The Seahawks have completed OTAs and mini-camp. We now wait for the end of July for the beginning of training camp. Starved for meaningful football news to read, these are often the times sites will turn something small into a story. At the risk of crossing that line, there were a few Seahawks tidbits that came out this week I believe were rather significant, and have implications for what battles will transpire heading into camp.
No competition at guard
Tom Cable has had a few illuminating interviews in the past few weeks. In his most recent conversation with Brock and Danny, he was asked what kind of battle there might be for starting guard spots. Cable made two important assertions:
J.R. Sweezy is poised to take his place among the best young guards in the NFL this year
The main competition at guard is who is better between James Carpenter and Sweezy
A lot of Seahawks fans will wince at one, or both, of those statements from Cable. Fan reactions don’t matter. We got a very clear signal from the guy who does matter that there is no reason to imagine Sweezy is at any risk of losing his starting role, and it doesn’t sound like Carpenter is either.
This matters for a few reasons. First, my assumption has always been that if Justin Britt is good enough to beat Michael Bowie out at right tackle, that Bowie would automatically slide into a battle with Carpenter and/or Sweezy for a starting guard role. I thought there was an outside chance that when Russell Okung returned from injury that Alvin Bailey would get a shot at competing for a starting guard spot. Neither of those scenarios seems likely any longer.
Normally, I would not put so much stock in a radio interview, but I have never had a conversation with Cable where he was anything but frank. The Sweezy news was not altogether surprising because Cable has been consistent in his excitement about him. Carpenter is in the last year of his contract, and I have trouble seeing the team giving him a new deal, so it would seem in their best interest to encourage competition at that spot in the hopes that they could get a starting five that could gel beyond this season.
John Schneider may be thinking that way, but Cable clearly is not.
Bowie vs. Britt is on
Cable also said in the same interview that the battle between Bowie and Britt has been intense so far, and intimated that Bowie may not have come in fully understanding how much he would be pushed. Both Bailey and Bowie have some conditioning question marks. The coaching staff is going to do everything they can to make those guys think about their jobs when they are not on the field, and to come to camp in great shape.
Should Bowie falter in his training between now and training camp, Britt could very well surge ahead of him. That would be a significant upset. Bowie is highly regarded by the staff and has over half a season of starting experience already. I still expect him to separate and take the right tackle job, but it is great news that Britt is pushing him.
Kevin Williams primarily 3-tech
Pete Carroll mentioned during a press conference that Kevin Williams will start as an early down 3-technique. He made a comment that I believe some media misinterpreted about Williams would help make up for Red Bryant leaving. He did not mean that Williams was going to play 5-technique end like Red. He was referring to the flexibility Williams provides to slide Tony McDaniel out to Bryant’s old position when the team wants to get big versus heavy running teams like San Francisco.
Williams and Carroll both confirmed that he would be expected to be a 3-technique defensive tackle, and that the potential for him to pair with Michael Bennett in nickel is on the table once Williams has solidified his role in the 3-tech rotation. A foursome of Cliff Avril, Williams, Bennett and Bruce Irvin as an appealing pash rush quartet.
Dion Bailey continues to make plays
Bailey is an undrafted free agent rookie safety out of USC. He has been mentioned in the plays of the day or by beat writers with regularity. This could have an impact on the chances of a draft pick like Eric Pinkins making the roster. The team needs young safeties to step forward, and if Bailey is the guy, so be it.
Christine Michael is not a Cable favorite
Listen to every Cable interview you can find, and try to find any hint of excitement about Christine Michael. It’s not there. He makes indirect references to running backs who like to “do their thing,” as a problem for the system they run. He (rightly) points to the success of players like Justin Fargus in his system as evidence that the system does not require special runners to work. Fair enough. But thinking there is no difference between the running backs on this roster after they hit the hole is just plain wrong.
Cable has to bring Michael to his point of view, or more accurately, Michael needs to bend to Cable’s rules if he wants to see the field. I just hope Cable can set aside whatever frustrations he has had with Michael and let him blossom into the weapon he should be. I greatly respect Robert Turbin, but he is not the runner that Michael is. It would be a shame for that talent to be wasted, either by Michael not maturing or by Cable holding him back.
Tharold Simon early returns are big
The team lost a lot of quality cornerback depth this off-season, and as good as Bryon Maxwell is, he has not played a full season as a starter, and has had some injury issues in the past. Getting depth in the form of guys like Tharold Simon is a big deal.