Usually preseason games are slogs to sit through but for some reason the opening week of exhibitions has been pretty entertaining and high scoring across the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks’ 32-25 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was no exception. I don’t care about the win/loss result (and neither should you) as much as individual performances and hoping to hell no one gets injured.
That ending sucked but all I could muster up was an almost chuckled “oh noooooooo” both for Drew Lock’s fumble and the touchdown allowed. There was a lot to like, some things that could be improved upon, and a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t require a strong opinion.
Here’s the first preseason edition of Winners and Losers.
While the attention was mostly on the rookie cornerbacks, the rookie pass rusher Mafe made an immediate impact in his debut. After a touchdown-saving tackle on a punt return, Mafe strip-sacked Mason Rudolph on a blindside rush. Then towards the end of the game, he sacked Kenny Pickett on 4th and 1 as Pittsburgh was driving for the winning points. Yeah I know the “next Cliff Avril” thing has been said a lot but... that first sacked was Cliff-esque.
Boye Mafe with the HUGE stop on 4th and 1 to get the Seahawks possession with a minute to go!pic.twitter.com/w8rExIAjBt— NFL on ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsNFL) August 14, 2022
More specifically Charles Cross. I don’t think Cross allowed a single pressure in this one and if he did it might have been on those few occasions Geno would start spinning around like a much slower, store-brand version of Russell Wilson even when the pocket was clean. Cross wasn’t going up against T.J. Watt or Cameron Heyward but he looked the part of a starting NFL left tackle. Pass protection was more than solid but the run-blocking was outstanding, and everybody from DeeJay Dallas to Travis Homer to Kenneth Walker III to even Darwin Thompson benefited. Abe Lucas, Phil Haynes, and Jake Curhan all caught my attention for their work in the run game.
DeeJay Dallas had the best night at 90 total yards on 11 touches and a receiving touchdown, with Travis Homer making his case for more of a role in the offense thanks to 41 rush yards and 33 receiving yards on just six combined touches. Kenneth Walker III had 19 yards on 5 carries and a catch for 11 yards and while he lacked any “wow” plays it was an alright day at the office. The main thing was seeing all of these backs as rushing and receiving threats.
Both him and Bo Melton had a dropped pass but Young had more opportunities and capitalized superbly. Young had four catches for 30 yards and a touchdown, with three of his receptions resulting in a first down or a score. There’s been some hype for Young as another Ricardo Lockette type of talent and he flashed some of it on offense.
Michael Bennett and Michael Robinson
Get these two a podcast together but at the very least I’m here for sideline reporter Michael Bennett. He remains as hilarious as ever and him and Robinson had great chemistry as commentators. It’s preseason so I don’t care about the broadcast being akin to your typical regular season national game, this is a Seahawks production and I was entertained.
Aye man something wrong with Mike B dawg— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar) August 14, 2022
Mike, to Tyler: “The next question, what happened to your hair, man? It’s gone now what happened?!” pic.twitter.com/PUu7uEWZp4
Pretty much the whole defense
It’s just the first preseason game and we didn’t see Quandre Diggs, Jordyn Brooks, Jamal Adams, etc. but that wasn’t exactly an all-backups unit we saw. Poona Ford and Bryan Mone played the whole 1st half, Cody Barton went well into the 2nd quarter, and we saw Darrell Taylor, Shelby Harris, and Quinton Jefferson out there for multiple series. Too many missed tackles and blown gap assignments. It was just very sloppy all-around and Pete Carroll was aware it wasn’t acceptable. Unfortunately a hidden fact of last year’s defense was that they were one of the worst in the NFL at broken tackles.
Too much of Pittsburgh’s offense was easy, and it was very apparent in the 409 yards they gave up and 7/13 allowed on 3rd downs.
Justin Coleman was particularly bad in his brief appearance, the linebacker depth is terrifyingly slow, Josh Jones had a horrid interception drop followed by an overpursuit/missed tackle combo, and Josh Valentine-Turner unfortunately typified Seattle’s defensive showing with a missed tackle and a winning touchdown allowed.
That punt return effort was ridiculous and got him the hook from those duties for the rest of the evening. You do not try and pick up the ball on a hop with defenders nearby and no chance of a long return. That could’ve been a lost fumble but he was lucky Justin Coleman was nearby.
Parkinson had just three targets, with one catch, an incomplete pass on what could’ve been pass interference, and a drop after he took contact. Parkinson isn’t fighting to make the roster or anything (at least I don’t think), but you have to think the trade for Fant and re-signing of Will Dissly was driven in part by Parkinson’s early injuries and not really showing much when he has played.
The people responsible for designing and executing these atrocious screen passes
Doesn’t matter if it’s first-string, second-string, or third-string, the execution is abysmal and has been for like a decade solid. No more of these.
- There were no winners or losers in the Geno Smith-Drew Lock competition. Smith was fine-ish and so was Lock, but we don’t really learn a ton when the top four receivers didn’t even play. I thought Lock looked better but he was going against lesser competition than Geno was. The one thing I will say regarding the fumble apparently being on Lock for not recognizing the blitz is that it’s the type of mistake that Carroll wouldn’t care for even if Lock has the higher upside and is the better athlete. Hopefully we get to see Lock get first-team snaps on Thursday.
- It’s hard not to notice how many of Lock and Smith’s throws were off play-action. That was a heavy dose of PA we saw and quite a bit from under center. Won’t necessarily be indicative of what Shane Waldron will do in the regular season but I do expect a lot of PA regardless of who’s starting.
- Coby Bryant had better reps at first glance than Tariq Woolen, who wasn’t awful but may have been culpable on the coverage bust touchdown to Gunnar Olszewski. Bryant’s TD allowed to George Pickens was just a great play by Pickens and maybe aided by a pushoff, but that guy’s gonna be a star. Bryant is a willing tackler and stuck to his assignment much of the evening.
- I wish Noah Fant had gotten his foot down on that one throw by Geno, but in general he looked good both blocking and receiving and may yet be a hugely important part of this offense.
- Darrell Taylor was dancing up a storm on the sideline, but I won’t lie I was a little annoyed with the whiff on Mitch Trubisky on what should’ve been a sack. Alton Robinson was one of the few defensive bright spots, along with Myles Adams.
- It’s probably not an encouraging sign for Ugo Amadi that he played the 3rd quarter, or that Justin Coleman even started. His roster spot is on shaky ground. The defensive side of the 2019 class has been perplexing.
- Pete Carroll forgot you can’t challenge scoring plays, which are automatically reviewed. I’ll laugh it off in preseason but not when the games count.
- Back at it on Thursday! It’s good to be doing this column again.