If the Seahawks don’t beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday — perhaps handily — it will be a huge surprise. After all, how many advantages can one team have over another?
Shall we count the ways?
1 — The Seahawks saw the Chargers’ personnel in the preseason, during a 41-14 demolition, and we saw what happened the last time the Hawks played a preseason opponent during the season: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8 in the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks blew out the Broncos in the preseason last year, too, and they used that game to familiarize themselves with the Broncos’ personnel. (The Broncos have to really be looking forward to coming to Seattle next week.)
The Hawks did the same thing with the Chargers this preseason.
Plenty of media and fans expressed misgivings about Earl Thomas returning punts, so they had to be happy when coach Pete Carroll took Thomas off those duties this week in the wake of a disastrous season opener.
Thomas fumbled the ball on one return and did not seem very instinctive about judging whether to call for fair catches. Carroll said he thought the return duties were distracting from Thomas’ duties as the team’s defensive quarterback at free safety, so he is putting Bryan Walters in as the returner.
Thomas responded to the move Thursday and ripped fans who didn’t want him returning punts.
“Fans can kind of sleep easier now,” he said. “They can stop sending their regards in. They were a little bit selfish in my perspective.”
One of the few weaknesses in Seattle’s season opener was the play of Earl Thomas on punt returns. He didn’t show the right instincts for catching the ball in traffic, and he ended up fumbling one of his chances.
Coach Pete Carroll initially said they would work through those issues and keep Thomas at punt returner, but after further reflection the coach decided to remove that distraction so Thomas can concentrate on playing the position he is paid to excel at: free safety.
Bryan Walters will take over as the main punt returner, Carroll said Wednesday.
Amid the Seahawks’ 36-16 runaway win over Green Bay on Thursday, the Legion of Boom walked away victorious but somewhat disappointed.
Earl Thomas made a mess of punt returns, fumbling one that turned into a touchdown for Green Bay and raising further questions about the decision to put the All-Pro safety back there.
Kam Chancellor hit hard all night and made 11 tackles, but he also whiffed more than usual.
Richard Sherman was annoyed that the Packers refused to throw to his side of the field the entire game, opening up once again questions about whether Sherman should be allowed to shadow a team’s best receiver.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Jordy Nelson instead picked on Byron Maxwell, who gave up a bunch of completions to the duo but also picked off a pass.
Of course, none of those mostly minor issues was as big as the loss of nickel cornerback Jeremy Lane, who aggravated his groin injury and is “going to be down for a while,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters.