Seahawks Insider

Pete Carroll’s goal for tonight is also the key to Seahawks’ season: “Protect better”

Post by Gregg Bell / The News Tribune on Aug. 15, 2014 at 10:19 am with 24 Comments »
August 15, 2014 5:33 pm

Tonight’s primary goal for the Seahawks’ offense in the second exhibition game will be easy for all of us to assess: Keep Russell Wilson and the quarterbacks from getting chased and hit as much by the San Diego Chargers as they were last week by the Denver Broncos.

Wilson got hit three times on Seattle’s first, five-play drive in the exhibition opener. He was sacked once and hit after he threw on two other plays.

“No, that’s by design. Russell was getting kind of cocky so we wanted to make him get banged up a little bit,” coach Pete Carroll joked on Thursday.

This happened far too much in Seattle's exhibition opener -- Russell Wilson getting hit -- before the patchwork offensive line rebounded on Seattle's second drive (AP Photo).
This happened far too much in Seattle’s exhibition opener — Russell Wilson getting hit — before the patchwork offensive line rebounded on the second drive (AP Photo).

“We’d like him to not get hit at all, that’s the whole plan here. When he’s running he gets away from the tacklers. When he’s in the pocket he gets rid of the football or gets out of bounds so they don’t get him. I don’t know if we can do better. This is a very aggressive team coming at us (tonight). They like to rush a lot of guys and come after you on the pass rush. They play the run real aggressive and they attack.

“We’re going to have to protect better than we did last week. Hopefully we can get them through it. That wasn’t what we wanted to have happen.”

This isn’t just a Seahawks key for tonight. I see the effectiveness of the offensive line as the key to this entire quest of becoming the first team since the 2003-04 Patriots to repeat as Super Bowl champions. New England is the only defending champ to do it over the last 15 season.

I think we can agree the Seahawks won it all last season sometimes despite their offensive line. I don’t think that can happen again in 2014. Line play, of course, is the key to any team’s success, but it seems especially so for this one. That is why the Seahawks may not be finished adding veteran blockers from around the league. That is also why I will be spending a lot of time and keystrokes this season detailing what is going on up front.

Yes, it’s only Aug. 15. But as offensive-line coach Tom Cable told me on Sunday, he wanted the blockers to have formed continuity a day before yesterday. Tonight, with two of three injured starters being back, will be another measure of how close or how far the Seahawks are from where they want to be up front.

There are three reasons Wilson may not get as harried tonight as last week: Max Unger, James Carpenter, plus the defense they are facing.

The starting center and starting left guard are back are missing last week because of Unger’s groin and Carpenter’s calf injuries. Left tackle Russell Okung returned this week to full practicing for the first time since spring surgery on his toe and foot, but it appears he won’t make his exhibition-game debut until next week at home against Chicago. Then the line will be whole, with J.R. Sweezy at right guard and rookie Justin Britt still starting at right tackle over recently acquired veteran Eric Winston.

As Wilson said: “We’re getting our guys back.

“I’m not concerned about it. Sometimes playing the quarterback position I have to stand in there and take the hits. It’s part of the game.”

Plus, the Chargers — as aggressive as Carroll noted they are — are more likely to be in somewhat conservative, preseason-evaluation mode on defense than the Broncos were. As we’ve discussed, Denver was in full Super Bowl Redemption Night mode last week. The Broncos blitzed multiple linebackers and safeties and employed elaborate, regular season-grade stunts, looping and switching defensive linemen well into the third quarter. The Chargers? They didn’t get embarrassed in the most recent Super Bowl by these Seahawks. And they may not want to show as much of their defense tonight, knowing they host Seattle in week two of the real season next month.

Asked if he almost “looked forward” to getting hit last week, just to get the feel of an NFL game after six months of not being touched on the field, Wilson laughed.

“Do I look forward to the hits?” he said, his voice rising. “I’m tough, but I can’t say I look forward to hits.”

–This is the first year since 2002 that Seattle is playing three opponents in the preseason that it will also meet in the regular season. That last time was also when the rotation of the NFL inter-conference schedule had the Seahawks against the AFC West in the regular season. I explore this quirk in scheduling and how it has changed this from a usual exhibition season for Carroll and his staff in my main story in today’s News Tribune.

