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Cigar Thoughts, Preseason Week 2: Seahawks thump Chargers 41-14

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The Seahawks starters carved up the Chargers and the backups came in to clean up the mess.

And it's, and you feel it and it feels like a bag of sand... when you're touching it.
And it's, and you feel it and it feels like a bag of sand... when you're touching it.
Otto Greule Jr

The Seahawks looked like champions tonight.

Listen, I loathe preseason hyperbole but in this case, a statement like that is merely accurate. Seattle, both the team and the city, set such a high bar last year that we find ourselves holding even their preseason play to a standard that would have seemed ludicrous just two years ago. And Seattle, both the team and the city, justified it.

Yeah it's preseason and yeah the usual caveats still apply, but I'd say to a lesser degree with the 'Hawks. What I mean to say is, I truly don't think the Seahawks -- from John Schneider and Pete Carroll to Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas and on down the line -- see these games as anything other than more opportunities to be the best they can be. From the jump, the 'Hawks (and their crowd) were on their grind like it was mid-October.

The offense was decidedly crisp, the defense was expectedly (not a word? should be a word) smothering, and that left a roster like the Chargers' looking like a practice squad. Some quick observations from the blowout, in no particular order:

The offensive line, so hopelessly outplayed in Denver, looked assertive in their run-blocking and not-terrible in their pass protection. That's progress. They're the weakest position group on the team and mostly I just find myself hoping they give the Olympians behind them enough time to make something happen so to see them consistently win their battles was delightful.

James Carpenter looks like he's been starving himself all offseason and played like he finally got a chance to eat. He beat his man on just about every play (I can only think of one exception, although it was fairly glaring, getting smoked in pass-pro) and absolutely erased his guy on Seattle's first touchdown.

Justin Britt had more plays that show he's got a ways to go in terms of consistency, like when he got served by Melvin Ingram in the first quarter; he also had plays that showed he's got the talent to play at an NFL level, like when he pancaked his dude on the very next snap.

There will always be nits to pick, but the main takeaway from the O-line's performance is the team's 243 rushing yards at a 6.6 YPC clip. They racked up 94 yards in the first quarter. 137 in the first half. They had five rushing touchdowns. For all the talk about how the Seahawks need/will pass more this year, they showed today that they're more than capable of leading the NFL in run/pass ratio again if need be. The passing game was awesome too, but we'll get to that in a sec.

As for the running backs, they made good on the opportunities they were granted, hitting the holes that were there and, as importantly, finishing off tacklers instead of the other way around. Last season, 24 teams were smashed between 3.8 yards per carry and 4.8 yards per carry. Sometimes that gap is as simple as the difference between falling forward and falling backward. All game long, Seahawks RBs fell forward.

First of all, y'all might want to start making your peace with Robert Turbin. There's a huge portion of 'Hawks fans (myself included) that desperately want Christine Michael to be the guy who takes the torch from Marshawn Lynch when the time comes. And while Michael's game is sexy as hell, don't miss the forest for the trees. Turbin looks great; he's had an excellent camp, ran with force and determination, stuck his blitz pickups, and finished a long run with a flag-planting stiff-arm that might as well have been delivered by Lynch. All told, Turbin finished with 81 holding-free yards on 12 carries, including a 47-yard bolt. This isn't the same guy we saw last year.

So what about C-Mike? Well, he fumbled his first carry and was promptly benched. When he did get back on the field, however, he ran with a fiery heart and a short memory. He never quite got loose the way Turbin did, but he still managed 45 yards on 8 rushes, flashing the type of explosive wiggle normally reserved for smaller players and finishing runs with a force normally reserved for larger ones.

Russell Wilson was perfect and heroic and inspiring and tender and ferocious and angelic, as per the yoozh. While his spirit was transcending our sphere of existence, his mortal coil spun and whirled its way through the first half like a marionette maneuvered by a divine puppeteer. The tangible results were 11 completions on 13 attempts for 121 yards, 105.4 rating, 4 rushes, 31 yards 2 touchdowns. His real impact, however, can only be felt on a higher wavelength.

