Charlie Todaro

Things to Watch in Practice for Week 1


jacksonlynchComing off a positive finish to the preseason, the Seahawks have already started their preparation for Week 1 in San Francisco.

An up-and-down preseason highlighted many concerns for this team: youth, inconsistency at quarterback and along the offensive line, a handful of new starters on defense, and continued roster turnover have created varied opinions about how this team will fare in 2011.

For Pete Carroll and this organization, preparation is paramount; how you play can only be as strong as the practice and preparation. Opening the season on the road and against a division rival is not an easy test.

"Captain Jackson" and His First Week of Practice

The locker room elected team captains; Tavaris Jackson from the offense, Marcus Trufant from the defense, and Michael Robinson and Leon Washington from special teams.

While Carroll said that he liked the choices of the players, the comments of Mike Williams were a bit more emphatic:

"It's a tough situation to come in to, with Matt (Hasselbeck) leaving. So much criticism and ridicule for a guy who is yet to have a shot to play, it's kind of unbelievable. It's overwhelming for a teammate and has to be for him. I just want to tell everybody to back the hell up, let him play, let him have a shot to work, to do his thing."

Would it be a concern if the quarterback wasn't wearing "C" on his jersey? If Jackson is going to get the chance to be a leader, with no one else on the offense capable of pulling rank, he should be the captain. It wouldn't have been an environment truly curbed toward giving Jackson the chance if he wasn't captain.

The role of the quarterback position is now clear, if it wasn't an already. This is a sign the leadership is coming from the top down. The Seahawks veteran receivers are spreading the message of the coaching staff and supporting Jackson; the locker room understands the staff's plan for Jackson.

They've given the ultimate symbol of leadership to "captain" Jackson. He faces a tough first test as the leader of this offense, on the road and against a division rival. A win on Sunday starts with setting the tone in the huddle on Wednesday.

Brandon Browner Prepares for His First NFL Start

 

Seattle Seahawks: Preseason Recap


petecarrollThe Seahawks capped off the preseason with a 20-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders, and quickly began cutting a talented, young 80-man roster down to 53 players. While the Seahawks had flashes of brilliance during the preseason, it is clear that leadership roles are shifting and the team hasn't gelled yet.

The Raiders' game provided the first team with their final audition, and proved this is a new team moving forward; the front office is fully immersed in their plan for rebuilding the organization.

The team finished 2-2 after an up and down preseason, hopefully setting a positive tone for a two game road trip to start the year. Where does this team stand as they head into Week 1?

To the Coaching Staff and Players, the Win Wasn't Meaningless

The Seahawks' home loss to Minnesota left a sour taste in the locker room and while the win against the Raiders really doesn't mean anything on paper, it sets the tone going into the regular season.

They won on both the road and at home; at the very least got to experience what it feels like to win in varied atmospheres.

Plus, Carroll will take advantage of any team building opportunity that presents itself; intimating the final preseason game was a "mini Super Bowl" when he got to the podium for the post game presser.

Going into the game, I mentioned the importance of the coaching staff's preparation and effort getting the 80 man roster ready to compete; the goal being to put a product on the field that could garner a bit of optimism heading into the season.

The entire team played with energy and toughness, looking like a more cohesive unit than we've seen to this point. Pass protection was very improved and the defense allowed three points.

Even with cuts looming, the focus was on performing and celebrating the end of the preseason as a unit; Carroll's unusually optimistic attitude and methods shining through.

Carroll finished the post game presser fielding a question about running back Thomas Clayton; if there was room for him on the 53 man roster—which there wasn't.

Carroll summed up the decision with they would have to see, but Carroll cracked a smile when taking about Clayton's strong preseason.

It was interesting to see Carroll's reaction, especially coupled with a short interview by Clayton in the locker room afterwards. He was all smiles about the college like atmosphere the Carroll had created in Seattle and said he simply wanted to be a part of it.

The final preseason game was about getting the gameplan right and creating the best atmosphere possible for evaluating the players—a group of reserves that played hard to the final whistle.

