But while it's no time to pass final judgment, any game is instructive. So let's count up what can be drawn from Seattle's 20-18 exhibition win over Tennessee Saturday, and what still must be figured out.
An exhibition game is not enough to draw any firm conclusions.
The Seahawks went undefeated in August last year, and look what an indicator that turned out to be for their 5-11 season.
But while it’s no time to pass final judgment, any game is instructive. So let’s count up what can be drawn from Seattle’s 20-18 exhibition win over Tennessee Saturday, and what still must be figured out:
Three things we learned
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1. The Seahawks didn’t just hope Charlie Whitehurst would be a successful quarterback. Seattle believed it, which is why the Seahawks moved down 20 spots in the second round of the April draft and gave up next year’s third-round pick for the privilege of paying him. So did Whitehurst’s 214-yard, two-touchdown performance constitute a huge step forward?
“I think it is for you guys,” coach Pete Carroll said, motioning to the room of reporters. “We really thought we saw enough of Charlie to make a really good evaluation. … Charlie’s going to really help us. Nothing he’s done has told us anything but that.”
2. There is something to that optimism over Red Bryant’s move from defensive tackle to defensive end. Largely an afterthought his first two years at tackle, Bryant is now playing the run-stopping end in Seattle’s scheme — referred to as the five-technique — and he showed an ability to penetrate the backfield and disrupt Tennessee’s ground game.
3. Cornerback Josh Wilson isn’t ready to relinquish a starting job. He became a backup last season after the Seahawks signed Ken Lucas, only to earn it back. And when training camp opened, Kelly Jennings was working with the first-unit defense. Well, Wilson not only started Saturday’s game, but he made a heck of a play to drive on a ball and pick off Vince Young in the first quarter.
Three things we don’t know
1. Was that an actual sack we saw Saturday? There were two of them actually, but you’re forgiven if you didn’t quite recognize what happened when defensive end Chris Clemons beat two blockers and tackled Chris Simms for a 13-yard loss on Tennessee’s third possession. That’s a sack, and Seattle had only two of them over the final five games combined last season. Well, Clemons had one sack, rookie Dexter Davis had another. Was it an exhibition mirage, or is Seattle getting traction in its attempt to chase the quarterback?
2. Where are the Seahawks going to find depth for the offensive line? The backup center is Ben Hamilton, better known as the starting left guard. The backup left tackle was Mansfield Wrotto, who was a guard until this season. The backup right tackle to Sean Locklear was Joe Toledo because Ray Willis did not play. With Chester Pitts still not cleared to practice, Seattle has some work to do to fill out the roster.
3. Is Seattle’s pass defense improved? Sure, the Hawks intercepted two passes, but they also allowed Young to complete all four passes he attempted on Tennessee’s first drive, accounting for 70 of the Titans’ 79 yards on the touchdown drive.
Three things Seattle has to figure out
1. How to put Golden Tate in position to make a difference. He has been a tantalizing talent throughout training camp, but he was pretty close to invisible Saturday night. He dropped one pass on a quick slant, caught two more for a grand total of 5 yards, and returned one punt for 8 yards. Seattle needs to find ways of getting Tate the ball in space, and Tate must focus on improving his route running.
2. How exactly to jump-start a running game that operates at more of a crawl. Julius Jones carried five times in the first quarter, gaining 13 yards. And for all those yelling for Justin Forsett, he came in and gained all of 17 yards on seven carries — though he also had a 30-yard reception.
3. Is linebacker Aaron Curry going to make a great leap forward? Granted, he missed more than a week with a concussion, but the linebacker had as many penalties as tackles with one of each. Curry is an agitator, but his 15-yard personal-foul penalty on a first-quarter point-after try was his most noteworthy play Saturday.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org