First, a programming note. We will have a live game chat this evening, so check back close to game time and we’ll get started. Ryan Divish is stuck in Cleveland covering the Mariners, so the more competent and sober Doug Pacey will be filling in. Be gentle folks. I’ll also chime in as well.
Also, if you haven’t check it out already, Jim Moore, former columnist at the Seattle P-I, has a new blog where he will be providing commentary on Seattle-area teams. In his latest post, Moore predicts that Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill will never play another down for Seattle.
Here are five things I’ll be watching closely tonight:
Offensive line play: I’ll be watching how rookie offensive tackle Russell Okung handles his new role specifically, but I’ll also focus on the overall play of the offensive line. I want to see if they can do a better job protecting the quarterback, after giving up 41 sacks last year. And I want to see if they can get a consistent push in the running game, with offensive line and zone blocking guru Alex Gibbs in control there. The improvement of Seattle’s offense will go along way with the improvement of these guys up front.To blitz or not to blitz: Seattle was not a blitzing team last season, sending five or more rushers only 31.6 percent of the time last season. The league average in 2009 was 34.2 percent. So I’m interested with the team’s continued movement toward showing multiple looks if Seattle will blitz more this year to help create pressure up front.Charlie Whitehurst under the microscope: The team paid him $8 million for him to come in and compete for the starting job with Matt Hasselbeck, but so far Whitehurst is feeling more heat from third-stringer J.P. Losman than he’s applying to the veteran starter. So I’m interested to see if Whitehurst can complete 60 percent of his passes, something he has not done consistently in preseason play.
How will Earl Thomas hold up? The rookie out of Texas is lightning fast, but at 5-10 and 202 pounds, Thomas is not a big safety, so I’m interested to see how he holds up to the pounding he will take and if he can be a good tackler as a fill guy in the run game.
Can Mike Williams make plays? The USC product has consistently done it in practice, but now he has to take it another step and prove he can get open against man coverage during a game. If he can, then Williams will provide Seattle with another weapon in the red zone and on third down.