If the goal was to keep the playcalling exotica of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron a mystery, the Seahawks Saturday night put it in a box in a vault and dropped it to the sea floor. It was a success. Considering they were in the Nevada desert, the feat gives an idea how paranoid the Seahawks were.
If the goal was to stay healthy and win, that didn’t quite work out as well in the first NFL game played at Allegiant Stadium.
On the fifth offensive play of a desultory 20-7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders that featured almost no starters on offense, backup QB Geno Smith was clobbered and concussed during a blind-side sack. Since the Seahawks offensive line was populated mostly by backups, the pick-up of the blitz was the fault of no one and everyone, including the seven-step drop playcall.
“Yeah, we missed that,” coach Pete Carroll said post-game. “We had a certain key that we didn’t do right. So he gets pounded. And that was a shame. Sorry for that.
“It was just a rare occurrence that that happened like that. But he got hit really hard, and was OK. Then it just kind of progressed after he went back in. It made (us) take him out. He wasn’t ready to play.”
Smith went to the sidelines for a play, in which third-stringer Alex McGough drew a roughing penalty for little more than a schoolyard shove. Smith re-entered the game and threw eight more passes, completing four over the next two series, before telling coaches he didn’t feel well. He was taken to the locker room, his participation done.
However his medical condition plays out, it explained why Russell Wilson didn’t come close to putting on his helmet Saturday. The starting offensive line was, from left to right, Shane Forsythe, Jordan Simmons, Kyle Fuller, Phil Haynes and Jake Curhan. Fuller is likely the only potential starter for the regular-season opener Sept. 12 at Indianapolis. If Wilson was lamenting his protection a year ago . . .
Even though the sack was the lone one in 31 pass attempts, the threat was enough to assure McGough and Sean Mannion, a five-year veteran signed Aug. 1, get serious reps in practice and while keeping Wilson bubble-wrapped through August.
The game plan was to be a showcase for the passing ability of Smith, 30. That’s why the Seahawks opened the game with a very un-Carroll-like 10 consecutive throw.
“We were just throwing the ball, a bunch of it with him,” Carroll said. “We didn’t get to give him the opportunities we were hoping for.”
All the newbies didn’t make for great football.
At halftime the Seahawks were down 13-0 and trailed in yardage 290-44, with two rushes for one yard. They finished with 194 yards of offense, 43 that came on Seattle’s only touchdown. On the first series of the third quarter, McGough countered a blitz by tossing a short floater out of the backfield to RB DeeJay Dallas, who made a move and found himself almost alone down the sidelines for the score.
There was nothing to be had after that. Even Jason Myers, who hit all 35 of his field goals last season, clanked his only try, from 50 yards.
“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.”
Behind oft-belittled backup QB Nathan Peterman, the Raiders moved the ball readily against a defense from which Bobby Wagner, Carlos Dunlap, Quandre Diggs and three other expected starters were held out.
But there were positive signs, including four sacks, two by LB Cody Barton, and 12 tackles by Ben Burr-Kirven. Young rushers Alton Robinson and Darrell Taylor came in for praise from Carroll.
“It was good night for Alton and Darrell,” he said. “Those guys played a lot of football. We’re trying to get them going. We needed as keep them out there, getting some ball under their belts, Alton’s had such a good off season.”
Taylor had three tackles and forced Peterman out of the pocket, where Barton sacked him. Robinson pushed Peterman into lofting a ball that became an interception by SS Ryan Neal.
The need for rushers became a little more acute Thursday when DE Aldon Smith was waived. He looked good in camp, but despite a heavy investment in time and care by the Seahawks, apparently failed his part of the deal that included staying sober. He is facing battery charges in Louisiana for an episode two days after he signed a one-year free agent deal April 15 with the Seahawks.
“He just couldn’t hang with us,” Carroll said in first remarks on the topic. “It’s disappointing. I’m disappointed for him. We gave him a real chance and we looked after him, every way that we knew how to do it.
“I wish we’d had done better. I don’t know what we could have done better. We were very open to helping him become part of the program. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do that.”
The Seahawks Friday had more bad news when second-year TE Colby Parkinson injured the same right foot that kept him out of his rookie season on a non-contact move in practice. But the break of the fifth metatarsal bone will not, according to a report Saturday by the NFL Network, require surgery. But he is likely out for several weeks.
Not a great week for the Seahawks, except for the part where the calendar says August.