The Seahawks pulled out an incredible (albeit ultimately meaningless in terms of wins and losses) victory on Saturday. Players talked about how they and their teammates did in the first preseason game of 2016, and this is what they (and Pete Carroll) had to say about that.
OPENING STATEMENT: “So that was a cool game. Cool way to start off the preseason, the first game of the preseason.”
How would you go about grading your performance in the first opening run?
“Obviously the pick is never good, but I thought we were moving the ball extremely well. I thought the tempo that we played with on first team offense [was good], we were moving the ball extremely well against a very good defense. Christine Michael ran the ball well, had some huge runs. Doug Baldwin looked great, Jermaine Kearse looked great, and same with Tyler Lockett. It was good to see that, and I was just a little late on that one ball. I tried to move a little bit and [Marcus] Peters made a good play.”
Was it by design for you to go after him?
“No I don’t really think about it that way. I just try to throw the ball to an open guy, and that’s kind of our philosophy and mindset. He [Peters] just made a good play.”
A bunch of new starters on that Offensive Line, what did you think?
“I thought the offensive line did great. We’re only in there for one series, but for that one series I had plenty of time, the guys were solid up there up front, the communication and guys being engaged starts with Justin Britt and I really being in tune with what we’re trying to do. Made some great calls and we were on the same page and moving the ball extremely well. It was fun to see. Especially the running of football and throwing game what we were able to do.”
What have you seen out of Christine Michael since he came back here last year?
“He’s been so dedicated to the game. He wants to get better. When he’s not in a team drill he’s constantly next to me catching balls or doing work on his game constantly and that’s fun to see. All of our running backs are like that right now. Just the dedication to the game, dedication to the craft and it shows on game day. He ran the ball extremely well, got to the edge, hit the hole when he needed to, trusted his reads with the line and made some big first downs.”
How close are you and the offensive line as far as meshing?
“I think we’re right where we need to be. I don’t think we can get too much better in the sense of guys being connected to one another. The calls, the plays we are playing with great tempo, and there’s always room for improvement obviously as you go throughout the season and we’re just starting. We haven’t been this good I don’t think in terms of collective offense since we’ve been here for four years, five years whatever. At this point. It’s a great start and we want to start where we finished last year, we want to accelerate, we want to continue to be able to do all of the things we can do. Excited about getting Thomas Rawls back, excited about getting Jimmy Graham back, those two are two super stars in the league and can do a lot of things. You have Christine Michael running the football the way he did and all the receivers that we have, the plethora of receivers, it’s exciting to see.”
This is still your first game with Justin Britt that kind of communication with him did that come natural?
“Yea, he’s played a lot of football. You think about all of the games he’s played at Missouri, you think about since he’s gotten here he’s started he played right tackle and then he played left guard. He’s so dedicated to the craft, he’s constantly studying, constantly asking questions, when we were out there I didn’t even realize this was his first game at center just because I’ve seen him so many times and he’s been in so many big games and so many big moments. There’s no fear in him. He loves the challenge. We love that he loves the challenge. He’s going to be great at it. Our offensive line is huge right now. We have a lot of big guys in there across the board those five, six, seven guys that we have coming in and out of the game are a big crew.”
Is it hard not being in there in the end, I know this is a preseason game, but is it still hard on you?
“Yea I never want to come out of the game. It’s just my mindset, but you know it’s preseason and we have so much talent. [Trevone] Boykin did a great job, [Jake] Heaps did a great job, they controlled the game and they made their plays when they needed to. They threw the ball away when they needed to and all that. Obviously to end the game in that fashion was pretty awesome just to see our team camaraderie just how much everybody cares. We love winning. Obviously it’s a preseason game and the Kansas City Chiefs are a great football team, but for us we just like winning. We just like seeing the guys. What it’s really about too is the idea of celebrating one another. I think you see so many guys try to make a team, there’s 53 guys on a team and you see a guy make a play, or you see a guy make a catch, or you see a guy maybe not make a play but come back and make the next one. That’s what this team’s really all about is loving on one another and making plays. We were able to celebrate that and fortunately we were able to win in that fashion that was pretty cool. It’s a good accelerator into the next one.”
Did you offer any specific advice to Trevone Boykin with his first preseason game?
