The post-lockout Seahawks made their fake-season home debut Saturday night at the Clink, slow-dancing with the Minnesota Vikings to see who was least victimized by the work stoppage and the sudden startage.
The Seahawks were far worse off, losing 20-7 as their weakest position, quarterback, took some solid shots. Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst each were smacked around, but probably still be available for the regular-season opener Sept. 11. Make of that what you will.
“I was disappointed the way things went tonight,” said head coach Pete Carroll. “Offensively, we made so many mistakes. The lesson tonight was how easy it was to make it easy for them.”
Rather than try to offer a narrative of something that had no flow, we keep pace with the arrythmia of game by offering choppy answers to some blunt questions:
Q: Why did Golden Tate try to run the opening kickoff from half a mile deep in the end zone?
A: Given the ridiculous new rules, Tate may not get another chance to return a kickoff all season. The rules changes that muffle the kickoff return do little to protect against collisions — many hard collisions are occurring whether or not the ball gets run back — and do a lot to remove one of the game’s thrilling moments, as well as the one thing Tate does reasonably well.
Q. Why was Tate no longer returning kickoffs?
A: If the kickoff judgment wasn’t dubious enough, a first-quarter pass hit him in the hands and bounced into the hands of Minnesota CB Marcus Sherels, who took the pick back 64 yards for the first half’s only touchdown. If the ball had been a maple bar, however . . .
“I was disappointed with him,” Carroll said. “I took him out. I didn’t want him to struggle when he wasn’t on.”
Q: On the Vikings’ opening series, Seahawks DE Raheem Brock came in untouched to splatter QB Donovan McNabb for an eight-yard loss. How can that happen on the first series?
A: Maybe QB Tarvaris Jackson knew something when he left the Vikings for the Seahawks.
Q. How did Jackson look in the first half?
A: Considering he had almost no help from his teammates, he was OK. The Seahawks offensive line was predictably semi-helpless in pass protection, and Jackson showed he knows how to deal with it, escaping trouble with scrambles or throws out of bounds. He also showed guts in taking hits upon release. The one interception was entirely the fault of Tate. He was 11 for 21 for 75 yards, but had trouble finding anyone who wasn’t his primary receiver. He’s not likely to master that in two weeks.
Q: But if he was OK, how did the Seahawks get shut out in the first half for the second consecutive week?
A: The Seahawks are likely to have nine new starters on offense from a year ago, and that’s if LT Russell Okung comes back from his sprained ankle. No way is this team going to move the ball well early in the season. The best shot is to toss up jump balls that can be fetched by tall WRs Mike Williams or Sidney Rice.
Q: Was that Seahawks CB Kelly Jennings getting beat multiple times on the Vikings’ long drive in the second quarter?
A: Couldn’t be. I’m sure he was let go. Upgrading the secondary was a huge priority for the Seahawks. He can’t be back, can he?
Q: Has there been a dumber play than Seahawks LB Aaron Curry in the second quarter tearing the helmet off a Vikings lineman and tossing it 20 yards, drawing an unsportsmanlike penalty?
A: Going through the YouTube library now, and . . . no.
Q: Backup QB Charlie Whitehurst looked decent again in the second half, leading the Seahawks to a touchdown. Granted, it was against Vikings reserves, but it’s something, right?
A: Whitehurst completed 9 of 10 passes for 76 yards on the drive, but none longer than 11 yards. He seems to know his limits. Given how often and hard Jackson was hit in the first half, the ability of Whitehurst to do anything well will loom large as the season progresses. It’s why Matt Hasselbeck will be happy with his decision to move to Tennessee.
Q: Whitehurst was hit hard in the fourth quarter and came off the field wobbly. Is he OK?
A: Depends what you mean by OK.
Q. As in healthy?
Carroll said Whitehurst just had the wind knocked out of him: “I told him the way he came off the field was way too dramatic.”
Q: Did the Seahawks actually make roster changes on game day?
A: No reason to waste a chance to scramble the roster just because a game is going to be played. They cut two and added two, but I am reluctant to list names here for fear of being out of date by game’s end.
Q: In the third quarter, did the Vikings have a third-and-35 situation?
A: These are the virtues of a preseason stunted by the lockout. Ghastly football hangs over the NFL regular season like the threat of a double-dip recession.
Q: What was the best play?
A: In the fourth quarter, Seahawks reserve Josh Pinkard, a second-year safety from USC, saved a touchdown by tackling WR Emmanuel Arceneaux from behind at the 5-yard line and punching the ball out of his hands and out of the end zone. By rule, Seahawks ball at the 20. That’s how you make a roster as a special-teams guy.
Q: Besides the game: In light of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to allow former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor into the supplemental draft, but suspending him five games indirectly for NCAA rules violations, has anyone made the analogy to Pete Carroll going unpunished for fleeing to Seattle just before NCAA sanctions hit USC?
A: Well, just about everyone, including Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, who tweeted, “That’s EXACTLY what guys are asking in our locker right now, ‘Well what about Pete Carroll?'”
Goodell’s decision opens the door for the NFL to be a nanny state for NCAA misdeeds, be it coach or player, over which he has no jurisdiction. Then again, it may have been a cry for help from the NCAA, which continues to appear helpless to do much but spit up on itself.