The Morning After: Seahawks Somehow Look Better in 30-3 Drubbing by the Broncos
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I woke up this morning to an email from GoDaddy.com telling me a domain I registered many years ago was up for renewal. I never ended up using that domain (NFLSatire.com), although the Seahawks were providing plenty of material. When I went to login to cancel the renewal, I couldn’t remember my password so it followed the prompts to reset it. The reset instructions were sent to an old email address I no longer have access to. I contacted support to figure out how they could send the reset instructions to the same email they sent the renewal notice. Forty-five minutes later, they agreed to help and I was able to cancel the renewal. That experience was less excruciating than watching 2021 Seahawks preseason football. That story was more entertaining.
Seattle repeatedly punched themselves in the face for the second Saturday night in a row. Anyone who has seen those gruesome videos where a guy is getting hit after he is already knocked out has a good idea how it felt to watch this game. There were, however, encouraging signs on one side of the ball. That is one side more than last week.
It might be surprising to praise a defense that gave up 30 points. Let me try. The Broncos offense was playing a number of their starters, including a proven NFL quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. Their first possession started on the Seahawks 45-yard line. Seattle stopped them on three plays, but Ahkello Witherspoon was badly beaten for a big play on fourth down to setup a touchdown. The Broncos would score a touchdown on their second series as well. This time, an 87-yard drive. That included two fourth down conversions as well. That was their only drive over 50 yards.
They had drives that started at the Seattle 45-yard line, the Denver 45-yard line, the Denver 46-yard line, and the Seattle 25-yard line. Denver finished 5-14 on 3rd downs (same as Seattle), and averaged just 4.3 yards per play.
The Seahawks defense was put in terrible spots by their bleach-in-the-eyes offense. They were unable to get off the field on 4th down against a legitimate starting NFL quarterback, while playing almost none of their starters. The tackling was better. So was the coverage.
We saw some flash plays from Jordyn Brooks, Rasheem Green, Ryan Neal, Alton Robinson, Al Woods, Kerry Hyder Jr., and Cody Barton. These are guys who will see the field on Sundays during the regular season. I also thought Tre Flowers played better, Tre Brown looked solid, and both Aashari Crosswell and Lakiem Williams made the most of their extended snaps. You could probably throw Joshua Moon in that list as well.
The only truly bad play on defense was the Witherspoon beat on the first fourth down. It is troubling to see Witherspoon struggle. They need him to be good. It does open the door for a guy like Brown to get more snaps. I wish someone like Marquise Blair or Ugo Amadi were a fit outside, as I believe both of them are better performers than most of the corners we are seeing out there.
Since I may not get another chance to write about him, I do want to call out Williams again. I love the way that kid has played in his snaps both weeks. He flies around the field, and is a ferocious tackler. I would assume the injury to Ben Burr-Kirven would mean a guy like Nick Bellore would be used as a backup linebacker on the roster, but if Williams can flash on special teams as well, he might find a way to sneak on this roster. That would be a cool story to see unfold.
We are seeing very good linebacker play from Brooks and Barton. I am still concerned about the Darrell Taylor plan at SAM. He set the edge once in this game to funnel a runner back inside, which was a relief to see, but he also got wiped out again. Robinson is getting snaps at SAM as well, and it just feels like a square peg in a round hole. I think both of those guys are edge players, far better equipped to rush the passer. This seems like one of those experiments Pete Carroll is going to force for too long and then tell us all what we already knew.
Back to positive things…
Hyder Jr. got his first snaps of the preseason and showed a good sample of who he is. Undersized, he will never overwhelm opponents and can have trouble wrapping up, but his motor is nonstop. He split a double team to flush the quarterback early and created pressure at least one other time. This is a guy who put up 50+ pressures in two seasons and I think he can do that again here.
Woods had two goal line stops, showing he is still the run-stopping powerhouse the team needs him to be. Neal had some nice hits and tackles before leaving with what we hope is a minor injury.
Flowers had nice coverage on a 3rd and 6 play where he was tight on the receiver short of the first down marker and made a solid tackle to force a fourth down. Of course, Denver converted, but that does not detract from the play Flowers made. Those are exactly the type of plays he has not made consistently enough in his career. He usually is too far off and seems unaware of the first down marker. Maybe folks like PFF will see a lot more flaws, but I thought it was a solid game for Flowers.
Brown was harder to evaluate since he was involved in fewer plays. That could be a good thing. He was not clearly beaten.
Undrafted free agent Jarrod Hewitt flashed a bit with a sack. He is very undersized, but seems aggressive and physical.
Now, take a deep breath. Let’s talk about the offense.
We can start with the positives. I thought the offensive line had a much better week. The pass protection seemed much better and we saw a few decent run blocks. I am intrigued by Jake Curhan at right tackle. He was a starter at Cal and held up pretty darn well last week against some good pass rushers. He seemed to the same this week. I’m sure as soon as I publish this, PFF will give him a 20.5 grade and show he gave up 10 pressures, but I thought he looked really stout.
DeeJay Dallas had a great all-around game. He made some nice plays a receiver on offense, had a great kick return, and blocked a punt (which, of course, managed to still go 40 yards downfield). He is looking like a guy ready to make a step forward this season. Pass protection will be the big question mark for him. He can be a great weapon but if he can’t pick up a blitz, he won’t see the field. I am still not sold on his blitz pickup.
John Ursua was playing a decent game before he got hurt. That was sad to see.
It felt like we saw a tiny bit more of the playbook this week. There were even some easy yards on swing passes to running backs. Those are the types of plays we never seemed to get with the previous offensive coordinators.
I don’t know if there is much else positive to say about the offense. Alex McGough proved why being physically gifted and able to make a few good throws doesn’t matter even a little if you make 1-2 terrible plays in a game. He made at least three in a half. That will be the end of the McGough era.
Sean Mannion at least ran the offense serviceably in relief, but Geno Smith had the best night of the bunch by far simply by not playing.
I have gone through the full spectrum of emotions with Dominick Wood-Anderson. The rookie tight end has had what may be the worst preseason I have ever seen by a Seahawk. He had five penalties all by himself last night, and just has not done anything well. It is frustrating to watch as a fan, but I can only imagine what he and his family are going through. I wish the kid the best.
Carroll admitted the plan is to play starters in the third preseason game. Thank goodness. I don’t think I could watch another of these performances. We can hide behind the fact that the Seahawks best players are not playing, but these have been two truly awful offensive showings. It is important for Shane Waldron to get some confidence going into the season. They are not likely to show much in the final preseason game, but I hope they show enough to create a sense of belief among players and coaches. Nobody wants to head into the regular season without a single quality drive on offense.
One more preseason game. Then the real stuff begins. I may like this 17-game schedule more than I realized.