A year removed from a surprise season that included the emergence of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks open the preseason by beginning to fight against any feelings of satisfaction. They head to California on Thursday to face a San Diego Chargers team led by a new coaching staff, one simply trying to meet the lofty expectations that led to the end of Norv Turner's tenure.
Mike McCoy is now in charge, and he'll need to take the talent to new heights. But his first goal is only about meeting expectations. Exceeding them this season would be ahead of the curve.
That's a far cry from where Pete Carroll's Seahawks find themselves. The preseason will be about keeping pace -- no, catching up to -- the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers and building upon last year.
Meet the Chargers
Philip Rivers is still the Chargers' quarterback, and relatively speaking the same team from last year returns. Running back Ryan Mathews is back and apparently more on the thin side. Malcom Floyd is again the face of the receiving corps. The offensive side of the ball, however, is still filled with the most question marks. How will McCoy and new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt turn the fortunes of a team that has talent, but failed to produce in recent years?
Defensively, San Diego wasn't in too bad of shape last season and held on to defensive coordinator John Pagano, among others. They'll quickly get a chance to show their stuff against a versatile Seattle offense.
Meet the Seahawks
Russell Wilson doesn't seem like the type of player to go through a sophomore slump, but Thursday is the first chance to show it. The usual cast of characters -- running back Marshawn Lynch, receiver Sidney Rice and lineman Russell Okung -- return for the Seattle offense.
But can Wilson add a new wrinkle to his game? The Seahawks averaged the 27th-fewest passing yards per game in 2012, although that had much to do with the ability to pile up the yards by using the run game. Seattle could use more balance and the place to start building Wilson's confidence, if he needs it, is in the preseason.
Meanwhile, Carroll's defense should only improve in 2013, though no matter how vanilla a preseason offense might be, the Seahawks are working with little in terms of scouting the Chargers' new offense.
Local Takes: Chargers
Jkvandal of Chargers blog Bolts from the Blue tempers expectations on quarterback Philip Rivers and puts some stats together to compare him with other signal-callers coached by a revamped staff:
Personally, I will expect a bit under the projection for Rivers, just because it is his first season under the new offense and there have been quite a few personnel changes around him. For comparison purposes, here are Rivers' career averages in those categories as a starter:
Comp Att Yards Comp % TD INT Sacks Rating 322 505 3963 64% 27 13 31 94.8
Looks to me like Philip Rivers is set up to have an "average" season. That's how I'm managing my expectations, what do you think?
Local Takes: Seahawks
Danny Kelly of Field Gulls predicts that cornerback Jeremy Lane could challenge for kick returning duties this year. His thoughts:
You may have heard Pete Carroll say it from time to time recently in pressers, that Lane is maybe the fastest guy on the team, but I kind of always just figured Carroll was paying him lip service. After one practice of watching Lane return kicks, I can see why Carroll has been saying that. He accelerates faster than just about anyone on the field, and once he gets up to speed (which happens quickly), his gait and posture actually really reminds me of Ted Ginn, Jr. Ginn might go down as a 'bust' because of where he was picked and what he ended up becoming (a return specialist), but he's a damn good return specialist, as Seahawks' fans know all too well.
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Seattle is a slight favorite at odds from one point and as many as 2.5 points, according to OddsShark.com.