Matchup: Tennessee Titans vs. Seattle Seahawks
Site: CenturyLink Field, Seattle Washington
December 24th of last year was the last time I stepped foot into CenturyLink Field for a Seahawks game. Tomorrow I will be back at the stadium for the start of the 2012 preseason. The first preseason home game is always special to me; for a season ticket holder it signals the start of football and it also ends an eight month streak without being around the people who can be considered your second family.
Boy do we have a doozy of a matchup for the first game of the preseason. Usually this would be the section where I whine and complain about the lack of talent on the field for the full-price ticket. Don’t get me wrong I’m still mad I have to pay full price for an exhibition game but this matchup with the Titans takes some of the sting away from my wallet. Both Seahawk legend Matt Hasselbeck and former University of Washington star Jake Locker return to Seattle. Hasselbeck for the first time since the Seahawks decided not to re-sign him after the 2010 season and Locker for the first time as a pro. Both men did incredible things for this city and for their respective teams. It is really cool to see both of them in their own quarterback competition, which is what I am looking forward to watching tonight. Hasselbeck will start the game and play the first 12-15 plays according to head coach Mike Munchak. Locker will then take over and play the rest of the first half. Word on the street in Nashville is that most Titans fans want Locker to start once the regular season starts even though Hasselbeck won 9 games last year and proved to be a significant upgrade from Tennessee’s previous quarterback Vince Young. I expect Hasselbeck to receive a warm welcome back and even a standing ovation before the game. I also expect A LOT of UW students and alumni to be in attendance to welcome Locker home. My only hope is that the 12th Man will remember to pull 100 percent for the Seahawks and not cheer solely for Hasselbeck and Locker just because what they did for the Seahawks and the Huskies respectively in the past.
Oh yeah, the Seahawks also have a quarterback competition going on. Free agent acquisition and fan-favorite Matt Flynn will start at quarterback for the Seahawks play the entire first half. Rookie Russell Wilson will then play the entire second half, meaning Tarvaris Jackson will not play at all. I am excited to see what Flynn can do with the starting unit against different competition. The nice thing about coach Carroll’s quarterback plan for this game is Flynn will get playing time with both the first-string and second-string units. Flynn will also go up against the starting defense of the Titans. I am not expecting a perfect performance like what he proved in Green Bay at the end of last season, but I do expect him to do a decent enough job. Coach Carroll said earlier this week that he believes Flynn has a perfect grip on the playbook, so I will be looking for how Flynn communicates and executes the plays that are called. If he has a perfect grip on the playbook, then there should be no breakdowns in play execution.
I have previously written about the importance of keeping continuity along the offense line this season. Unfortunately, there has been a setback this early on in the season. It was announced Friday that right guard John Moffitt will have elbow surgery and will be out 2-3 weeks. Deuce Lutui will start in Moffitt’s place Saturday night. Lutui is a new Seahawk, meaning he has never played a game with this group of guys. I will be keeping my eye on him in the first half to see how he fits in. My hope is that he can do a decorous job filling in. If he struggles I may panic a little.
Random Thoughts: I am stoked to see what the field looks like. We upgraded our logo over the offseason so I am excited to see what the endzones look like, and what the logo looks like on the 50-yard line… I expect a former Seahawk to raise the 12th Man flag. Usually the team has a former player raise the flag for the first preseason game. Nobody that made a huge impact during his time here, they usually save those types of players for the regular season. If it is a player, it will be a fan favorite during his time in Seattle… I hope I am sitting with the same guys as last season. I haven’t upgraded my seats since I’ve been a season ticket holder and it is mainly because of the people I sit around. The view is great; the atmosphere around me is great so why change that?
Prediction: It is hard to predict scores of preseason games but here is my best shot. Flynn has looked good and Wilson has also looked good. The Titans will play 3rd string quarterback Rusty Smith for the entire second half. In a matchup between Wilson and Smith, I’ll take the impressive rookie.
Seahawks 27, Titans 17
Sunday I will have my review of the game and will preview the week ahead at training camp. Go Seahawks!