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O’Neil: Winless in preseason, all that matters is Seahawks made progress

Keon Hatcher and the Raiders handed the Seahawks their fourth preseason loss. (AP)

I think they’re ready.

This is an opinion that may not be widely shared after all the changes the Seahawks made this offseason.

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It’s certainly not drawn from the preseason results as Seattle was beaten 30-19 by Oakland in Thursday’s preseason finale, finishing winless for the first time in franchise history.

But for the past five weeks the Seahawks have shown distinct, discernible signs of an improved – even veteran – offense, and a younger, faster, more aggressive secondary.

Oh yeah. They’ve also got that Russell Wilson guy, who happens to be pretty good and didn’t play so much as a snap in the final preseason game.

Worried that Seattle went 0-4 in the preseason, the first time they’ve failed to win at least one of the practice games before beginning the season? Well, don’t be. The Seahawks were a perfect 4-0 in the preseason in 2009 and managed all of five regular-season wins, and the only thing that should be considered concerning about the final score of Thursday’s game is that placekicker Sebastian Janikowski missed two point-after tries.

Scores don’t matter in the preseason. Progress does, and the Seahawks showed plenty of that, especially up front on offense. After years of complaints, the Seahawks offensive line could actually be solid. Maybe even good. They’re going to provide protection for Wilson, and just as importantly, support by improving the Seahawks’ ground game.

Left tackle Duane Brown is going to be provide a stability up front that Seattle has lacked for the past two seasons. D.J. Fluker is going to provide some muscle and more than a little bit of attitude.

The question mark is Seattle’s defense, which is strange to say. Defense was the bedrock upon which the Seahawks built their Super Bowl championship team, but the Seahawks lost five former Pro Bowlers on that side of the ball over the offseason as Richard Sherman was released, Michael Bennett was traded, Sheldon Richardson left as a free agent and Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril are unable to play because of injuries. A sixth former Pro Bowler in Earl Thomas has not shown up for work this season, insisting he get a new contract first.

The Seahawks aren’t going to be great on defense. They don’t have the pass rush for that. But they can be good. In fact, I think they will be good enough to make the playoffs a possibility. And even after a winless preseason, I think that this Seahawks team is more likely to win 10 games in the regular season than it is to lose 10.