BY Art Thiel 11:15PM 08/30/2012

Thiel: Wilson chills, defense hot in Seahawks win

The Raiders were helpless against the Seahawks defense, which shone throughout the preseason that ended 4-0 after a 21-3 win Thursday night.


Starting a quarterback in the first game of his NFL career is a rare, large deal, so the saga of Russell Wilson will continue to deserve the hubbub. He’s no God particle, but he’s several atoms up from rookies Dan McGwire and Rick Mirer, a couple of black holes in the Seahawks’ early QB universe.

The arrival of Wilson has tended to obscure the club’s biggest virtue: the defense’s grumpy, agile ferocity. Wilson can’t help his giant, 5-foot-11 shadow, of course, nor can a comprehensive verdict on the Seattle defense be rendered when the opposing offense is as feeble as that of the Oakland Raiders, who spit up copious amounts of mess upon themselves Thursday night at the Clink.

After three quarters, the Raiders had no points, four first downs and 77 yards of total offense. We all realize this was an exhibition game, and we all realize it’s the Raiders, but at least have the common courtesy to close the bathroom door.

Whatever the qualifiers, the Seahawks’ 21-3 slapping of Oakland was another argument that a team built on defense seems to get sturdier in that department by the week.

The Raiders finished with 101 yards of total offense, and the three points came with 15 seconds left when the Seahawks had in the ushers and the stats crew. Even rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin got into the act, picking up a sack and half in the second half — the first known contact in the preseason with an opposing quarterback.

His ability to render inert the gunslinger was the primary reason he was drafted No. 1 by the Seahawks. His arrival at his destiny was almost, well, gestational.

“It felt like I had a newborn baby,” Irvin said of his first sack. “I felt I got better each game. Tonight, everything was working my favor. The first couple games I didn’t know what to expect. But I’ve been getting better in games and in practice.

“I’m comfortable now.”

So, it would appear, is the entire defense. The first unit gave up just 17 points in the 4-0 preseason, only the second unbeaten fake season in club history.

“Being unbeaten feels good, but it doesn’t mean anything,” Irvin said. “It’s something to feed off at the start of the season.”

The Seahawks in 2011 finished ninth the NFL’s defensive rankings, and nothing in the preseason suggested any decline. Especially after the quarterback rating of Raiders’ No. 2 thrower Matt Leinert was noted — 1.7. Bad as that number would be for a drunk driver, it’s worse for a quarterback.

New Raiders coach Dennis Allen was halfway shocked.

“It was obvious by our execution tonight we weren’t ready for prime time,” he said. “We didn’t play good. So I see that as significant.

“We got over-matched, upfront and on both sides of the ball.”

If Oakland’s puny output in the first half wasn’t enough evidence of over-match, the Seahawks, ahead 19-0 in the the third quarter, pinned a safety on the Raiders when backup tackle Jaye Howard slammed running back Mike Goodson two yards deep in the end zone.

For whatever it’s worth in dominating the Titans, Broncos,  Chiefs and Raiders in the preseason, the Seahawks allowed averages of 248 yards of total offense and 15 first downs in a combined 122-44 domination of the scoreboard. Leading the NFC in takeaways before the game with seven, the defense recovered another fumble and added an interception.

“It’s exciting, but you have to take it with a grain of salt,” said cornerback Richard Sherman. “Every (offense) is vanilla, they’re not doing much different. No schemes. But we have extremely high expectations for ourselves.”

The offense has less swagger, but it is proving efficient and competent, even in the absence of No. 1 rusher Marshawn Lynch and No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin, each of whom are expected to be healthy enough to play in the season opener Sept. 9 at Arizona.

Wilson played the first two series and one quarter, and didn’t have his previous wow factor, completing 5 of 11 passes for 72 yards and leading the Seahawks to a single field goal. Nor did he feel compelled once to take off running. There simply was no need to risk anything in the final exhibition when the defense was in charge the entire game.

For those inclined to offer a pity party for Matt Flynn, the heir apparent to the starting QB job who was usurped by the upstart, there is no need to bother. Taking over in the second quarter, he evinced no depression, moving the club on touchdown drives of 78 and 90 yards. He completed 11 of 13 passes, one touchdown and no picks for a QB rating of 125.0.

A couple of running backs looking for steady employment, Kregg Lumpkin and Vai Taua, made impressions, Lumpkin with 71 yards and Taua with 49 and a two-yard TD run.

Football fans understand about the futility of diving meaning from exhibition results. That doesn’t mean that Seahawks fans can’t get excited about the fact that, whether they are labeled ones or twos or threes, the Seahawks have assembled the most talented roster of the Pete Carroll regime, and it plays harmoniously to his priorities of defense and rushing.

