There are plenty of story lines for the New England Patriots’ visit to Seattle this weekend.
**It’s the league’s No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense.
**It’s the defending AFC champions, the three-time Super Bowl champs led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
**It’s Brady’s first visit to Seattle in his 11 seasons as the Patriots’ starting QB.
**Pete Carroll is facing the team that fired him and led him to become a dominant college coach at USC and a better NFL coach.
**The Seahawks are retiring Cortez Kennedy’s number.
Yes, this is an important game for the Seahawks, for those reasons and because they would love to be 4-2 heading to San Francisco on Thursday.
But this is not a defining game for Seattle by any means. Why not, you ask? Because the Seahawks are not ready to be defined yet.
Oh, sure, their No. 1 defense can make a major statement if it holds the Patriots’ No. 1 offense down. But we already know how good the Hawks’ defense is. We already know they will keep this game close enough for Seattle to be able to win — if the offense is good enough.
And that’s the part of the team that is not ready to be defined yet. The offense is still a work in progress. We all know it will struggle again — in this game and for several more.
The first half of this season is a building session. We have seen how far behind it was in the first month, as expected. And we have seen progress, minimal as it has been. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is starting to get in sync with his receivers. Their performance at Carolina last weekend was their best yet — even if it was barely good enough.
If they are going to beat the Patriots, they will have to take a big step forward. The Patriots surely will stack the line of scrimmage, as Carolina did, to try to stop Marshawn Lynch. Wilson and his receivers will have to take advantage of that.
The Patriots are known for their great tight ends — Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (who reportedly will be a game-time decision) — but the Hawks need to pull a “Patriots” and come out firing to their tight ends in this game.
Zach Miller caught passes of 30 and 23 yards against Carolina, and the Hawks need to keep feeding him. They also need to get Evan Moore involved, as offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said they were trying to do.
They ran a great red-zone formation against Dallas, lining up the three tight ends on the right side and then letting them all loose into the secondary. The result: The Cowboys were so confused that Anthony McCoy was wide open for the touchdown. They need to run more of that.
Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate need to continue to develop. They all came up with big plays against Carolina, and the Hawks need to keep throwing to them.
The Seahawks are relying on the defense to keep them close in every game, and it will. But at some point, if the Seahawks are going to be a playoff team, the passing game is going to have to come through. Even if they don’t this week, they still have time to get it together and still make the playoffs.
The game Sunday against the Patriots is a measuring stick, but it will not define Seattle’s season.