Countdown to kickoff

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.Y. – Greetings from MetLife Stadium, where the Seahawks will play for the first time when they matchup against the New York Giants this afternoon (or morning, if you’re in Seattle). The kickoff and coverage on Fox (channel 13 in Seattle) is schedule for 10 a.m. PDT.

It’s a gorgeous early-Autumn day, so we figured this was a good time to revisit what has been a lightning-rod issue for the Seahawks: Tarvaris Jackson.

Coach Pete Carroll has been saying since the club signed the former Vikings QB that, given time, Jackson could be productive passer in the offense that he learned under coordinator Darrell Bevell the past five seasons in Minnesota.

Some fans, however, weren’t willing to give Jackson the time to allow that to happen. But in the past six quarters, Jackson has not been sacked and the improved protection has allowed him to take more shots down the field – like on his 52-yard TD pass to Sidney Rice in the second quarter of last week’s two-point loss to the Falcons; and go to this second and even third options – like on his 8-yard TD to Ben Obomanu in the fourth quarter last week.

In those six quarters, Jackson has completed 34 of 53 passes (64 percent) for 408 yards, with three touchdowns. He also ran for a TD against the Cardinals.

It might be difficult for the line or Jackson to continue this productive pace today, because of the pressure the Giants are able to generate on the passer. It’s unlikely that Justin Tuck will play because of a neck injury. He practiced on Thursday, but was unable to go Friday. The Giants got Osi Umenyiora back for the first time last week, after he had arthroscopic knee surgery in August, and he responded with two sacks and a forced fumble.

But even in their absences, the Giants have been able to generate pressure off the edges with Jason Pierre-Paul, who has 4½ sacks; and Dave Tollefson, who has three.

“We just need to take care of the football,” Jackson said this week. “They’re going to rush the passer. They’re going to get to you sometimes. So you’ve got to make sure that when they do you don’t do anything stupid and make any big mistakes, like turn the football over.

“Make sure you secure the ball in the pocket. That’s pretty much it.”

Another problem for the Seahawks is that the Giants have not had to blitz much because they’re able to get the job done with a four-man rush – regardless of who those four might be. That will allow them to use more players in coverage against the Seahawks receiving corps that will be missing Mike Williams (concussion).

So, will Jackson be able to continue making plays when he has less time?

“We’ve been together such a short time and we feel like we’re growing,” Jackson said. “Everybody is looking forward – as a team, and as an offense – to see what we can do.”

On the defense, it’s looking like the Seahawks won’t have to deal with 264-pound running back Brandon Jacobs, who has averaged 8.2 yards against them in the past. He is listed as doubtful because of a knee injury.

But there’s still leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw, who had 57 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries during the Giants’ 41-7 victory in Seattle last November; and D.J. Ware, who ran for 66 yards on 13 carries in garbage time in that game.

It’s imperative that the Seahawks put the Giants in third-and-long situations so they can try to pressure Eli Manning into making mistakes. Manning has thrown only two interceptions – compared to a career-high 25 last season. Manning was 21 of 32 for 290 yards, with three TDs and no picks, in that Week 9 game at Qwest Field (now CenturyLink Field). And the Seahawks did not sack him.

So the pressure points in this game will intersection at the QBs.


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