The big story of the Seahawks third preseason game will be Russell Wilson’s performance. It’s that simple. In fact in the mind of most Seahawks fans it will be the only story. However, we should not forget that there are plenty of interesting matchups in this game that don’t involve Mr. Wilson. These matchups will help determine outcome of this meaningless game and more importantly show how ready some key players are for the 2012 season. Without further stalling designed solely to make an introductory paragraph of a credible length, here is Preseason Week 3’s Matchups of the Game:
Matchup #1: Brandon Browner vs. Jon Baldwin
I think this matchup is intriguing because the players share such similar physical profiles but contrasting career paths. Browner stands at 6-4 and weighs in at 221 lbs, while Baldwin is 6-4 230. They are both sophomores but how they reached this point could not be more different. Browner is a CFL veteran who made the leap to the NFL at age 27 and excelled, whereas Baldwin was a highly-touted first round pick who failed to produce in his first year. In his second year Browner looks to keep up the good work while improving on the nuances of his game, nuances such as not taking so many damn penalties. Baldwin on the other hand is looking to make good on his potential and establish himself as a starting receiver in the NFL. I like Browner in this match-up because his greatest strength is the way he disrupts receivers at the line and beating the jam is something young wide-outs often struggle with, and something that was specifically a concern for Baldwin coming out of college. Also Baldwin lacks the pure speed to burn Browner severely down the field, enabling Browner to be even more aggressive at the line of scrimmage. Look for the more experienced sophomore to win out here, but expect an interesting battle of two players who have elite size and strength at their respective positions.
Matchup #2: Red Bryant vs. Eric Winston
I cannot really explain why, but Eric Winston is a player I’ve always liked. I thought the Seahawks should have drafted him when he fell to the 3rd round in 2006 and I thought they should have signed him when he became available on the free agent market this off-season. Alas it was not to be. Instead we will get to see our favorite massive human being, Mr. Red Bryant, against the underrated tackle. The reason I find this matchup noteworthy is that I think that Bryant may have a good opportunity to dominate with his raw power which is something that simply makes for good television. Winston is a fantastic tackle; however I think he might be ill equipped to handle Bryant. Standing at 6 foot 7 and weighing in at a lean (remember that this is all relative) 302 pounds, Winston is a nimble pass blocker that lacks bulk by the standards of an NFL O-Lineman. Normally, facing DE’s in the 260-280 pound range and 3-4 outside linebackers at 240-260 pounds, Winston’s size is not an issue. Facing the colossus that is Red Bryant, all of the sudden Winston finds himself undersized. Bryant is listed at 6-4 323 but unless I’m missing something he carries quite a bit more weight than that. In this game I’d like to see him leverage that size into results against a taller, lighter tackle that he should be able to get under and push back. It’s always fun to see Red at work and I think this is a game where he can make his presence known and impact the running game of the Chiefs in a big way.
Matchup #3: Sidney Rice vs. Stanford Routt
This is a matchup that Sidney Rice wins merely by stepping on the field and surviving. By participating in this game and coming out unscathed Rice can create significant optimism about the Seahawks’ offensive potential this year. Rice can be the legitimate #1 receiver that any offense needs to be potent and strike fear into the hearts of opponents. Stanford Routt is an insanely good athlete, much like many Oakland draft picks under Al Davis, with excellent length (6-2) and speed (4.27 40 yard dash time). He received a rich extension from Oakland that he may not have deserved but he has been better in recent years, recording a career high 4 INT’s last year. Despite this Routt has never been able to come close to fulfilling his athletic promise. If Rice was 100% you could envision him having his way with Routt but I would settle for a couple of catches, maybe a touchdown, and a graceful exit. This game is also Rice’s first chance to establish any chemistry with Wilson, which may or may not be incredibly important depending on how Wilson does today.
Regardless of anything I’ve written here I know that today is about Russell Wilson and Russell Wilson alone. When the game starts his performance will keep your eyes glued to the TV screen not Red Bryant’s. I know this because I am at least as guilty as you if not more so. We are all suckers for a QB controversy, especially one involving a promising rookie. That being said, if you manage to snap out of your Russell Wilson trance at some point today enjoy the matchups I’ve outlined here because I think they’ll show the Seahawks have far more than one player worth watching.