disappeared even before he was hurt, and Golden Tate can’t get on the field.

The offensive line looked like a holy mess heading into the season. It still doesn’t look great, but things have stabilized.

Safeties lead the defense. The defense leads the team

Once again, Carroll seems to have an overachieving group. They have played like an average defense overall that is tough to run against despite below average talent. (They are 17th in points allowed and yards allowed.)

Safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor have been the keys. Thomas is one of the best young players in the league at any position. Chancellor has played well. They help make up for a weak cornerback group and mediocre pass rush.

Stuck in the middle

The Seahawks may play too well to get near Andrew Luck, but it’s hard to see them getting over .500 with a tougher schedule this year.

Carroll seemed to tacitly accept the possibility of taking a step back this year with so many young players and Jackson at quarterback. It’s hard to envision them catching the 49ers.