“I just told both of the quarterbacks that ultimately the field is still a hundred yards. I know I say that a lot, but it’s the truth. The game we’ve played ever since we were little kids we’ve dreamed of being in this moment. I remember when I was here, it was actually this field, my third preseason game I was able to start and play, I forget how much I played I think it was the first half, but just to be here and to think about this new beginning for these guys to just cherish the moment. Just let the game come to you, just trust the game, trust your reads, trust your progressions, trust the process and enjoy it. Only so many people get to do what we get to do. I think about it all the time. Every time I step on the field I always realize I’m one of 32. That’s just the truth, so you try to take advantage of it every time.”
Even though it’s just a preseason game the fashion that you all won the game, what did Coach say to you all in the locker room?
“It’s just not how you start. It’s how you finish and ultimately you’re going to have some tough games along the season. We’ve always had tough games that’s what championship teams do they find ways to win. No game’s too big and no game’s too small. Every game in our mentality is a championship game and just try to continue to go where we want to go. You take one step at a time and enjoy it for what it is.”
On the last seconds of the game: “I wouldn’t say that. We just had guys fighting till the end. Coach [Pete Carroll] preaches it all the time. You play all four quarters, and that’s what we did today. It was great just flying around making plays.”
What did you see that final play? “We were in a formation trying to get to a formation that wasn’t right. We didn’t have any timeouts left. We knew the situation the whole time going into it. I looked up at the clock – there was eight seconds left – I got to a play that would get us into the end zone and Tanner [McEvoy] made a great catch.”
Would the tempo you gave off tonight go back to your college days? “I just try to play within the offense. I try not to relate to what I did at TCU. I’m trying to push forward here. Here with the Seahawks, we’re surrounded with great players. We go against the best defense in the world every day, so it only makes us better on our side of the ball.”
Is it accurate you were more comfortable in the last two? “We practice it every day. We practice situations. We practice situations just like today. Obviously, they don’t turn out like that all time. It’s great that it did today.”
Did you feel like you gained confidence over the course of the game? “Yeah – you feel like you gain confidence with completions, the more passes you complete, knowing the offense, being back there, and subtle and calm. Throughout the game, it got less calm down and a lot of guys just sat there and just played.”
What did Pete Carroll say to you when he reinserted you in the fourth quarter? “He really just told me to keep my head in the game and stay focused. When I went back in, I just tried to pull this team to a victory.”
Did you know that was the plan for you to go back in? “I didn’t know that was the plan. I’m on the sideline. I’m into the game the whole time. I’m watching defense, I’m watching offense, I’m watching special teams, so whenever he wants me to get in.”
Opening Statement: “Routine preseason victory. We had a great opportunity to learn a lot of stuff about our team today. A lot of the lessons – we’ll wait to see the film – took us a long time to get going, obviously, but we hung in there and it’s really nice to have a chance to win in the end of a game [like that] and do it. There will be games all season long that will come down to the wire and the more experience you can have in those games, the better. Really thrilled to see our guys come out and get that done – fantastic job by Tanner [McEvoy] and Trevone [Boykin] to hook up. Beautiful job of protection by the end of the game to give us a chance. [Steven] Hauschka had a great game; Jon Ryan had a big game – really coming through. But there’s a lot of stuff to talk about [from early on] that we didn’t do very well. We’ll see – we learned a lot, and we’ll have fun on the ride home and get it in next week.”
Why did [Trevone] Boykin come back in the fourth quarter? “We had planned to do that, we wanted to finish the game with him. It was the plan all along. We wanted to start him in the third quarter – come back out – and then play Jake [Heaps] and then have [Boykin] come back out when it fit right. We just wanted to give [Boykin] a chance to be in that situation for the reason of what he was faced with and he did a great job.”
When you have a 6’6” receiver, how important is it for you to use that size? “He hasn’t had that many chances to make big plays for us, although we’re trying to find out if he is one of those guys. He certainly came through today, like we would think. We’ve seen it a couple times, some stuff happened in practice so that was the thought – let’s go give him an opportunity and see what happens and he makes a couple great plays at the end.”
