The elusive, game-changing phenom that carved his name into the National Football League’s record book in a season-ending January road victory in Seattle is back in town.
Saturday Qwest Field and the Seahawks play host to running back Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans. With the preseason matchup, all eyes will be on head coach Pete Carroll as he makes his official return to the professional sideline. Prior to spending nine seasons in charge of the University of Southern California, Carroll was 34-33 (including a 1-2 playoff record) in the NFL as the headman of the New York Jets and New England Patriots. Now he’s in Seattle in charge of trying to breathe life back into the former four-time NFC West Champions.
As part of SeahawksGab Editor Devon Heinen’s preseason preview, he poses three questions regarding the preseason Week One matchup that Seahawks fans should keep in mind.
WHO IS GOING TO BRING THE DEFENSIVE RUSH?
Disrupting opposing teams’ aerial attacks was a problem for Seattle last year. The team was 26th in the league when it came to bringing down the quarterback.
With head coach Pete Carroll came a new position to help fix that problem, the leo/elephant. Someone playing as the leo has the ability to drop back into coverage or bull rush the quarterback all while disguising himself as a stand-up defensive player or one coming out of a stance like a lineman. Because of the versatility the position offers, Seattle will use different players with varying bodies and skill sets.
Whether or not the position works in an actual game is what needs to be seen.
WHO WILL PUT HIS STAMP ON THE RUNNING GAME?
Reports out of Seahawks training camp indicate that the running game will be a timeshare. That is, unless a member of the three-headed enigma at the position can separate himself.
Julius Jones looked average Sunday at the team’s mock game at the University of Washington. Often getting minimal yardage, Jones lacked the burst needed to hit his hole and get into the next level of the defense.
Justin Forsett came out of the gate looking like a man with a purpose. The first two plays of the mock game saw the third-year back out of Cal plunge through the line, engage in contact and move the chains. Later he showed off his shifty speed.
Leon Washington is coming off a broken leg, but his ability to turn a short play into a long touchdown is back. While defenders were limited to minor contact with the first-year Seahawk, Washington showcased the speed and cutting ability that made him a terror out of the backfield and in the return game for the New York Jets.
Washington might not play Saturday as he continues his trek back from his injury. Possible missed time won’t necessarily mean Washington falls behind the other two in the hunt for playing time, but it certainly wouldn’t help him either.
HOW WILL THE TEAM RESPOND IF FACED WITH AN EARLY DEFECIT?
After a 9-23 stretch over the past two seasons, the Seahawks haven’t had much time to bask in glory.
How will the team respond should it fall behind early courtesy of a mammoth Chris Johnson run or from any Titans scoring strike?
Will the senses of competition and ‘earn everything’ that head coach Pete Carroll brought to the team in January remain? Or will the team slip back into a passive presence prominently displayed last season?
Can’t get enough NFLGridironGab? Follow SeahawksGab Editor Devon Heinen on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DevonHeinen.