The Seahawks will look to rebound from a dismal performance against the Vikings last week when they take on the Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High in Denver on Saturday. There are plenty of questions swirling around in the media about the Seahawk offense. Tarvaris Jackson hasn’t looked like a suitable replacement for Matt Hasselbeck, and backup Charlie Whitehurst has looked quite efficient while repeatedly moving the team down the field for scores. Here comes a media-generated “quarterback controversy.”
Throughout the preseason, I’ve listed things I hope to see, and I’ve written about what I’ve actually seen. I hoped to see Tarvaris Jackson picking defenses apart and the Seahawks putting up a ton of points on the board. What I have seen is Tarvaris Jackson getting repeatedly flattened, causing him to look uncomfortable in the pocket, and miss on passing attempts. In two preseason games, Jackson has attempted 26 passes, but has completed only 14 of the passes for 88 yards. Compared to Jackons’s poor numbers, Charlie Whitehurst’s 212 yards on 28 completions and only 11 incompletions look pretty good. However, Whitehurst plays in the 2nd and 3rd quarter against backup defenses. He hasn’t been continuously pressured. He doesn’t face the best coverages. He doesn’t have the pressure of moving to a new team and being expected to perform like a starter. He also had 10 more days of practice this month (Jackson signed as a free agent, and was not allowed to practice for the first week and a half because of new free agency rules).
All of this said, I don’t think it’s fair to really make up my mind on Jackson for at least another few weeks. The last thing our new quarterback needs is for fans to boo him or to be hearing that he might be losing his job when he turns on ESPN. I think the best thing for the team right now is to continue to be behind Jackson as the starter until he’s had his shot to prove himself. Whitehurst’s play has been stellar by backup quarterback standards, and it looks like if Jackson does continue to struggle, the Seahawks have a decent plan B. It may be ugly for a few more weeks to watch the offense, but I think patience is the best solution for the team right now. Who knows what Whitehurst would have looked like if he started against the San Diego (who allowed the least yards in the league last year) and Minnesota (who has two of the best defensive linemen in the game).
Denver had a horrendous defense last year, but did suffer injuries to several players including sack machine Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil is back to full speed (which is quite fast), and the Broncos added freak athlete and number 2 overall pick in the draft Von Miller to bolster their pass rush as well. If the Seahawks can block both of Denver’s edge pass-rushers WELL (an “if” that I seem to catch myself saying all too often), they should have much greater success on offense than in the previous two games. Denver has an undersized defense, and this should be a perfect opportunity for the Seahawk rushing attack to take some heat off of Tarvaris Jackson by battering the ball down the field and forcing the Broncos to commit more defenders to run defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Hawks D will be bolstered by the return of defensive end Chris Clemons, who lead the team with 11 sacks last season. He missed the first two preseason games while recovering from ankle surgery. His presence should help force Bronco QBs to get rid of the ball more quickly because of his ability to apply pressure off the edge. The longer quarterbacks have the ball, the more time receivers have to get open and run deeper routes. Even the best secondary will break down if they are forced to cover for an extra couple seconds.
Finally, the Hawks will be missing four starters who are out with injuries (offensive tackle Russell Okung, running back Marshawn Lynch, linebacker David Hawthorne, and safety Kam Chancellor). This will probably give the coaching staff ample time to evaluate several players who will be playing extended minutes. I would not be surprised if the Seahawks cut several players after this game and replaced them with new free agents. Pete Carroll likes giving free agents a shot to make the team, and will likely bring in a couple of fresh faces if he and the coaching staff believe a current player isn’t good enough to contribute.
Only one team in the league had a worse record than the Broncos last year, and despite a new coach and the usual turnover in personnel, shouldn’t be as good of a team as either of the first two Seahawk opponents. This is a game that the Seahawks have every chance of winning on the road. Let’s hope they do and they’re lead by the Tarvaris Jackson and the first team offense.
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.