Russell Wilson was efficient, mobile when he needed to be, and on several drop backs enjoyed a nice pocket created by his offensive line. Running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both had nice runs, aided by solid blocking, and the offense also converted on fourth-and-1. And after 12 plays and 75 yards, the Seahawks offense found itself in the end zone at the end of its first possession in Thursday night’s preseason game.
Wilson’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Nick Vannett won’t show up in the year-end stats, just as the 19-17 loss to the Colts won’t hurt Seattle in the regular-season standings, but preseason or not, that lone drive for the No. 1 offense was an encouraging start for a unit led by a new coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, and offensive line coach, Mike Solari.
“I was really happy with the fact that the offense went down the field,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I thought they looked strong and right and on point. Russell moving well. Had a couple runs, nice throws and catches and all that. Everything worked out fine there.
“I thought Schotty mixed it up just right to get us down the field. It worked out well. We didn’t open up the playbook in this game, but we had some things we wanted to do just to check some stuff out. I was hoping we’d get a drive, instead of going three-and-out, or whatever could happen there. So it worked out really perfectly. It was a perfect start for the offense.”
On a number of occasions dating back to the end of the 2017 season, Carroll has pointed to the running game as one of the most important areas of improvement for Seattle heading into this season, and while the overall rushing totals weren’t overly impressive—the Seahawks gained 87 rushing yards on 22 carries—that opening drive provided some glimpses of what the Seahawks want their offense to look like.
As will always be the case with Wilson at quarterback, some rushing yards came on scrambles, with Wilson gaining 6 yards on the first play of the series, then later scampering for 8 yards as Seattle approached the red zone. But Carson also added runs of 4, 2, and 12 yards, the 2-yarder coming on fourth-and-one. The drive featured the kind of balance Carroll loves to see from an offense, with the Seahawks rushing for 37 yards on seven carries, and passing for 43 on five attempts. During offseason workouts, Schottenheimer noted that he wants an offense that is capable of running the ball even when an opponent knows a run is coming, and that 2-yard gain was a perfect example of that.
“That’s our mentality, any short yardage, third-and-1, fourth-and-1, our attitude is to convert and get whatever we need,” center Justin Britt said. “And that’s what we did.”
“That gave the offense more possessions, more plays,” running back Rashaad Penny said of Carson’s fourth-and-1 conversion. “After seeing that, that gave us life, the offense was juiced, and we went down the field and scored.”
For Wilson, who was historically great in fourth quarters last season, but who didn’t always get off to the fastest starts, an opening-drive touchdown is a good sign. But Wilson was most excited not about his own efficient performance, which saw him complete 4 of 5 attempts for 43 yards and a score, but by the play of an offensive line returning four starters from last season.
“I thought the offensive line was the most exciting thing tonight,” Wilson said. “With the leadership of Duane Brown and Justin Britt, with (Ethan) Pocic in there doing a good job, across the board—(Germain) Ifedi, big D.J. (Fluker)—those guys gave me tons of time in the pocket, on some of the third downs-and-long, we were able to make some plays, the scramble play as well, those are going to be natural things that happen. They were focused, ready to play, their energy was high, and that’s what we need. I think we’re going to be just fine up there, and I think Mike Solari is coaching them really well, he’s coaching them up. He’s a great ball coach. It’s fun to be able to play with those guys.”
In the end, it was just one drive in an August preseason game, one that won’t mean anything if the offense can’t back it up in the regular season. But preseason or not, that drive was something for the offense to build off of going forward.
“It’s a great way for the ones to go out there and start the year, showcase what we’ve been working on, what we can do,” Britt said. “But we’ve got to go out there next week prove that it wasn’t fluke and that this is really us. We’ve just got to continue to grow, continue to work.”
Game-action photos from the Seahawks preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts at CenturyLink Field.