By Sam Smith
SEA 20 (0-1, Preseason, 0-0 Regular Season) DEN 22 (1-0, Preseason, 0-0 Regular Season)
Seattle started out sluggish for the first preseason game, to rally in the second half, but unable to close the gap as the Denver Broncos go 10-4 all time versus the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos, Demarius Thomas and Peyton Manning less, relied heavily on backup QB Brock Osweiler (15-20, 151-1TD) who looked confident in displaying his on field talents. Things were going his way, until LB Cliff Avril stopped the forward progress by tearing through the offensive line and sacking him for a loss of 12 yards by 13:30 in the first quarter. LB Cassius Marsh also put crazy pressure on Osweiler. Marsh, appeared to be reset from coming off of the IR last season. In postgame interviews, he stated that his entrance onto the IR list was a “blessing in disguise”, as he was able to build some strength and contribute.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson came out slow, being strip sacked by DEN LB Von Miller and sacked again a play later. Both sacks came from the right side of the line, which seemed to show issues stopping the pass rush at times this game. Wilson managed to run for 12 yards, before gaining a chunk of passing yards by finding TE Jimmy Graham for 12 yards before coming off of the field after just two series.
Backup QB Tavaris Jackson came out swinging, but was plagued by a number of incompletions, with two sacks, again from the right side of the line. He would later leave the game with an ankle sprain. A number of people expected Jackson would be the guy to lead the charge against the Broncos, but it wasn’t to be, as RJ Archer ended up coming in and playing the majority of the time after Jackson was carted off of the field with an ankle sprain. If you watch the tape, Jackson is lucky his ankle didn’t snap in two, as the rusher dragged him down to the turn from the knees, landing square on the right ankle.
Third QB RJ Archer was all over the place. With 5:24 remaining in the game, he was 5/9, 48 yds and no TDs. He ended the game with a line like so: 11/17, 110 yds. His last series ended like so: INC, INC, SACK, SACK. He showed some hope, syncing with RB Thomas Rawls for a 19 yd TD, but made some poor choices, like when he tossed a ball in desperation to a phantom receiver, which resulted in a turnover.
Newcomer WR Tyler Lockett did everything I saw in camp and more; he’d already accumulated 186 yards on four kick returns, and another 18 on punt returns. One of those kick returns was a 103 yds scorching return for a TD. 4 returns for an average of 46.5 yds per return! Lockett credits his family for the hybrid style of speed and finesse he possesses. Look, I know it’s preseason, but Lockett displayed lateral speed and poise that Seattle hasn’t shown in years. If this keeps up, Seattle DST will be just another force to be reckoned with.
Head Coach Pete Carroll happened to be too far out on the sideline while the referee was chasing Lockett down. The referee tripped Carroll, threw a flag for interference, but recanted. Russell Wilson later said in an interview that “ (Pete)Carroll tells us not to get too close to the line. You can bet he’ll be hearing about this one tomorrow.”
From the defensive side of the ball, DE Frank Clark put to rest any questions that were asked about his skills since leaving the football field last November. He tallied 9 tackles and 1 forced fumble. A couple of those tackles came on 4th and 1s, when the Seahawks needed it the most. He’s already showcasing what the team needs with the departure and injury of some of their starters. CB Ty Smith broke a few long passes against DEN QB Brock Osweiler, garnering praise from CB1 Richard Sherman from the sidelines. CB Ronald Martin picked off the DEN third string QB with 9:56 to go in the 3rd quarter.
Sherman would go on to talk during the 4th quarter that “The young guys are playing well, developing during live action… We always say, Each one, teach one. Each one, reach one.” Clearly, roster battles or not, the CBs listed on the depth chart know what is expected of them, and apply mentorship tactics to everyones game.
DT Jesse “Tha Monstar” Williams, who just had a cancerous kidney removed three months ago, stayed on the field, tackling opposing team players with ease. A set of fast short runs, gunning down receivers, making the tackles clearly demonstrates he is lighter on his feet with one less kidney.
LB Eric Pinkins, who moved from playing Safety in College to LB, made a clutch stop to a backup DEN RB, for a loss of 10-12 estimated yds. CB Douglas McNeil, who had one solo tackle, had a heavy penalty levied against Seattle for his hands to the face of a downfield receiver. But he’s been a CB for like, a week, so I’ll give him a pass on that one.
Offensively, the Running Backs on the team are engulfed in a battle to backup Marshawn Lynch. Neither Christine Michael, or Robert Turbin had huge breakout performances, as they acquired single digit gains on haphazard handoffs. The bright spots came from Thomas Rawls (9 rush-31yds-0 TD, 1/2 Rec, 19 Yards, 1 TD) and Rod Smith (2 rush-18 yds-0 TD, 4/3 Rec, 29 yds, 0 TD).
As for the Wide Receivers, Chris Matthews was showing out before leveling his shoulder to make a tackle, which would force him from the game with an AC sprain. Hopefully he’s ready within the next two weeks. Kevin Smith showed some life, going 2/3 for 36 yds. BJ Daniels, who transferred from QB last season to WR, finished with 2/4 receptions, 14 yds, but showed even more promise as a returner, 2 returns for 50 yds. Kasen Williams and TE Luke Willson ended with 1 target and 0 receptions apiece.
Game wise, Denver was racking up the penalties early, but Seattle would end the game with more penalty yds. Seattle cut down on false starts, but twice were called for hands to the face of a downfield receiver. Seattle’s defense gave up 240 yds before the 1st half, before clamping down and only allowing 15 yds in the second half through 13:30 minutes. Seattle would end the game giving up a total of 356 yds to Denver. Denver was on fire when it came to kicks, going 5/5. Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka went 2/2, but his 8 pts were not enough to close a 9 pt gap that Denver’s two kickers put up (17 points, 15 coming from FGs alone). He attempted an onside kick that was hopefully reminiscent of the 2014 NFC championship game, but the Denver TE who the ball came down towards punched it out of bounds. It seems teams watched tape on our tactics.
Newcomer LS Nate Boyer (former U.S. Army Green Beret) looked at ease snapping (with ease and on point) in his first NFL game. He also had no issues pushing off other players. I’m excited to see what he’s capable of this season.
All in all, Seattle played a rather effective game, though the cadence didn’t seem to be there. Parts of the defense are not the worry, as there were two or more stops on 4th and 1. We have that part down pat. It’s up to the offense to pick up speed as we head to Kansas City for preseason week 2. Denver toasted us on passing yardage, 243-92. Though the Chiefs are primarily a run first team similar to Seattle, their addition of some big name wide receivers, Seattle’s low passing attempts and completions, and their inability to cease conceding yds to opposing offenses may make for a similar outing next week.