CHICAGO - Feed him.
According to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, that was the plan heading into Sunday’s game against Chicago, as the Seahawks coaching staff determined that receiver Mike Williams had a good matchup against the Bears’ smaller cornerbacks.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also challenged Williams during the week to start becoming the No. 1 receiver he has the potential to be. Specifically, with the loss of veteran receivers Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and most recently Deion Branch, the Seahawks needed a big-play guy to emerge from the group of young receivers.
Williams was that guy on Sunday, finishing with 10 catches for 123 yards. Heading into the contest the USC product had 11 receptions in Seattle’s first four games, but Hasselbeck said they expected Williams to have single coverage at times with Chicago focusing on stopping Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s running game.
“We gave him the sombrero, as some people would say,” Hasselbeck said. “You’ve got the big job. We’re giving you the big hat, we’re counting on you, and he made it happen.”
Williams’ emergence as a go-to receiver was part of the Seahawks’ overall effort in establishing an offensive identity.
Carroll said the pieces are finally coming together with the way he wants his offense to function, similar to how his offense executed when he was with the Trojans – a power running game with a big receiver on the outside guided by an experienced quarterback who limits turnovers and earns new downs.
“There is no question that Matt continues to grow,” Carroll said. “Frankly, Marshawn Lynch makes a difference to us and our mentality. He was a factor in the game. He helps the quarterback understand what we are trying to get done.
“You can feel it, because you know there is a chance for the running game to be there. That fits the mentality. We were able to play today in a style that we have been talking about. This is the first time. We should have an opportunity.”
The Seahawks had a lot of firsts on offense on Sunday. They scored points for the first time this season in the opening quarter. They scored on the team’s first drive of the game for the first time this season. And Hasselbeck avoided throwing an interception for the first time in a game this season.
Hasselbeck said another reason for the team’s improved performance offensively was the team’s work on playing faster during the bye week, which allowed Seattle to get into a rhythm, something he was accustomed to doing during his years playing for Mike Holmgren.
“We’re still doing everything,” Hasselbeck said. “But getting that tempo, getting that rhythm going where were playing offensive instead of defensive is something that we’ve started to do a little bit better.”
All of that added up to Seattle’s best effort offensively and an impressive win on the road against Chicago.
However, Carroll understands there’s room for improvement. Seattle had seven three-and-outs and punted 10 times. And the Seahawks finished with five penalties for 83 yards.
“We should have an opportunity to improve,” Carroll said. “We are just getting started. This is our first full game together. We will get better, I hope, if we stay right, clear-minded and humble.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8734