I don't really like preseason football. To be more accurate, I don't like what preseason football does; namely, take everything that happens and place in front of a funhouse mirror for our brains to try and decipher. In a way, the distortion is amplified by how small the sample sizes are. An incomplete pass in the second quarter of the sixth game of the year is largely just that- an incomplete pass; the players get back in the huddle, they call the next play, and the win-probability remains almost exactly where it was previously.
An incompletion in the second quarter of a preseason game, however, means that the QB is too slow on his reads and since the pass was too high he was antsy under pressure and you just can't win with someone that lacks pocket presence and the receiver struggled with getting of the corner's jam and ended up breaking off his route a little too early and since his backup had such a nice game last week he might be on the cutting block now and besides he's not used to working with the first-team offense so the I wonder if they'll even get the timing down before the season starts and yeah I know it's just the preseason but is it really just the preseason, ya know, but at least the defense is playing well, except for that one injury on the D-line where we don't have any backups with real NFL experience and who's to say that the secondary will be as good as they were last year and maybe this whole Pete Carroll experiment isn't going to work and they should just blow the whole thing up now and rename the team the Seattle Manatees and change the colors to orange and red or something so we can just put this whole messy affair behind us and maybe I shouldn't even watch football anymore since it gets me so agitated that I don't really sleep that well and I know the doctor told me to take dramamine but I hate taking pills so maybe what I need to do is get a hobby like pottery or water aerobics of philately. Yeah, philately.
And it's not like we can just look away, either. I mean, it's not like we're not gonna watch these games, you know. I have to watch these because it's football, because it's Seahawks football. So, as I was saying, I don't really like preseason games, but I watched this one. For you. Because I love you. My first-half observations are after the jump, and second-half notes will post later this week.
I don't want to collect stamps.
~The Seahawks are wearing what is sure to be my favorite of their new uniform combinations, which is the white jerseys and blue pants. The all blues will be cool, too. The wolf grey is just dragging everybody down, though. Yeah, I said it. Come at me.
~Turns out the Broncos have a new quarterback. If there's one thing the Broncos need to add to their franchise history, it's a QB with a lot of hype.
~Peyton Manning, as equine in appearance as ever, is apparently cursed to play for teams with horseys for mascots, so it appears he'll be a Bronco until Roger Goodell gets his wish and the league adds the expansion London Clydesdales, whose logo he'll resemble as accurately as he has with his first two teams. Peyton Manning looks like a horse, is my point.
~Terrell Owens is making his Seahawks debut in this one, if you hadn't heard. The first play of the game even featured him, although he didn't even turn his head around as the pass landed behind him about nine yards downfield. I don't know if Owens ran the wrong route, or if Matt Flynn threw the wrong pass, but that looked terrible.
~Walking back to the huddle, however, I notice that T.O.'s arms still look like a topographical map of Chile. Dude obviously still works out like a maniac, and that's about the nicest thing I can say about his performance. All told, Owens was targeted on five passes from Flynn and recorded as many catches in the game as I did. There was the aforementioned first pass on which there was some clear miscommunication, a crossing route where the ball was thrown behind him, two sideline routes where he was covered tightly, and one big steaming pile of drop on a gorgeous 50-yard bomb down the right seam that his him in stride a step behind the defender. I mean, Flynn absolutely dimed the pass but Owens might as well have had toasters taped to his wrists.
~When I attended training camp a couple of weeks ago, I noted that the Seahawks spent a lot of time working on blocking punts. I didn't see them spend much time working on punt protection, which doesn't really say anything since it was only one practice, but since the Broncos blocked Jon Ryan's first punt in this one, I'm going to go ahead and make wild assumptions about this coaching staff's priorities.
~If you're wondering, rookie Winston Guy was the one who missed the block that led to the, uh, block. It's not so much that Guy whiffed on his assignment as much as it was a foul-tip directly into the line of the kick.
~The 'Hawks picked off Peyton Manning's second pass of the game when Red Bryant deflected it into KJ Wright's arms. It wasn't a bad throw by Manning, presumably, and it's not like Wright had to make a quick break on the ball, as it was tipped right to him. No, that play was all Bryant in all his elaphantine glory. Red Bryant may give the Seahawks the biggest ROI of anyone on the team.
