The Seattle Seahawks are playing a REAL (not real) football game this Friday. It's an unbelievable occurrence because for the last seven months they have opted not to play football, which is weird because you'd think they'd want to avenge that Super Bowl play/loss. I mean, when are you gonna finally avenge it??????
Now, against the Denver Broncos, on Friday night in CenturyLink.
As we can all presume from having seen thousands of preseason games transpire over the years, the guys who will start for both the Seahawks and the Broncos will be the same guys we all expect to start in Week 1 of the regular season. They will be out there for one, maybe two series, and then they'll start rotating in the guys who are just trying to make the team, before finally giving way to guys who almost certainly won't. In some cases, you won't even see the starters.
In the Hall of Fame game for example, the Steelers didn't see a point in risking Ben Roethlisberger's health in the first game of the year when the result doesn't matter and he's experienced enough to not need that much extra seasoning. In the case of Russell Wilson, he probably won't be sitting out, but he probably won't be sitting in for long either. Peyton Manning on the other side might get one series.
And I don't think that series should be against Seattle's number one defense. In fact, I think it would benefit the Seahawks more if they actually let their backups face Denver's starters right out of the gate.
Here is who I would start in the first series against the Broncos first-team defense:
QB Tavaris Jackson
RB Christine Michael
WR Kasen Williams
WR Chris Matthews
WR Tyler Lockett
TE RaShaun Allen
LT Garry Gilliam
LG Alvin Bailey
C Kristjan Sokoli
RG Mark Glowinski
RT Jesse Davis
And on defense:
DE Frank Clark
DE Cassius Marsh
DT Jimmy Staten
DT D'Anthony Smith
ILB Quayshawn Nealy
OLB Eric Pinkins
OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis
CB Douglas McNeil III
CB Mohammed Seisay
FS Steven Terrell
SS Dion Bailey
And then obviously on special teams, Nate Boyer is getting all the reps.
So the question then becomes: "Why?" or as internet commentors would put it, "What are you idiot?! It's obvious your bias." Yes I am idiot and bias but that has nothing to do with this. Let me explain my theory.
Players will often get thrust into starting roles, or an unexpected number of snaps during the season, due to injury. These players are sometimes literally not on the 53-man roster when the season starts, and then could find themselves playing significant snaps in the playoffs with little experience. Take for example:
- Ricardo Lockette had 99 offensive snaps in the 2014 postseason. He had 174 snaps in the regular season.
- Chris Matthews had 26 snaps, 17 of them coming in the Super Bowl. He had 19 snaps in the regular season.
- O'Brien Schofield had 36 snaps in the Super Bowl with Cliff Avril getting hurt.
- Demarcus Dobbs had 33 snaps in the Super Bowl, while Landon Cohen had 17.
- Tharold Simon had 43 snaps in the Super Bowl, more than they expected after Jeremy Lane was injured after his 10 snaps.
The point is that you never know when the "next man" will have to come up. In the cases of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, some have worried recently that the next man is closer than we want him to be. (Keep your bros close and your bronemies closer.) The interesting though -- and this is something we've seen throughout NFL history, sometimes in the case of some of the greatest players of all-time -- is that some of these players step up and are better than we thought they were.
In history, we can see this happening with Tom Brady, Kurt Warner. I spoke to Drew Bledsoe in January and I asked him about Brady and whether he knew that he was going to be something special. If the Patriots knew right away that he was a steal. And Bledsoe said he didn't. That he looked like he was a great camp player, good backup and teammate and such, but not a star. Obviously nothing close to what he became. Remember, Bledsoe was signed to the richest contract in NFL history the year after they drafted Brady. Then Bledsoe got hurt in Week 2, Brady came in, took like two weeks to adjust, and helped them win the Super Bowl that season.
Warner wasn't supposed to be the guy that led the Rams to "turf show glory," it was supposed to be Trent Green, but Green got hurt before the season started. Nobody knew what would come next, because nobody could have known. Warner was never put against the ones.
Last year, in examples that cower in comparison to the ones I just listed, Jordan Hill proved to be a potential defensive star on the rise but only after Brandon Mebane was injured. His 5.5 sacks in 366 snaps was more than the rest of the defensive tackles on the team combined.
Then of course there is Matthews, who may or may not be NFL starter material, but his performance in the Super Bowl was the first time many of us considered that he may be.
These are the types of things that you can only learn while playing against NFL starters. If the Broncos are going to be putting out their defensive starters in the first series or two on Friday, in a game with an outcome that doesn't matter, then does it make some sense to see what the guys listed above can do against them rather than against Denver's second, third, and fourth string? And in the second half, against a group of players of which the majority won't make the team?
Piece by piece, let's go through the justification process:
- QB Jackson: Because of the shitty offensive line, you can't put Wilson back there. You also don't want to put R.J. Archer back there, because then you're not putting your receivers in a position to succeed either. The QB position is too important to the other positions in this scenario, and at least with Jackson you have a borderline starter running the offense in the first half.
- RB Michael: This is obvious. Is there anything there besides the most (flame emoji flame emoji flame emoji) mixtape of Summer 2015? It's time for him to drop some sick runs, instead of some sick beats.
- WR Williams, Matthews, Lockett: Yeah these are just basically the three guys I want to see out there the most because for Lockett and Matthews, we're wondering if they'll be able to supplant Jermaine Kearse on the depth chart by Week 1. Williams because we want to know if he's gonna be 2015's version of the UDFA receiver that makes the Seahawks out of nowhere and becomes a fan favorite.