How much did you think you were going to play [Tanner] McEvoy, because he’s been a DB with you guys as well? “Well it was either DB or wide receiver and he’s such an unusual athlete – I wanted to see what would happen, wanted to see if he had the kind of instincts that are really special that no one had uncovered yet. And I thought that he did okay – he did fine back there but nothing that made us want to stay with it, knowing that we wanted to see what he could do at receiver. So we started throwing him balls at the end of OTAs and got a feeling that he’s really a nice catcher. Then we just went ahead and made a move before camp to see if he could fill a dimension of a big guy. And he’s surely that – 6’5” and he weighs 235, so he’s big. We’ll keep giving him chances to see how it goes.”
What did you think of the starting offensive line? “I was really pleased. I thought the first group did a great job, driving the ball, everyone was really on it. Christine [Michael] looked good, offensive line looked clean, Russell [Wilson] was really under control – did a nice job of hitting Doug [Baldwin]. Just made a mistake on the interception – he meant to push the ball right to the side [give us a one shot deal] he either catches it or nobody gets it – and the ball just got thrown in the inside. It was a really good play by their guy. We left the offensive line in – I think they played almost 25 plays – which was great, what he hoped to do. I thought we were very solid and that’s a really good first outing for the guys – looked like it has in practice. We’ll see, I’ve got to watch the film – saying a lot without watching the film. But I felt like they did a nice job.”
What’s the reason you have [Garry] Gilliam on the left side? “Because we thought that Bradley [Sowell] had been making pretty good progress. We knew we could go back to being solid with Garry on the right side. Not sure how long it’s going to take J’Marcus [Webb] to get back. In the coming weeks, Garry will go back and play a lot of left side to work in there. I think he did okay today – we’ll find out when we check out the film. Really it’s to get as solid as we can, as early as we can. I’m excited to see this film, the sooner we can get to it, the better. Want to see what all these guys look like and we’ll know more.”
You mentioned Christine [Michael] there, how he’s done at camp and played today... “He’s an NFL football player. He really has made it clear to us about the work; he’s serious about the consistency. He’s taken great pride in the way he’s brought it to practice – day in and day out all throughout the offseason and camp. He’s an explosive, dynamic athlete, so we’re just going to keep going with him. When Thomas [Rawls] gets back out there, those guys give you a one-two punch that we’re excited about. We’ll see when C.J. [Prosise] gets back [this week] we’ll see where he fits in there. I thought Christine did really well. I liked what he did.”
How about the defensive line? “I started a couple rookies today – that was great. Mike Bennett got sick last night and this morning and couldn’t get over it. So we started a couple pups – Jarran Reed went in there for us. He’s playing like a starter – he is a starter for us at this point. To get Quinton [Jefferson] in there was a great opportunity for him to play – I don’t know how he did it all but I thought that was pretty cool. The first defense – we had the one big third down play – terrible field position to start with the ball at midfield. Then they’re making a couple first downs and we get them down to third down but then Alex [Smith] makes a great play – knocks the ball inside the five and they knock it in. Our guys made four plays and they were done for the day. I’m real pleased with the start of both first groups and we’ll build on it, see where we go from there.”
Did you have a lot of family come out to see you today? “Yes, I had a lot of family come out. For me, it’s an amazing experience. This is closest that I’m going to be able to get to home, since I’m from Oklahoma. People from Kansas State came to come watch me play. That means a lot. It’s a really special moment for me, especially when Tanner (McEvoy) makes the catch to win the game. It just makes the memories better.”
How do you build on last year’s rookie season? Do you still have a chip on your shoulder? “I’m always going to have that chip on my shoulder. It’s not me proving people wrong, but me proving myself right. At the end of the day I know what I’m capable of doing. I have some amazing teammates to be able to help pave the way for me. I’ve always been a student of the game and each and every day there’s something I can learn from these guys. I saw what I was capable of doing last year and this year I want to be able to play free and just play like I did when I was at Kasnas State.”
On his performance: “I feel great. I felt good out there. Trey (Trevone Boykin) gave me a few passes, and it was nice.”
On the chemistry with QB Trevone Boykin: “That’s the trust he has in me. We didn’t get a lot of work together during camp, but for him to be out there and have that trust in me, I appreciate it. He looked good. He took it down there and threw some great passes to Tanner (McEvoy) and we won the game because of them.”
