Dave Boling

Dave Boling: Punchless Seahawks starters are lucky this one didn’t count

Seattle’s Luke Willson loses the handle on a pass in front of Vikings defenders Audie Cole (57) and Michael Griffin.
Seattle’s Luke Willson loses the handle on a pass in front of Vikings defenders Audie Cole (57) and Michael Griffin. toverman@theolympian.com

The rule of thumb for NFL preseason games is to evaluate the play while each teams’ first units are on the field, and then pretty much treat the rest of it like a jayvee scrimmage.

Guys are going to be fighting for places on the team in that second half, but it probably isn’t a great indicator of the team’s competitive readiness for the season.

That’s too bad, because the Seahawks’ “varsity” looked sloppy and overmatched against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.

The Vikings should be really good this season, but they were giving their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater the night off, and still “won” the first half, 11-0.

In that span, behind Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson, the Hawks passed for a mere 36 total yards.

And the Seahawks’ defense that has dominated the league for most of four years surrendered 200 yards in 30 minutes.

As good as Seahawks fans might have felt after last week’s preseason opener at Kansas City, they can feel equally suspicious about the first half of this game.

The offensive line, a question mark for much of the past two seasons, kept Wilson clean against Kansas City but allowed him to get nailed for four first-half sacks Thursday.

One might be considered a coverage sack, but the Vikings managed a lot of pressure with their blitzes.

The Seahawks are loaded with talent, and there’s a long time until these games are for real.

But some of the concerns will need to be corrected by the time Miami comes to visit on Sept. 11.

The protection wasn’t universally bad Thursday. At times, the line fired out with solid run blocking and created a seamless pocket on most plays.

But veteran tackle Garry Gilliam, particularly, struggled for a time near the end of the first half, and that made Wilson vulnerable.

Penalties? Yeah. Six for 56 yards in the first half. Coach Pete Carroll wanted to clean that up in this game. He won’t be happy.

A couple of passes were dropped, and there was the occasional shaky tackling. And throughout, they again had troubles defending opposing tight ends — in this case, Kyle Rudolph.

The Seahawks are a veteran team with one of the most talented starting units in the league. They didn’t show it on Thursday.

But there were some positives.

The interior line of guards Germain Ifedi and Mark Glowinski and center Justin Britt had some good moments. And back Christine Michael took advantage of those, picking up 55 yards on 10 carries in the first half.

Additionally, Michael caught a ball on a sideline route that showed improvement in that skill. With last year’s surprise star Thomas Rawls inching back from his ankle surgery, the display of talent and versatility by Michael is a comforting development.

Newly re-acquired defensive tackle Tony McDaniel looked about as he did with the Hawks two seasons ago, stout in the middle against the run. Picked up as a street free agent, McDaniel could be valuable in spot duty up front.

Wilson had a few flashes, too, finding Tyler Lockett for 31 yards in the sideline window against the Vikings on the same route that worked well against the Vikings last season.

Converted running back George Farmer had a 12-yard run in which he ran over a defender, and he had a 13-yard catch. It’s a crowded backfield with three rookies having been drafted, but Farmer is making some plays to get himself noticed.

Rookie second-round draft pick Jarran Reed several times split a double team to stop the run, once for a tackle-for-loss.

But on the whole, the Seahawks have to feel best about one thing: This game didn’t count.

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