Terrelle Pryor was super Terrelle Pryor-y today, running around in the backfield like some kind of super-squirrel, racking up 59 yards rushing on three carries, including a 44-yard touchdown sprung by a great block from JR Sweezy. I have zero doubt that he could be a running threat to the same degree that Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton are. If only he could throw. Pryor only accounted for 7% of Seattle's completions while racking up 60% of their incompletions. Yeah, 1/4 is a tiny sample size but it's also one I would expect from someone who throws like a windmill. Kenneth had a great tweet tonight that pretty perfectly summed up my thoughts on the back-up QB situation:

BJ Daniels looked good, too, completing both of his passes including one on an impressive rollout and adding a rushing TD of his own. I really like ol' Beej, I just don't see any place for him on this roster. All told, Seahawks QBs totaled 99 yards and 4 TDs on 13 carries(7.6 YPC).

The Seahawks offense generated the following in the game's first 20 minutes: 17 points, 100 yards rushing, 7/7 passing. One of those completions came to Zach Miller, who is as good at getting open as he isn't at running away from people. He continues to be Seattle's all-time leader in getting tackled exactly when you would if you were out there.

The Seahawks out-gained the Chargers 260-122 in the first half. In the 25 minutes that Seattle's first-team defense was on the field, San Diego's offense was held to 55 yards. The defensive line is so good and so relentlessly deep. I could spend the whole article massaging their thighs but I've got other stuff to get to. they were good in every way a defense line can be good without registering a bunch of sacks.

We know how good the starting DL is. We also now know that neither OB Schofield or Benson Mayowa can be blocked by backups. I'm interested to see if starters can. Either way, defensive end is the one position Seattle could absorb a blow to without much dropoff in production. Mayowa has this blow-by move that makes it look like he jumps the snap. Schofield finds himself at the ball more frequently than a player at his position should. These guys would start on a lot of teams. One of them might not even make this one.

Kevin Pierre-Louis is a guy who apparently is not the little brother of a French revolutionary a lot of folks were looking forward to watching tonight. I thought he looked very athletic. That's a great thing, at least as far as instincts match, and KPL certainly showed the potential to play at the pro level. He was consistently around the ball and flashed impressively in coverage against a WR on an extended play, staying step-for-step with his man for over five seconds. Not a lot of youngsters able to do that.

The starting DBs were exceptional. In today's NFL it's almost eerie how quiet they can make the back third of the field feel. I imagine that passing against the LOB is like being buried alive with only a straw poking up to breathe through. The backups DBs, however, weren't even in the region of boom. They broke down on pass coverage on two occasions and were full steps behind their men on at least three other completions. They're mega-athletes, no doubt, but the gap between the All-Pros and guys like DeShawn Shead, Jeron Johnson, Jeremy Lane, and Tharold Simon is still large. That's not meant as a slight to the backups because I think they're still all pretty good, it's just weird to be reminded what a normal defensive secondary feels like.

Simon, for his part, actually played pretty damn sticky defense doing a spot-on Richard Sherman impression on a deep ball that he had bounce out of his hands. Later in the drive, he jammed his man perfectly, erased his route, squared his body, and housed a 105-yard touchdown. It was instructional-video level pass coverage but the NFL's latest point-of-emphasis decreed that such excellence should not go unpunished and Simon was instead flagged for illegal touching or whatever. Something tells me Pete's not gonna be too upset with him over it. Even Earl said it was a textbook play during his sideline interview.

Bryan Walters looks fearless and mayhem-inducing, which is how I like my return man. With the WR battle so deep, returning is probably his best non-injury chance of sticking and he runs like he knows it. He still managed to become the first player in history to be tackled by a 300-pounder and a punter on consecutive returns.

Steven Hauschka continues to hit everything. He kicked a 55-yarder with the ease of making toast. This team is blessed to have him handling that business.

The Seahawks got called for 8 more penalties but only one came against the starters on either side.

Percy Harvin targeted on 5 of Wilson's first 9 throws. Let your mind run with that.

All in all, a complete performance at a time when teams are expected to be anything but. They waxed the Chargers like a bikini line and did so without many of their best players (Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner, Russell Okung, Max Unger, Malcolm Smith, Michael Bennett, etc, etc). There is no reason to think they won't be even better when the season starts. Feel free to use the comments section to hit on anything I didn't cover.

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