LAS VEGAS – As Pete Carroll departed the podium after his postgame news conference Saturday night, he repeated the famous advertising phrase that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’’
Certainly, the Seahawks hope that most of what happened Saturday night at Allegiant Stadium is never repeated again as the Seahawks lost their preseason opener to the Raiders 20-7.
“What we did tonight was not good enough to win a football game really on both sides of the ball,’’ Carroll said. “We needed to do some things better, particularly on third down. Third down was a nightmare for us, particularly on defense and it made it really hard for us.’’
The caveat is that these were the Seahawks and Raiders in name only, and that mostly young players and backups saw action made it foolhardy to read much into anything that happened.
Only one offensive player who might be considered a starter – center Kyle Fuller – saw action for the Seahawks with Geno Smith getting the start at quarterback with Russell Wilson on the sidelines wearing a headset.
And only four defensive players listed as starters on the depth chart saw action, all either young players or newcomers the team wanted to see get some work – cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, linebackers Darrell Taylor and Jordyn Brooks, and end L.J. Collier.
The Raiders played it similarly as Nathan Peterman, listed as the third-team quarterback behind Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, got the start and played almost the entire game.
Not that the Raiders didn’t try to make a big deal of what was the first game in 2-year-old Allegiant Stadium with fans – Marie Osmond sang the anthem and Carlos Santana, who was part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier in the day, played a live set at halftime.
Otherwise, this was a mostly not-ready-for-prime time affair.
Here are some quick thoughts:
Don’t read much into the offensive struggles
Seattle had what seemed like a weird early game plan, throwing on the first 10 plays. Carroll said that was by design to get some work for Smith.
But that plan got derailed when Smith was hit hard on a corner blitz on the first series and eventually had to leave the game with a concussion.
“We didn’t get to give him the opportunities we were hoping for,’’ Carroll said of Smith.
Carroll said the team intentionally didn’t do any of the up-tempo offense that has been a focus of training camp as the team adapts to the offense of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
“Just playing basic football,’’ Carroll said.
Certainly, this was nothing like the offense the Seahawks hope to unveil in the regular season as Seattle gained just 44 yards on 16 plays in the first half. Only two of those were called running plays, good for just 1 yard. The Raiders had 18 first downs to Seattle’s three and held the ball for 23:12 to Seattle’s 6:48 in the first two quarters.
Carroll, though, liked that there was just one sack despite the team having to go with two rookies at tackle in Stone Forsythe on the left side and Jake Curhan on the right.
“We gave up one sack on a night that we threw it (31) times,’’ Carroll said. “That’s a big improvement for us.’’
Things momentarily got better in the third quarter when Alex McGough hit DeeJay Dallas for a 43-yard touchdown on fourth-and-four to cap the first series of the second half and cut the lead to 13-7.
But the makeshift offensive line meant this was almost certainly going to be a tough night for the offense. Forsythe had a holding penalty on the first series to wipe out a 17-yard gain, among other learning moments for the youngsters up front.
Seattle finished with just 194 yards and of 46 offensive plays had just 10 carries by running backs – not at all what the team is likely to look like when the regular season begins.
And as Carroll noted, third down was rough with the Seahawks converting just 4 of 13 while allowing the Raiders to convert 11 of 17.
Assuming Seattle plays more of its regulars in the second and third preseason games, then maybe some fairer evaluations of the offense can be made, though the reality is any real evaluation of the offense is going to have to wait for the regular season.Some young players stand out on defense
Carroll was disappointed the defense had so much trouble getting off the field and said the cornerbacks in particular needed to make some plays. “We needed some wins,’’ he said. “We didn’t get much.’’
But through the haze of what wasn’t a very entertaining game there were some good moments for a few young players on defense.
Here are a few worth noting:
• Darrell Taylor: The second-year player who sat out last year, appeared to get more comfortable as the game wore on and finished with three tackles. He didn’t get a stat for what might have been his best play in the third quarter when he flushed Peterman out of the pocket with Cody Barton then getting the sack.
• Alton Robinson: The second-year end from Penn State also had a solid night, notably when he pressured Peterman into a hurried throw that floated into the hands of Ryan Neal for a Seattle interception in the second quarter. He finished with five tackles.
• Rasheem Green: The third-year player from USC had a sack in the first half and was a constant presence in the Raiders backfield.
• Cody Barton: Barton has been dealing with a quad injury that held him out of the mock game last Sunday. But he recovered to play Saturday night. Playing both inside linebacker spots, Barton had a big second half with two sacks and finished with nine tackles.
• Ben Burr-Kirven: With Bobby Wagner taking the night off, Burr-Kirven played the entire first half at middle linebacker and had 11 tackles by halftime, finishing with 12. He also blew up a third-down quarterback sneak by Peterman in the first quarter.
Dallas solidifying spot in backfield?
Dallas provided most of what there was in offensive highlights with 24 yards rushing on five carries and two receptions for 45 yards, including the 43-yard touchdown – the only play of the night for Seattle that gained more than 17 yards.
“DeeJay Dallas played a nice game,’’ Carroll said.
McGough said he read that the defensive end did not follow Dallas out of the backfield creating an easy completion. Dallas then broke out of a tackle attempt by Dallin Leavitt just inside the 30 and then was home free down the sidelines for a TD for pretty much the only offensive highlight of the night.
Dallas got a lot of work Saturday with Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer all sitting out.
Dallas has been the primary back in the third-down, two-minute offense in camp. Homer will also contend for that role once he returns, which is expected to happen this week. But Dallas is looking like he might not be easy to dislodge, especially if the coaches feel comfortable with his pass protection.
Assuming Seattle plays more of its regulars in the second and third preseason games, then maybe some fairer evaluations of the offense can be made, though the reality is any real evaluation of the offense is going to have to wait for the regular season.
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