As the Seattle Seahawks prepare for the season opener at Arizona on Sunday, their defense looks ready to dominate — and it will have to be, because the offense is only about half ready.
The running game looked strong during the preseason as the offensive line picked up right where it left off last season, but Marshawn Lynch’s back spasms are cause for concern and the passing game is a little incomplete right now.
Lynch reportedly is questionable for the opener due to the back problems that have sidelined him since early in the preseason. That means rookie Robert Turbin will have a big role right off the bat as the Hawks are sure to lean on him to carry an offense that is still trying to piece together a passing attack.
Due to a three-headed quarterback battle early in camp, injuries to receivers throughout and some late roster shuffling, the air game figures to be a little flat to start the season.
Rookie QB Russell Wilson was not named the starter until after the third preseason game, and the since-traded Tarvaris Jackson was receiving first-team reps with Wilson and Matt Flynn until mid-August.
This always figured to be a problem, with the Seahawks trying to determine not only who was going to throw the ball but who would catch it.
The receiving group has been finalized, but Sidney Rice is being handled with kid gloves as he comes off two shoulder surgeries and Doug Baldwin has not played since the first preseason game due to a bad hamstring. Add to that Golden Tate’s knee injury while returning a punt in the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game, and the top three receivers seem far from ready — even if Rice and Baldwin are practicing.
That leaves big-play specialist Braylon Edwards, veteran holdover Ben Obomanu and overachieving Charly Martin as the most dependable targets for the rookie QB.
The release of tight end Kellen Winslow also shook things up a bit — his veteran presence might be missed as the Hawks will instead start the inconsistent Anthony McCoy with Zach Miller as his backup.
The Seahawks were confident enough in McCoy to let Winslow go.
“He’s done a great job,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told reporters, according to The News Tribune. “He’s really showed up in the preseason, made the big plays when he had the opportunity to make them. And that’s all we’re asking guys to do, is just do their job, make their plays. They don’t have to make anything special. And I think you’ve seen him do that and become a more consistent player.”
They also brought in tight end Evan Moore, who was released by the Cleveland Browns last week. It’s not like Moore missed much, though, since some of the other pass catchers didn’t get much, if any, time with Wilson either. And he knows the tenets of the West Coast scheme the Seahawks employ.
“There is a learning curve,” he told the The News Tribune. “But fortunately there’s a lot of translation between what we did in Cleveland and what we’re doing here — both terminology and schematically in X’s and O’s and all of that. So I’m fortunate that that’s the case.”
Maybe by the time Moore is comfortable, everyone else will be, too. But as the season opener looms, the passing game looks a little incomplete.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.