Russell Wilson was sacked four times in first half, something that raises an eyebrow.
A certain amount of preseason sloppiness is virtually guaranteed, and can be easily forgiven – a dropped pass here, an untimely penalty there, a defensive breakdown or three.
The Seahawks endured all of that on Thursday, as well as a game-turning interception by Trevone Boykin in the waning moments, during an 18-11 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Those various breaches will be treated with the severity they deserve. In other words, some coachable moments in the film room but hardly a cause of panic in the context of exhibition fooball.
But the one thing that rightfully turns stomachs, even in a game that will be forgotten from virtually the moment the final whistle sounded, is not what occurred late in the second half – a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown by the Vikings’ Marcus Sherels with 1:23 remaining.
It’s what occurred late in the first half.
Specifically, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson going down, hard, his legs crumpling under him at what initially seemed to be an awkward angle.
As stomachs churned all over the Puget Sound, and within CenturyLink Field (epicenter of concern: the Seattle sideline), Wilson picked himself up and appeared to be intact.
Yet the symbolism of that play – the fourth sack of Wilson in the half, with the Seahawks’ first-team line on the field – is cause for some genuine concern. Not panic or overreaction, mind you. Just a little more trepidation on a topic that’s already been hashed over ad nauseum as the Seahawks’ biggest potential problem.
It appeared, at first glance, to be a definite step back for the reconfigured O-line, the focus of so much offseason and preseason angst. The teeth-gnashing that had begun to be lessened with a solid outing last week at Kansas City commenced anew. But as is often the case when evaluating the offensive line, it wasn’t quite as simple as it appeared.
Facing a much more legitimate defensive line, the Seahawks struggled at times up front with their (for now) first-unit line. Though Christine Michael continued his strong running with 55 yards on 10 carries, Wilson was under far too much duress, and the Seahawks faltered in short-yardage situations.
On the aforementioned sack, the Seahawks seemed to have communication issues, with five of their linemen blocking two defenders on the left side, leaving just a running back to pick up three defenders on the other side. That left a hole for Sendejo to surge through for the sack.
To be fair, the first two sacks came when Wilson, unable to find an open receiver, held on to the ball for an inordinate amount of time. The third was a result of a failed blitz pickup.
Carroll, in fact, seemed to put less of the onus on the line and more on Wilson and his need to get rid of the ball quicker.
“We have to get rid of the football to take away the negative plays,’’ he said. “… Russell can do a better job to help us.”
Evaluating the line play, Carroll said, “I thought it was fine. I really did. If you look at sacks and don’t know what you’re looking at, I think you can see it differently. It might have been hard for Gary (Gilliam, the right tackle). There was some pressure pushed on him. It’s certainly stuff we can fix.”
In general, it appeared that the interior of their line – guards Germain Ifedi (feisty as ever) and Mark Glowinski, and center Justin Britt – held their own, tackles Gilliam and Bradley Sowell struggled.
Let’s not read too much into one isolated exhibition game — actually, a half of one isolated preseason game. There’s still plenty of time for the Seahawks’ line to coalesce into a cohesive unit.
Yet considering their struggles in the past, and given the fact that the line is being rebuilt virtually en masse, it’s not a stretch to fret over what that half presented, no matter what the cause. And to see how the Beef Whisperer, line coach Tom Cable, will respond.
But fret not for the victory lost, as much as Seattle seemed to covet the one they picked up over the Chiefs. In the big picture of a grueling NFL season, it’s a trifle. The preseason standings aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
The line questions, that’s another story. And one to monitor closely.