~The kickoff-from-the-35 rule is lame, but it's especially lame when the game is in Denver and the two guys kicking off are Steven Hauschka and Matt Prater. If I was Matt Prater and I had the strongest leg in the history of humanity*, I would try to knock every kickoff through the uprights and then demand that my team get at least one point for that.
*Don't believe me? Last year, Prater made a game-winning field goal from 52 yards that was higher than the uprights when it passed the crossbar. And he didn't kick it Denver, he did it at sea-level in Miami. Here's proof. That kick would have been good from 75.
~Seattle's offensive line got a good test against Von Miller, Ty Warren, Elvis Dumervil, and the rest of Denver's talented defensive front. This a defense designed to get to the quarterback, and get to him they did. Dumervil gave Russell Okung fits the whole time he was in there, and Seattle's interior guys seemed to get pushed around as well. It wasn't particularly encouraging.
~Okung's struggles aren't anything too alarming, as it is just the second preseason game, but he was a half a step behind the pass rush all night and was flagged three times by my count- once for holding and twice(!) for personal fouls. Gotta clean that up. They all do, or it's gonna make this whole quarterback thing even tougher to figure out.
~Speaking of the QBs, a perusal of the box score would make one think that Seattle started the wrong guy. Flynn finished his half with a Tarvarisian line of 6-13, 31 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, but that doesn't tell the whole story. While Flynn certainly didn't look great, he did look a lot better than those numbers would suggest. I've already mentioned the constant pressure he was under, and the T.O. drop and yes, those are all things that happen, but Flynn was also going against Denver's first team defense without his top two receivers in Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin.
~Matt Flynn's quarterback rating (for whatever that's worth) was a flaccid 53.0, but if Owens catches the perfectly thrown ball in the endzone, Flynn's rating stiffens to a solid 98.6. All told, this game doesn't do much to clear up the quarterback situation, but with reports fluttering about that Tarvaris Jackson is on his way out of town, I'm thrilled that the competition has effectively been limited to the two guys with the most upside.
~Seattle's run game looked much better than their pass game, as the 'Hawks O-line looks more comfortable moving forward than they do moving backward.This was apparent in practice, too. Lynch notched 37 yards on his six totes and Robert Turbin continued to hulk-smash every defender in his way. We all talk about how much force Turbin can deliver, but if you watch his college tape, his elusiveness is even more impressive. I can't wait to see him in open field.
~Bruce Irvin was mostly invisible in this one. He got to Manning once, but it was only after Manning had gone through just about all of his reads and gotten rid of the ball. Irvin's speed rush is gonna be legit, but the true difference makers in the NFL can get past their guy with a variety of moves. Irvin's development of the spin, bull rush, swim-through, and stunt* are going to be interesting to watch.
*I'm not ruling out Irvin front-flipping over his guy, for the record.
~Seattle's secondary showed more zone than I anticipated, and Manning more or less took advantage of it underneath, with a couple of mid-level completions as well. Yes, Manning did have two interceptions and failed to throw for a touchdown, but neither interception was really a product of excellent secondary play (KJ Wright's was tipped at the line and Jeron Johnson's, though athletic, was on one of the worst overthrows you'll ever see Peyton make) and, like Flynn, Manning had a pass dropped in the endzone.
~All of that being said, Bronco receivers weren't getting much separation when the 'Hawks played man coverage, as Sherman and Browner were velcroed to their opponents hips. And, as expected, Earl Thomas flew around everywhere as the last line of defense, allowing Kam Chancellor to hurl himself around on underneath routes and in run support. In short, there's no reason to think this team won't field one of the five best defensive backfields in the NFL this season. They'll look even better when their front four can figure out how to generate a pass rush.
~A quick note on Thomas: I can't get over just how much ground that guy covers on every damn play. It was the very first thing I noticed when I attended his first ever preseason game last year, and his improved anticipation make that game speed even more staggering. He's the one guy on the Seahawks who can make a legitimate claim to being the very best at his position in the entire league.
~Hauschka looked great, going 3-3 on field goals and obliterating all of his kickoffs. Seattle should feel very good about trotting him out there this year.
~The Seahawks went to the locker room at the half trailing 10-9 and managing fewer than 100 yards of total offense. It wasn't pretty, but preseason games rarely are, so I'm not too worried. Denver got their only touchdown when it took them three attempts to run it in from inside the three yard line, so no major defensive breakdowns to report.
~As those of you who watched know, the second half looked a whole lot better, but I'll get to that part of the game later this week. In the meantime, give me your thoughts on the first half.