Charlie Todaro

Preseason Week 3: Seahawks vs. Broncos Themes to Look for


12thmanThe Seahawks are going into their third preseason game with one simple goal: to improve in all phases and eliminate the penalties and sloppy play that plagued them in Week 2.

This week has been the most intense week of preparation thus far; game plans were handed out, film study was a part of the preparation, practices were more scripted and players are simply becoming more accustomed as to how to compete during the week.

In Denver, they're looking to build momentum with their first units and figure out who will make the 80-man roster—let alone the 53-man roster after Week 4. They're also hoping to get opportunities to work on crucial game situations that will prepare them for the regular season.

Here are 10 themes to watch as the Seahawks play their final preseason road game—the last chance to get it "right" on the road before the season begins.

A More Formal Introduction to the First Unit Offense

One of the most scrutinized areas for the Seahawks this preseason has been the first unit offense—and for legitimate reason.

The focus this week in practice was simply getting better. The Seahawks are looking forward to executing a game plan—at least for a half—for the first time this preseason—their first attempt at teaching the players how to understand the process of preparation before a game.

As training camp has felt "rushed," this is their best opportunity to prepare as they would during the season. The onus is on getting ready to play, so game day feels as natural as possible given the restraints. As all teams are facing the challenge of a rushed training camp, it's simply a matter of minimizing the mistakes.

One position to watch closely is the increased involvement of the tight ends, which has been a topic of note throughout the preseason. But now as we are closing in on the regular season, expect to see more variation with how this group is used—more movement, mismatches and potentially three tight end sets.

Another aspect of the offense I'm looking forward to seeing is more continuity from the first team receivers. The return of Ben Obomanu should be a welcome addition, a versatile receiver who can be used all over the field to complement both Williams and Rice.

The position under the largest spotlight is the offensive line. Tom Cable noted the biggest problem with offensive line is "not doing a good job of keeping the pocket integrity."

They need to keep the pocket cleaner—give it more structure so the quarterback has passing lanes and room to move. This is a group that simply needs reps.

Youth will be a constant issue, but they are improving as time goes on according to Cable—does anyone from a solid second unit eventually gets a chance.

On the whole, the first unit will look to establish a rhythm and gain continuity—a major focus on limiting the penalties. They must protect the quarterback, and the skill position players must continue to grow as a group, by helping the quarterback in the passing game and contributing in the running game.

"Move the Ball and Put Some Points on the Board;" Can Jackson Carry the Offense?

 

Seattle Seahawks: Quarterback Quandary?


12thmanHas the 12th Man Fueled a Quarterback Quandary?

Two weeks in a row, same result; Tarvaris Jackson spent his time scrambling and simply trying to survive, while Charlie Whitehurst impressed with the second team. Now, members of the 12th man are clamoring about a budding quarterback quandary—but according to Carroll, Jackson will remain the starter

While I watched the Vikings take care of business in the first preseason game at CenturyLink, I also happened to browse various chats happening on the mainstream Seahawks’ blogs and news sites.

Based on what I read, I believe opinions are across the board in regards as to what should happen at the quarterback position.

But, one of the most prevalent opinions—but certainly not the only—is that Charlie Whitehurst deserves snaps with the first team; or at the very least, he's proving that he deserves a legitimate shot at the starting quarterback position in the near future, especially if Jackson falters.

Even former safety Lawyer Milloy gave his vote for Whitehurst via twitter during the game.

While Jackson is simply surviving, Whitehurst is thriving; the first unit has looked overmatched and the backups have been solid. But, the differences in game speed and other variables don’t equate to an equal comparison, and that fact shouldn’t be downplayed.

Seattle Seahawks: Preseason Report Card Week 2


tarvarisjacksonsackThe Seahawks were unable to engineer their second straight second-half comeback, as they fell to theVikings 20-7 in their preseason home opener.

While last weeks’ win in San Diego was full of positives, this weekend carried a bit of a different tune.

Carroll got up to the podium during his postgame presser and announced that there were few bright spots in this game, appearing to be generally disappointed with the performance.

Preseason grades are based on the play of all units. How did the team grade out in Week 2?

Quarterback

For the second week in a row, the quarterbacking was solid. Tarvaris Jackson played the first half and Charlie Whitehurst played all but the last drive of the game; Josh Portis coming out for mop-up duty once the game was out of hand.

Jackson showed a better rhythm in Week 2, but he was continually running for his life or on his back due to poor pass protection—more on that later. He made a nice throw down the seam on the first play of the game that was dropped by Golden Tate—a deep out to Williams in the red zone on the fourth drive is another notable, solid throw.

He continued to show his athleticism, evading pressure—breaking a Jared Allen sack early—and scrambling for a few first downs.

However, Jackson still was unable to get anything completed down the field. He threw one deep ball to Rice out of bounds and an outside-the-red zone throw into the end zone towards Rice was almost picked by the safety.

The throw should have gone to Williams, who was on the outside of Rice with single coverage.

