D'you follow that intro? I had to reread it myself. What are we doing here? Today we use Friday's game to answer three questions, but not with real answers -- with better questions instead.
Finding definite answers in a preseason game would be like...forming a system of government based on strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords. Aw heck, let's just embed the video and save you a trip.
Starting Question 1: Hey, how about Frank Clark? That dude any good, or what?
Way-way-too-early answer: If you were watching Friday, you know that on his very first play from scrimmage, Clark made an impression -- tackle for loss plus forced fumble. So, yeah. That dude any good. Maybe better.
By clicking here, you're taken to the Hawks' video headquarters, where they helpfully show you four simultaneous view of the play. It's a really cool feature they do over there. Go spend an hour or two cycling through their library, then come back. Remember to come back.
Nice to see you again. Check out this less celebrated play, but one that bodes well:
Clark is unblocked, duh. What's exciting about this moment, though, is how he doesn't take a very good angle to the ball carrier. With a more direct route, that's a tackle for loss. (Excuse me, another tackle for loss.) Clark'll learn to make that cut a little sharper as he gets acclimated to the speed of the NFL game.
But wait, there's more. There's always more. In the screengrab below -- look where Frank is when the ball is handed off. I don't think the Denver guard was quiiiiiite up to the task on this snap oh lordy
Finally, when Denver went for it on fourth down late in the game, who was there to deny the Broncos? That's right. Frankie Goes To Backfield.
So The Better Answer/Question Now Becomes: Is Clark's sudden dominance a Nickreedian mirage of the preseason? Putting on a show against some starters and several backups, once, with the aid of a loud crowd* is one thing. Will Clark still visit ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage in Week 3, against starters, after his moves get put on tape for experienced linemen to dissect? That would tell us something worth knowing.
Starting Question 2: Is the... inconsistent pass-blocking going to be any better in '15 than '14? Especially without Max Unger?
Way-way-too-early answer: Not yet. It's hard to remember a game, even a preseason game, in which Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson ever got worse protection. Shredded condoms give people more time to pull out of danger.
OK, that last one's not fair. But neither is this:
Justin Britt is regarded as a good run blocker. Von Miller is a beast. Justin Britt is regarded as a good run blocker. Von Miller is a beast. Justin Britt is...
So The Better Answer/Question Now Becomes: Given that your team's offensive philosophy is to run, control the clock and mix in explosive plays, with pass blocking unlikely to be a team strength, which quarterback would look good facing constant pressure, with little time to throw on many dropbacks?
Thanks to the chart below, we know part of the puzzle. Here, courtesy of ProFootballFocus, is how often league QB's faced pressure.
The guys who faced pressure 10 percent more often than league average: Wilson, Luck, Tannehill and seven very meh names. Three guys seem to deal with it well enough to be above average quarterbacks.
The guys who faced pressure 10 percent less often than league average: Rodgers, Mannings, Roethlisberger, Romo, Dalton and four very meh names. Six guys who are already good are also getting the benefit of good protection. Though that relationship is pretty symbiotic, if you ask me.
I'm not going to defend the Seahawks' pass blocking résumé. I'm not going to say that Russell deals well with pressure every time. But I am going to repose the question: If your QB is going to be facing pressure constantly anyways, because your team prioritizes run-blocking, which single mobile young QB do you want from the top of that list? The one with the highest passer rating and the most rushing yards? That's what I thought.
Starting Question 3: Other than providing us with endless veins of top-flight humor, is there any lasting purpose to seeing Rush James Archer in Seahawk blue?
Way-way-too-early answer: Sure. I might not be his supervisor, but... Archer came in a pinch, got his feet
very, very wet, wasn't too antsy. Granted, a couple of his fourth-down attempts went sploosh, but give him a break -- the kid was phrasing pressure all night.
Sorry. What I meant is, he netted 110 yards on 20 attempts. 5.5 isn't too shabby for a guy in his first action. And whatever happens from here on out, he'll always have this moment, an actual real (preseason) touchdown pass in the National Football League.
Or catch it at Seahawks.com again with that sexy four-play feature.
So here's the thing. Last year the Hawks carried only two QBs. With proven backup Tarvaris Jackson firmly in the picture, many had theorized that Archer doesn't have a place on this roster. But Jackson's injury, and Archer's uneven-but-not-terrible first performance, combine to lead us where we were headed all along, right to the Better Answer/Question Now: Is R.J. Archer the Hawks' future backup?
I'm not supposed to answer this, because then we're caught in a loop. But I will say that in a post-RW-rookie-contract world, where every salary cap dollar matters even more than before, the cheapest possible backup becomes more attractive. Throw in Jackson's age (32) and uncertain injury status and the question is worth entertaining, for one preseason at least.
Hey, a good question is worth a dozen answers anyway.