Russell Wilson was on fire
I was not at Sunday’s practice, but reports were that Wilson had his best practice of camp. He continued his torrid play on Monday during the team scrimmage. It started by hitting Paul Richardson on a well-timed out route roughly 18 yards down the field to his right. Richardson skidded on his knees just before the sideline to make the grab. His next throw went to Jimmy Graham, who burned linebacker Otha Peters for another 20 yards, with about 12 of those yards coming via run-after-catch from Graham. After a couple of modest running plays, it was 3rd and 5. Wilson hit C.J. Procise on a swing pass short of the sticks and safety Bradley McDougald slammed into him to hold him short of the line to gain.
That would be 3-3 for 40 yards on the first possession.
Next possession started with a holding penalty. Facing 1st and 20, Wilson scrambled for an easy 6 yards, and then stepped up in the pocket and lasered a 20-yard strike to Doug Baldwin Jr. Wilson went right back to Baldwin on the next play, beating Tedric Thompson for 25 yards. Now at the defense’s 35-yard line, the offense ran the ball a couple of times for minimal gain (thanks, in part, to a big hit from Thompson). 3rd and 7, Wilson drops back and hits Graham on a crossing route in stride. I believe Graham would have scored a touchdown on the play if it was a real game, but the refs blew the whistle as some light contact was made. First down on the 20-yard line. Wilson dropped back and deftly put the ball over the back of the defense and onto Jermaine Kearse’s back shoulder for a touchdown. Kearse adjusted nicely to the ball. Beautiful play by both players.
That’s 4-4 for 80 yards and a TD on that drive and 7-7 for 120 yards through two drives.
Final possession of the first half comes with one minute left and the ball at his own 20-yard line. Wilson spins to avoid pressure and rolls out to his left before firing a guided missile to Prosise who was two steps behind his defender along the left sideline for a 45-yard gain. The play was reminiscent of the play Prosise made against the Patriots last season. Wilson then hits Baldwin again over the middle for 16 more yards. After a throw away, it was 3rd and 1. Wilson dropped back and had Graham for a first down, but chose to throw to Kearse, who dropped it. Field goal.
2-4 (with a throw away and a drop) 60 yards. 9-11 for 180 yards in the first half.
Wilson started the second half with a nice play-action misdirection play pass to Luke Willson for 14 yards, with most of the yardage coming after the catch. He then hit Kearse for 6 yards. He might have gotten more if he had swung it earlier to J.D. McKissic, who was open in the flat. There was quick pressure on a blitz up the middle, and Wilson had to lob the ball early in the direction of Kearse, but it was too far, too fast, and fell incomplete. On 3rd and 5, Wilson founds Kenny Lawler for 18 along the left hash. Now at roughly the 20-yard line, Wilson pumps once before throwing to an open McKissic at the goal line for a touchdown.
4-5 for 58 yards and a TD. Overall, 13-16 238 yards and 2 TDs
On his last non-kneeling possession, Wilson hit Willson for 5 yards. There were a few penalties, and they were facing 3rd and 17 when Wilson rolled left to avoid pressure and fired a dart to McKissic 35 yards downfield. Beautiful throw. It was unfortunately called back for a false start. On 3rd and 22, he hit Prosise over the middle for 15, but there was an offsides, so they did not count the play. On 3rd and 17 again, he passed to Nick Vannett for 9 yards. Fourth down.
2-2 for 14 yards. Overall, 15-18 252 yards and 2 TDs.
It was not just the numbers. Wilson was in command and decisive. His throws were as accurate as I have ever seen, and he was making a wide variety of throws, both within the offense an via improvisation. His weapons looked lethal, and he looked like the assassin capable of wielding them.
Running game was uninspiring
All those Wilson fireworks were great, but the offense was not firing on all cylinders. I had just one run of 10 yards or more in the game, and that was at the very end when Lacy found room around the right side for 11 yards. There was not a lot of room to run. The defense was coming hard downhill and the line was not clearing space. Lacy looked slow. Alex Collins was not all that impressive either. Prosise contributed in the passing game, but did little on the ground. Chris Carson did a fine job and had a five yard run. Thomas Rawls ran hard and looked good. This area still needs a lot of work, and does not yet look much improved from a year ago.
Pass blocking was solid
Part of the reason Wilson had the day he did was his line was giving him a good pocket to throw from. Ethan Pocic started at right tackle in place of Germain Ifedi, who sat out but looked like he was close to returning. Pocic continued to look steady and reliable in pass protection. The rest of the starting line was Mark Glowinski at right guard, Justin Britt at center, Rees Odhiambo at left guard (in place of what appeared to be an injured Luke Joeckel), and George Fant at left tackle. Fant still struggled at times with pressure around the edge. The group, in all, did a fine job. Yes, this was against the second team defense, but I have seen more experienced Seahawks offensive lines struggle far more in these scrimmages against second string defenders than this group did. It is far from reason to declare victory, but it was a positive step forward. The game this weekend features some great pass rushers. We will know much more after that.
Malik McDowell likely done for the year
Pete Carroll was stingy with the details, but he admitted to Dave “Softy” Mahler that it McDowell probably will not play this season. It represents a major blow to the construction of this roster and comes at a time when the pass rush has been underwhelming for stretches of camp so far and Frank Clark has been missing time due to disciplinary action. Nobody could have predicted this mishap, but there is no denying the Seahawks pass rush cannot afford any more losses.
Naz Jones steps up
Jarran Reed did not play today despite being suited up. That gave rookie Nazair Jones a chance to start at defensive tackle. He was drafted as a run stuffer, but flashed today as a pass rusher. He had one sack and two pressures by my count. He was going against the second string line, but it was still nice to see.
Michael Bennett may be slowing down
I hate to say it, because he’s one of my favorite all-time players, but Bennett has looked a step slow so far in practice. It could be that he is a vet and is being frugal with his energy investment, but that has not been the case in past camps. I’ll be looking for signs in the games that I am imagining things because a declining Bennett, coupled with the McDowell news would be a major impact to the defense.
Shaq Griffin looks like a starter
Jeremy Lane sat out another day with an injured groin, which gave the rookie Griffin another chance to run with the starters. It is notable that it has been Griffin and not Neiko Thorpe taking starter snaps given Thorpe has been the third corner for much of practice after Richard Sherman and Lane. Griffin appears to be getting more and more comfortable. He blanketed everyone he faced today and I saw at least two times where the quarterback was planning to throw in his direction and had to check to another option because Griffin was in great position. The sting of the McDowell news is definitely lessened by the emergence of Griffin.
Terence Garvin and Bradley McDougald are going to be impact players
Garvin got the start at SAM over Michael Wilhoite and was fast and hard-hitting. McDougald was physical and instinctual. He is the type of guy who I can guarantee a coach will describe him as, “just a football player.” As in, “Bradley McDougald? That guy’s just a football player.” He knows the game, plays it with passion, and is physically talented enough to make plays. I like the swagger and speed that both of these guys add to the defense.