–That story also contains my Seahawks Gameday box with what and whom to look for tonight. My Seahawks to watch are in roster-spot battles: Tarvaris Jackson (who will play more tonight), Terrelle Pryor (I still have a belief Carroll is going to keep all three quarterbacks), Tharold Simon, Chris Matthews and Stephen Schilling.

–TNT intern Evan Thompson, a senior at Central Washington University, put together this lead Seahawks notebook item on Kam Chancellor not only being a coach to younger players while he was out following spring hip surgery but also being a playful mediator(!) on the field between Richard Sherman and an official monitoring a recent practice. Thompson gives us good color here, the kind of reporting and writing we are trying to give you.

My goal is to provide you with details and insight you can’t get on television, to capitalize on my access. I hope we hit on that goal far more often than we miss this season — and beyond.

–As you well know, tonight is the first Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field since the NFC title game in late January. While the stakes are a tad lower tonight, and the crowd understandably won’t be as large or quite as fervent as that night against the 49ers, the players have been talking this week about how excited they are about playing at home again.

“It’s going to be electric. We know it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Wilson said. “We’re looking forward to just being back at that stadium, seeing those fans and seeing how nuts they are.”

–Veteran league writer Pat Kirwan of cbsports.com was in Renton this week. He writes that the Seahawks offense — and Wilson — are more dangerous this season because Percy Harvin is healthy and flying down the field.

–I see in the blog comments many of you aren’t thrilled with Earl Thomas back as the primary punt returner. I hear ya. For what it’s worth, I agree that having your irreplaceable, All-Pro anchor of the defense as the standing target to human missiles flying at him with 40-yard head starts is more than a tad dangerous. Thomas won’t be the only punt returner tonight, so for many of your sakes here’s to hoping someone shines following Thomas tonight, eh?

–Our live News Tribune game chat from CenturyLink Field will begin around 6:30 p.m. tonight at thenewstribune.com/sports. Join Seahawks fans around the world for give and take on what we’re seeing throughout the night.

 

 

Leave a comment Comments → 24
  1. ChrisHolmes says:

    You are hitting the proverbial Home Run Gregg. Wow. Good job running the blog. You are a much welcome addition.

  2. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Good article here on ETs importance to the D.

    Thomas has had one of the best first four years of any Safety in NFL history & has 15 ints despite being the least thrown at in his area.

    Interesting that Easley has the most ints of any safety after their first four years (24) since the NFL merger.

    http://www.fieldgulls.com/seahawks-analysis/2014/8/15/5993871/earl-thomas-seahawks-preview-legion-of-boom

  3. Here is a great article on the Seahawks tackling technique. It’s different than the “heads up” method the NFL preaches, that results in facemask to facemask contact.

    http://mmqb.si.com/2014/08/15/pete-carroll-seahawks-tackling-video/

  4. montanamike2 says:

    I hope Denver feels good after their SB win against our scrubs last week, because they’re in for a whole different story come regular season game 3 at Clink, just having Kam back let alone all our starters will ensure that.
    Glad you agree Gregg that ET is too valuable for punt returns.

  5. “I think we can agree the Seahawks won it all last season sometimes despite their offensive line. I don’t think that can happen again in 2014.”

    Words more true have never been spoken.

    Great job on all of the nuggets that we simply cannot get anywhere else. The word “Insider” is fully back!

  6. montanamike2 says:

    Agree on the o-line too, we won in spite of it.

  7. Macabrevity says:

    If any of you guys haven’t listened to the Pryor interview on Brock and Salk (Aug 12th) yet, I’d recommend it. He comes across as a very intelligent and sincere individual. Gotta say I’m really rooting for the guy….

    http://mynorthwest.com/category/pod_player_sports/?a=9975605&p=1007&n=Brock%20and%20Salk

  8. MikeFromNewJersey says:

    If our line was half way decent last year we probably don’t lose any games…These guys can only get better if they all stay healthy.

    I know I keep repeating myself here but please NO NO NO to Earl returning punts!! Just doesn’t make sense. I actually hope he fumbles his chances tonight just to make the decision easier for Pete.

  9. doubledink says:

    rbuzby, Thanks for that video link. I have wondered how effectively they are able to practice tackling with the new practice rules as they are. Looks like they can work on the fundamentals just fine.

