OFF THE CUFF
Matt Flynn surges
Flynn looked like a different player today. He was decisive, smart, poised, accurate and productive. He was nearly flawless throughout the day, and showed a variety of ways he can beat a defense. Most impressive were the moments when he challenged the defense down field on situations (e.g. 3rd and short) where the other quarterbacks were settling for short or intermediate throws. His most memorable play came on a 3rd down drill facing the first team defense. All the throws up until that point had been up the middle to the tight end, or timing slants or swing passes. Nothing was more than 10-15 yards. On this play, Flynn saw Golden Tate cutting through the defense–which seemed overly focused on the shorter plays–and lofted a gorgeous pass 35-40 yards down field to Tate for a big gain. It was an NFL read and throw, and it showed the gunslinger mentality a starting quarterback needs to make plays beyond the ordinary. Flynn drew the defense offsides again today, and wisely went deep. There is a savvy to his game that is just missing from Jackson’s. He would check down in the rhythm of the offense instead of holding the ball too long. He tried some back shoulder throws. He scanned the entire field for options instead of narrowing his vision to one or two receivers. My overall impression was that Flynn is gaining confidence as he gets more time in the system, and should continue to progress. Even if he falters over the next few days, he showed things that Jackson may never do in his career. He looked like a Top 20 quarterback, and maybe Top 15.
Receivers look competent, not dynamic
Deon Butler had a good practice. Obomanu had a great practice. Doug Baldwin made the plays that came his way. Tate was strong and courageous battling for the ball. Even so, the weapons out there felt limited. Kellen Winslow Jr. took the day off and Sidney Rice played sparingly, so that plays a role, but it feels like this team needs another receiver. Obomanu feels like the safe pick to start. Tate is a situational asset. Ricardo Lockette clearly has the highest upside, but also the farthest to go in order to fulfill it. Butler’s chances of making the team drastically increase with this group because he gives the offense a proven commodity that has over-the-top speed. Finalizing the roster here will be a challenge. Don’t be surprised if the team adds another veteran after final cut-downs occur.
Offense wins the day
The entire offense stepped up today. Pass protection was better. Running plays were crisper. All the quarterbacks moved the offense in team drills. The first day of camp felt like the offense might never have a day like this. It was great to see just 24 hours later.
STAND-OUT NEW FACES
Rookie RB Robert Turbin
Turbin flashed today. He got some coaching from Tom Cable and seemed to take it to heart with more decisive reads and cuts. He exploded down-field a few times.
WR Charly Martin
Martin continues to be in the middle of the pack of wide receivers, and has a little Brandon Stokeley in him. He makes nice cuts, and shows some speed. He’s a long-shot, but is making plays.
CB Coye Francies
The 6’0″ corner is entering his 4th year in the NFL, and plays with a swagger that fits in the Seahawks secondary. He gets beat now and then, but also aggressively makes plays on the ball, including a very nice break-up in 1v1 drills today.
Winslow, Ron Parker (ice on his knee), Donny Lisowski (ice on shoulder), Jameson Konz, Rishaw Johnson (appeared to hurt calf or ankle near the end of practice), Byron Maxwell
THINGS I NOW KNOW
- 3rd down defense appears to include Leroy Hill and K.J. Wright at LB, Roy Lewis, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Hard to tell how things are faring between Trufant and others at slot CB.
- Deuce Lutui is getting some reps with the first team offense in place of John Moffitt
- Byron Maxwell was hurt yesterday, not at the bottom of the depth chart. That’s good news since he could be the best slot CB of the bunch and a great special teams player
- Cordarro Law and Bruce Irvin look to be fast friends. Maybe roommates.
- Kris Durham has an uphill battle to make this team
Kris Durham was a 4th round draft choice just a year ago, and got praise from then-Seahawks receiver Mike Williams early on. He looks to be a major disappointment thus far. There is no suddenness to his game, and he drops too many passes to be a possession receiver. He improved as the practice went on, but most of the other receivers are outplaying him. This could be a test of John Schneider and Pete Carroll in terms of their roster philosophy around competition. It would be hard to part ways with a 4th round choice one year later.
The secondary looks and acts like a hit squad. They are unmistakable when they rotate on the field with the likes of Chancellor, Browner and Sherman, along with Earl Thomas. Teams will come to fear them if they do not already. This is not a group looking to prove anything. They seem to already know how good they will be.
It was good to see the coaches working with the receivers and corners on pass interference drills, complete with referees. It will be a big challenge for this aggressive defense, and the drill they worked on looked promising as a way to create those learning opportunities outside of game day.
I plan to attend practice again tomorrow, and should have a good feel for which of these observations are patterns and which were aberrations.