If the Seattle Seahawks play during the regular season the way they did for the first quarter of the Friday (Aug. 8) preseason game in Minneapolis, National Football League officials may just award them the Lombardi Trophy at mid-season and dispense with playoff games.
Granted, it was just a practice game. But the Hawk offense did virtually everything right and nothing wrong during three possessions, with two quarterbacks, a host of receivers and one lone runner who put up 62 yards on six carries before a half hour had elapsed. Yes, the Hawks let the Minnesota Vikings tie the game at 17 by halftime, but the visitors, despite being short-staffed due to injuries, won comfortably, 34-17. That lone runner was Maurice Morris, only too familiar given his six seasons in Hawkland. Morris ran like a hybrid halfback-fullback, fleet on some carries, bruising on others. Lost on no one within the organization: Morris also was and will be running for his professional life. The Seahawks made very obvious efforts after last year to upgrade at running back. Gone was former league MVP Shaun Alexander. Signed were high-potential guys Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett, neither of whom showed much in Minnesota. Rookie Justin Forsett had 58 yards on 13 carries, meaning the team could be considered four deep with quality featured backs.
The club also seems a solid three deep at quarterback. Starter Matt Hasselbeck was nearly flawless during an opening drive that ended with an acrobatic grab by Jordan Kent for an 18-yard touchdown. Hasselbeck left after completing seven of eight for 70 yards. Back-ups Seneca Wallace and Charlie Frye combined for a 17-for-23 performance, placing the QB report card in the A-plus range.
The depleted defense, meanwhile, still managed to force three fumbles. As to the latter: Hawk running back Duckett might consider changing his name to "Luck-out," seeing as how each of his apparent fumbles was overturned.
Much has been made of 2008 being Mike Holmgren's 10th and final season as Hawks head mentor. Assistant coach Jim Mora already has been named as Holmgren's replacement. Fan interest, if only gauged by a nearly instantaneous early-August sell-out of scattered tickets, seems to be approaching an all-time high at the dawn of the team's 33rd season. With it comes the expectation that the club at the very least will repeat as NFC West conference champ, a feat the Seahawks have managed for four straight seasons. Beating week divisional competition probably won't placate fans, many of whom expect nothing short of a return to the Super Bowl and a championship they feel referees denied them in 2006.
In the meantime, there's the more pressing matter of preparing a beat-up roster to face the Chicago Bears at Qwest Field Aug. 16 in the Hawks' first home exhibition game. Talk of the Super Bowl and the Lombardi Trophy may intensify, but not until the Seattle franchise has won a few times during the regular season, which starts in Buffalo Sept. 7.