  10. GeorgiaHawk says:

    If I had to choose a team that had a particular weakness, (that they win games in spite of) to win the Super Bowl this season it would be the Seahawks hands down.

    It pretty much goes without saying that all teams that win games, win games in spite of a weakness or perhaps more.

    The Seahawks wouldn’t have had any weakness last season if not for injuries & a couple out of shape players.

    Heck even the Broncos had to overcome injuries & a horrible fumbling problem.

    I think we got a glimpse of how good this team can be in the Super Bowl when healthy.

    The score could have been 60-8.

    I am not worried at all with the o-line this season.

  11. Gregg –

    Long time lurker, some times poster. Just wanted to de-lurk and say “thanks”. As someone stuck in the heart of 9ers land (I can see “the field of jeans” (ugh) from my office), I have to rely on the net for my Seahawks news/analysis. Unfortunately, this blog has been hit or miss since Sando got the call from ESPN. This time, it seems like the Trib found somebody who will do the blog justice. I like your approach, attitude, and style and am looking forward to reading your work this season.

    BTW, serious kudos for your handling of the Lynch situation. These days it’s rare to see somebody do the right thing (IMHO) and not immediately run to twitter with the latest juicy rumor/accusation.

    Regards,
    tw

  12. patmcfar8 says:

    Wow… I came here to say almost the exact same thing as twillis. The only difference being I’m a little further away from the home of the Santa Clara Niners. But I can see the place where Kaepernick played college ball.

    Great job so far, and I look forward to following you throughout the season. Go Hawks!

  13. Singularitarian says:

    I disagree about Earl Thomas returning punts:
    If he is head and shoulders better than everybody else at it, I say do it. Pete Carroll loves special teams and views it almost as important as offense and defense. You play your studs where they can impact the game. Now I don’t want to see Thomas running back a punt in the 4th quarter of a 27 point trouncing of the Dallas Cowbows, but in a close game, if you got a home run threat and you feel better about his awareness and ball safety, I say let him rip and give the team the best shot at a W. Playing scared is for losers

  14. sluggo42 says:

    Well,
    I was going to say good job Gregg, but there is already too much brown nosing going on today. So, I won’t..

    For me tonite, I want to see CMike run run run, and see if we can open up a passing attack early to show off our fleet of feet fleet. Or FLOFF
    I don’t expect the defense to be much less vanilla than last week, cuz we don’t want to spill the beans about what they will be eating come week #2, when I will be visiting Qualcomm stadium.

    SO, let’s get it on

    War Hawks

  15. chawk4ever says:

    Just wanted to say hi to other Seahawks fans living in California. Grew up in Enumclaw but I have lived in California since 1975. Read twillis in SF and patmcfar8 also from California I feel for you as I live about two miles from Kaepernick’s parents home and I have heard he has home in same area. All of my friends are niner fans so it was a lot of fun last year! Looking forward to another. This is my first post but have followed this insiders column for years.

  16. Eagles – Patriots is about to start. Should be interesting to see Browner in another uniform, eh?

    Watching it streaming online for free too. Take THAT Comcast! Ha.

  17. Tight end ZACH MILLER has been placed on injured reserve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. DreadHawks says:

    I believe that would be chicagos TE last name Miller.

  19. Brady just threw a pick six after moving the ball downfield on his first drive. It was the tight ends fault.

    Chicago TE? Well that’s a relief.

  20. MikeFromNewJersey says:

    @Singularitarian

    If Earl gets hurts tonight returning a punt and is out for the season would you still feel this way?

    How about this? Why don’t we just let Russell Wilson return punts if he is as you say “head and shoulders above everyone else”? Would you be ok with that?

    It’s a BAD BAD BAD move.

  21. A bad Madden ad with Sherm, Kraperdick, Kevin Hart.
    http://www.thescore.com/nfl/news/555903

  22. From what I have seen, Earl is not a great INT returner. Motivated, and very good yes, but not great. I don’t think he is the best punt returner on the team.

    I am sticking to my idea that having a punt returner competition is Pete’s way of keeping Earl and the other guys engaged during pre season. He is trying to keep it new and fun for them after they accomplished the ultimate goal and signed huge contracts.

    So I will say again that I will EAT MY HAT if Earl Thomas returns a punt in a regular season game. It will not happen. Same with Sherman.

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