Seahawks defense attended party, now has clean-up duty
That Seahawks defense didn't yield a single rushing yard in the first quarter of Friday's exhibition game, halting entirely the NFL's top...
Seattle Times NFL reporter
That Seahawks defense didn't yield a single rushing yard in the first quarter of Friday's exhibition game, halting entirely the NFL's top rushing offense from a year ago.
Of course, the Minnesota Vikings never did run the ball in that first quarter, which had something to do with that fact, too.
The Vikings passed the first 11 plays of the game, throwing into the teeth of the secondary characterized as a strong point of Seattle's defense last season. The Vikings completed six of those throws. Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant gave up a pair of 20-yard completions in addition to a pass-interference penalty.
Hey, wait a minute. Wasn't this defense supposed to be Seattle's strong point this season? Coach Mike Holmgren sure thought so.
"I didn't expect them to be able to do some things against our defense that they did early," he confessed afterward.
Hmmm, sounds like a polite way of saying that Seattle's defense was treated like tissue paper by Minnesota quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
The Seahawks defense allowed a league-low 15 touchdown passes last season, but faced a less-than-formidable array of backup quarterbacks like Troy Smith, Matt Moore and A.J. Feeley. On Friday, Seattle served as a booster seat for Jackson's confidence as the Vikings scored touchdowns on two of the three possessions in which he played.
"We've got some stuff to clean up," safety Brian Russell said. "I don't think we tackled as well as we want to. We missed a couple tackles that allowed some cheap extra yards, some assignment errors that allowed some more cheap yards."
The Vikings converted six third downs in the first half Friday. Four of those came on plays in which Minnesota needed 5 or more yards. It's a familiar refrain for a defense whose accolades haven't always matched the accomplishments.
This is the third consecutive season that has started under the expectation that the defense will be much improved. Seattle signed linebacker Julian Peterson in 2006, but went on to allow 341 points that season, a touchdown more than the team scored. The Seahawks added defensive end Patrick Kerney, safeties Deon Grant and Russell and finished a mediocre 15th in yards allowed despite nearly setting a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season.
This season, the Seahawks return every one of the 11 starters to a defense that is expected to be the strong point of this team. At least it better be, considering where this team's resources have been placed under president Tim Ruskell.
The Seahawks have made 10 picks in the first three rounds of the draft under Ruskell. Seven have been used on defensive players. Not only that, but four of Seattle's 11 starters on defense were signed as free agents under Ruskell.
The NFL is not a slot machine. You don't get to sit on a stool and plunk in coin after coin in the hopes that luck and perseverance will produce a jackpot. If a team spends those kind of resources on one side of the ball, it better get results.
That's what made Friday's game a little jarring, even if it was just an exhibition game and Kerney was out with a calf injury.
The Vikings didn't give a single carry to Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson and still they chugged around the field pretty well that first quarter. So cut out all that praise of this defense for the time being, and wait to see some proof of its proficiency.
"We're going to have a good defensive football team," Holmgren said. "But we have to tighten up some things. In that respect, it was a good first game."
|Seahawks 2008 schedule|
|Aug. 8||W, 34-17 at Minnesota|
|Aug. 16||Chicago||6 p.m., Ch. 6|
|Aug. 25||at S.D.||5 p.m., ESPN|
|Aug. 29||Oakland||7 p.m., Ch. 5|
|Sep. 7||at Buffalo||10 a.m., Ch. 13|
|Sept. 14||S.F.||1 p.m., Ch. 13|
|Sept. 21||St. Louis||1 p.m., Ch. 13|
|Sept. 28||Bye week|
|Oct. 5||at NYG||10 a.m., Ch. 13|
|Oct. 12||Green Bay||1:15 p.m., Ch. 13|
|Oct. 19||at T.B.||5:15 p.m., Ch. 5|
|Oct. 26||at S.F.||1:15 p.m., Ch. 13|
|Nov. 2||Phila.||1:15 p.m., Ch. 13|
|Nov. 9||at Miami||10 a.m., Ch. 13|
|Nov. 16||Arizona||1 p.m., Ch. 13*|
|Nov. 23||Wash.||1:15 p.m., Ch. 13|
|Nov. 27||at Dallas||1:15 p.m., Ch. 13|
|Dec. 7||N. England||5:15 p.m., Ch. 5|
|Dec. 14||at St. Louis||10 a.m., Ch. 13|
|Dec. 21||NY Jets||1 p.m., Ch. 7|
|Dec. 28||at Arizona||1:15 p.m., Ch. 13|
*Flex scheduling starts, times subject to change.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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