With the Seattle Seahawks hosting the Minnesota Vikings at Lumen Field Thursday, it almost feels like football season has actually arrived. However, it’s just Week 1 of the preseason, meaning the outcome of the matchup won’t matter in the standings, but that doesn’t mean there is no reason to watch the first Hawks football since January, so here are three things to pay attention to when Seattle is on offense.
Will they run the real offense?
No one is expecting the Seahawks to run the full offense and give away all their secrets to the opposition before the season even begins. However, how much they open up the offense could be an interesting tell when it comes to where they believe backup quarterback Drew Lock stands in terms of his development.
In the 2022 preseason Seattle effectively ran two different versions of its offense. The first, was the one starter Geno Smith was tasked with operating, wherein there was significantly less play action and Smith was asked to make his reads and deliver the ball where it needed to go without cutting the field in half or simplifying the reads. In contrast, when Lock was under center during the first week of the 2022 preseason, the Hawks effectively deployed the dumbed-down-for-Jared-Goff version of the offense that used play action, rollouts and simplified reads for the young signal caller. That contributed to an impressive statline of 11-15 for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 131.1.
However, when the crutch of a simplified offense was taken away in Week 3 of the preseason and Lock was tasked with making full field reads, his 13-24 for 171 yards and a touchdown also happen to come with a trio of interceptions and a 51.2 passer rating.
That makes how much Lock is asked to do on the field something definitely that is absolutely worth watching, and paying attention to how much, or how little, the Seahawks use play action and rollouts could be very telling.
Will the quarterbacks pay attention to blindside blitzers?
One of the most talked about plays from the Seahawks 2022 preseason was a late-game strip sack of Drew Lock against the Pittsburgh Steelers where he completely failed to recognize an unblocked blitzer.
Looks like the Mark Robinson strip sack essentially fooled Drew Lock. He did not see Robinson coming.— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) August 14, 2022
Steelers as usual blitzed their nickel this game, especially Maulet a lot, so Lock may have expected something there. But Robinson blitzes backside.pic.twitter.com/3wcBfeyriQ
Meanwhile, back in 2021, it was Geno Smith who failed to recognize the blindside blitzer in Week 1 of the preseason and wound up in the concussion protocol.
So, in addition to Lock expected to get to play a significant amount behind the starting offensive line against the Vikings, whether it’s Lock, Smith or Holton Ahlers, how will the Seattle signal callers handle seeing live rushers for the first time since January? And, if there’s a blindside blitzer, will they handle it properly or will there once again be a highlight clip that gets posted to social media?
Who gets the snaps at wide receiver
Outside of injuries, there are zero questions at the top of the depth chart at the receiver position. It’s Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf in the top two spots, with first round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the third receiver spot. There is a gaping void at the fourth receiver position, especially during the first seven weeks of the season while Dee Eskridge will be serving his suspension. Compounding the questions at the position is the uncertainty surrounding the health of Dareke Young, who may or may not have a sports hernia, and who seems to be doing better, but who would likely miss significant time if surgery is required to repair a sports hernia.
It’s unlikely that Lockett, Metcalf and JSN play a ton against the Vikings, and there’s been no shortage of preseason darlings who have put up pretty statlines at receiver during the preseason in recent years for the Seahawks. The names include the likes of Kasen Williams, Jazz Ferguson and John Ursua, but the reality is that the fourth and fifth receiver spots are as much, if not more about special teams than they are about offensive production.
In 2022 the fourth and fifth wide receivers, Young and Penny Hart, combined for 286 special teams snaps during the regular season. In 2021 Hart and Cody Thompson combined for 256 special teams snaps. In 2020 it was Hart and Freddie Swain combining for 262 special teams snaps. And in 2019 Malik Turner and David Moore saw the field for 283 special teams snaps.
So, who catches the ball and puts up pretty receiving numbers is cool, and all that, but if they’re a wide receiver who is on the sideline for special teams, their ability to compete for those fourth and fifth receiver spots can largely be ignored. Thus, the Cade Johnson Clan, the Mike Bobo Bridgage, the Matt Landers Lovers and the Cody Thompson Truthers will likely all be out in force, and the differentiating factor likely comes down to what they can do on special teams.
And now it’s time to sit back and watch the game.