By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
SEATTLE — For the Seattle Seahawks, the first two games of the exhibition season were much the same as the team’s second half of 2012 — when head coach Pete Carroll’s boys finished out the year winning seven of their last eight games to advance to the NFC playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
The Seahawks have the top scoring offense, averaging 35.5 points through two preseason games. And defensively, Seattle ranks No. 2 in scoring defense, allowing just 10 points a contest.
While Seattle’s starters have played a little over two quarters in two games — with many frontline players like Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice, Chris Clemons and Zach Miller playing sparingly, if at all — what’s been more impressive is the team’s backups subbing in and continuing to play at a high level.
Dating back to the 2011 season, the Seahawks have now won seven straight exhibition games by an average margin of victory of 20.9 points a contest.
However, pump the brakes on planning a ticker tape parade route through downtown Seattle for a Super Bowl celebration in February. In 2009, the Seahawks finished 4-0 in exhibition play under Jim Mora, but stumbled through a 5-11 record in the regular season, leading to his firing after just one season as the head man for Seattle.
So while encouraging, preseason wins don’t necessarily translate to postseason success in January and February.
That said, the following is a closer look at how the Seahawks made quick work of the Chargers and Broncos.
It’s all about the ball
The Seahawks have an impressive plus-6 turnover differential through the first two games — second in the NFL to NFC West rival Arizona (plus-7).
The Seahawks have picked off three passes and recovered three forced fumbles. Those six turnovers have led directly to 23 points.
And Seattle has not turned the ball over during exhibition play.
“The most important factor that’s happening right now is that we’re not giving the football up,” Carroll said. “And there’s nothing more important than that.”
One of Carroll’s points of emphasis remains taking care of the football on offense, and creating turnovers on defense as momentum-changing plays.
Last season the Seahawks were No. 6 in the NFL in sudden change situations — think points off turnovers in basketball. Seattle scored 103 points off 31 turnovers forced, and only gave up 50 points off of 18 turnovers lost in 2012.
During preseason play, cornerback Brandon Browner has been particularly effective getting the ball off of his opponent, with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery returned for a 106-yard touchdown through two games.
Rookie defensive standouts
Some of Seattle’s young, rookie defensive players have made an impact through two games.
Undrafted rookie free agent defensive end Benson Mayowa is tied for fifth in the league with 2.5 sacks. Fellow defensive end Ty Powell is third on the team in tackles with a combined eight, behind safety Kam Chancellor (14) and middle linebacker Allen Bradford (11).
Undrafted rookie free agent linebacker John Lotulelei is tied for fourth on the team in tackles with seven, and seems to deliver a bone-jarring hit every time he approaches the line of scrimmage.
Third-round selection Jordan Hill appears on his way to sewing up the starting defensive tackle position next to Brandon Mebane with his consistent play.
Runners make their mark
Running back is perhaps Seattle’s most talented position from top to bottom on the depth chart
Second round selection Christine Michael was impressive in his pro debut, finishing with 89 yards on 16 carries.
But with Michael sitting out against Denver due to back spasms, sixth-round selection Spencer Ware stepped in and filled the void, finishing with 54 yards on nine carries. The Seahawks like Ware’s ability to play both fullback and tailback.
Second-year pro Derrick Coleman also has flashed as a special teams player.
No. 2 running back Robert Turbin finished with 35 yards on nine carries in his first game back after nursing a foot issue through the first two weeks of camp.
Lynch has just one yard on two carries, but Carroll said expect to see plenty of Seattle’s No. 1 back against Green Bay this week.
The Seahawks’ run-based attack is averaging 129 yards a contest through two games — good enough for No. 8 in the league.
Penalties a concern
While the Seahawks have made big plays, costly penalties have been an issue.
The Seahawks finished with 12 penalties for 107 yards against Denver. Last week against San Diego, Seattle totaled eight penalties for 65 yards. Through two preseason games, the Seahawks are second in the NFL with 20 penalties for 172 yards.
“There’s just stuff, we’ve got to see where they all are,” Carroll said. “They’re scattered; we didn’t have error repeaters tonight. We had a bunch of guys who contributed. We just have to get better there. It’s lousy to play football like that. I don’t like it at all.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson said on offense the Seahawks need to understand how penalties set the team back.
“The biggest thing I try to tell the offense is, ‘Hey, let’s stay on schedule.’” Wilson said. “If we can stay on schedule, we’ll be in great situations. We’ll be in third and shorts, which obviously we can handle with the running game and also the throwing game. And if we can do that, we’ll be in the red zone more. We’ll make some plays, the defense will get us the ball every once in a while, and we’ll have short fields.
“So we’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities. And when you do that, it makes it tough on the other team. It makes it tough on the other team to capitalize against us.”