The Seahawks played their first game since winning the Super Bowl back in February but after leaving ten players home in Seattle and sitting another eight, were a little short-handed and the on-field product was sloppy. A good number of backups playing with the first team, and as Carroll put it, "some guys that have been here a few days" ended up playing with the second team. As you'd imagine, there was a lot to be desired in several areas, but overall nothing was too concerning on a larger scale.
I've now watched the game a second time so here's a few of my notes and observations.
Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin
I thought that Russell Wilson played fine -- he had his customary scrambling on full display and made a couple of very nice throws, including a dime to the back of the endzone to Doug Baldwin after improvising behind the line for a little bit. Doug missed it but benefitted from an interference call, which gave the Hawks the ball on the one-yard line. Wilson also hit Doug on a nice slant, and Baldwin made an extremely impressive catch that represents exactly what makes Baldwin so good -- perfect fundamentals, hands technique, concentration, and timing. Reliability.
Tarvaris Jackson finished a very Tarvaris-Jacksonian 5 of 7 for 47 yards, no picks and no touchdowns for an 89 passer rating and overall looked Tarvaris Jacksonian. He had a mixed bag on third downs -- he missed Phil Bates on an out-route on a third-and-5 in the second quarter but the play was nullified by a chop block. Jackson then followed that up with probably his best throw, down the seam to Cooper Helfet, for 20 yards and a first down. The Hawks would go on to score with a Steven Haushka field goal to end the half. In the third quarter, Jackson took a sack on a third and eight after Marvin Austin got through on a stunt, and that was it for the veteran.
Up next was Terrelle Pryor, the scintillatingly athletic specimen with somewhat questionable arm talent. He played better than I thought he would though, to be honest, so after the first game I have come away intrigued. He displayed gazelle like escapability first and foremost -- he moves differently than most humans his height, and because the Hawks line was leaking like a sieve, it was impressive that he managed to evade oncoming rushers on four or five occasions where it pretty much looked as though the play was dead.
He did not end up turning those particular instances into first downs -- he either ran out of bounds, threw the ball away, or slid -- but the ability to avoid a heavy pass rush and put himself in position to make a play with his legs was on display. With the amount of time-investment the Seahawks have put into scramble rules, this ability meshes nicely with the receiver corps on the team.
Moreso than the scrambling, though, I came away fairly impressed with his pocket poise on a couple of plays. This snaps below in particular stood out to me as he executed a play-action fake, avoided a rush, slid, moved up in the pocket, kept his feet set and was able to make an accurate throw to the other side of the field. He threw the ball while balanced, and while his feet probably weren't positioned as he'd have liked here, it worked.
He kept his eyes downfield, knew where his routes were going, and calmly made a play rather than seeing the pocket change shape and take off.
An example of poor footwork and throwing off-balance came earlier in the game on a bootleg. I heard players complaining that the field conditions were deplorable, so that probably had something to do with it, but just for a compare/contrast:
Falling away, he leaves the ball short and Helfet can't come up with it.
One final example came in the 3rd quarter when Pryor hit Bryan Walters on a seam route up the middle. Nothing special about this play, but it does show he's capable of sitting back, seeing the defense, and making a throw from the pocket. No hesitation. Near perfect ball location.
Overall, I think Pryor's pass velocity is concerning and he had a couple of inaccurate throws which are big red flags. Two to Ricardo Lockette were behind him so that they made Lockette wrench in the air to come down with them. This throws off the route and kills momentum needed for yards after the catch. Pryor acknowledged this in the post-game interview ("Lockette bailed me out"), but when you're throwing over the middle of the field that's pretty dangerous.
Further, there were times it seemed like he could have thrown the ball downfield after escaping pressure but he didn't find an open receiver. It's tough to know much without the All-22 but this was a tad frustrating.
Anyway-- I'm not ready to crown Pryor as the backup but I'm certainly more open to the idea after one preseason game than I was a week ago.
Deshawn Shead, Jackson Jeffcoat
The Seahawks' second-team run defense got chewed up for a while in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, and while it seemed like eight or nine of those runs were broken off then the subsequently called back due to holding, a few were just good-old-plain gashes for big yards.
I saw a few plays that the strongside force player -- either DeShawn Shead or Jackson Jeffcoat -- appeared to easily get sealed or even run inside down the line of scrimmage, opening up the edge. Denver running backs repeated exploited this. There were several plays (two of which were called back for holding), where Shead appeared to get badly sealed/hooked in run support on the edge while the Broncos ran his direction. It's a concern because Shead is supposed to be a pretty important backup this year, but it's also the type of mental mistake that can likely be coached up. I remember having conversations about Mike Morgan and a similar issue a few years back and his discipline and play recognition has since improved greatly.
Brandon Mebane/Michael Bennett
Banger had himself a pretty good evening and I noticed him slam through the offensive line and into the backfield on a number of occasions. This gem below that went uncalled happened on the Broncos' first drive. You also gotta like the pressure package that brought Morgan from the left and Avril from the right.
Later in the first quarter, both Mebane and Michael Bennett straight bullrush their guys into Peyton Manning, who is forced to sort of lob the ball to his running back.
Neither Bennett nor Banger played a ton on Thursday night, but the little they did show was encouraging.
Even more encouraging was the play of Cassius Marsh. He looked faster and stronger than I had thought he would be, and while I did see him get washed out on at least one run play, he made up for it with some Michael Bennett-esque interior pass rush moves.
The first was a classic swim move:
And the second was more of the Michael Bennett club move variety. Marsh doesn't finish but I still really like the win at the line of scrimmage.
Marsh has been training MMA this offseason and you can see it in his hand use. I'll be very interested to watch him next week as well.
** I really liked what I saw from Paul Richardson. Cornerbacks were forced to give him a huge cushion out of respect for his speed and as a result he really exploited the quick stop and comeback routes near the sideline. He also caught a slant route for a first down. Richardson has a certain confidence that's apparent and unlike a few receivers the Seahawks have drafted over the past several of seasons, the game doesn't seem too big for him.
He was the go-to guy in the Colorado offense -- I mean, he was the Colorado offense, more or less -- and it would appear he's bringing that "I'm the man" mentality to Seattle as well. He led the team with four catches for 37 yards -- a feeble stat line, but it doesn't do his play justice.
** Michael Brooks is a guy that flashed to me. His snap-timing and quick get-off are very apparent. He was living in the backfield and when he couldn't break through the line, he was pushing his opponent back into the play. Michael Bennett had mentioned Brooks as the one guy he was most looking forward to watching this week, and we can see why.
Brooks looks like, as far as body and style of play goes, what you'd expect the offspring of Brandon Mebane and Michael Bennett to look like, if that were scientifically possible.
** I was pretty legitimately excited to see what Robert Turbin would do after a very impressive training camp but nothing he did on Thursday looked any different than what he did last season. It's still early though of course, and to be honest, Christine Michael and Spencer Ware didn't look much better on a soggy, sloppy field.
** That said, Demetrius Bronson seemed to have some nice wiggle and I liked the low pad-level and vision he ran with. He may be in a battle with Ware at this point for a possible fourth running back spot.
** I didn't watch the O-Line closely enough yet to really comment, but that may be something I look at later this week.
** A.J. Jefferson showed up and played a pretty nice game, and while he got away with pretty obvious pass interference on Cody Latimer at one point, his pick of Brock Osweiler was a thing of beauty.