The Seahawks’ preseason home opener represented something beyond a standard-issue exhibition game for three guys recently associated with the color purple.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and wide receiver Sidney Rice came to the Hawks from the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday night’s featured guests at CenturyLink Field.
Bevell proved instrumental in the acquisition of Jackson, whose first order of business was to talk to coach Pete Carroll and advocate the benefits of signing Rice, a free agent.
Or not-so free: His $41 million contract includes a guaranteed $18.5 million, a whole lot more than the Vikings were willing to invest in a receiver who struggled with injuries to his knees and hip during three of his four seasons at Minnesota.
But the one season Rice played entirely at full strength, in 2009, revealed a pass-catching wonder whose 6-foot-4 height made him a mismatch for defensive backs. Rice’s ability to dominate opponents on jump-ball passes could serve as something of a security blanket for Jackson, who has developed a reputation for throwing more accurately in practice than in games that count.
Although the 20-7 defeat to the Vikings didn’t count for anything, it gave fans their first extended glimpse of the post-Matt Hasselbeck Seahawks, whose quarterback is among the nine offensive positions overhauled from last season.
A week after Carroll limited him to two uneventful possessions in San Diego, Jackson played through the first half. Meanwhile, Rice, who sat out the Chargers game with a minor shoulder ailment, made his Seahawks debut.
For all their supposed familiarity with Bevell’s offensive system – and with each other – Jackson and Rice appeared to inhabit dissimilar wave lengths. The new quarterback didn’t throw to the $41 million receiver until 4:36 remained in the first quarter, when the ball was overthrown down the right sideline.
A few minutes later, some apparent confusion on a downfield route preceded another overthrow to Rice, who finally caught two, short passes – late in the second quarter, against the Vikings’ No. 2 defensive unit.
And though there was a jump-ball completion to a tall Seattle receiver enjoying a mismatch advantage, the pass was to the 6-5 Mike Williams.
The struggle to establish a connection between Jackson and Rice was symptomatic of an offense racing against the clock to develop some continuity. Nine position changes would be a challenge during a normal offseason, much less an offseason truncated by a 136-day lockout.
What does the offense need to work on before the 2011 schedule kicks off at San Francisco on Sept. 11? The better question is: What doesn’t it need to work on?