The tipped-pass interception appeared a bit behind Tate, and he struggled with accuracy on a few other throws. But, he appeared to play a bit better than Week 1; 11-of-21 with an interception and another one dropped is another performance that shouldn't be counted against him per se but leaves something to be desired.

Whitehurst shined with the second unit for the second week in a row, but as Carroll noted, "It’s really two different halves, in the way that they were able to play, and the guys that were in the game.

It was much harder early on. Our matchups weren’t there." He did admit that Whitehurst's play was one of the few bright spots.

Whitehurst was 14-of-19, though Carroll went as far as to say he could have been 18-of-19 during the postgame. Whitehurst looked confident and decisive on three step drops, was poised on rollouts, handled pressure well and generally made smart decisions.

On his touchdown pass, he handled the low snap, evaded pressure, scrambled with his head up and made a nice throw to the back of the end zone. It's worth noting that Whitehurst needed 19 attempts to throw for 97 yards, partly a product of the play-calling.

Portis was an uninspiring 2-of-9 for 14 yards, and he took a sack, but four rushes for 46 yards displayed his elite athleticism.

While the offense is struggling to create points thus far in the preseason—the first team offense hasn't gotten into the end zone—the quarterback play is not one of low points through the first two games, in my opinion.

The trend from Week 1 continued, notably Whitehurst's very solid play, and the position looks to be improving as a whole. What happens if Whitehurst "outplays" Jackson again next week? Does he see first team reps before the regular season?

Grade: B-/B

Running Back and Fullback

2011 Seattle Seahawks: Training Camp Notes


earlthomasThe Seahawks have wasted little time rebuilding the program since the start of free agency; Pete Carroll and John Schneider are approaching the turnover in year two with the same, surprising vigor they displayed in year one.

There are fresh faces at nearly every position; a handful of those players already making an impact. However, free agent acquisitions hit the field for the first time on Thursday, and the team has been complete for only three days.

Now, Seattle is full speed ahead in implementing months of hard offseason work; but the process is really just beginning, as the coaching staff can finally see the team in action.

Can the Red Jerseys Right the Ship

 

Tarvaris Jackson's rise to starter before he took a snap surprised some, but I agree that for now, it makes sense.

Whitehurst simply can't command the offense in a similar fashion as Jackson without knowing the playbook. The jury remains out on Whitehurst and it's worth mentioning that his contract is non-guaranteed.

Whitehursts' play has picked up a bit over the course of camp and it would be surprising to see Seattle give up on him so quickly, especially without a viable backup plan--rookie Josh Portis' play has improved as camp has progressed, " a pleasent surprise" in the words of quarterback coach Carl Smith. Some news to note; but, putting an undrafted free agent in the back-up spot is an unorthodox move.

On to Jackson, who has been on the field for a few days; somewhat rusty, but flashing ability day one and more consistent as time has gone on.

The notable quality Jackson has reportedly displayed is a starting quarterback like swagger, and players' comments have cited his knowledge and command of this offense--the connection between Rice and Jackson appears to have not missed a beat.

A promising sign is that Jackson has come to Seattle critical of his own game and looking to fill the shoes left by Matt Hasselbeck. Furthermore, he understands that the organization is putting talent around him; his job is to let teammates make the majority of the plays.

But for his teammates to make those plays, first he needs to set the tempo in practice. Command of the offense has been a consistent topic this offseason and Jackson needs to prove his command and urgency in the huddle can keep improving.

A lot of pundits are not expecting strong quarterback play in 2011--the organization may feel otherwise. Regardless, the team will struggle if the quarterbacking isn't clean and consistent

A Bullpen of Receivers

Seattle Seahawks: Offseason Concerns for 2011


sea_logo-50x50The 2010 season was an unexpectedly successful first year for head coach/vice president of football operations Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.

The team jumped out to a 4-2 start, then lost seven of nine to set up a win-or-go-home scenario to win the division in week 17 at home against St. Louis.

Two home wins and a road loss in the divisional round of the playoffs later, a malicious mid-season slide turned into a somewhat miraculous season, the organization ended up proud; accomplishing their first year goal of winning the NFC West.

If not for that late-season run, the Seahawks would have likely picked in the top 12 of last month’s draft, fully unable to avoid the “re-building” label.

The organization heads into 2011 with the momentum of their strong finish, resulting in the further establishment of the new culture under Pete Carroll; the downside of that momentum being the expectations for the team to continue to â€œown the division”, a constant pressure that must be negotiated.

The Seahawks are in the unusual position of being both a re-building football team and defending division champion. If they are to continue to uniquely play both roles, the team must be ready to juggle these seven concerns once the lockout is lifted and the 2011 league year officially begins. 

Will the Front Office Find Players to Fill Holes at Almost Every Position?

The following is a list of unrestricted free agents that started for Seattle in 2010, started as injury replacements, or played a key role in sub-packages and special teams—(S) denotes starter, (RS) replacement starter, (S/RS-IR) player ultimately ended up on injured reserve: