Analyzing The Seahawks’ 20-18 win over Titans

Published on August 14, 2010 by     Tacoma News Tribune (Feed)

Initial thoughts on the Seahawks’ 20-18 preseason-opening win against Tennessee on Saturday night at Qwest:

These August games don’t generally mean a lot — given the Seahawks went 4-0 last year when it didn’t count — but first impressions are worth something and Charlie Whitehurst certainly put a good foot forward in his Seattle debut.

The Seahawks’ new backup quarterback completed 14 of 22 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in the second and third quarters before giving way to J.P. Losman.

Mike Williams breaks away from Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton on his way to a 51-yard TD on his first catch Saturday night for the Seahawks.

Yes, Matt Hasselbeck was just 4-of-10 for 26 yards in the first quarter. No, there’s no QB controversy. And, yes, Whitehurst was performing against backup defenders.

But Whitehurst threw the ball crisply and displayed his strong arm well, while also taking advantage of big receiver Mike Williams — and a missed tackle by Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton — for a 51-yard TD on his first drive in blue.

There’s a long way to go, but that had to be a nice confidence booster for a guy with a lot of pressure on his shoulders upon his arrival in Seattle.

Of all the things we saw Saturday night, the poise and accuracy of Whitehurst stood out as a strong plus.

Not as impressive was Losman, whose interception in the fourth quarter on an underthrown ball in the flat to Ruvell Martin, allowed Tennessee to nearly come back and win the game.

Any notion that Losman was going to challenge Whitehurst for the No. 2 role has disappeared in the first two weeks of camp. Saturday’s showing did nothing to change that.

Seattle’s first-unit defense certainly didn’t impress by giving up a 10-play, 79-yard drive to the Titans’ starters on the opening series, with Aaron Curry capping things off by drawing a personal foul for throwing a punch after the extra point.

It’s worth remembering that Will Herring started in place of a sore-hamstringed Lofa Tatupu, but still, the Titans made that drive look way too easy … and then promptly took reigning NFL rushing champ Chris Johnson out of the game.

Had to like the showing of Mike Vickerson at nose tackle after he replaced Colin Cole on the second series. The big man looked ready to play against his former Titans team and stuffed the run a couple times.

  • Also impressive was starting defensive end Chris Clemons, who had a 13-yard sack of Chris Simms and also was fast in pursuit of starting QB Vince Young when he threw an interception to Josh Wilson in the first quarter.

    If Clemons can get some pass rush, the Seahawks’ new defensive alignment has a chance.

  • Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates kept things pretty vanilla with his substitution patterns. Veterans Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmandzadeh got all the first-quarter work with Hasselbeck, with Golden Tate operating as the No. 3 receiver.

    The first three passes went to Branch, with two catches for 14 yards. Housh had two for 12.

    Julius Jones played the entire first quarter at running back and had five carries for 13 yards. Justin Forsett replaced him in the second quarter and totaled 17 yards on seven tries, plus a 30-yard reception.

    Not sure if that means Jones is regarded as the early starter and that Branch and Houshmandzadeh are embedded as the No. 1s. Remember, this was the first preseason game and there’s still a month before the opener.

  • Mike Williams provided instant impact on his NFL return with a 51-yard TD catch on the first pass thrown to him from Whitehurst when Mouton whiffed on the tackle on about a 10-yard out route.

    Nice start for both Williams and Whitehurst, though the same combo seemed to miscommunicate later in the second quarter when Whitehurst threw an interception to Mouton.

  • There wasn’t much rest for the rookies as Russell Okung played the entire first half and the first two snaps of the third quarter before being replaced by Mansfield Wrotto.

    Wrotto played just seven snaps on the next drive before Okung was sent back in, with the coaches apparently displeased with Wrotto, before he came back in on the next series.

    Similarly, Earl Thomas played all the way at free safety in the first half even after the rest of the defensive starters took a seat, though he didn’t come back out in the third quarter as Jamar Adams took over that spot.

    Both seemed to perform fairly well. Okung held up as the Titans twice beat Sean Locklear at right tackle for a sack and a deflection, while Okung didn’t give up any obvious big plays.

  • I continue to like the looks of rookie Walter Thurmond at cornerback as the former Oregon Duck applied a big hit to 248-pound tight end John Cook late in the first half. Not sure how wise it is to have Thurmond back returning punts already as he recovers from a knee injury, but it obviously means he’s feeling full go.

  • Seattle’s linebacker shortage — with Tatupu and Leroy Hill both out — became quickly evident when the second-unit trio of Alvin Bowen, Dexter Davis and Matt McCoy took the field midway through the second quarter.

    Tennessee immediately ripped off a 46-yard run up the gut by Javon Ringer. But McCoy later recovered a fumble, Davis had a sack and the Seahawks tightened things up so well that the Titans never scored on the backup defense until a field goal with 12:28 remaining and then a 28-yard drive set up by Losman’s interception.

    Bowen was so eager to play that he kept chasing Titans QB Rusty Smith for about 20 yards on a fourth-quarter play even after his helmet had been ripped off. Bowen lost his helmet again on a goal-line tackle of LaGarrette Blount.

    Considering the situation, with Bowen just signed last Sunday and Davis converting from college defensive end, the backup linebackers performed remarkably well.

  • He’d likely never have done it in the regular season, but Carroll went with a “gutsy” call on fourth-and-2 at midfield late in the third quarter and hit it with a 36-yard lob pass from Whitehurst to Deon Butler, which set up Seattle’s clinching TD on a 4-yard pass to rookie tight end Anthony McCoy that made it 20-7.

    Tennessee earlier called for a successful fake punt in the first half. Who said preseason games have to be boring?

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