Keep your eyes covered: Seahawks might look ugly for a while
The Seahawks' movement on the offensive line and their decisions to shun continuity in favor of pure talent are moves that eventually should improve this squad. But "eventually" doesn't wear a watch, and so you're left to suffer in the meantime.
Seattle Times staff columnist
RENTON — One game into a season that arrived too soon, the Seahawks are burdened already with a no-win predicament: Even when they find something to praise, it reveals a sobering truth.
In pursuit of positives, which is akin to chasing wild geese right now, coach Pete Carroll mentioned quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's toughness Monday afternoon. Unfortunately, his words also came with an allusion to the fact that the offensive line's problems are so great that Jackson might have to keep acting like Rocky Balboa indefinitely.
"He's really unflappable out on the field," Carroll said of Jackson, who was sacked five times and hit about a dozen times in a 33-17 loss to San Francisco on Sunday. "It's a very, very strong characteristic that we're going to need for a while."
In other words, brace yourself. Or cover your eyes.
We have only begun to see the ugly side of the Seahawks.
Their youth movement on the offensive line and their decisions to shun continuity in favor of pure talent are moves that eventually should improve this squad. But "eventually" doesn't wear a watch, and so you're left to suffer in the meantime.
It's going to be a long season. And in the first half of the year, the standard of success, particularly for this offense, might be no higher than showing the ability to take a good punch.
"It's going to take us some time to get comfortable in all settings," Carroll admitted. "Hopefully, we can speed this thing up as much as possible."
Carroll is talking mostly about his offensive line. Their most experienced starter on Sunday was center Max Unger, who was only making his 18th start. Second-year left tackle Russell Okung, who is coming off a preseason ankle injury, didn't play well. Rookies James Carpenter and John Moffitt, who both started at guard, performed like newcomers. The same can be said for right tackle Breno Giacomini, a fourth-year player who made his first NFL start.
The Seahawks need veteran guard Robert Gallery to return from a sprained knee and bring experience and stability. But even he won't provide a quick fix; the Seahawks struggled plenty during the preseason when Gallery played.
With fullback Michael Robinson likely to miss time because of a sprained ankle, the challenge only increases for the offense. In the 49ers game, the Seahawks were so desperate to block opposing defenders that they brought in a reserve tackle, 6-foot-8 Tyler Polumbus, and used Giacomini as an extra tight end on a few plays, but they still couldn't open any holes for the running backs. The Seahawks averaged just 2.9 yards per running play for the game (just 1.1 per in the first half). Add that to their problems protecting the quarterback, and it's no shock the Seahawks fell behind 16-0 against San Francisco.
Their poor special-teams play was a surprise, but there's ample reason to believe the Seahawks will improve there. That unit was the team's most consistent a year ago. With extra emphasis and some shuffling of personnel this week, they can show immediate improvement in that area. But the offense is a much bigger concern.
The offense helped ruin a wonderful defensive performance, and much like a great Mariners pitching performance that goes for naught, it's not wise to waste such great defense. The defense is still developing and will have its struggles in the future, but its success against the 49ers was more than the product of playing against a feeble San Francisco offense.
Don't consider it a coincidence that the unit with the best continuity looked the most prepared for the season opener. Yes, the Seahawks made some big changes on D — letting middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu go, choosing not to re-sign safety Lawyer Milloy — but the transition wasn't as significant as what they did on offense.
In a lockout-shortened preseason, the Seahawks had two choices: Be conservative about change and delay the rebuilding for a year. Or carry on with their plan to get younger, more athletic and more explosive, and deal with the immediate consequences of changing so much with so little preparation time.
They chose to stay committed to their plan. First impression: Disaster. But what will the lasting impression be?
Expect many more bruises before that question gets answered. One game into a season that arrived too soon, there's a new rule when watching the Seahawks.
Wince and repeat.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer
About Jerry Brewer
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