The toughest thing about the preseason is figuring out how much to read into the performances on the field. For the starters,* I generally don't think it means much beyond highlighting some teachable moments at game speed. For the other 60 or so guys on the roster, however, it's a small sample size that may be all they get to continue chasing their dream in Seattle. So when the first team** struggles, as they did tonight, it likely is more the result of rust and incongruity than it is the sudden departure of talent from a team that's won 56 games over the last four seasons.
*Offensive line not included
**Lots of of the guys who started tonight are unlikely to start during the regular season
I won't get to everything that's worth discussing in this article, so feel free to parse the particulars in the comments section. Let's get to it. The Seahawks' first drive was pretty cool, starting at their own 3 and stretching 56 yards out over 11 plays, though it ended when Alex Collins was smothered on a 4th & 1. On that drive, the Seahawks ran the ball authoritatively and passed off of that downhill mentality. Russell Wilson completed his first three passes, including a comically accurate deep ball to Tyler Lockett. If Lockett was having tea, the nose of Wilson's football would've lodged in his cup. It all went according to script until Collins was walled off on the aforementioned fourth down.
The most impressive part of Seattle's performance was their rushing game. The third act of the Christine Michael redemption play continues to unfold scene by brutalizing scene. Ten more carries, 56 more punishing yards for C-Mike, Sr, giving him 100 on just 16 rushes through two preseason games. He also had a great catch lined up as a wideout. Caught it clean, away from his body. He's running with the same sudden savagery that Thomas Rawls did last yearDo I think he'll wrest the starting job from Thomas Rawls? I do not. I do, however, think his performance gives the 'Hawks the leeway to take their time with Rawls' recovery.
Alex Collins took a while to get going but did get loose for seven yards on a run that showcased his ability to get schwifty in the open field. Some guy named Troymaine Pope showed up in a Seahawks uniform and ran for 86 yards and a TD on ten carries. At this pace he's gonna Thomas Rawls Thomas Rawls.
Tyler Lockett is just, so good. Couple of slick catches on that first drive, including that bomb as well as a sneaky little shimmy route for eight yards on a 3rd & 7. Watching the arc of his career is going to be mesmerizing. If Wilson has enough time to get through his reads, he's gonna find Lockett open a lot.
Now, about that... When asked to run block, the Seahawks o-line responded with a war cry and lay siege to their enemies, blazing the way to 70 rush yards the first half and 117 in the second half at a six-yard clip. When asked to pass block, they bumbled around like blind puppies on a waterbed, putting Russ' life in danger twice a drive. Like that time Wilson got massacred for a billion yard loss while 3.5 Seahawks block the same dude:
The offensive line's struggle to get on the same page and up to speed is going to be a theme for a while, so decide now how mad you're gonna be about it. Some of it, I'm sure, is Justin Britt learning how to identify blocking assignments and some of it is the expected struggle of new, young lineman. Most of it, though, is that for the 19th straight season, the Seahawks OL is entirely constructed of positional experiments. Either way, after starting 3-3, Russell Wilson was sacked four times for 41 yards lost while completing just two of his final eight passes. All told, the first team offense netted 28 passing yards.
It remains to be seen what quality of hotdogs Tom Cable lumps this current collection of meat-piles into but it stands to reason that the Seattle OL will follow the same pattern they always do. Personally, I'm expecting two months of white-knuckling every offensive drive before Cable finally wriggles his sausage casing all the way around them and they begin stomping everybody in November and December. Good thing Russell Wilson is a cyborg.
For the second straight week, the Seahawks starting defense generated about as much pass rush as you did. It's probably nothing. They were great against the run, which was nice to see after giving up some chunks in Kansas City. The veterans aren't anything to fret about, but DL success has a lot to do with depth and that's where there're a bunch of pups. Jarran Reed, for one, looks NFL ready. Talked up as the replacement for Brandon Mebane, he looks somehow more dynamic than that. And while he may not be the impenetrable rampart that 'Bane was, he is incredibly quick to get off of blocks. A lot of wiggle in that big boy.
Frank Clark continues to be the most unblockable player in preseason history. Would love to see him burn first teamers the way he does the backups but I'm not complaining. He's ferocious, and is gonna be a monster as Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril continue to teach him the finer points of beating blockers.
DeShawn Shead is making the much anticipated switch from safety to the historically lucrative position of cornerback opposite Richard Sherman. Looks good. Maybe not as sticky with the receivers as he should be but my goodness does that dude close the gap in a hurry. I do anticipate him getting targeted a lot early in the season so it's great to see him get a bunch of live reps. Almost nonexistent pressure meant the secondary had to cover their guys a beat or two longer than normal, and that opened up some soft spots in the second level of the defense. Like I said earlier, I'm sure it's nothing, but it would be nice to see the DL win some one-on-ones next week.
There were a few other guys that jumped out to me. Kenny Lawler looks determined to make the team. He likely had to leapfrog Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith to have a chance at snagging the last WR spot. With 47 yards on three more catches, he seems to be able to get open and has been Trevone Boykin's most targeted receiver through two games. The only guy who out-produced Lawler was a dude I loved watching in college: Antwan Goodley. Goodley just kept getting separation and received a team-leading nine targets in just a few drives. Total wildcard.
Don't remember hearing Tyvis Powell's name but the box score says he had a couple tackles. He was super fun last game. I want fun Tyvis back.
Trevone Boykin is going to be the guy who generates the most discussion this August, as the seat at the foot of the throne is his to lose. Backup quarterbacks are never more interesting than they are in the pre-season but even by that standard, Boykin is intriguing. After leading a miraculous victory in the waning moments of last week's game, he lead a miraculous defeat by throwing a gift-wrapped pick six to some guy who is having the night of his life right now. Then he almost took that gift back with a creative last-minute drive down to the goal line before a late sack forced a sloppy final pass play that went incomplete. I dunno, what do you guys think?
At times you've got a cat who looks like Russell Wilson Jr., while other times you have a QB who has already thrown more passes while backpedaling than I think Wilson ever has. He also literally flew over two defenders for a two-point conversion, which is quite a thing. His numbers were kinda gross (10-20, 127 yards, and the pick for a passer rating of 49.4). I like Boykin a lot. I think he'll be a great understudy to Wilson and even with the late interception, I don't think there's any sense of panic with him. But what do I know?
Anyhow, it doesn't appear as though there were any major injuries so that's a win in my book. The culling of the herd begins soon. Gonna be a lot of talent cut from this roster over the next couple of weeks. Until next time, onward and upward my friends.
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