Hearing the attitude of bubble players such as Clayton is a sign the organization is in fact building an energetic culture that is attracting players; as a result, the organization had more depth this preseason than expected.

The coaching staff got it right and fielded a football team worth watching in the final game of the preseason, coming through on the expectation of finishing strong; an accomplishment that will hopefully boost the confidence of the team heading into the regular season.

Competitions to Watch, Revisited

 

Seahawks vs. Raiders: Things to Watch


marcustrufant

The Seahawks have had an up-and-down preseason but return home in their final regular season tuneup to host Tom Cable's former team and once-upon-a-time AFC West rival the Oakland Raiders.

While the fourth preseason game is usually a chance to rest the starters, all bets are off this week. Coming off of two straight defeats, the Seahawks have a lot of work to do as they try and keep up with the "race" that is preparing after an abbreviated offseason.

Here are six things to watch as the 'Hawks host the Raiders in the preseason finale.

The Seahawks have had an up-and-down preseason but return home in their final regular season tuneup to host Tom Cable's former team and once-upon-a-time AFC West rival the Oakland Raiders.

While the fourth preseason game is usually a chance to rest the starters, all bets are off this week. Coming off of two straight defeats, the Seahawks have a lot of work to do as they try and keep up with the "race" that is preparing after an abbreviated offseason.

Here are six things to watch as the 'Hawks host the Raiders in the preseason finale.

Starters Will Play and Schemes Will Be Evaluated in Preparation for Opening Day

The Seahawks are not concerned with "tradition" when it comes to not playing starters in the final preseason game. The first unit offense has struggled and needs more time on the field before the regular season; the first unit defense has been more consistent, but still needs time to gel.

We don't know how much time the starters will see, the usually cryptic Carroll implying it will be a wait-and-see scenario depending on how the game goes. The concern is keeping players healthy, but also finding a balance so that the Seahawks have some continuity as they prepare for week one.

Tarvaris Jackson will start. One important aspect of the first team play–on both sides of the ball–will be evaluating how the schemes are developing and where adjustments need to be made heading into the season.

The Seahawks gave Jackson a game plan with slow developing passes and rollouts versus Minnesota. Against Denver, the constant pressure hindered Seattle from learning much about the quarterbacking until late in the third quarter. The goal this week, the same as last week, is to put points on the board; this time, they wont have until the fourth quarter to get it done.

On the offensive line; Russell Okung and has been practicing with the second team, so whether or not he sees the field and with which team remains an unanswered question. Also, do James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini split reps with the first-team?

On defense, the Seahawks need to continue figuring which defensive fronts—"under" four man, "over" four man, "base" alignment, three man—are most effective with their new personnel. Also, which players fit in certain sub packages such as Nickel, Dime, Bandit and anything else Seattle conjures up for 2011.

We haven't seen the first-team offensive line give the quarterback time to move the ball against an opposing first unit and the first team defense needs to be more consistent stopping the run and creating pressure. The first units need a strong start to help set the tone for a long week of practice before the regular season.

Four Competitions to Watch

The offensive line competition was discussed here; four more competitions to watch on Friday:

Wide Receiver: The microscope is on Golden Tate. Ben Obomanu took some snaps coming back from injury, but the organization still likes Tate and wants him in this offense. This is a big game for him, and their expectations will remain high.

Seahawks vs. Broncos: Lessons Learned from Preseason Week 3 Loss


brandonmebaneThe Seahawks managed to hang tough in a last-second loss on a field goal, a 23-20 defeat in Denver. They were significantly out gained in total yards, continued to be plagued by penalties and showed this team has improvement to do before week one. 

Based on Pete Carroll's post game comments, this team will be made aware of the fixes they must make going into the final week of the preseason. Getting better going forward falls on both the coaches and the players, especially heading into a short week, preparing to host Oakland on Friday.  

Here are six lessons learned from the loss in Denver.  

