SEATTLE — The Seahawks know that the final score of their final preseason game, a 21-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders, won’t mean anything once the regular season begins and neither will their 4-0 preseason record, an accomplishment that ranks right up there in significance with being the best baseball team in spring training.
But all disclaimers aside, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes a lot of what he has seen from his team coming out of his third preseason in Seattle.
“We’re so much tighter with what we’re doing,” Carroll said. ‘The messaging and philosophy is embedded. Our style is clear. Now I don’t know if we’re going to bring it to life in the regular season, I don’t know that, but we’re going to try. … This is the style of play that we’ve been looking for.”
So even if we can’t take a lot out of the Seahawks’ victory or their preseason record, there was plenty to learn on Thursday night, including the following:
Linebacker Bruce Irvin does in fact suit up on game day.
Seattle’s first-round pick has been very good in practice — “Bruce was the most productive guy in practice throughout the camp” Carroll said. However, Irvin had little impact in his first three preseason games. In fact, despite seeing significant playing time, Irvin, who the Seahawks hope will upgrade their pass rush, did not record a tackle in those first three games.
Well on Thursday, Irvin showed up in a big way, registering 1.5 sacks in the second-half while hitting Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor a couple more times. Irvin’s fourth-quarter sack backed Oakland up to its own 5-yard line, and on the next play after a false start penalty, fellow rookie Jaye Howard tackled running back Mike Goodson in the end zone for safety. And had Howard somehow missed the tackle, Irvin was also waiting in the backfield to make a play. Wagner also forced a fumble making a tackle on punt coverage in the first half.
Irvin enjoyed his chance to finally make some plays, but also knows it won’t matter if he doesn’t produce in the regular season.
“It feels good to finally have a little success, but it don’t count,” he said. “The stat sheet starts over next week. That’s why I wasn’t really concerned when people were worried. It doesn’t count.”
Not counting or not, however, Irvin admitted it felt good to hit the quarterback: “It felt like I had a newborn baby, that’s how I felt. It felt good, man.”
Russell Wilson isn’t ready for the Pro Football Hall of Fame just yet.
It’s not that the rookie, who was named the starter last weekend, was terrible Thursday, he just wasn’t the dynamic playmaker we saw in the first three preseason games. Wilson, playing only the first quarter, completed 5 of 11 passes for 72 yards, though he was the victim of a couple of drops, and his overthrow of a wide-open Kellen Winslow was one of the worst he has made this preseason. And again, that’s hardly a cause for concern, it was one quarter of a preseason game, but a less-than-stellar performance is a good reminder that Wilson won’t lead the Seahawks to 40-plus points on a weekly basis.
The Seahawks are in a much better position at quarterback this season.
Until Wilson proves himself in the regular season, Carroll’s decision to start the rookie over Matt Flynn is one that leaves the coach open to criticism, but after watching Wilson and Flynn play this preseason, it is clear that the Seahawks are better, whomever is starting, at quarterback than they were last year with Tarvaris Jackson starting and Charlie Whitehurst serving as the backup.
Flynn, who didn’t play in last week’s game because of a sore elbow, completed 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, good for a quarterback rating of 125.0.
“He was solid,” Carroll said of Flynn. “I thought he was solid as a rock. He hit almost everything… We have a terrific quarterback position right now. I’m really happy about it.”
Carroll and general manager John Schneider are going to have some tough choice to make today.
While preseason victories are largely meaningless in the grand scheme of things, Seattle’s dominant wins do indicate one very positive thing for the team—the Seahawks are a very deep team. Several players who made big plays Thursday night will be receiving some bad news today when teams cut their rosters from 75 to 53 players.
Roster decisions won’t be made solely off of this one game, but several roster-hopefuls helped their chances Thursday. Linebacker Mike Morgan, who had a good chance of making the roster even before this game, helped solidify his résumé with a game that included a sack and a nice play in pass coverage.
Fullback/running back Vai Taua could get caught up in the numbers crunch, but he played very on Thursday, rushing for 49 yards on 9 carries.
On one second-half drive, Taua carried seven times for 40 yards and a touchdown, while catching two more passes for 15 yards. Rookie Jeremy Lane, who is in a battle for one of the last cornerback spots, had a first-half interception that required some nice concentration on an overthrown pass.
Tight end Sean McGrath might be fighting an uphill battle, but a strong training camp followed by another good game, which included a 24-yard reception off of a tipped pass, will help his chances of finding a job somewhere, even if it’s not with the Seahawks.
And while it has nothing to do with the players trying to make the team, here are two bonus things we learned tonight:
Carroll can show his disgust with officials as well as anyone.
After Robert Turbin fell on a muffed punt near the sideline and was ruled out, Carroll made quite a show of tossing the challenge flag. To make matters worse for Carroll, he lost the challenge.
And speaking of officiating, we also were reminded once again that the NFL would be well served to get a deal done with the locked-out officials soon, because these replacement refs are not making the league look good. At all.
Injury update: Receiver Golden Tate twisted his knee while being tackled on punt return. Carroll said the injury wasn’t serious, but did not know how much time, if any, Tate would miss. Taua’s big game was cut short by a knee injury Carroll classified as a PCL strain.