The Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 22-14 in their preseason opener on Thursday night in Seattle.
The Seahawks are taking a very different approach to the preseason this year than they have in years past under Pete Carroll. Seattle elected to rest a majority of their high-profile players in an effort to not only minimize their risk of injuries but to also get as much opportunity as possible for the rest of this young roster. Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Duane Brown, Tyler Lockett, Bradley McDougald, Chris Carson, Mike Iupati and DJ Fluker are established veterans who did not play a snap in game number one. In years past, Seattle would play all of their stars at least one series if not a couple in the first preseason game.
While its always fun to win games, the preseason results don’t matter much. The Seahawks went 0-4 last season and went on to win 10 games and secure a wildcard spot during the regular season. What is important is how the young players, particularly ones who will be expected to contribute this season, have developed so far since being drafted or since last season.
Here are some thoughts on key players at each position during Thursday Night’s win.
Geno Smith: Geno got the start for Seattle in this game and played the entire first half. He showed good mobility and arm strength but was only able to complete 3/9 pass attempts for 58 yards. At times he looked hesitant as he would often not be able to find a place to throw the ball after dropping back, resulting in scrambles and throws on the run.
Paxton Lynch: WOW.. The reports out of training camp in regards to Lynch have been unanimously terrible. By all accounts Lynch has struggled mightily throwing the ball in his first training camp with the Seahawks. His first pass after entering the game at halftime was pretty much in line with those reports as he short armed it straight into the turf of CenturyLink. After that he was nothing short of spectacular, completing 11/15 passes for 109 yards and a Touchdown. He also rushed for 38 yards including an outstanding run to put the Seahawks ahead for good in the 4th quarter. Lynch did not make any poor decisions with the ball, checking it down numerous times when no one was open downfield. The competition for the backup QB job came back to life last night with Lynch’s performance, this will be fun to keep an eye on moving forward.
Rashaad Penny: Seattle’s first round pick from a year ago looked good in the opener. Most importantly he looked decisive with the ball in his hands after looking timid for most of the early part of last season. Seattle was without three of their five starting offensive lineman and the run blocking reflected that. Penny did however get free on a 27-yard screen pass and showed off the burst and shifty moves that made him a first-round pick. All of the tools are there for Penny and its just a matter of time before he breaks out.
Bo Scarborough: The former Alabama star ran very well as he rushed seven times for 32 yards. He ran downhill and looked for contact. His odds of making the team are low with the stable of young backs Seattle has but would be a very valuable member of the practice squad should the Seahawks be able to hold onto him.
DK Metcalf: The man everyone came out to see. DK is an absolute freak of nature and looks like an Avatar in a Seahawks uniform. Every time he lined up wide, Denver defensive backs gave him 10 yards of cushion in free of his speed. DK had a couple of big play opportunities that were off by just a hair but was able to bring in two catches on shorter routes. DK has a lot to learn, but his ability to just burn people with his size is going to wreak havoc this season. If this kid figures out how to play, the rest of the NFC is in trouble.
John Ursua: The Seahawks 7th round pick looked very quick and polished in his time out. His one catch for 23 yards on a quick seam route displayed his ability to separate in the slot position and get open off the snap. I think the Seahawks hit it with this draft pick.
Jazz Ferguson: Jazz went undrafted due to character concerns coming out of his time at LSU where he was ultimately dismissed from the team. The Seahawks gave Jazz an opportunity and he made the most of it, leading the team with 4 catches and 58 yards including a fantastic TD inside the 10 yard line. Jazz is probably a long shot to make this team with who is in front of him on the depth chart, but he definitely put on a display for other teams in the market for a WR.
George Fant: Really a bummer to see him get hurt out there. George simply got caught in the pile and had someone roll over the back of his leg resulting in an ankle sprain. Luckily George was able to walk off the field on his own, but Pete Carroll did refer to this as a “legit” sprain in the postgame press conference. Pete said on Sunday that George will try to be back for the opener on Sep 8th.
Ethan Pocic: Since being selected with the 58th pick in the 2017 draft, Pocic has been a big disappointment for the Seahawks considering his second-round selection. Nothing appears to have changed here as Pocic continues to simply get man handled by defensive tackles, especially in the run game. If Pocic had been a 5th or 6th round pick, he’d already have been cut. Time for the Seahawks to cut their losses and move on before he gets someone hurt.
Jacob Martin: Martin has big shoes to fill with the departure of Frank Clark. He looked fast coming off the edge in his time on the field, getting to the QB for a nice sack.
Barkevious Mingo: It appears Seattle has settled on moving Mingo to the edge to rush the passer. He recorded a sack and has a big role on special teams.
Rasheem Green: Green dominated the preseason last season as a rookie but had a relatively unproductive regular season. Green played sparingly and did record a tackle for loss. He is still very young but needs to show progress this year as his name will be called on very often.
Cody Barton: Of all the Seahawks draft picks, Cody Barton was the one I was the most confused by. However, as the offseason went along, Barton was constantly being brought up as a standout player. This game was a mixed bag for him. On a 3rd & 1, Royce Freeman took a handoff with a lead FB and had a big hole to run through on the left side. Barton froze and did not fill the lane, but instead simply froze six yards behind the line of scrimmage. The fullback came through the hole and blasted Cody and it was off the races for Freeman for a 50-yard gain. This was a good teachable moment for Barton, but for me was a big concern because this was not a difficult play for him to diagnose. I want to see more before I believe the hype here. The good news is, Cody is not expected to play a lot of snaps in his rookie season so long as Wright/Wagner/Kendricks are able to stay healthy.
Shaqueem Griffin: I think the experiment with trying to play Shaqueem in the WLB spot is a lost cause and the Seahawks will move forward with trying to get Shaqueem in on throwing downs to rush the passer. He is a very good special teams player as well which helps his chances of making this year’s team.
Austin Calitro: Lead the team with five tackles and was all over the field in this game. I have one complaint about Calitro and that’s he a below average tackler. On one play, Calitro did a great job of covering the flat against a swing pass but was not able to secure the tackle. This resulted in 3rd and 6 rather than a 3rd and 11. He did overall play very well, but he struggled in tackling last year and that play jumped out at me again in this game.
Marquise Blair: I know its one game in the preseason, but I’ve seen all I need to see from Blair. He looked like a young Earl Thomas flying around hitting people. He needs to learn the system and learn his responsibilities as his aggressiveness did cost the Seahawks on one big play, but that’s a problem Pete Carroll and his staff can fix. Sit back and enjoy the Marquise Blair show.
Ugo Amadi: Another future stud. Question is how will the Seahawks decide to use him? Amadi was flying around the field making plays, returning punts. He was fun to watch. The Seahawks have a big need at nickel corner and Amadi is right there in the hunt.
Akeem King: I’m still pissed off at King for screwing up last season late in the first quarter against Dallas where he lost containment on Zeke Elliot and cost the Seahawks six points. However, King did look good in this game in coverage and had a very nice pass breakup. He is another guy competing for that nickel spot.
Shaq Griffin: Shaq had an awesome rookie season followed by a somewhat disappointing sophomore season. On an interview with 710 ESPN, Griffin said himself that he felt he did not play up to his ability last year. The shoes Shaq had to fill at left corner with the departure of Richard Sherman were very big and he by no surprise is not as good as Sherman was. However, it is much too soon to give up on Shaq and he played very well this this game breaking up a pass and getting involved in the run defense.
Next up: Saturday 8/17 against the Chargers
Expect more of the same here which is Seattle resting its star players and getting the young guys as many snaps as possible. I want to see more of this Wide Receiver group. For me they are the most fascinating group of this preseason to watch. Go Hawks!