For the first time in at least a half-dozen years, I’m going to attend a pre-season game tonight. It never seems worth the hassle, especially when the express buses aren’t running. The primary reason behind my unusual journey is the sheer number of questions I have about this team, its players and the new coaching staff. When you have a team that has not only been bad the past two years, but nearly unwatchable and boring, it is the unknowns that represent hope and excitement.
Here are but a few of the things I am looking for tonight, and throughout the pre-season:
– Can Red Bryant hold the corner on running plays, or are running backs able to run sweeps around him all night long?
– Can Chris Clemons hold the corner on running plays, or are teams able to push him around?
– Is Kevin Vickerson noticeable in the DT rotation?
– Can Red Bryant collapse the pocket at all?
– Does Aaron Curry look like a star linebacker in the making?
– Do Ricky Foley or Nick Reed show up in the pass rush?
– How many yards are teams getting on first down? Are we forcing 3rd and long?
– Does our defense look any different than last year rushing the passer?
– Is Marcus Trufant really back?
– How many false steps is Earl Thomas taking at safety? Does he impact the game more positively than negatively?
– What role does Kam Chancellor play? If asked to cover, how does he do?
– Which backup safety looks better: Jordan Babineaux, Jamar Adams, or Kevin Ellison?
– How fast does Matt play, and how accurate/well-timed are his throws?
– Which receivers stand out?
– Is Julius Jones going to play well enough to force us to watch him during the regular season? Please no!
– Will Forsett assert himself?
– Does this offense throw to the running back very often?
– How often will we see two TE sets, and of those, how often will we run out of them versus pass?
– Has John Carlson improved as a blocker?
– How good of a blocker and receiver is Anthony McCoy?
– Is Deion Branch really experiencing a revival?
– Is Deon Butler going to force the coaches to find reps for him?
– Is Golden Tate the impact player we all hope he is?
– Can Leon Washington play at the speed he used to?
– Does Okung look stable against the pass rush and dominant in run blocking?
– How is the overall pass protection?
– Where are the primary passing zones in this offense? Short? Intermediate? Deep?
– How often does Matt progress past his primary receiver? Does he look confident going through his progressions?
– Does Whitehurst earn some respect?
– How believable is Carroll about competition, when it could make him look bad? In other words, will Losman get enough reps to make Whitehurst look like a 3rd string QB?
– Will we score TDs or FGs? Does the red zone offense look sharp?
– Do Mike Williams and Housh get on the field together at all, and how do defenses match up to their size?
The reality is you can find many false answers during pre-season. The Hawks went 4-0 last pre-season, and Nick Reed was a sack machine. Even so, a strong performance would be encouraging and a weak performance would be discouraging. Looking forward to seeing it unfold!