Let's take a look at the Quick Hits:
1. Tom Ashworth - I've always admired the way the New England Patriots conduct business under Bill Belichick, and I'm starting to think that one of the most admirable coaching jobs in recent memory was whatever Pats offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia did to make Tom Ashworth a serviceable offensive lineman during Ashworth's four years in Foxboro. Ashworth's first regular-season appearance for Seattle came in the opener against the Lions last year, when he came in for one play to give Walter Jones a breather at left tackle after Jones injured his ankle. Ashworth immediately gave up a sack and was pulled.
While he did put forth somewhat credible efforts in six starts at right tackle last year, Ashworth proved once again in this game that he is an absolute menace on the left side. He gave up at least two sacks (primary blown blocks), including one to Packers DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila which caused a Seneca Wallace fumble, which linebacker Nick Barnett returned for a touchdown. Ashworth compensated for his abysmal pass protection with pathetic run blocking - he was the goat on more than one Shaun Alexander stuff. Walter Jones didn't make the trip to Green Bay due to a shoulder injury, and he's probably done for the preseason. While this game was Ashworth's fault, any more participation on the left side will be entirely the fault of Seattle's coaches.
2. Leonard Weaver - Look, I like Weaver a lot. I like the fact that he's so mobile at 250 pounds. I like his old-school stiffarm. I like the fact that as a former tight end, he could provide a receiving option out of the backfield, the kind that Matt Hasselbeck hasn't had in a long time. (The kind that's especially important when your offensive line is a joke). I first saw the undrafted free agent out of Carson-Newman college in his rookie training camp of 2005, where I promptly christened him "The Hydrant", after observing that he resembled a fire hydrant with arms. I think that Weaver could be a great change of pace back for Seattle.
However … there is the small matter of Mr. Weaver's blocking. The thing about being listed as a fullback is that they expect you to block. After Mack Strong's 2006, it's possible that the Seahawks are expecting things other than blocking from their fullbacks, but I’m guessing not. If Weaver is going to be a fullback in name only like Dallas Clark is a tight end in name only, that's fine. I don't care. But if that's the case, don't put the guy in there, have him hang in the backfield, expecting any pass pro at all. Either that, or coach him up on the blocks. We are still blocking, right?
3. Special Teams - Well, there's "special" as in exceptional, and there's "special" as in … shall we say … short bus. Given the overall performance today, I'm guessing that the ST unit will be riding on the latter for a while. At least four returns were eradicated by penalties (on one return, THREE DIFFERENT SEAHAWKS were called for holding on the same play).
There was rookie receiver Robert Ortiz' fourth-quarter punt return fumble (Technically, he fumbled, picked up the ball and fumbled again). Ortiz caught a break when a Green Bay penalty caused a re-kick, but he followed up his first return by bumping into his own blocker, tight end Bennie Joppru. When another Green Bay penalty caused another re-kick, receiver Joe Fernandez was the returner all of a sudden. Pretty much typified the whole adventure. I think Fernandez's return was affected by another penalty, but I started to lose focus at that point.
4. "Veteran Clubhouse Presence" - I know it's just the second game of the preseason, but have we seen any real results from the supposed "new secondary" provided by veteran safeties Deon Grant and Brian Russell, not to mention new secondary coach Jim Mora? I've been watching closely, and I'm seeing the same number of blown coverages, missed assignments, and out-of-place defenders. Is it possible that in going for veteran savvy and leadership, the Seahawks didn't place enough of a premium on athleticism and coaching?
The returns are early, so
I'll refrain from making judgments just yet. However, I'm wondering how many
weeks we'll have the "Hey, they're all adjusting to a new system"
excuses if the secondary still struggles. Is that really acceptable? I mean,
if you throw out younger guys with more raw athletic ability in favor of supposed
leadership, shouldn't the training wheels be taken off sooner than later?
5. Maurice Morris - Shaun Alexander is the obvious incumbent at running back, and Leonard Weaver is the Flavor of the Month, but let's not forget about backup Maurice Morris. When playing behind a weak offensive line, Morris might be the best option because he's not a patient runner by nature - more of a Denver-style "one-cut-and-go" guy. He was also the first running back to rush for over 100 yards for the Seahawks last year, after Alexander struggled with the line and injuries.
