Seahawks practice has a sense of urgency this week, a feeling that the offensive line is leaking, the pass protection is broken and the problem has to be fixed quickly.
Friday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders feels more important than just a final audition before opening day. This game is a call for help.
“We’re very determined to get our issues taken care of,” coach Pete Carroll said after Tuesday’s practice. “I would like to see it suddenly snap into place this weekend. I don’t know that that’s going to happen.
“When you take a look at what this whole offseason gives you with the lack of opportunities to work together and then you take a new group (of offensive linemen) and then you take a young group, it’s as challenging as it can get.”
Because of the lockout, because of the newness and inexperience of the offensive line, because, in the face of withering pass rushes the past two weekends quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has looked as defenseless as a trailer park in a hurricane, assistant head coach Tom Cable is calling this week “an ultimatum week” for his offensive line.
“We’ve known all through camps that we’ve got to prove to ourselves that we can protect the passer, and that’s been the emphasis and we’re not there yet,” Cable said. “It will continue to be our emphasis, but we’ve got a short time now.
“You don’t have any more practice games (after Friday). You don’t have any more do-overs. We don’t panic. Nobody’s saying, ‘Oh, my god. Oh, my god.’ You just say, ‘It ain’t good enough. Fix it.’ ”
Against Denver last Saturday, the Seahawks allowed five sacks. Rookie right tackle James Carpenter was abused by the Broncos’ rookie pass rusher, Von Miller. And for the second week in a row Jackson scrambled just to stay alive.
Carpenter, the Hawks’ first-round pick, is a raw talent who came into camp out of shape. In some ways, he has been his own worst enemy. In other ways, he has been one of the lockout’s prime casualties.
“Our guy has done a marvelous job in a bunch of areas now,” Carroll said in defense of Carpenter. “I’m fired up about him. But there’s still a lot to learn. And there’s a short time to learn it. He has been thrown right in. His feet are in the fire.”
If Saturday had been a regular-season game in Denver, the Hawks’ game plan would have been radically different. Carpenter wouldn’t have been alone on his right-side island.
“We have not set out to help anybody yet,” Cable said. “We want to find out really what we’re capable of. What our weaknesses are. What our strengths are. We wanted to see who we are and, after Saturday, I think we have a pretty good idea in a negative way. We know what the real weaknesses are.
“The bad part was we miscommunicated on three of the five sacks. That’s the part that really kind of burns me, because if you make the right call the guys don’t get there. It looks worse from that standpoint. But it was bad. Period.”
The Hawks need more time, but time is the one element they haven’t had since this truncated camp began. And, 1 ½ weeks before the opener in San Francisco, there is a legitimate concern about whether Carpenter will be ready to start.
Veteran backup Breno Giacomini rotated with Carpenter on the first-team offensive line at Tuesday’s practice.
“It’s a competition that we’re just continuing,” Carroll said. “Giac has done a nice job. He’s put together a really good preseason. We want to make sure that he has the opportunity to show that he can help us.
“We’ll just continue to gather the information and figure it out. We have to do whatever it takes to get it done. We’re in the process of making a few adjustments to make sure things will get worked out when we start two weeks from now.”