Here are five keys for the Seattle Seahawks as they take on Minnesota tonight, along with five players to watch during the course of the game.
Run game: The Seahawks are averaging just 3.5 yards per carry in the first, two preseason games, so they have not established the chemistry and cohesion up front they need for a consistent running team. Having tight end Chris Baker back healthy should help, specifically on outside runs where the tight end needs to set the edge.Offensive line play:
Having offensive tackle Manny Wrotto and guard Mike Gibson protect Matt Hasselbeck’s blindside is a scary proposition. But expect Seattle to scheme offensively to protect the veteran quarterback with a steady diet of quick passes, screens and draws to slow down the pass rush, along with moving the pocket and helping the left side with a tight end or running back in pass protection.
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Get off the field defense: The Seahawks’ defense is 14 of 30 (47 percent) in third down efficiency, so they need to do a better job of getting off of the field in that situation. Seattle’s defense also gave up three touchdowns in the first four possessions against Tennessee and Green Bay, so the defense also needs to do a better job at the beginning of games. Explosive plays: Seattle has six plays of 20 yards or more in thee passing game and just two plays of 15 yards or more running the ball in the first two games. That’s not bad, but something they would like to improve on. Explosive plays are important because they make it easier to get into scoring position and not have to chunk the ball down the field.
A healthy Hasselbeck: This is probably the most important task for Seattle today. Hasselbeck needs to get his work in, so he’ll likely play at least a half. But it also does Seattle no good for the 34-year-old quarterback to start the season dinged up. Five players to watch
OT Mansfield Wrotto: The four-year pro played solid in replacing Russell Okung last week. But he will definitely be challenged today, with Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen lining up against him.
RB Leon Washington: The starting running back job is still up for grabs, and Washington has a chance to put his best foot forward with a good performance today.DT Quinn Pitcock: The 26-year-old has had his moments during the second half of games, getting good penetration at times. He remains in the competition for a roster spot at defensive tackle.
WR Golden Tate: The Notre Dame product has just three catches for 13 yards in two games, even through he’s been targeted seven times. Look for Seattle to get Tate some touches in the return game.
DE Dexter Davis: The rookie out of Arizona State has been impressive working against backups with two sacks so far this season. With Nick Reed out, Davis should get a chance to see if he can have the same type of production against the first unit.