In what was one of the most satisfying preseason games in recent memory, a bushel of players made their case for earning a roster spot and the Seahawks looked like a team light years ahead of where they were a year ago at this time. Say what you will about how much can be gleaned from a game where the opponent sits a long list of starters. We have seen a Seahawks offense that struggled to execute against backups on the practice field in the past. What I saw in this game on both sides of the ball left me excited for the season to come.
A few players really flashed in this game.
The seventh-round pick has had a steady and solid training camp and preseason. He has had at least one catch in every game, and his shortest catch so far has been for 23 yards. He moves like a pro. This is a guy I have had on and off my projected 53-man roster and I have a lot of trouble seeing how they can let him go based on what he has demonstrated.
He is going to be a productive receiver for a long time in the NFL. I would like to see that happen in Seattle.
Many folks—including myself—have noted similarities to Doug Baldwin Jr. in size, movement and position. I recall Baldwin having a great preseason to earn a spot as an undrafted player in 2011, and went back to check how it compares to what Ursua has done thus far.
Baldwin also had a 105 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. One of the sneaky good aspects of Ursua’s game so far is what he has been able to do after the catch. He is averaging a remarkable 12.3 yards after he catches the ball.
He is also finding big space in the middle of the field. Averaging 25 yards per reception is crazy, but doing it while operating over the middle as opposed to deep vertical routes on the edge is even more impressive.
D.K. Metcalf deserves the hype he has been getting, but I would hold up Ursua as the receiver most ready to perform as a pro as a rookie. He could wind up earning snaps this season.
He only played a handful of snaps last night from what I could tell, which could mean the team knows what they have and wanted to get a longer look at other players.
As one of the few people who harbor no ill will toward Prosise for being injured, it was fun to watch him finally showcase his considerable talent against the Chargers.
I have been slammed for saying I believe Prosise is the most talented back on the roster, but I stand by that evaluation. He can do more things, better than the rest. Although, Chris Carson is pretty much neck-and-neck with different strengths.
Prosise showed off his lateral agility and vision while leading the team in rushing with 32 yards on 5 carries for 6.4 yards per rush. He also had a nice juggling reception in traffic for 15 yards. That was 47 yards of offense in two series.
He made defenders miss on nearly every touch he had, and was just as effective running between the tackles as he was outside of them. It was a flashy enough performance that the team has to at least be thinking about whether they once again bite on his talent and risk dropping another player.
Intriguingly, he only played those two series in the first half. You would think a guy fighting for a roster spot who has had durability questions would be asked to stay out there longer. One could read that as a signal he is closer to making this roster than we realize.
The best bet is that he still gets cut, but give Prosise credit for even making that a question.
The whole offensive line played wonderfully. Los Angeles finished with zero QB hits in the first half, and had only one for the entire game. They rushed for 185 yards and passed for 190 yards.
Pocic, though, stood out as he was nasty in finishing a few blocks. His most impressive may have come on Rashaad Penny’s touchdown run on fourth down, where he pancaked a dude.
It is easy to forget that Pocic began last season as a starter and then lost his job along the way and appeared to fall down the depth chart behind the likes of Jordan Simmons. He has come a long way and taken full advantage of his time as a starter while Mike Iupati heals up.
With George Fant and Jamarco Jones due to be ready for the regular season, and Phil Haynes likely coming back after a PUP stint, the Seahawks could easily have their best depth on the offensive line in the Pete Carroll era. Throw Joey Hunt into the mix as well and you have what could be a better backup five linemen than some of the starting groups the team threw out the past few years. J’Marcus Webb and Bradley Sowell anyone?
Offense looks crisp
Russell Wilson was solid in guiding the starting offense to two touchdowns in the first half, and definitely could have had more. Malik Turner had a gorgeous move to flash wide open on an early drive and Wilson just overthrew him by about six or seven yards. It is a play Wilson usually makes, just like the two he missed last week to Carson and Jaron Brown.
He also slightly under threw Tyler Lockett on a deep pass before connecting with him later. Even his deep pass that was completed was a bit underthrown.
These are nits. The offense was pretty much doing what they wanted, with great protection and run blocking.
Penny finally got some room to run and had a better game. It was encouraging to see him make some people miss on a swing pass near the goal line and to see him push the pile a couple of times. He still only averaged 2.8 yards per rush, which was the lowest of any runner on the team, but it was much improved from last week.
Jacob Hollister got his first real action and outside of dropping a nice throw from Wilson on a seam route, he made a series of good catches. I continue to think that guy is going to be a fan favorite.
Gary Jennings Jr. nearly had a big catch down the sideline before half, but did have one catch for 12 yards. He also had a boneheaded personal foul penalty for a blindside block that was completely unnecessary.
Jazz Ferguson played a fair amount with the starters, but had no catches.
We likely will not see Wilson, Carson, or a host of other starters again before the season opener. Put them in bubble wrap.
At this time last season, the Seahawks were 0-3 and Wilson had just finished a game 11/21, an average of 5.6 yards per attempt, and a 69.1 passer rating. Carson averaged 3.7 yards per rush, and the offensive line was giving up 9 QB hits and 4 sacks.
You can feel the confidence and command this group feels compared to last year. It should serve them well, especially with a home opener.
Defense regains edge
One of the things that excited me most during the preseason so far was the energy and swagger the defense played with in the first game. They looked completely different last week. It was great to see them play with that edge again as Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright played in their first game.
The linebacker crew clearly led the group as each player was active and Ken Norton Jr. had them blitzing quite a bit. Mychal Kendricks was in the backfield throughout his time on the field.
Wright looked a bit rusty in barely missing a couple of tackles he usually makes.
Even Shaquill Griffin showed some progress with a great break on the ball and near interception.
Tedric Thompson once again did not look like he belongs, as he missed another tackle. The Chargers had one deep pass where someone blew their coverage. It was unclear, but I believe Tre Flowers may have been in the wrong zone.
Poona Ford was a wrecking ball again, and we saw decent pressure created from Cassius Marsh and Jacob Martin.
The nickel corner position did not sort itself out much. Jamar Taylor did not make any notable positive plays. Ugo Amadi had a number of tackles, but usually after his opponent made a catch. He did have another good blitz and a tackle for loss.
Given what I have seen so far, I would give the job to Amadi and hope he grows into it. Taylor has not been good enough to warrant sitting the youngster.
Mixed bag for special teams
Jason Meyers hit a 58-yard field goal to end the first half, which was really great to see. He also missed an extra point. I’ll give him a pass as the grass appeared loose and the Chargers kicker and other players had trouble finding footing on that part of the field.
Amadi had a big chance to show what he can do as a returner, but fumbled a punt. That basically ends any chance the team would consider using him instead of Lockett.
Michael Dickson was also underwhelming, and has been pretty darn ordinary so far in preseason. Let’s hope he finds his form again soon.
Final spots up for grabs
The Seahawks play the Raiders Thursday night in their final preseason game and then make final cuts by Saturday. Most starters will not play, and only a few spots are really open.
Running back, receiver, and cornerback are easily the most heated competitions. If Shaquem Griffin can make it back from injury, linebacker becomes interesting as well. Ben Burr-Kirven has not stood out thus far.
We may also see more of Marquise Blair and Lano Hill, but I think both make this roster either way and are unlikely to make a case for a starting role at this point.
Keep an eye out for trades this week as teams look to secure players before they hit waivers.