Friday, August 31, 2012

The Morning After: Seahawks Humiliate Raiders 21-3

Try finding a flaw in this Seahawks pre-season without sounding like a troll. The most angst has been about choosing between two starting-caliber quarterbacks. Those are good "problems" to have. The pass rush had been cause for concern before Gus Bradley released the hounds the last two games and had players in the quarterbacks face from kickoff to buzzer. We now transition into tempering our enthusiasm by reminding ourselves that the Detroit Lions won every pre-season game before losing every regular season game, and that the only Seahawks club to go undefeated in pre-season before this year was the 5-11 squad from 2009. It would be nice of me to let you protect your fragile Seattle sports soul by thinking such things, but there is nothing that happened this pre-season that indicates anything but a memorable 2012 for the Seahawks.

2012 Pre-Season Snapshot 
Points: 30.5/gm (NFL Ranking #1)
OPP Points: 11/gm (#1)
Turnovers Forced: 9 (#2)
Rushing Yds: 178.2 (#1)
OPP Rushing Yds: 78.8 (#2)
Passer Rating: 93.2 (#4)
OPP Passer Rating: 55.8 (#1)

The 2009 Seahawks won more quarters than they lost. They enjoyed some good performances from back-ups like Nick Reed and Michael Bennett that had no bearing on the regular season. That team outscored their opponents by 34 points through the pre-season. This team outscored their opponents by 78 points. Take a look at those rankings above again. The Seahawks beat teams by an average of 20 points per game.

Truthfully, I don't believe the score matters as much as the level of sustained dominance. Seattle was only outscored in one out of eight halves, and that was 10-9 in the first half against Denver. Terrell Owens had quite a bit to do with why the team was not ahead even in that half.

Opposing teams starters have been unable to compete with Seattle, especially the Seahawks defense. It tends to get worse when the substitutes come in. Having two quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn helps there, as does having defensive players like Mike Morgan, Jaye Howard and Greg Scruggs waiting to sub in.

Seattle had the worst offensive output of the pre-season versus the Raiders, but still was leading 21-0 until the final seconds. You want dominance? Try Matt Leinart exiting the game with a passer rating of 1.7 after a half of play. Try more than tripling the Raiders yardage (334-101). How about 24 first downs for the Seahawks against just 5 for the Raiders (and one of those came on a questionable penalty). The Raiders had 3 yards passing well into the third quarter. Not only did Howard get a safety, but he tackled the running back three yards deep in the end zone and Bruce Irvin was one step behind him. CenturyLink Field was a slaughterhouse last night.

The biggest questions coming in were about which players were going to help themselves. Here is a quick breakdown:

HELPED
- Vai Taua
- Kregg Lumpkin
- Jaye Howard
- Sean McGrath
- Cooper Helfet
- Allen Bradford
- Mike Morgan
- Malcolm Smith
- Byron Maxwell
- Korey Toomer
- Jeremy Lane
- Jeron Johnson
- Ricardo Lockette

HURT
- Ben Obomanu
- Deon Butler
- Marcus Trufant
- Ricardo Lockette

Yes, Lockette both helped and hurt himself. The slant routes he ran were nice and he made tough catches in traffic. He had a chance to make a big special teams tackle and missed it, which led to a big return. He needed a bigger night than what he had. That is a guy the team will almost certainly regret letting go should they make that decision. It was not a great night for Obomanu. He looked like he was not 100%.

The stars of the night were Vai Taua, Jaye Howard, and Bruce Irvin. Taua is a good bet to make the roster. He can play the role of third running back, backup fullback, and could be a great 3rd down back. He reminds me a little of Roy Helu Jr. in the way he runs decisively. Howard earned a roster spot. There is no way a team can let an interior lineman go that has flashed like that.

Irvin had a breakout game. Some will say it came against back-ups, which is true. That is not what I saw. He was playing against back-ups in every other game as well, but was not able to get home and make plays. The way he looked in this game more closely resembled what I had seen in practice and what I expected to see in games. If he is starting to take that performance from the practice field to the game...watch out. Once Irvin got his first sack, it seemed like he lived in the Raiders back-field. He forced a fumble on special teams by chasing down a returner from behind. He made a couple nice plays against the run. Confidence matters, and Irvin gained a lot last night.

Flynn played a nice game. He had a couple pretty throws, the best was a seam route that was slightly tipped into the hands of McGrath for 24 yards. He led two touchdown drives, and threw his first Seahawks touchdown. He finished with a sparkling 125.0 passer rating, and completed 22-26 pass attempts in his two home games. If not for some problems with Owens, Flynn easily could have exited the pre-season with a completion percentage over 80%.

Wilson made some great passes of his own. The best might have been his play-action to Sidney Rice, but he was on the money more than his numbers indicated. He did misfire a few times, but nothing horrible. Most importantly, he played two series and led what should have been two scoring drives. Steven Hauschka missed the first field goal.

Cuts should come in the next couple of days. I will be camping with my family, so we will see what kind of Internet connection I get, but the focus will be on finishing my season preview. Keep an eye on Twitter for quick thoughts on roster moves, and remember that players must be cut in order to be signed to the practice squad, which does not finalize until next week. Scroll to the bottom of this page if you would like to re-watch the game on DVR or Game Rewind with my commentary. It is a work in progress, so be gentle!

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