Then there’s the magnum curiosity that no ceiling has been found for one of the roster’s shortest guys.


YourThoughts

  • Radright54

    The Seahawks beat a team of Raider bench players.  Big deal!  Stupid article Art.

    • Fussellian

      Yeah, why would Art report on the most recent Seahawk game? What’s that about?

    • Artthiel

      Thanks for the breaking news, radright. No one knew that about the fourth X game. Wonder why they played it.

  • Radright54

    The Seahawks beat a team of Raider bench players.  Big deal!  Stupid article Art.

    • Fussellian

      Yeah, why would Art report on the most recent Seahawk game? What’s that about?

    • Artthiel

      Thanks for the breaking news, radright. No one knew that about the fourth X game. Wonder why they played it.

  • Tim

    Lighten the hell up Radright or go troll in other waters.     You obviously have no sense of humor which isn’t a surprise given your handle.

    Thanks Art!  Love your writing as always!

    • Artthiel

      He types, therefore he be.

  • Tim

    Lighten the hell up Radright or go troll in other waters.     You obviously have no sense of humor which isn’t a surprise given your handle.

    Thanks Art!  Love your writing as always!

    • Artthiel

      He types, therefore he be.

  • Tian Biao

    Art, you must wonder about some of these reader responses. It’s like, they haven’t even read the article before they start ranting away in the comment section. weird. 

    • Artthiel

      Life in the interwebs, Tian. No IQ test required to play. Like Wheel of Fortune.

  • Tian Biao

    Art, you must wonder about some of these reader responses. It’s like, they haven’t even read the article before they start ranting away in the comment section. weird. 

    • Artthiel

      Life in the interwebs, Tian. No IQ test required to play. Like Wheel of Fortune.

  • RadioGuy

    Anything done in preseason should be taken with a grain of salt, but I was glad to see Matt Flynn step in and have a solid night (even though it was against a second-rate team like Oakland).  Wilson has won the starting berth fair and square, but it wasn’t because Flynn had played poorly…Russ brings a certain dynamic to the game that Matt doesn’t yet.

    At any rate, a win’s a win (even if it doesn’t count) and the table’s been set for a potentially very good regular season.  The NFC West is definitely winnable.

    • Artthiel

       Wilson has yet to experience a pro D that schemes against him. Obviously, the book on him is small, but it’s not like he’s playing a different game than most mobile quarterbacks. It’s a matter of the right blend of protection and play calls that give him the highest chance for first-game success. And Arizona seems like a team in sufficient disarray that would help Wilson’s first outing.

  • RadioGuy

    Anything done in preseason should be taken with a grain of salt, but I was glad to see Matt Flynn step in and have a solid night (even though it was against a second-rate team like Oakland).  Wilson has won the starting berth fair and square, but it wasn’t because Flynn had played poorly…Russ brings a certain dynamic to the game that Matt doesn’t yet.

    At any rate, a win’s a win (even if it doesn’t count) and the table’s been set for a potentially very good regular season.  The NFC West is definitely winnable.

    • Artthiel

       Wilson has yet to experience a pro D that schemes against him. Obviously, the book on him is small, but it’s not like he’s playing a different game than most mobile quarterbacks. It’s a matter of the right blend of protection and play calls that give him the highest chance for first-game success. And Arizona seems like a team in sufficient disarray that would help Wilson’s first outing.

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  • Gonzo

    woo hoo we’re AFC West Champs…or something…

  • Gonzo

    woo hoo we’re AFC West Champs…or something…

  • Jamo57

    Speaking of the black holes of the Seahawks QB universe and epochal history, wouldn’t Russell Wilson be well served to ditch the number 3 (that of previous rookie starting quarterback Rick Mirer) and go back to his UW Badger number of 16 now that cutdowns are complete?

    At least those of us who see karma as a universal force also would think it prudent.

  • Jamo57

    Speaking of the black holes of the Seahawks QB universe and epochal history, wouldn’t Russell Wilson be well served to ditch the number 3 (that of previous rookie starting quarterback Rick Mirer) and go back to his UW Badger number of 16 now that cutdowns are complete?

    At least those of us who see karma as a universal force also would think it prudent.

  • Max

    It exciting to see the potential here. I’m tempering my enthusiasm but these guys could bring something to the party this year. Great article as always, Art.

  • Max

    It exciting to see the potential here. I’m tempering my enthusiasm but these guys could bring something to the party this year. Great article as always, Art.

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