The Seattle Seahawks’ preseason opener had something for everybody – a victory, in which several players turned in impressive performances, but also enough missteps that Pete Carroll and his staff can coach to.
It was only a preseason game – and the opener, at that. But for the Seahawks, Saturday night’s game against the Tennessee Titans at Qwest Field couldn’t have gone much better.
They won, 20-18. There were no serious injuries. There were a lot of good plays by a lot of players. But there also were enough missteps that Pete Carroll and his staff can coach to as the team prepares for this week’s game – also Saturday night at Qwest Field, but this time against a Packers team that drubbed the Seahawks in Green Bay last season.
“I was happy with the overall effort of everyone – everyone worked really hard to try and do the stuff right,” Carroll said Monday, after the players returned from a day off to resume practicing at Bing Training Camp.
“We made a number of mistakes and things, as you do, but the effort was really good and guys were trying to do things within the framework.”
The good: Charlie Whitehurst taking complete control of the No. 2 offense while completing 14 of 22 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns; the defense coming up with three turnovers (interceptions by cornerback Josh Wilson and rookie safety Kam Chancellor and a fumble recovery by linebacker Matt McCoy; spotting the Titans a 7-0 lead on their opening drive, but then shutting them out until fourth quarter; converting nine of 19 third-down situations (47 percent) and also a fourth-and-2 on Whitehurst’s 36-yard pass to Deon Butler; and only four penalties for 36 yards – with Carroll disputing the 12-men-on-the-field call in the second quarter.
The bad: That opening drive by the Titans, which covered 79 yards in 10 plays; a running game that generated 88 yards by averaging 3.1 yards on 28 carries; a sluggish start by the No. 1 offense, as Matt Hasselbeck completed 4 of 10 passes for 26 yards; and a handful of dropped passes.
Here’s what a couple of the key performers in the game liked, and didn’t like:
What they liked
Whitehurst: “We competed. The receivers were good down the field. They made some plays for us, and I thought pass protection was pretty good. There we some good things. Guys were getting after it and showed up.”
In addition to his fourth-down pass play to Butler, Whitehurst also got a 45-yard run-after-the-catch on his 51-yard TD pass to wide receiver Mike Williams, while running back Justin Forsett (30 yards) and wide receiver Ben Obomanu (23) also had big-play receptions. Overall, 15 players caught passes for Whitehurst, Hasselbeck and J.P. Losman.
Defensive end Chris Clemons, who had one of the Seahawks’ two sacks – and got it against Titans Pro Bowl left tackle Michael Roos: “The enthusiasm we had on defense, from the opening bell until the fourth quarter. Everybody was still up. When the starters weren’t in and then the second group wasn’t in, those young guys were out there fighting their hearts out.”
After that opening drive – engineered by starting QB Vince Young and fueled by the running of NFL rushing champion Chris Johnson – the Seahawks held the Titans to 87 yards the rest of the half and 29 yards in the third quarter.
What they didn’t like
Whitehurst: “I think we can run the ball better than we did. I think we’d like to clean that up. We definitely want to be a better running game than we were.”
But the linemen still are adjusting to the zone-blocking scheme of line coach Alex Gibbs, and Saturday night was the first time they went down to actually cut defenders – the key to the system because it opens up the running lanes on the backside. And, the starters were running into a Titans defense that ranked 11th against the run last season.
“So,” Whitehurst added, “it was pretty good for a first time out. But our standards are going to be pretty high around here.”
Clemons: “Well, that opening drive, of course. But overall, we can always play faster. We were pretty physical up front. The guys on the back end were pretty physical. That’s what we need throughout the season – a lot of guys playing physical and fast.”
All in all, it was not a bad outing for Carroll in his return to the NFL for the first time since the 1999 season, and his new-look team that is adjusting to new offensive and defensive schemes.
“It was a good experience for us and it was really cool to see the guys play,” Carroll said. “They worked so hard to get out there and everybody had a good time.”