- TE Allen: Uh, sure. Whatever.
- OT Gilliam, Davis: Justin Britt had an injury in the playoffs last season, forcing Alvin Bailey into some action. Then on the left side, Okung looks to be a potential goner in 2016. So are there players on the roster capable of blocking first-string defensive ends in an actual game? I don't know if that's Gilliam and Davis, or where those players stand, but isn't this the perfect opportunity to find out?
- OG Bailey, Glowinksi: Bailey is the favorite to start at left guard, but would feel a lot more comfortable just seeing him get those first-team reps for now and not taking those snaps away from him. Glowinski must just be the most intriguing guard prospect to me right now, because I'm starting him here. The reason for me starting him is that I am.
- C Sokoli: I don't know what the Albanian fight song is, but I'm gonna learn it ASAP.
(Wait, does each country have a fight song? I'm not talking about a national anthem ... What's the American fight song though? It's either the one about the purple mountains majesty or some racist rant by Toby Keith.)
- DE Clark and Marsh: This fall on TNT get ready for "Clark and Marsh." One's a by-the-book cop, the other is a no-holds-barred lawyer. And they're also roommates. The New York Times calls it "The third-rated cable hour-long original drama on Thursday nights."
Clark and Marsh.
- DT Staten and Smith: I don't know, this is still a position where the depth is somewhat uninteresting. Part of me thinks that the team would have little problem walking away from Mebane at this stage in his career if they had hit on any of their DT picks in the last three years. There is Hill of course, but that's only one. Then there's Rubin, but even if he does excel this season, they can't know for sure right away, and that's only two. The defensive tackle group is going to need at least three players capable of being highly-effective in at least 300 snaps this year. Outside of those three players, I don't think that I feel comfortable with any of the others vying for a role. Staten and Smith might just be the most interesting to me at this moment.
I mean, they obviously are because I'm starting them and not Jesse Williams (don't think that's possible yet) or Cohen.
- LB Nealy, Pinkins, KPL: Yeah, for some reason Pinkins is still like my favorite player from the 2014 draft, so of course I'm going to start him. KPL might also be my favorite player from that class, along with Kevin Norwood, Marsh, Paul Richardson, and Kiero Small. Don't rely on my opinion about favorite players.
So I really want to see Pinkins become something at outside linebacker, and I think Pierre-Louis has a real chance to become a starter by 2016, if not sooner, when needed. There are players on this team right now that you have no idea are going to play HUGE roles this season.
I picked Nealy because there aren't many middle linebackers on the roster and he's more interesting to see if there's anything there than Brock Coyle, because you have some idea what's there in Coyle.
- CB McNeill, Seisay: Okay, it would be really cruel to start Doug McNeil, who only played cornerback for the first time in his life last week at practice when he made the switch to wide receiver. (Reminder: McNeil is the guest on Real in the Field Gulls this week!)
Seisay, well you traded for him, might as well run him.
- S Terrell, Bailey: Sadly enough, this is a position that you're going to really need to find out what your depth looks like soon. Obviously Kam isn't likely to be there, so that's an obvious one for Bailey, Ryan Murphy, Ronald Martin, and Keenan Lambert, the current strong safeties on the roster. Terrell could have potential, or perhaps Triston Wade. That's the thing with these guys: We look at many of them and our natural inclination is to believe they aren't talented enough to be stars.
But we had those same inclinations at one time or another with Chancellor, Byron Maxwell, Doug Baldwin, Kearse, J.R. Sweezy, Alvin Bailey, Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Michael Bennett, and many others. We only found out that they were better than their draft status after they were thrust into starting roles.
The preseason could be an opportunity to give certain players starting roles, against NFL starters, in a game where the outcome doesn't matter.
However, I know that Pete Carroll really wants to win preseason games anyway, so here's my solution: This is who you put into the game in the fourth quarter against the Broncos third and fourth-string defense:
QB Russell Wilson
RB Marshawn Lynch
WR Doug Baldwin
WR Chris Matthews
TE Jimmy Graham
TE Luke Willson
LT Russell Okung
LG Drew Nowak (used Bailey)
C Lemuel Jeanpierre
RG JR Sweezy
RT Justin Britt
DE Michael Bennett
DE Cliff Avril
DT Brandon Mebane
DT Jordan Hill
OLB Bruce Irvin
OLB KJ Wright
MLB Bobby Wagner
CB Richard Sherman
CB Cary Williams
FS Earl Thomas (I just healed his shoulder completely)
SS Kam Chancellor (I just gave him a new signing bonus, problem solved, it's my universe.)
Oh and long-snapper, Clint Gresham.
There, now I've run up 45 points in the fourth quarter to win the game 90-0. Sorry, did I not mention the fact that the backups killed it in the first half? They did, they killed it.
Also, the Seattle Seahawks just won Super Bowl 50. It was their third straight Super Bowl win!!! Sorry, did I not mention the fact that I just overturned the final play of Super Bowl 49? It was a catch! Touchdown Lockette! Man, it's great to be a Seahawks fan, to be a million-- billionaire, to be married to a beautiful woman, and to be granted eternal life, or at least, live in a young person's body for as many centuries as I want until I finally decide I'm ready to ascend into heaven, which is basically just more of this life.
Also, this article was mostly in jest. God bless me.
(If you want to bless me, because I'm not a billionaire actually, my IGG campaign is still short of the mark!)