Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Before the pre-season started, nearly every Seahawk fan was posed one question - whether it was on talk radio, during dinner conversations, or on internet message forums: what do you want to see in the pre-season? Almost unanimously, the answer was "no injuries". Nobody really seemed interested in going 4-0. The good news, the #1 priority is still intact. The bad news? "Going undefeated" isn't going to happen, but that really isn't such bad news. More concerning is the way Seattle was destroyed - horrible, horrible pass protection.
Handouts to the Standouts: The silence says it all. P Ryan Plackemeier did an admirable job punting… K Josh Brown nailed both attempts in inclement weather… CB Pete Hunter looked really solid in coverage, picking off one pass and getting two hands on another… CB Josh Wilson could provide a real impact as a return man, showing off impressive agility, vision, and speed…
Things That Made Me Go, "Blech!": When your offense turns the ball over 6 times and allows the opposing defense to outscore your entire team, you're either wearing an Oakland Raider's uniform or it's clearly an aberration. The good news is that the Seahawks shouldn't worry about this becoming a regular occurrence. The bad news is that many of the basic problems could become regular occurrences.
Right tackle (definitely not a left tackle) Tom Ashworth is (was? We can hope) the 2nd string left tackle and will result in an offensive meltdown is LT Walter Jones misses any time with injuries. Ashworth can be directly blamed for two sacks on QB Seneca Wallace, and those sacks were not isolated events - he was beaten soundly all game.
Speaking of Seneca Wallace, he didn't exactly discredit the doubters who don't believe the little guy can play QB. Wallace is gifted with a rifle arm and incredible speed, and has good accuracy outside of the pocket, but he is constantly throwing high and that hurts his accuracy. Quite simply, he doesn't have the ability to throw accurately inside the pocket. He can still be useful in his own limited way, but he isn't going to be useful if Holmgren uses him like Hasselbeck's Mini-Me.
Shaun Alexander's 0-2 preseason performance catching passes isn't going to doom this team, but "stone-hands" is the term that comes to mind when "Alexander on the flat" is spoken. Football Outsiders has done some really nice work researching running back ageing, and one of the most important factors in how a back ages is working in passes with runs. Alexander appears to be destined for a Eddie-George plummet instead of a Marshall Faulk glide.
FB Mack Strong was awful last year. He lead all non-linesman in Blown Blocks that lead to sacks (per Football Outsiders) and Seattle was actually more effective running without a fullback than with one, a sign that his run-blocking wasn't in top shape either. Add in a propensity for drops and you have plenty of reasons to work FB Leonard Weaver in as the starting fullback. The only problem is that as bad as Strong was blocking last year, Weaver is worse. It takes a special player to make every blitzer look like Chargers LB Shawne Merriman, but Weaver accomplished it. AJ Hawk pushed Weaver aside like a rag-doll and Atari Bigby did some weird jump-sack thing that looked just plain goofy, until you saw Seneca spitting up muddy grass.
Did you know who Packers DB Atari Bigby was coming into today's game? If not, you might be a member of the Seahawks coaching staff, given as how they made almost no attempt to block him all game. He recorded two sacks (one untouched) and one hit on Seneca, numbers that would make any defensive end jealous, never mind an unknown safety. Again, the Seahawks can believe that this is a regular occurrence; otherwise we will be facing a difficult decision of whether to draft Brian Brohm (after Hasselbeck's career-ending injury), Darren McFadden, or Jake Long with the #1 overall pick.
My own little notes after
each of David Greene's interceptions:
Interception #1: Better protection than Seneca Wallace got at any point in the game, and Greene still manages to rush the throw and send the ball sailing.
Interception #2: Usually, when facing man coverage and the cornerback slips, you throw the ball to the receiver he was covering. If you're David Greene, you wait until the route is completely finished and the corner has recovered before you even start the throw.
Interception #3: Does David Greene even make more than one read? He isn't under a ton of pressure at all but it looks as if he is mentally running the route with the receiver from start to finish. By the time he releases the ball every person on the field - including the security personnel with their backs turned to the action - knows who he is throwing the ball too.
Special Teams: Usually, when a special teams unit performs poorly, it is customary to say that the unit wasn't so special. But, this unit is very special. It requires a special kind of special teams unit to commit three holding penalties on the same return. It's special to watch your coverage units constantly negating booming Ryan Plackemeier punts, bomb after bomb. Being special is definitely required to allow an 83 yard kickoff return, especially when it was only saved by a horse-collar tackle. It's worth noting that, after two years of saying they'll call it, the refs are actually going to call the horse-collar tackle, at least in the pre-season.
Maybe the Sky Isn't Falling?: On a more positive note, the defense was not horrible. Sure, there is absolutely no backbone near the goal-line, but for all the talk of disappointment in our safeties, the secondary was only hit deep once - a beautiful grab by James Jones that just eluded both CB Marcus Trufant and the sideline - and both safeties played fundamentally sound football. Brandon Mebane looked every bit the run-plugger that he was drafted to be, and could be a very solid backup plan if DT Marcus Tubbs is slow to recover from knee-surgery.
WR Nate Burleson might have stolen the #2 wideout spot from DJ Hackett after a beautiful 55-yard catch-and-run that displayed smarts, hands, willpower, and running power. If Seattle manages to keep DJ Hackett as a 4th wideout, that would definitely be a sign of the depth of the wide-receiver position and the improved play of Burleson. Burleson showed that yards after catch ability that makes him such a perfect fit for this offense, and the emergence of Josh Wilson as a kick-returner allows Burleson to focus completely on receiving and not worry about getting injured in the return game.
Maurice Morris looks like he could actually be an acceptable player this year. Or rather, Morris is showing the exact same skill set he has shown every year, but the interior line is significantly better and it actually keeping guys from doing something (such as sneezing, getting a hand on Morris, or sending bad thoughts) that results in Morris being tackled for no gain on inside runs. It is only the pre-season, but if the line can open up holes the size of the grand canyon, Morris showed he can use his good burst to run through them.
Look, I've spent my entire life in the shadow of Seattle. I am used to the rain, it doesn't even make me put on a coat most days. Rain jokes affect me even less. But, Mr. Announcer, Seattle-rain-jokes aren't nearly funny enough to laugh at them for 10 seconds. Actually, your jokes as a whole stunk. They reminded me of Tony Kornheiser, and adding that on top of the nausea caused by Tom Ashworth is just unhealthy.
TE Marcus Pollard might actually defy all his critics and turn in a halfway decent season. I see good hands, great routes, and if he's lost a step it's only because he had speed to spare. However, the depth behind him is atrocious. Bennie Joppru looked terrible, and he's the second most talented guy there. If Pollard goes down with an injury - as 35-year-old tight ends often do - then the Seahawks are in some real trouble.
Depending on where they line up, next week could pose a very interesting battle that might settle an age-old question. Tom Ashworth and Vikings DE Kenechi Udeze should provide an interesting showdown of the nonexistent force versus the incredibly movable object. The good news is that at least there is only a minimal chance Ashworth can cause Hasselbeck to go on injured reserve. The bad news is that Vikings LB EJ Henderson only requires Udeze to tie up Ashworth - Henderson is perfectly capable of injuring Hasselbeck even without Ashworth's help.
Conclusion: It's preseason.
The games don't matter, the score doesn't matter, and we can hope the prospect
of Tom Ashworth protection Hasselbeck's blindside doesn't matter. The only things
that matter is that nobody was hurt and the team will be itching to play well
next week - if for no other reason than to prevent Holmgren from strangling/sitting
on each and every one of them.