Seattle now has running backs who can do different things. Alexander is making the big scratch, but he'll be 30 when the season starts, and his lack of enthusiasm for blocking and pass-catching is obvious. It's time to save his legs a but and rotate creative options in more often. Mike Holmgren has to know that he no longer has the offense he had on 2005, when he could set the play sheet to Auto-Pilot and run Shaun 25 times per game. If he does that this season, his star running back will be on IR by Week 6.
6. Ben Obomanu - The second-year receiver was one of the few bright spots today as he continued his fine preseason. He made a great play on Seattle's first punt, tackling returner Will Blackmon for no gain, and picked up two receptions for 24 yards. It would seem that he has at least the fifth receiver spot sewn up.
7. Brandon Mebane - Based on his limited activity, I'm starting to think that Seattle's third-round draft pick might be a great complement to Marcus Tubbs as a run-stopping defensive tackle. He displays the ability to take on double teams, and he's got the kind of short-area quickness required for tackles in traffic. The star of Seattle's 2007 trainng camp is definitely one to watch.
8. David Greene - In a word, Holy Crap. Greene needed a solid performance to validate his status as the third-string quarterback, and to stop the ever-increasing doubters' choir that seems to believe that the Seahawks would be better-served by any other player in his position. After Seneca Wallace was pulled late in the first half for his own safety, Greene came in and promptly threw the first of two interceptions to second-year cornerback Jarrett Bush. His third pick, stolen by Charlie Peprah, was more the fault of receiver Joe Fernandez, who had a high but catchable ball in traffic. Fernandez simply allowed Peprah to take the ball away.
That said, Greene will win no awards for this performance, and the doubters will turn up the volume. There are factors beyond Greene's own ineffectiveness - the Seahawks lost Matt Hasselbeck to a knee injury for four games last season, leaving Wallace as the only real option at the position. Many would like to see what Wallace could do as a receiver/returner, but that won't happen if the guy at Greene's position can run an offense without barfing all over himself. Based on the iffy accuracy and forced throws we saw tonight, Wallace got no closer to being split wide at any time. Tbose who point to Greene's relative effectiveness at the ned of the first half should go back and watch the defense he was facing - full-on "retreat". Packers defensive coordinator had The Napkin in full effect, y'all. There isn't a quarterback in the NFL who can't look halfway decent against a two-minute prevent when the defending team is up by four touchdowns.
9. Mike McCarthy - Not only did Green Bay's coach pick up some heavy Steve Spurrier Bad Karma Points for calling pass plays repeatedly at the end of this blowout, but he won the Mike Martz Tinfoil Hat Award for challenging an A.J. Harris fumble on a running play with four minutes remaining in the game. Holmgren didn't seem too happy about that at all, and he was on solid ground.
The Verdict - Preseason games are more about individual matchups and perfoirmances and less about the score. I don't care one bit that the Seahawks got blown out; what concerns me is HOW it happened.
Without Jones and Sean Locklear, the offensive line is a mess. That's not a complete surprise, but I don't ever want to see Tom Ashworth at left tackle again unless he's doing it for a division opponent. Offensive line depth shouldn't be this much of an issue - with all the personnel acumen in Seattle's front office, it's inexcusable. Seven sacks overall tell a very sad story. The quarterback performances were almost completely inconclusive because of that horrid protection, though Greene had better pass pro and stunk up the joint. The special teams haven't been this bad since they were run by Alleged Coach Mark Michaels before Bob Casullo's Reign of Loudness (new man Bruce DeHaven has his work cut out for him), and the secondary looks entirely too pedestrian for all the hype I've been hearing.
The Seahawks will next face the public at home next Saturday at Qwest Field against the Minnesota Vikings. Reunions with fan favorites Steve "Poison Pill" Hutchinson and E.J. "It's not a late hit if it isn't called" Henderson will provide the drama. The Seahawks need to provide the stability, and they can start by using this game as a teaching tool for … well, just about everything.