SEATTLE – Saturday night provided the first extended look at Seattle’s new-look offense led by quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
It also showed that said offense still has a ways to go between now and when the regular season kicks off next month.
In their second preseason game, which ended as a 20-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle used its starting offense for the entire first half, and came away with little to show for it.
“I was disappointed the way this went tonight,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “After a full week getting ready, I didn’t feel like we got very much done.”
The Seahawks punted on their first two possessions, then fell behind 7-0 on their third possession when Jackson was intercepted by Marcus Sherels, who scored on a 64-yard return. Jackson’s pass was on the money to Golden Tate, but the ball bounced off the hands of the second-year receiver and fell to Sherels.
On its fourth possession, Seattle was finally able to sustain a long drive, but it stalled out at the goal line when, with four tries from inside the 2-yard line, the Seahawks could not put the ball in the end zone. Considering that Seattle used its top two draft picks in April – not to mention some money in free agency to sign Robert Gallery – on rebuilding the line, that was certainly not an encouraging sign for an offense that ranked 31st in rushing last year.
“As a whole offense, we just have to get better,” Jackson said. “We’re going to get it together. We’ve got a lot of guys learning right now, we’ve got a lot of young guys. So we’re just trying to teach so we can get everything going and get the offense clicking. … The first team, we didn’t put any point on the board last week as well as this week, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Equally troubling for the Seahawks’ offense was the inability to protect Jackson, who despite not taking a sack, was constantly under pressure and getting hit. It was only Jackson’s athleticism and elusiveness that kept him from being sacked several times in his two quarters of action. With little time to throw, and with Tate dropping a pair of passes, Jackson finished the half 11 of 21 for just 75 yards and an interception as the Seahawks went scoreless with their starters on the field.
“He was fighting for his life a little bit,” Carroll said. “I need to see what happened, but they made it hard on him. I thought he did some very good things, showed he could get out of trouble and save a play. I’m not in any way disappointed with what he did. We need to help him. We need to protect him better, and we didn’t run the ball much either.
And with Jackson struggling, though largely through no fault of his own, it didn’t take fans long to get behind Charlie Whitehurst when the backup quarterback came out clicking in the second half. With a lot more time to operate than Jackson enjoyed, Whitehurst led the Seahawks on a 16-play, 89-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter. Whitehurst was 10 of 11 on the drive for 79 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Whitehurst finished the game 14 of 19 for 97 yards. That touchdown made it 13-7, and Whitehurst and the Seahawks’ reserves couldn’t score again.
Any hopes Seattle had of coming back went away when Minnesota’s Tristan Davis scored on a 35-yard run to make it 20-7 with just more than 2 minutes left in the game.
By the third quarter, of their second preseason game, the Seahawks appeared to already have a quarterback controversy on their hands. Right after signing Jackson, Carroll made it clear that Jackson was his starting quarterback, and would be when the season opens in San Francisco. Yet for the second week in a row, Whitehurst was the one leading scoring drives, and as the third-quarter wound down with the Seahawks driving, the fans were chanting “Charlie, Charlie, Charlie.”
Even so, Carroll said he isn’t planning on opening up a quarterback competition.
“I need to look at the film and see why things happened, but I’m not in that mindset at all,” Carroll said. “I love that Charlie played well, and we need to give Tarvaris a chance to play well, too, with the guys around him playing well.”
And with preseason game No. 3 a week away, Carroll knows his offense has a lot of work to do in preparation for next month’s season opener.
The Seahawks waived kicker Brandon Coutu and defensive tackle Ryan Sims and signed a pair of defensive linemen: tackle David Howard and end Maurice Fountain.
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