The Seattle Seahawks open the preseason on Thursday against the Indianapolis Colts. To prepare you for the Seahawks’ competition — specifically their preseason competition — I sent 5 Qs over to Chris Blystone of the Colts blog Stampede Blue. In kind, he sent back 5 corresponding As. Here they are:
Q: After the mess surrounding the Josh McDaniels situation, what’s been the attitude around Frank Reich and his staff? Do you see the team and the fans sort of rallying around and supporting them even more because of the fact that they were spurned by McDaniels or is it just the typical enthusiasm and uncertainty when there’s a coaching change? Is everyone excited that it’s not Chuck Pagano anymore?
A: It is a very odd thing to consider. What could have marred Chris Ballard’s early tenure as GM actually ended up being a catalyzing moment for both the fan base and the team. Ballard’s press conference following the fiasco was confident and cool, exactly the kind of tone you want from a leader. His “the rivalry is back on” mic drop exit from that press conference both united fans in their continued hatred of the Patriots organization, and let his team know that he expects to get back to competing with the top teams in the NFL.
Frank Reich came in and immediately left many fans feeling as though the team dodged a bullet by missing out on McDaniels. His bond with Andrew Luck as a former quarterback has been on display already in camp, and his creative mind and willingness to take advantage of Luck’s brainpower to craft the offense to cater to him is one that should help elevate Luck’s game.
I can say with certainty that everyone I know is thrilled to have a coach who is not Chuck Pagano. I am not sure we realized just how poor the play calling, player development, or general function of the organization was under Pagano. It has been a breath of fresh air.
Q: The Colts have both Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. They also drafted two guys on day three and have Marlon Mack from the fourth round last year. How do you expect the RB competition to shake out and how much do you think Seahawks fans will get to see Turbin and Michael this week, if at all?
A: The running backs are a group I’ve watched the most during training camp so far. They’ve been a fun group and have shown flashes that will make them a critical watch during each preseason game. 2nd year player Marlon Mack and rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins have all looked good in camp, with Mack and Wilkins specifically displaying a level of physicality we weren’t sure they would. That might just put Turbin’s spot in jeopardy, given his 4-game suspension.
I think the depth chart ends up being Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins with the lion’s share of the carries, and Nyheim Hines getting looks as a situational/gadget type player who can be used all over the field. That leaves Turbin and Michael likely battling for that fourth spot.
Q: No disrespect intended, but Indianapolis doesn’t seem to have a lot of stars on defense yet, with the biggest young name probably being Malik Hooker. However, the Colts used three second round picks on that side of the ball: LB Darius Leonard, DE Kemoko Turay, and DE Tyquan Lewis. How do they look this summer so far and which of those guys do you expect to see the most of in 2018? Are there other rising stars on Indy’s defense that we should be on the lookout for?
A: The Colts have very little in the way of proven stars on the defense. That is both a bit terrifying and also sort of exciting. This defensive group is so young that there are unknowns everywhere. The implementation of a new scheme has changed the look of the unit to one that is geared toward speed and attacking, and the draft picks have been right in line with that.
Darius Leonard has been definitively the most impressive of the three rookies you mentioned, grabbing a pick in his first practice and making plays all over throughout camp so far. Lewis and Turay are likely to see more rotational roles because the defensive line won’t be a set group, but will be used situationally. One guy to watch is cornerback Quincy Wilson. He was held out a lot last season due to immaturity and poor practices, but when he played, he did fairly well. How much of that was on the coaching staff we will probably never know, but he has been active in camp so far and could prove to be a big lift to the secondary in a place they really need it.
Another guy to watch is John Simon. He was a pickup from the Texans before last season and a game changer early on as an outside linebacker. He has made the transition to defensive end, and has been lighting up camp again this offseason.
Q: Former Seahawks and Huskies WR Kasen Williams is in competition for a job with the Colts, just as he was a year ago in Seattle. What are the odds that he makes Indy’s final roster coming out of camp, in terms of the guys he needs to beat out to get there?
A: Like the running back group, the wide receiver competition is pretty tough. T.Y. Hilton has the top spot locked down, but beyond that the field is relatively unclear. Chester Rogers had begun to develop good rapport with Luck, but disappeared last season without him. Rookie Deon Cain has been possibly the biggest highlight generator at camp thus far, and it seems almost certain he’ll be on the final roster.
Daurice Fountain is another rookie who is likely to make the final roster and might be harder to supplant because he is from a small school and will be more raw, but has crazy athleticism and works well as a special teamer. Honestly, I think this competition will come down to the wire and be a tough call.
Free agent acquisition Ryan Grant is likely the guy to beat if Williams is going to make it. Grant is reliable but not flashy, and if Williams can outshine him and prove a consistent weapon, he could give himself a chance.
Q: I want to have the opportunity to ask you one question about the team I cover: What should Seahawks fans expect from Barkevious Mingo? He seemed to be a solid player for the Colts last season, is he someone that you were sad to see leave? Could he have more room to grow than he’s already had the chance to display or is this as good as it gets?
A: I believe Mingo was improving as the year went on. He stepped into the outside linebacker spot to replace John Simon when he went down with injury, and got better and better as the year went on. Given his improvement, I was a little surprised that the Colts did not try to retain him, but with Simon’s return and Ballard planning to spend draft capital on the defensive line in addition to the scheme change, he just didn’t make sense with their plans.
Seahawks fans should expect a solid rotational player, a valuable special teamer, and a player who can come in and make plays when needed. At almost 28, I wouldn’t expect him to transform his game and suddenly be a major factor on defense, however, he’ll be working with a mind in Pete Carroll who will certainly know better how to use him than Chuck Pagano did.