The Seahawks finished their first preseason game of the year in spectacular fashion. Trevone Boykin took the motto, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” to heart today and waited until the last possible moment to win the game. Boykin’s last second touchdown pass to Tanner McEvoy set up a Troymaine Pope two-point conversion, giving Seattle a 17-16 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. A slow start and a strong finish revealed several areas that should excite Seahawks fans, while also divulging what points Seattle coaches need to emphasize in the coming days.
- Christine Michael: Michael played an exceptionally well game today, getting the majority of his work in the 1st quarter. He finished the day with 44 yards on 7 carries, and with an average of 6.3 yards per carry. Michael flashed his elite athleticism as he was able to burst through gaps and accelerate all in one motion. The most impressive part of Michael’s day was his noticeable improvement as a runner. Unlike the past three seasons, Michael seemed to show patience as the play developed and demonstrate the ability to hit the correct gaps. I would say the best Michael moment of the game for Seahawks fans was the development of Michael using his left hand to carry the ball. That was one of his biggest issues in the past and it currently seems that he has crossed that mental barrier. We could finally be witnessing the Christine Michael that got many fans giddy with excitement back in 2013. If Michael can keep this level of production up, I certainly expect him to take some carries from Thomas Rawls.
- 1st team O-Line: The starting offensive line handled themselves very well today. Seattle started it’s first drive with a few quick strikes from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin. The line performed well in pass-protection and didn’t force Wilson to scramble or take any hits. The line also did a good job of creating push off of the line of scrimmage and creating lanes for Michael to exploit. So far things look positive, but cautious optimism is the best way forward with the line.
- Jon Ryan: When the offense stalled multiple times in their own territory, Ryan was able to boom punts to the tune of a 54.6 yard average. His punts were able to alleviate pressure off of the defense.
- Tyvis Powell: If Tyvis Powell wasn’t on the 53-man roster before, his performance today makes it almost impossible to leave him off. He provided some great blocking on special teams, particularly on the first Seahawks punt return of the game. He narrowly saved a ball from being a touchback, but his foot was on the goal-line as he went to swat it backward. Powell also impressed on defense by recording Seattle’s lone interception of the game. The ball was batted in the air in front of him, and he was able to corral it in time before it could reach the ground. With performances like this, Powell could become an important special teams contributor this season.
- Trevone Boykin/Tanner McEvoy: Both players didn’t make much noise in the duration of the game. Boykin because of the poor play of the backup offensive line units, and McEvoy due to a lower snap count. But did they both show up in a crazy and exhilarating way. First, with 39 seconds left to play Boykin connected with McEvoy on a 32 yard pass. Then, with 5 seconds left, Boykin heaved a prayer to McEvoy in the end zone where McEvoy was able to block out his defender and come down with the ball. Being able to make plays like this will certainly help Boykin in the race for backup quarterback and for McEvoy to be able to register more snaps in practice and the remainder of preseason.
- Defensive Pressure: The starting defense and subsequent backup units were unable to create much pressure today. Only three QB hits were registered (Marsh two, Avril one) and zero sacks were recorded. It’s unfortunate the Seahawks couldn’t disrupt the Chiefs offense more, but issues like these can be resolved between practice and more preseason games.
- Special Teams Coverage: I’ve debated whether or not to include this because it feels sort of nitpicky, but oh well. In the first half the Chiefs were able to gain considerable yards on kick and punt returns. Along with that, Seattle players were missing tackles and unable to get off blocks. The coverage improved in the second half and I assume that their first half performance was mostly due to getting rid of rust. I highly doubt this continues to be much of an issue.
- Run Defense: The majority of the day, the Chiefs running backs had clean lanes to run through. Kansas City didn’t register a negative rushing play all day. The Seahawks lack of an adequate run defense probably didn’t sit right with Pete Carroll and I feel confident that they will emphasize this in practice over the course of next week. One of Carroll’s top priorities is stopping the run and I expect that next week against Minnesota we will notice a difference in play.
- Backup Offensive Line Units: Seattle used different combinations on the offensive line later in the game, and none of them were very effective. The players that I noticed the most (negatively) were George Fant and Jahri Evans. Much can’t be expected from Fant this early since he is still a raw player, but tonight showed how much progress he needs to make. He was beat multiple times in pass protection and thrown aside in run protection. However, he still possesses enough athletic intrigue to stash on the practice squad for the year and allow time to develop. Evans was beat just as often in pass-pro and didn’t do much of anything in the run game. He probably is still learning the blocking scheme, but this could turn into another Eric Winston situation. Joey Hunt botched a snap and didn’t help his roster chances in the process. The backup lineman that looked the most competent was Rees Odhiambo. When he was positioned at guard, he push back defenders and hold up in pass-pro. The starters may have looked good tonight but the backups certainly need more time and experience.
- Returners: All returners not named Tyler Lockett fall into this list. Montario Hunter, Troymaine Pope, (and maybe one other player) muffed returns and pinned the Seahawks in their own territory. Trovon Reed did enough to not be noticed, and Cameron Marshall had a nice return to start the second half, but outside of that did very little. Seattle is blessed to have Tyler Lockett and I hope that we never have to return to a time where we don’t have a good, or even solid returner.