Sunday night the Seattle Seahawks are back on the field against the Minnesota Vikings in a matchup of two teams that played in both the preseason and regular season in 2018. In both of those matchups the Vikings strong defense frustrated the Seattle offense, and while the Hawks ended the night victorious, it was the definition of an ugly game.
In any case, with the 2019 preseason entering its final two weeks, the Hawks are set to play three games over the next twelve days. In those three games the team will get a chance to gather enough information to make decisions at a ton of positions on the roster, and Sunday night will be the first of these auditions. Thus, here are a few things Seahawks fans can watch for starting on Sunday against Minnesota:
The battle for roster spots for wide receivers:
Jazz Ferguson opened the preseason against the Denver Broncos with a statement, if he can continue to show out in the final three games of the preseason, it could make the cuts at the receiver position extremely difficult. Tyler Lockett is, of course, a lock, and it would seem that Jaron Brown and David Moore are right there as well. Then it’s a glut of rookies battling for the final spots. Keenan Reynolds, Terry Wright and John Ursua appear to be locking horns over the right to be Lockett’s backup in the slot, while it seems as though DK Metcalf and Jaron Brown may be leading the way on the outside.
The offensive line:
Back during OTAs in the summer Duane Brown went on record as stating he felt the Seahawks had the potential to have the best offensive line in the NFL, with he and Mike Iupati manning the left side, and Germain Ifedi and D.J. Fluker on the right side. So far Iupati hasn’t been able to set foot on the field for the Hawks due to a string of injuries, and thus the line remains a question mark.
The Vikings defense battered Russell Wilson in his short appearance during preseason last year, and then gave him problems during the Week 14 game as well. The ugly Week 14 game was 3-0 entering the fourth quarter and just 6-0 with less than five minutes to go in the game. There was the ugly Russell Wilson interception at the goal line that kept the team from scoring just before halftime.
And one of the most memorable things about the game, besides the beautiful action green uniforms, was Angry Doug Baldwin on the sideline witnessing a game of offensive struggles.
For those who missed it. pic.twitter.com/rRqu8FvTPc— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) December 11, 2018
The defensive backfield:
Questions abound regarding not only who will be playing in the secondary for the Seahawks in 2019, with the departure of Earl Thomas it appears as though the Hawks are likely to be showing or emphasizing a lot of newer wrinkles defensively. Field Gulls own Matty F. Brown has been emphasizing the likelihood of Seattle playing a lot more Tampa 2 and Match Quarters as opposed to the Cover 3 that had been so prevalent with Earl manning center field.
The more I think about Marquise Blair's skillset...— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) May 9, 2019
The more I think Seattle is transitioning to be primarily a Tampa 2 and Match Quarters defense without Earl Thomas.
That fits Blair's comments about going strong+free. It also suits his alley-bulleting, short area skillset. https://t.co/iyLdjfRu2W
So, if the team does indeed transition to playing with multiple high safeties significantly more, will that mean playing in base defense with three linebackers, or will the team finally show significantly more of the big nickel defense that’s become far more common across the league.
Back to personnel, however, questions about about who will be playing where. Bradley McDougald seems likely to play at one of the safety spots after performing very well there in 2018, but it’s a lot of question marks at most of the other positions. It had seemed like the outside corner spots would be manned by Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin once again, but nothing is ever written in stone with the Seattle lineup. In practice earlier this week Akeem King got a chance to play with the first team defense, while Griffin took some reps with the second team.
Maybe just rolling guys through. But king just got the first team reps at LCB in team session with Griffin going second team.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) August 12, 2019
As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times points out, it’s entirely possible that this was nothing more than rolling guys through and looking at different options. However, Griffin did spend the first month of 2017 as the nickel corner before Jeremy Lane was lost to injury and Justin Coleman stepped in and put that spot on lock down.
In any case, we’ll get another chance to see who is playing where and maybe get some indication of the depth chart based on who plays against the Vikings. There are so many young players, with guys like Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill, Kalan Reed and Ugo Amadi all battling for a spot, that it can make the stability of the Legion of Boom era seem like a long lost relic.
The pass rush:
In the first preseason game the Hawks delivered eight quarterback hits to the signal callers of the Denver Broncos, however, half of those eight hits came from members of the secondary who were sent on blitzes. Against the Vikings the defensive front should have more of its starters on the field, meaning a chance to potentially see what Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and Al Woods can do. Ford and Reed should help generate pressure up the middle, though fans still won’t get to see what L.J. Collier and Ziggy Ansah can do from the outside due to ongoing injury concerns.
Recent reports on the recovery for both of those two have been optimistic, so that remains positive. However, with just three weeks until the Seahawks take on the Cincinnati Bengals to open the season, the fact that they haven’t been able to show what they can do is starting to become a small concern. Certainly not time to panic, yet, but if we don’t start seeing those two soon, then things could get dicey very quickly.
After the matchup against the Bengals in Week 1, the Hawks face the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns in a matter of five weeks, with a game against the Arizona Cardinals sandwiched right in the middle. Through their first two preseason games, the Cardinals don’t appear to be much to worry about, but if, somehow, their Air Raid offense figures things out in the next six weeks, that could be a five week stretch in which the Hawks face five potentially potent passing offenses with a young secondary and a pass rush that has yet to show itself during the preseason. It’s still early, of course, and there’s still plenty of time, but this is certainly something that bears watching not only against the Vikings, but against the Los Angeles Chargers next Saturday as well.