What To Watch for in the Seattle Seahawks' Final Two Preseason Games

Tom GlassmanContributor IAugust 27, 2009

SEATTLE - AUGUST 22:  Center Chris Spencer #65 of the Seattle Seahawks gets ready to hike the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos on August 22, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

In the NFL Networks “preseason power rankings” the Seattle Seahawks were ranked 25th. But when analysts began talking about the team, and the talent on it, they made it sound as if the Seahawks were ranked fifth.

It’s not hard to see how a discussion involving the Seattle Seahawks could follow these same lines. It's very hard as a writer, let alone a television personality to rank a team that won just four games last season above anyone that has a winning record. 

On the other side of the coin, the Seahawks return a lineup that from 2002 to 2008 had the best record in the NFC. Justifiable judgments about the competitiveness of their division aside, the Seahawks have a team loaded with talent.

After a couple of preseason games, what questions plague the Seahawks and their fans?


Can the Offensive Line Stay Healthy? If They Do, Can They Be Successful? 

Though most casual NFL fans can't even name the offensive lineman on their favorite team, Seahawks fans are still quick to anger over the name Steve Hutchinson.

Since Hutch left to become the highest-paid guard in NFL history in Minnesota, the Seahawks have been plagued by both injuries (at one point near the end of the '08 season, all five starters from opening day were injured) and age. 

Through the first two preseason games, the Seahawks have allowed just three sacks, all of which came against the Denver Broncos. Also, the Hawks have outrushed their opponents in the first two games (164 to 136). 

All of these point to the success of brand new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, a zone-blocking aficionado who could be the biggest signee in the offseason. 

When watching the next two preseason games: Watch how the line works together. If they can stay healthy and learn the new zone-blocking scheme quickly, Knapp could yet again have a top running team in the NFL.


Are the Defensive Backs as Good as We Keep Hearing They Could Be? 

This question, as so many coaches and scouts will tell you, is in direct correlation with the defensive line play. Pressure on the quarterback causes mistakes which makes the defensive backs jobs that much easier. 

A healthy Patrick Kearney, plus the addition of defensive tackles Cory Redding and Colin Cole, have produced eight sacks this preseason. They have also forced three interceptions. 

Also, Seahawks fans should love the relatively quiet offseason reacquisition of Ken Lucas. 

Lucas, who left Seattle for Carolina in 2005, adds size and depth at CB. Hometown favorite (Wilson High school/Washington State University graduate) Marcus Trufant is having trouble getting over a back problem, and has yet to participate fully in training camp activities. 

When watching the next couple of preseason games: Watch to see how the 'Hawks play in passing downs. Last year, Seattle was 30th in the league in passing yards allowed (265 P/Y per game). If they are going to improve, they must shut down the passing game and increase their takeaways.


What Will Be the 'Hawks Offensive Identity?

After a decade of Mike Holmgren and the most watered-down of west coast offenses, what will brand-new head coach Jim Mora Jr. and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp bring to the table?

When the pair were together in Atlanta, they led the league in rushing. No offense to Matt Hasselbeck (or EAS), but I don’t think he is going to be rushing all over the field like Michael Vick did, or rolling out of the pocket nearly as often. 

Interestingly, the Seahawks have passed much more (70 plays) than they have rushed (56) so far this preseason. They have still been running the west coast, but they have been spreading out receivers much more often. This allows a third and fourth wide receiver to create matchup problems for opposing safeties and linebackers in coverage. 

The recent addition of Edgerrin James, and subsequent release of TJ Duckett, means more of a traditional two-back system. “Edge” may not be the back he was early in his career with Indianapolis, but still has plenty of rubber left on the tread and runs "Greg Knapp style"; find the hole, and hit it hard. 

When watching the next two preseason games: Watch to see if the blocking schemes hold up against the first-string defenses. If the Seahawks are going to spread the field, they will need to give Hasselback enough time get rid of the ball. 

Though they kept his jersey clean in the first game, he was sacked three times in the second. On one, tackle Sean Locklear was bull-rushed into the Seahawks veteran QB, knocking him over. If they can give Hasselbeck time, it will pay dividends.

So far, he has a 111.9 QB rating this preseason and is completing 67.9 percent of his passes.