The Big Three Has the Potential to Shut Down the Run, They Just Need Time to Gel

We finally saw Red Bryant, Alan Branch, and Brandon Mebane play together for an extended period of time. While they did not generate much pressure against the pass and allowed a short rushing touchdown, as a group they're stout and disruptive against the running game.

Bryant was back to his beastly ways of early 2010, compiling four tackles. He was making plays along the line of scrimmage and swallowing up ball-carrier's--he stopped a rush attempt on fourth and short. He showed the attitude that the Seahawks need along the defensive line.

The thing that has impressed me the most about Branch this preseason is his balance, especially for a guy who is 6'6" 330. He fills the need I hoped the Seahawks would be able to find in the draft--another Red Bryant type player with long arms and good feet.

He has applied pressure against the running game–he caused the pressure that made Knoshown Moreno trip on the 5 yard run early in the game, when the Broncos were backed up against the goal line-- and showed great balance in pursuit of the screen game, moving along the line of scrimmage. He has also managed to deflect a pass in each game.

Mebane had a tackle for loss and allowed Branch and Bryant to get to the ball. They held a respectable Broncos rushing attack under four yards a carry in the first half-- they were also without their starting middle linebacker.

They may not generate much pressure against the pass– though I wouldn't be surprised to see some tweaks in the game plan to see if Seattle can generate more pass rush using three big lineman – but their main objective is to stop the run. The upside exemplified by Chris Clemons' interception when he dropped into coverage; the big three allows for wrinkles to be added to the defense. 

If they can stay healthy, this defense will have a lot of versatility. But, this trio must continue to gel and prove capable of being the base of the run defense.

Earl Thomas and Marcus Trufant Look Nearly Ready for the Regular Season

Why It Makes Sense For Seattle Seahawks to Stick with Tarvaris Jackson


tarvaris-jackson-082111A number of polls taken over the Internet have revealed that the 12th man is ready to see Charlie Whitehurst take over as the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. However, we learned on Tuesday that Pete Carroll is officially sticking with Tarvaris Jackson.

So how big of a dilemma is this?

Based on this Seattle PI poll from Monday, only seven percent of fans think Jackson should remain un-judged after his two preseason games.

Based on my poll, taken from Monday into Tuesday—albeit a much smaller sample—under 11 percent (as of this writing) of fans want to see Jackson start Week 3; 77 percent want Whitehurst. Josh Portis garnered the rest of the votes.

On Monday evening, I dove into Pete Carroll’s book Win Forever to see what his anecdotes about football experiences past and his team-building philosophy could offer to the situation.

Given the disparity in opinion between the 12th man and Carroll’s postgame comments, I decided this was as good a place as any to look for some insight.

Some of his thoughts presented in the book struck a chord in relation to his postgame comments that he wasn’t currently in the mindset of thinking about or having a competition; they simply needed to get better to help Jackson.

 

I thought that if he was truly intent on sticking with Jackson, he would play Jackson for most, if not all, of the first-team snaps in Denver. He wouldn’t jump ship to Charlie Whitehurst, not after two preseason games. Come Tuesday evening, I wasn’t surprised by his comments.

Per The News Tribune, on Whitehurst playing with the first team, Carroll said, “It depends on how the game goes. I have got to wait and see how it works out. Right now I don’t know that yet. But I’m not worried about that. Charlie is functioning beautifully. He’s doing fine right now, and he’s pushing hard. He’s farther along than I thought he’d be this early. He’s very comfortable with what’s going on, and it just makes us stronger at the QB spot.”

He has already said he thinks Jackson gives the Seahawks the best chance to win now. In theory, whenever he feels Jackson doesn't give the Seahawks the best chance to “win now” is when he’ll open a competition. But because he’s already given Jackson the chance, he’s following his “philosophy” in how he handles Jackson.

Jackson was the starter before practicing with the team, which was surprising, but now I’m a little less surprised. A little back story about why:

When Carroll went to USC, he unveiled his football philosophy to his team during a late-night practice in the L.A. Coliseum, which ended up being an offense versus defense battle of tug-o-war, used as a tool to help explain the “buy in” mentality he would demand from his players.