Seattle Seahawks 20, Tennessee Titans 18
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Play of the Day: 3rd-and-1 from their own 49-yard line, quarterback Charlie Whitehurst audibled out of a run play and hits Mike Williams, who ran a 7-yard hitch pattern. Williams makes a move on Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton and runs 44 yards down the right sideline and into the end zone, giving the Seahawks a 10-7 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.
Saw Some Positive Things Out There
Charlie Whitehurst saw extensive action on Saturday night, completing 14-of-22 passes (64%) for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns, finishing the night with a 107.0 passer rating. Whitehurst showed a live arm and nice touch on a 36-yard strike to Deon Butler on a 4th-and-2, justifying Pete Carroll’s decision to go for it.
Reports of Justin Forsett’s improved speed were confirmed last night. Forsett trained this off-season at the Michael Johnson Performance Center, and the results were evident. Forsett looked much faster than he was in 2008 and 2009, particularly on his 30-yard reception on a 3rd-and-8. Forsett ran a Texas route, beating and then out-running Gerald McRath, the Titans’ starting outside linebacker.
Williams’ 51-yard catch-and-run was the highlight of the night, but Williams’ blocking three plays earlier on Forsett’s 13-yard run on 3rd-and-1 is a major reason why the Seahawks are so hopeful of his comeback attempt.
Kevin Vickerson is the monster-sized presence (6-5, 321) the interior defense has lacked, but he’s also got the quickness and athleticism to knife his way into the backfield. Vickerson used his strength to limit Javon Ringer to a 2-yard gain on a 1st-and-10, and to get into the backfield on the following to drop Ringer for a two-yard loss. Chris Clemons took advantage of the 3rd-and-10, using a nice pass-rush move on Michael Roos to sack Chris Simms for a 13-yard loss.
The Seahawks do not have an identifiable elite pass-rusher on the roster right now, and are likely a draft away from obtaining one. They’ll need more plays like that from Vickerson to force opponents into 3rd-and-long situations.
Linebacker Matt McCoy took advantage of extended playing time to finish second on the team with four tackles. McCoy also appeared to defended pass, but wasn’t credited, and recovered a fumble. A blitzing McCoy drew a holding call on Titans center Fernando Velasco, negating an 8-yard completion that would’ve put the Titans in field goal range. Tennessee would punt three plays later, and the Seahawks scored the game-clinching touchdown on the ensuing drive.
Seattle’s first-team offense looked shaky on Saturday night, which is to be expected with a new system in the pre-season opener. It’s also worth nothing that Forsett and Williams didn’t get to work with Hasselbeck and the first-team, which doesn’t figure to be the case once the regular season opens.
Seven of Seattle’s first nine plays were passing plays, and predictably, the pass protection isn’t where it needs to be. Starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was under constant pressure from a Titans defensive line that was without its top three defensive ends, and Hasselbeck had little time to find his second and third reads, which may explain why Deion Branch was targeted on five of the team’s first 10 pass attempts.
The offensive line is still jelling, and the Seahawks ran for just 30 yards on 12 attempts in the first half. After the break, the Seahawks slightly improved, running for 58 yards on 16 carries, with Quinton Ganther leading the ‘Hawks with 36 yards on 11 carries.
Seattle used two-tight end sets, with John Carlson and Chris Baker, on five of their first 16 offensive plays, or 31.2% of the time. Seahawks fans might want to get used to this personnel grouping, and the possibility that Anthony McCoy (1-4-1) and Cameron Morrah (4-35-0) will both be on 53-man roster, with the team trimming a spot at running back or receiver.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh (2 rec., 12 yds) and Branch started, with Golden Tate working on the outside as the #3 receiver in “11” personnel, with Branch moving into the slot. Later, Deon Butler would move into the slot, and he and Williams ran a nice combo route, with Butler using a slanting Williams to gain a step on Mouton for the 36-yard gain. Ben Obomanu and Ruvell Martin, who may be vying for the final receiving spot, both made outstanding catches on Saturday night.
Third-string quarterback J.P. Losman completed 3-of-5 passes for 7 yards and an interception. Losman did not display the arm strength that impressed the Seahawks' front office in May, but it's important to note that he's two months behind Hasselbeck and Whitehurst in the system, and hadn't played in an NFL stadium in a very long time.
Vince Young carved the first-team defense up on the first drive, completing all four of his passes for 70 yards, including 28 yards to fullback Ahmard Hall on a screen play that Clemons probably should have snuffed out. Seattle’s goal-line defense did a nice job of making the Titans earn the seven points, but Josh Wilson was beaten badly on two pass plays for 33 yards, and Marcus Trufant was giving Nate Washington too large a cushion on a 9-yard play.
Wilson atoned for his poor first series by intercepting Young on the following drive.
Seattle unveiled their new defensive front, with Red Bryant playing the strong-side defensive end with a linebacker (Curry with the first-team) to his outside, and the “Leo” on the other side. Clemons and Nick Reed play that spot with the first and second-team defenses.
The Seahawks were without Leroy Hill (knee) and Lofa Tatupu (hamstring), which meant increased snaps for Will Herring (weak-side), Matt McCoy, Dexter Davis, Alvin Bowen, and Tyjuan Hagler. Bowen led the Seahawks with six total tackles (5 on defense, 1 special teams), while Davis added two tackles, a quarterback sack, and four quarterback hits.
In the secondary, Wilson started opposite Trufant, and moved inside with Kelly Jennings playing right cornerback in nickel packages. Walter Thurmond and Roy Lewis got plenty of playing time, and showed good closing ability, limiting YAC opportunities for Titans receivers. First-round safety Earl Thomas made three tackles in his first NFL action, and fifth-round safety Kam Chancellor announced his presence with authority by delivering a big hit on Titans running back LeGarrette Blount. Chancellor sealed the game with an interception of a Rusty Smith pass in the final two minutes.
Despite a sore calf muscle limited his run-up on kickoffs, Olindo Mare still had outstanding depth on his kickoffs, and drilled field goals from 44 and 48 yards out. Jon Ryan punted five times with a net average of 38.8 yards. Dexter Davis had a pair of special teams tackles, and Ruvell Martin and Will Herring both made nice open-field tackles on special teams.
Cord Parks had the lone kick return on the night, which gained 24 yards. Golden Tate had one 8-yard return, and Thurmond returned one punt 9 yards, but made the rookie mistake of not fair-catching a punt, costing the Seahawks’ 10 yards in field position.
First pre-season games are often a turnover- and penalty-filled affair. The Seahawks turned the ball over twice--interceptions by Whitehurst and Losman--but only had four accepted penalties for 36 yards.
That said, one of those flags was a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct after an extra point attempt on Curry that absolutely cannot happen. That was the second scrap that Curry was involved in during that first drive, and while his intensity is admirable, it’s focus needs improvement. Seattle also had a 12-men on the field and an illegal formation penalty declined, which are of the mental variety and typical of the second half of the pre-season opener.
A win is a good way to start the Pete Carroll, but the first-team offense and defense have plenty of room for improvement, and will face a stiff test from a playoff-caliber Green Bay Packers team at Qwest Field next Saturday night.
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you’d like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.