Monday metatarsal musings

Posted Aug 20, 2012

Or footnotes: The Seahawks’ impressive victory over the Broncos came with a catch – or one pass that was not caught, actually – and it skewed the evaluation process for Matt Flynn and the No. 1 offense.

It was only one pass in a game where 64 were launched into the mile-high air.

But it was a pass that if caught could have changed the perception of several things that transpired in the Seahawks’ 30-10 victory over the Denver Broncos on Saturday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Terrell Owens, who had practiced with the Seahawks for the first time only 11 days earlier and had not played in the league since 2010, was a step behind Broncos cornerback Chris Harris as he neared the north end zone. Matt Flynn, making his second start in as many preseason games, threw what might have been his best pass since signing with the Seahawks in free agency in March.

But instead of a touchdown 46-yard catch, the ball eluded Owens’ grasp and fell incomplete.

With the catch, Flynn would have finished with seven completions in 13 attempts for 77 yards – rather than 31 on 6-of-13 passing. With the catch, Owens would have had one big reception in the five times he was targeted by Flynn. With the catch, the No. 1 offense would have scored its first touchdown of the preseason.

With the catch, coach Pete Carroll could have stepped to the podium after the game and discussed the progress that had been made by that No. 1 offense’s passing game in the team’s second preseason game; and the remarkable next step in Owens’ return to the NFL.

Instead, Carroll was left to say, “It’s the first big ball he had thrown to him in a long time, and unfortunately it got away from him. That would have been a really big event for us to score on that play in the first half; I think it would have made a difference in how that first half would have gone.

“It’s unfortunate. But he’s got to get back in action. It’s his first time out there. He’s been very much on point in practice and he’s worked very hard – and he’s caught a lot of deep balls in practice, too. So I know he can make those plays for us. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get it right off the bat.

“I wish for him, and for everybody, we would have caught that thing.”

As for Flynn, the Broncos turned up the pressure, and the entire offense did not respond as Carroll had hoped – or the unit will need to react once the regular season begins.

“It was hard on him. It was really hard on him,” Carroll said. “We didn’t protect him very well; we held a little bit (three holding penalties). We got some long-yardage situations. He couldn’t even get started, I didn’t feel.

“At this point, it’s really hard to evaluate the quarterback.”

So what’s a coach to do entering this week’s third preseason game against the Chiefs in Kansas City? Go with Flynn, again, to see if the No. 1 offense can take a needed step forward? Or, give rookie Russell Wilson a chance with the starters after he directed three second-half touchdown drives against the Broncos and also out-produced Flynn in the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans?

“The second half was so clean for us, in all aspects,” Carroll said. “Russell did some really good things again. He continues to show that he has a great sense for getting out and avoiding getting sacked and he’s made some plays when he’s done that. And he’s thrown the ball well, too.

“So he’s doing really well. We’re ecstatic about it. To have a guy coming off the bench like that and play two halves back-to-back and really play football, it’s great for our team.”

Has Wilson done enough to earn a start in the preseason? “We’ll see,” Carroll said. “We’re going to evaluate all that.”

With that said, here’s a look at three things that worked against the Broncos and three things that need work as the team prepares for Friday night’s game against the Chiefs:

What worked

One. The No. 1 defense. Talk about picking up where they left off. Not just from last season, when the Seahawks ranked among the Top 10 in the league in average points and yards allowed; but also from the preseason opener, when they returned the first pass of the game for a touchdown and added another interception in the second quarter.

Against the Broncos, linebacker K.J. Wright had one pick on a pass that was deflected by end Red Bryant and strong safety Jeron Johnson had another on a play where the pass rush pressured Peyton Manning into an overthrow. Johnson also forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Leroy Hill. Each turnover set up a field by Steven Hauschka.

In nine preseason series, the No. 1 defense has forced five turnovers and a three-and-out, while allowing one touchdown drive and an end-of-the-half field goal.

“We really pride ourselves on being the best defense out there,” Wright said Saturday night. “We’re going to be good to go this season.”

Two. The running game. It wasn’t just that the Seahawks ran for 228 yards against the Broncos, it was how they did it – by committee. Marshawn Lynch, in his first action of the preseason, got things rolling with a 14-yarder that was part of his six-carry, 37-yard effort. Tyrell Sutton broke a 46-yarder. Kregg Lumpkin scored on a 16-yard run and finished with 38. Rookie Robert Turbin gained 34 and Wilson added 33 on five scrambles.

“We want to run the football,” Carroll said. “And to run for 230 or something, that’s a big deal.”

Three. Wilson. As Carroll said, the kid just continues to make plays. As incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson has put it, “Russell, he’s not like a regular rookie.”

Saturday night, he completed 10 of 17 passes for 155 yards in directing touchdown drives of 80, 85 and 68 yards. He teamed with Sutton on a 34-yard score that was more run than pass, and also found rookie tight end Cooper Helfet in the end zone for an 8-yard TD.

What needs work

One. Penalties. They’re back. The Seahawks were flagged 138 times for 1,047 wrong-way yards last season, and Carroll vowed to correct the situation. Against the Broncos, it was seven penalties for 75 yards, including the three holding penalties and two for unnecessary roughness.

“We were terrible in that regard,” Carroll said of the roughness fouls. “We have to play penalty free. That’s the kind of team this is.”

Two. The pass protection. See Carroll’s comments above.

Three. Protecting Jon Ryan. His first punt was blocked and his second deflected – both by David Bruton, who used the same avenue to reach the punter.
“It’s unfortunate,” Carroll said. “We looked really bad. We can fix that, though.”