Our second chance to see this year’s Hawks in action provides us with several intriguing match-ups and things to look for. After the reserves stole the spotlight in a comeback win against the Chargers last week, my attention will shift back to the Hawks’ starting lineup. Tarvaris Jackson saw limited action against the Chargers and probably will see slightly more time this week. I’m looking for him to move the Seahawks down the field for a score against his former team in any of his drives. Disrupted by a relentless pass-rush last week, Jackson could use a bit of pass-blocking improvement from his two rookies on the right side of the O-line. The Vikings have had a stout run defense for the past several seasons, but their defense has often been vulnerable against the pass. For what I’m most interested in seeing, that’s perfect: Tarvaris leading the team down the field on a controlled, efficient drive with mixed run and pass for ten plays.
While being explosive on offense is something fans love to see, I think what we need to know is the following: Can Jackson make enough good decisions to consistently get the team down the field this season? Offensive consistency will be crucial for the Seahawks if they plan on making a run at the playoffs.
Last week, the Seahawks looked like they had good push on their offensive line, but their running plays were often foiled by defenders knifing between blockers or pursuing from behind the play. The Vikings have one of the best D-lines in football, so it will be interesting to see how the Hawks can run against them.
I want to see more of Marshawn Lynch this week. I’m all for keeping starters fresh and only letting them play a quarter or so, but with the depth the Seahawks have at running back, I don’t think Lynch will wear down much as the season goes along. Leon Washington was given extra carries last week as he had been promised, but he’s not the one the Hawks will rely on for the majority of the team’s ground game. All I’m asking for is a few nice runs from Lynch that show me he has the skill set to be productive in the team’s new running scheme. I’m sure he will be productive this year, but again, I just want to see what the team will look like this year. In my mind, it just doesn’t really have an identity yet. Fans expect the Colts and Saints to use a spread passing attack, for the Steelers to pound the ball on the ground, and for the Jets and Eagles to blitz. Fans have no realistic expectations at all of what the Seahawks will do.
On offense, the Vikings boast the electric running skills of Adrian Peterson, who is arguably the best running back in the league. With the departure of Brett Favre, Sidney Rice, and Jackson, their aerial assault should be even less well-rehearsed than the Seahawks’. The Seahawks were torn apart while Phillip Rivers was on the field last week, but there is no quarterback of his caliber on the Vikings. If they get burned again this week, they have no excuse.
The Seahawks strengthened their secondary a couple days ago by adding ex-Packer Atari Bigby. Bigby is the veteran safety that I had long been expecting the Seahawks to sign. Coach Carroll has been talking about how happy he is with the play of second year safety Kam Chancellor, but when looking at the roster, it was still clear that safety was a position in need of more depth. Earl Thomas was the only safety on the roster with any career starts in the NFL, and he was a rookie last year. Regardless of how much potential Pete Carroll felt like he had in the secondary, I still felt that a secondary as young as the one the Seahawks had might prove to be the weak link of the team.
Though Bigby has missed the first few weeks of training camp, he is expected to challenge Chancellor for the starting strong safety job. Bigby played for the Packers for the previous five seasons after joining them as an undrafted rookie. He has recorded 164 career tackles, or almost twice as many as the rest of the Seahawks’ safeties combined. Safeties are often ignored by fans of the NFL (Quick! Name the best Seahawk safety of the last ten years!), but the Seahawks desperately needed someone of Bigby’s caliber to provide “not as risky as a rookie” depth. Bigby is probably the most important addition the Seahawks have made to their defense so far this year.
I think the Seahawks will beat the Vikings by a score of something like 24-14. The game’s in Seattle. The Vikings missed the playoffs last year and completely overhauled their offense. Neither team attacks down the field too much, and drives should be long and clock-consuming. Honestly, it doesn’t matter too much to me what the score is as long as T-Jack and the first-team offense look good, or even improved.
About the Author
Written by Erik Olsoy
Erik was born in Columbus, Ohio during the only Ohio State football victory over Michigan in the 1980s, but moved to Washington state and grew up there. His loyalty to Ohio State remains strong, but his strongest allegiances developed toward Seattle sports. Though he recently graduated from Boston College, he has not yet been converted to the ways of New England Sportsdom, and only roots for the Red Sox against the Yankees because the Yankees are the root of all evil.