OFF THE CUFF Offense ahead of last year, secondary depth questionable
The Seahawks starting offense scored all of three points last year during the scrimmage. They were battling the likes of Benson Mayowa and Tharold Simon, neither of whom were on the field today. Russell Wilson and crew did far more damage today, scoring 24 points. Their attack was diverse and efficient. It was aided, however, by a pretty thin cornerback group. Only competition with opponents will reveal the truth of this promising offensive attack. Drew Nowak is the odds-on favorite to start at center
Lemuel Jeanpierre ran with the second string today while Drew Nowak got the starting role. My guess is that it stays that way, and don’t be surprised if Jeanpierre ends up off the roster when they reach the final cutdown. There were no obvious issues with Nowak. It is difficult to assess interior line play in a practice. If Tom Cable trusts him, that gives me some confidence. Some.
Promising day for Justin Britt
The Seahawks starting right tackle has made clear strides. Frank Clark had a memorable rush today against Britt where both were going hard at the other. There was power and ferocity from each player. Britt managed to hold Clark off and looked pretty nasty in the process. There were precious few bright spots in pass protection for Britt last year. He already has had more in this camp than all of last camp.
First trip back to the red zone
The starting offense reached the red zone on their second or third possession. It struck me that this was the first time back there since their fateful folly in the Super Bowl. Sure enough, the play calling was questionable. The first play was nice. Jimmy Graham was split out right with Kevin Norwood outside him. Ricardo Lockette was on the left, and Luke Willson was inline on the left side. Coverage predictably went after everyone but Willson, who was wide open and dropped the pass. Second down.
Robert Turbin took a handoff on the next play for a short gain. Third down. Tyler Lockett, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse come on as receivers with Graham inline. They run a read option and Russell gets a first down (pretty weak with non-contact jersey on). At this point, I’m wondering if they have forgotten the shiny new red zone toy they traded for. I actually started wondering if Darrell Bevell had developed a case of the yips from his debacle. Finally, Wilson found Turbin underneath for a touchdown. Phew.
Defense dominant, especially the line
The second string offense did not get a first down until the fourth quarter. Cliff Avril was in the backfield all afternoon. Michael Bennett was beasting against the run and rushing the passer. Jordan Hill had a sack. Bruce Irvin was flying around the edge and would have had a sack if they were allowed. It got so bad that the coaches gave the second string offense a gift first down just so they could see them play longer. Here’s what happened next:
1st Down: Avril nearly sacks the QB, Kevin Pierre-Louis bats the pass away
2nd Down: Bennett tackles Thomas Rawls for a loss
3rd Down: Rawls can’t come up with a wide throw from Tarvaris Jackson who was again under pressure
They went backwards. It was that kind of day for the defense, even without their star safeties.
STAND-OUT NEW FACES WR Kasen Williams
Williams was one of the leading receivers on the day. He caught 4-7 passes for decent yardage and could have had more. He used his body well to create space for the catch, showed good hands, and ran nice routes. His athleticism is also showing up on special teams. He is edging his way into the practice squad competition.
RB Rod Smith
Impressive day for the tall rookie runner. Rawls gets a lot of hype, but Smith clearly outplayed him today. Smith ran aggressively and decisively. His cuts were powerful and he looks like someone who seeks out contact. I have a feeling the coaches are going to really like what they saw.
RB Thomas Rawls
Rawls stood out the opposite way. He might not have totalled five yards on the day. It was tough sledding, but Smith did much better against the same competition.
WR CB Douglas McNeil
McNeil showed clear improvement at corner. He is still a major project, but seeing improvement this quickly is a good sign and he looks eager to learn. They also ran a punt block drill today and nobody was going harder or standing out more than McNeil. This guy wants to a way onto this team.
LB Tyrell Adams
THWACK! That is what I wrote in my notes when Adams met Turbin in the hole. The sound was so loud, it startled some fans who had lost interest and were staring at their phones. It was good to see Adams demonstrating his physical nature against the run after showing some solid coverage skills earlier in the week.
CB Mohammed Seisay
The new corner had a nice interception off of Wilson on a ball intended for Graham in the end zone.
Marshawn Lynch (rest day), Cooper Helfet (broken ribs), Jeremy Lane, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor (holdout), Tharold Simon, Paul Richardson, Derrick Coleman, Ryan Murphy (wearing a boot), Demarcus Dobbs, Kevin Smith
THINGS I NOW KNOW
1. The Chris Matthews hype train may have left the station too early
Anyone who saw Matthews emerge in the Super Bowl had to be wondering if that was the start of something big for the 6’5″ receiver. After all, his plays in that game were due to being tall and being able to time his leap. Those attributes should not change a year later. Matthews, though, has not looked all that effective at routes other than the deep ball so far. He is definitely not close to challenging Kearse for starting reps, and is more likely going to be a valuable role player.
It is going to be hard to cut Will Blackmon. The young corners on this team are raw. Blackmon is a known quantity who can play inside and outside. He had a 100 yard pick-6 during the scrimmage late. He is not perfect at corner, which is why he was available for $1M, but the coaches know what they will get from him.
Christine Michael had a nice afternoon with two touchdowns. There was one flash play where Wilson was scrambling and spotted Michael nearby, so he decided to lateral the ball to him. Michael took the pitch and sped across the field for what would have been a touchdown. The coaches called it back, likely because they wanted to see a scripted set of plays in the red zone.
I thought Jimmy Staten had a few nice plays at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot playing with the third string. Kevin Pierre-Louis had a nice scrimmage. He had a sudden impact that rivaled Adams’ hit on Turbin. Rawls was the unlucky recipient of KPL’s fury.
There was a funny exchange on the sideline where Lynch was clowning around with Bobby Wagner, showing him a more stylish way to protect the ball from a tackler. What he didn’t see was Cary Williams coming up behind him. Williams reached in an smacked the ball out of Lynch’s hands, and they all had a good laugh about it.
Williams caused a real turnover on the final play of the scrimmage when he retreated from his zone to pick off a pass from Jackson.