Peyton Manning will play the entire first half against the team that he didn't even decide to meet with. The Seahawks reportedly sent Manning a bouquet of flowers in the offseason that said, "Will you go to prom with me?" and he reportedly laughed sheepishly with the other popular kids as Pete Carroll and Co. walked away with their heads down.
But perhaps tomorrow the Seahawks will "Lucas" this situation and then Manning will end up "Charlie Sheening" in applause of respect for the team he decided wasn't as Super Bowl-ready as the Denver Broncos. (This analogy might not be as flattering to Seattle as I expected it to be when I started.)
Manning went 4-of-7 in his Denver debut with an interception, but whether or not he's got a pain in his neck, he's going to play the entire first half on Saturday and he's going to have to do at least most of it against three 2012 Pro Bowlers and a fourth guy that had a legitimate argument as a Pro Bowler. Yes, the Seahawks have the best secondary in the NFL. Of course, it's not exactly just Manning versus the secondary. That would be like saying that Josh Hamilton is facing off against Franklin Gutierrez. (That analogy also has flaws since Hamilton and Gutierrez have never been healthy at the same time at any one point in their lives. Sorry if you aren't a baseball fan and this reference is lost on you. Let's just say that a hitter doesn't "face" a centerfielder.) It's more like Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner versus Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, for at least some of the time, and Earl Thomas versus the world. That's a test that I think Seattle can win.
Either way, if Manning is still Manning, it's going to be a good test for both. The Seahawks didn't face many elite quarterbacks last season and they need to face more guys like Manning in order to prepare for facing the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, and Matthew Stafford during the regular season. Getting an entire half of Peyton Manning in a preseason game is actually quite a good thing for these defensive backs, as long as he's still got it. Even if they somehow get picked apart by maybe the best quarterback of all time, it's going to give them something to learn from during a fake game. That's important. It's what we will need to watch closely.
Here are a few other notes for what I'm looking for tomorrow.
(But first, a quick self promotion: You can also catch me on the newly-renovated sbnation.com/fantasy site where I'll be carrying over my fantasy football work from FakeTeams. Two or three days a week I'll also be running with the NFC news updates, including every Sunday morning during the season from 7 AM - 10 AM PST*, so if you're up early like it's Christmas morning every Sunday during the NFL season like I am, follow along with me on Twitter. Our own Jon Benne is also doing the "fantasy thang" for Sbnation, so expect Seahawks bias! Check it out because somehow I have 24 team previews left to do before the season starts, which could be interesting.
*Business Idea: An internet that automatically knows what time zone you are in. Football games aren't at 4:05 or 4:15 you east coast FREAKS!)
Okay, now the other notes for real on what I'm looking for between the Seahawks and Broncos...
Terrell Owens Debut
Is anybody talking about this? Some guy named "T""O" will be suiting up for the Seahawks in a game for the first time and presumably receive a target or two from Matt Flynn. I think I've been naive lately to just expect Owens to perform well and make the team, but the truth is that he hasn't played in a game in like 20 months. That's not insignificant. Despite the fact that he's one of the best receivers of all time, Owens wasn't even able to get an NFL team to come take a look at him in a tryout last year, and now he's just expected to win a job.
But yes, I still expect him to win a job. I expect him to make the team. Owens has literally been playing in the NFL since Seinfeld was still on the air, so I don't expect that he'll be completely lost out there, even if he's only been with the team for less than two weeks. However, it's still not for sure. We still need to see him play and if Owens faces off against Champ Bailey, that's over 84 years of combined NFL experience out there.
Most people would by lying if they said they weren't interested to see Owens in a spiffy new Seahawks uniform, but don't be disappointed if he gets very few targets and is only a footnote of the recap. He has some catching up to do, but also doesn't need much teaching at this point. The focal point of the game will probably be the guys that don't have much experience.
Fun Fact: Owens has 15 years of NFL experience and has played in 219 career games. The rest of the wide receiver group has played in a combined 246 games and I'm including everything, including the fact that Charly Martin has "played" in eight career games with one career catch for six yards.
Don't Fall Into the Von Trap
Pete has said this week that the offensive line is looking better than it had last season, or something to that effect, which I hope is true since the Seahawks are playing against the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl, All-Pro linebacker Von Miller. As a rookie, he had 51 solo tackles, 11.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles and he might be the best young linebacker to come into the league since Patrick Willis, though they don't have similar skill sets really. Miller will probably surpass Willis in career sacks by the end of this season. (Willis has 17 career sacks but is the best linebacker in the league.)
The Denver defense didn't come out on top in any categories last season, far from it, but they were put in bad position by Tim Tebow time and time again. Miller and Elvis Dumervil will put the Seahawks pass blocking to the test, though I have not been able to find out for sure if linebacker DJ Williams will suit up for this game after being convicted of something that's like a DUI, but not a DUI, this week.
While I am not entirely decided on how I feel about the guards right now, I feel pretty good about Russell Okung, Breno Giacomini, and Max Unger. Which means that every other player on the line is someone I have confidence in, so I assume that means we don't have any gaping holes on the line. Plus, we could also be really strong at guard. How should I know? Don't feel bad if you don't have a really strong opinion on an offensive guard, it doesn't mean you're dumb at football because that would mean that I am dumb at football.
I'm dumb at a lot of things: math, reading, science, fundamentals, I can't play an instrument, I can't bowl, I can't hold myself up on a rope swing, I can't maintain a relationship, this is getting really personal...
But I feel confident that I not dummy with football stuff. I just don't have a strong opinion about the guards. But if Seattle can keep Flynn on his feet for most of the day, I'll feel better about it since Miller, Dumervil, and the rest of the Denver defense can apply serious pressure to the pocket.
See, that sounded like a real football thing, didn't it?
When Will the Starter Be Named?
I have a feeling that the starting quarterback will be named next week and that it will be Matt Flynn. I think that Flynn showed them mostly what they wanted to see against the Titans and regardless of how exciting Russell Wilson looked, Flynn was brought in to start unless he looked bad. He doesn't look bad, or at least he hasn't yet.
I think they're going to have to stretch the field more with him tomorrow than they did last week, but if he can successfully play the game how he wants to play it against the Broncos, then Pete will name Flynn the starter early next week and Seattle will have the next two preseason games to prepare with a starting QB and get ready for the Cardinals in week one. That will also allow the team to probably give Flynn less time over the next two games (that sounds opposite of what you'd think, but there's other things to look at) while Josh Portis gets some reps in and then they can find out whether or not Portis should be on the roster. Whether that means 53 or practice squad.
I find it very likely that the story you'll be reading by Tuesday is that Flynn is the starter, Wilson is the backup, and Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent.
When the Seahawks drafted Russell, I immediately said to myself, "You can't cut T-Jack" because then you're entering the season without enough starting experience. Things have changed. Both Flynn and Wilson seem like they'd be capable enough to run the offense and both look like they'd be better than Jackson. It's possible that over the offseason Jackson got better and actually could run the offense better than he did last year, but at this point it seems unlikely. Now Seattle will try to save some dough, I believe.
Last season Andy Dalton, Tim Tebow, and Alex Smith made the playoffs. The Texans made the playoffs and won a playoff game with T.J. Yates. I'm not concerned anymore with the experience of Jackson versus the experience of Flynn and Wilson. This team is going to be fine without him, but I wish him the best of luck.
Jackson: "I have a very special set of skills."
Me: "Ehhh... okay, okay, sure. Good luck."
That's all I got for now. I'll see you guys on the Game Thread tomorrow.
Foot-ball, Sea-hawks, Lets-GO!