With their opener behind them, Seahawks come home looking for improvement

Posted Aug 11, 2014

Monday metatarsal musings: Coordinators Dan Quinn and Darrell Bevell had their want-to-see/need-to-see checklists for the preseason opener. Now they need to see improvement in key areas as the Seahawks prepare for their preseason home opener.

As the Seahawks were preparing for their preseason opener against the Broncos in Denver last week, we asked coordinators Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn what they would be looking for at Sports Authority Stadium on Thursday night.

As the defending Super Bowl champions prepare for their preseason home opener against the San Diego Chargers at CenturyLink Field on Friday night, here’s a look back at how the elements went that Bevell and Quinn were looking at:

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn

What he wanted to see: “The No. 1 thing that I’d like to see is where we’re at tackling,” he said. “For the whole spring and training camp, you’ve really had to use your imagination on, ‘OK, what kind of tackle is going to happen here?’ So this is our first chance to really go and get the tackling in.”

What he saw: The tackling, especially by the No. 1 unit, was spot on. “I was really fired up that the defensive, in that we didn’t play as well as we’d like to, but we tackled really well,” coach Pete Carroll said Sunday after reviewing the video of the 21-16 loss to the Broncos. “We got off to a good start in that regard.”

What needs to be better against the Chargers: The No. 1 defense, minus middle linebacker and leading tackler Bobby Wagner and All-Pro strong safety Kam Chancellor, allowed a 14-play, 61-yard touchdown drive that was sustained by an old nemesis – third-down conversions.

Broncos QB Peyton Manning went to Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas three times on the pivotal down and converted each – a 9-yarder on third-and-4; a 7-yarder on third-and-7; and a 9-yarder on third-and-7. But then Thomas did have 92 receptions and 14 touchdowns during the 2013 regular season and another 13 in the Seahawks’ 43-8 romp over the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Oh, and Ronnie Hillman’s 1-yard scoring run came on third-and-goal from the 1. The Broncos converted eight of 12 third-down situations in the game, or 67 percent.

In 2010, Carroll’s first season, the Seahawks allowed opponents to convert 39.5 percent on third downs (94 of 238), which ranked 24th in the league. In 2011, it was 34.8 percent (77 of 221), which ranked ninth in the league. In 2012, it was 38.4 percent (76 of 198), which ranked 17th in the league. Last season, when the Seahawks led the NFL in average points, yards and passing yards allowed, it was 35.2 percent (76 of 216), which was 10th in the league.

As good as the Seahawks defense was last season, it can be even better this season. And getting off the field on third downs is a good place to start, even if it is only the preseason.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell

What he wanted to see: “I want to see us move the football and score points,” he said.

What he needed to see: “I need to see us be efficient,” he said. “Obviously for the first game, I want to make sure that procedurally we handle everything the way we need to – making sure we’re staying on side, substitutions. Those kinds of things, because those are some of the things you worry about.”

What he saw: A lack of one leading to a lack of the other.

The Seahawks did have a 14-play, 90-yard drive, but it resulted in their only touchdown – a 1-yard run by Christine Michael. The primary problems were too many penalties and not enough pass protection for quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson and Terrelle Pryor.

As for the pass protection, the No. 1 line had only right guard J.R. Sweezy among the incumbent starters as Alvin Bailey was at left tackle for Russell Okung, Caylin Hauptmann was at left guard for James Carpenter, Lemuel Jeanpierre was at center for Max Unger and rookie Justin Britt started at right tackle. That meant the No. 2 line was manned by blockers who had been on the No.3 unit, and some who hadn’t been in camp all that long.

“We’re just surviving right now,” Carroll said after the game. “We had guys playing the second team that have only been here three, four days. We’re not very sharp right now. It all showed.”

As for the penalties, the Seahawks had 13 for 131 yards. The offense was flagged for five of them – two false starts, an illegal snap, holding and a chop block.

“We had a lot of penalties and a lot of problems getting any kind of continuity moving the football,” Carroll said Sunday.

What needs to be better against the Chargers: Everything, starting with Unger moving back in at center and hopefully Okung and Carpenter also making their preseason debuts. That should improve the pass protection – not only for Wilson and the No. 1 offense, but also for the other units when Pryor and Jackson take over.

“We will build on this thing,” Carroll said in looking back at the opener, “and get ready for the next ball game.”