Dave Boling

Dave Boling: Seahawks better than they’ve shown so far

Quarterback Russell Wilson has struggled in the Seahawks’ first two exhibition games, completing 8 of 17 passes for 111 yards, no touchdowns and one interception — for a passer rating of 44.0. He has been sacked four times.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has struggled in the Seahawks’ first two exhibition games, completing 8 of 17 passes for 111 yards, no touchdowns and one interception — for a passer rating of 44.0. He has been sacked four times. toverman@theolympian.com

No reason for alarms to go off this early, just a curious observation about the Seahawks this preseason.

There’s a pretty sharp disparity between the Seahawks team I’ve watched in practice (a surefire contender) and the Seahawks team I’ve seen in the first two preseason games (meh).

Maybe they go so hard against each other in practice that preseason games aren’t such a thrill for the veterans.

They always keep things under wrap in August, so games aren’t always an indicator of what they’ve got. But the first two preseason games haven’t been sharp fundamentally.

From the first day of training camp, some units across the Seahawks roster have looked to be in midseason form and ready to take on the league.

Loaded with elite-level veterans and some sassy rookies out to prove their worthiness, practices have been sharp, efficient, high-paced and combative.

Mistakes have been few. Assignments seemed covered in full. And penalties were rare except those for unnecessary roughness that, in this camp, seemed not only necessary but mandatory.

To my eyes, during these early stages, this team looked like the best in franchise history.

Yet the first two games — a last-second, penalty-filled win at Kansas City and an 18-11 loss at home against Minnesota — have been tepid displays of inconsistency.

The outcome isn’t the issue. But a sense of overall competence among the first units is expected.

These things are frequently disjointed because of the substitutions and the presence of about 35 guys who will be elsewhere after Labor Day. So a sloppy preseason game is in keeping with its nature. But I’m pretty sure we’re used to seeing more than this.

A number of causes contribute. The Hawks do very little to no game-planning in the preseason. They go pretty vanilla defensively, and it’s obvious that their veterans don’t have much to prove.

But with little or no actual contact in the practices, this third preseason game against Dallas is the last chance for many of them to get back the kind of timing they’re going to need Sept. 11 when the Miami Dolphins come to town.

Coach Pete Carroll cited problems with penalties against the Chiefs, and he called the Vikings game “raggedy.”

After Wednesday’s brief practice, Carroll said he had no concerns at all about his first-unit offense, which hasn’t scored yet in its limited first-half action. He granted, though, “We’re giving too many situations away. I’d like to see us play a lot sharper.”

Seattle scored 28 points in the first two games. That’s few in any respect but is made more concerning by the fact that 22 of those points have been scored in the fourth quarter by depth-chart denizens.

Scoring in the JV portion of the games counts in the evaluation of roster spots but doesn’t give much of a hint about the preparedness of the varsity.

The defense, meanwhile, has come up with one sack in 63 opponent pass attempts.

The running attack has been strong overall, as they’ve averaged 5 yards per carry, but the passing game by the first unit has been bleak except for a gorgeous 31-yard sideline connection from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett against Minnesota.

Taking eight sacks in the two games reveals systemic protection issues that go beyond the newly configured offensive line and include backs picking up blitzers, Wilson getting rid of the ball and receivers being alert for quicker deliveries.

And, goodness, the haunting image of a tight end running loose in the secondary arose again as Kyle Rudolph pulled in a 32-yard completion for the Vikings against the starting defense.

Some positions remain to be won. Offensive tackle is still a bit of a puzzler.

Can veterans Jahri Evans and Brandon Browner still play? Can undrafted new kids like Tanner McEvoy and Troymaine Pope continue to impress? And how convincingly can rookies like C.J. Prosise and Zac Brooks, now returned from injuries, prove what they can do?

It’s only a preseason game, but it feels timely for the Seahawks to transfer their quality practice performances onto the field against Dallas.

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