On playing in the state of Missouri again: “It’s just another business trip. I’ve been back to Missouri quite a few times and I did have a lot of people come to this game, but it’s just another business trip. Seattle is my home. It’s just a business trip.”
On this year’s training camp: “It’s going really good. This team has worked really hard. We have the smartest offensive line group since I’ve been there. The competition has been really high and makes people work harder and better. We’re making each other so much better. The score might not relate it, but we won and there are so many good things that we can learn from this. And obviously, there are things we can improve. That’s why we do preseason.”
What’s the biggest takeaway from today’s game? “Collectively we know how to compete. That’s kind of our philosophy. It doesn’t matter what the score is, there’s always a chance to win. If you hang in there enough. Coach Carrol always talks about all we need is a second on the clock. It was really cool to see the young guys come out here and do what they did and win the game for us. But there’s always things that everyone can work on.”
On his involvement in the return game today: “It was cool. It was good to finally see it be live and get some live reps back there as a returner, so it was good.”
What’s the biggest takeaway from today’s game? “The big takeaway is to stay in the game and that we finished strong, which is great for us. That was a great team win and that was pretty cool. Individually, I got to go look at the film to see what I can improve, but I think we did a great job as a team just fighting through the end and making plays at the end.”
On the touchdown at the end of the game. “We needed to score a touchdown. We didn’t have any timeouts with about a minute left. Preseason or not, we’re trying to get a win. That was the game plan. We had to get it up the field, in a short amount of time and score a touchdown.”
Did you notice a different level of comfort from Trevone Boykin, and the entire team, when you didn’t have a timeout and you had to hurry up and score? “I think we’ve all been playing this game long enough that we’ve been in situations where we know we have to make a play. And, Tre made some great throws. I think everyone on that drive just came together and we had a big series.”
There’s a feeling on the sideline that the Seahawks win games like this. Is that the feeling on the field as well? “Yeah, I think so. These guys have had some big, close games they’ve won in the past. I think we just added another one to it.”
What’s the key to catching that ball on the goal line with no time left on the clock? “The key to it? The key to catching any ball is catching it. It was in the right spot. I had a good position on the DB, and I just tried to make a play.”
What kind of route did you run on that play? “Not a good one. It was just a deep ball. It was kind of a hail Mary – just tried to get it in the end zone. Try to box out and go up and get the ball.”
When we walked over, you said I don’t deserve this. But, after the play you made you certainly do. “It’s a great team win, honestly. Tre had some great balls on that last series. I was just the guy on the other end making the play when we had to.”
On the final touchdown play. “It was a great play by Tanner McEvoy. He made a heckuva play. Boykin gave him a chance at the ball. It was fun. It was cool. That was good football for these young kids.”
Your one of the veterans in this league. What are your thoughts on Marcus Peters? “Peters is going to be great. He had a great season last year. He’s got great eyes, great feet. He does a great job in coverage. He’s going to continue to grow this year and be fantastic. We talked a little bit at the Pro Bowl. We talked a little bit when he was at UW. Marshawn [Lynch] would bring him in from time to time. He plays an entirely different style than I play. He does a great job of route recognition. He trusts and believes in his instincts and he plays the ball.”
Outside of the win, how would you grade the first team defense? “I don’t know. Probably a B-. We had a few plays where we had them stopped. We had them dead to rights on a third and nine. We let him scramble around and throw a nonsense play. We’ve got to clean things like that up. But, we did a great job of executing overall.”
On the win. “It’s always great to win. You’ve got to enjoy these moments, especially how we did it. The situation was perfect. We always practice it. Just to see the young guys come through and make the big play. The quarterback played big at the end. To take advantage of their mistake [12 men on the field penalty] and run it in [for the two point conversion], it was a great feeling.”
What did you think of the first team defense’s performance? “I think we did a lot of really good stuff. The thing that stuck out to me was we need to keep on conditioning. Once we get into good condition, we’re able to think and communicate clearly. In this league, it’s about a game of inches. You saw their quarterback have to scramble in third and long situations. We kind of made it hard [for him]. We’ve just got to keep on it and keep moving forward.”
How was the communication with some of the new guys? “It seemed great. I think what really helped was the guys on the sideline ‘stayed into the game.’ Just because we came out of the game, it doesn’t mean we’re going to sit on the bench. We continued to communicate even on the sideline.”