Oakland is a team with problems. That made the Raiders perfect opponents for the Seahawks’ final preseason game. After three games in which they struggled in so many areas, the Seahawks will benefit from the reminder that there are some teams they can block, and defenses upon which they can move the ball. So, the biggest gain for the Seahawks Friday night may have been confidence.
That’s particularly true in a few areas.
1) Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson finally operated in a clean pocket and was able to move the team on two nice first-quarter drives. He tried forcing in a pass that was intercepted in the Red Zone, however. He acknowledged the mistake afterward. If it’s lesson-learned, well, that’s why they have the preseason. If he does the same thing against San Francisco and Pittsburgh, then it hints of deeper issues.
2) Young offensive linemen. James Carpenter and John Moffitt got a lot more reps together Friday and showed improvement. On the goal line, both fired out with much lower pad level than they’d shown recently, and that allowed them to be effective. Keeping them in on the field late in the game allowed them to shove around some of the Raiders’ backups, and that, too, can help restore confidence that may have eroded a bit in recent weeks. More than anything, they look like they’re playing into better condition.
3) Golden Tate. Last year’s second-rounder has been tarnished to the point that speculation rose that he’d be cut. Tate admitted he heard the talk. He came up with a big game as a receiver and returner, though, and showed the talent that has mostly been a tease thus far. They’re still trying to find the right buttons to push with Tate. Friday’s success will give Tate confidence in himself and the staff more trust in him.
4) Offense. This was the first game that looked as if it had been game-planned for an opponent. Because of the protection issues in previous weeks, the Hawks relied on quick slants and swing passes to backs early on. It allowed Jackson and the receivers to develop some rhythm they’d been missing.
–The severity of the knee injury to left guard Robert Gallery is not yet known, but his loss could be mitigated by the return of left tackle Russell Okung, which would allow Tyler Polumbus to drop inside to guard, as he did on occasion last season.
–Cornerback Brandon Browner continued to impress. We might have questioned the coverage skills of a 6-4 cornerback, but he’s obviously strong in press coverage, and shown he can still turn his hips and run with fast receivers.
–It was a good game for rookie receiver Kris Dunham, too, who showed he can get open, make the catch and take a hit. Another attribute we hadn’t been able to see much before Friday … he’s an effective blocker downfield.
–Leon Washington continues to come up with ways to show his value. Last season, he one time jumped in on kickoff coverage when a man went down. He knew the responsibilities because he attends all the special teams meetings — even for units he’s not on. Friday, his downfield hustle on a pass intended for Tate allowed him to be in position to catch a deflected ball and take off running for 32 yards. Pure hustle by Washington and once again terrific leadership by example.
–After the game, Okung didn’t want to talk about his ankle injury much, but he practically started giggling about the prospect of being back on the field for next week’s opener. He sounded as if he had no doubts he’d be available.