Seahawks vs. Broncos: The Morning After


The ticket said it was a Seahawks vs. Broncos preseason game.

That was a stretch.

At the risk of stereotyping the demographic makeup of our readership (and that’s precisely what I’m intending to do) I’m sure you’re all familiar with what it’s like to regain consciousness after a wild, crazy night. Mondays during the football season can be like that as you try and make sense of what you just saw from your team the day before. Good or bad, there’s often a sense of “did that really just happen?”

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And when it’s a Friday summer night, even during the preseason, that feeling can be compounded.

So at first blush, without the benefit of rewatching the game on DVR, here’s my blurry-eyed take on what I saw, or think I saw, last night at CenturyLink Field as the Seahawks lost to the Broncos 22-20.

WERE WE REALLY THAT BAD UP FRONT?: I don’t need to watch the tape for that answer. The predominant takeaway is that the offensive line struggled, badly. Facing one of the deeper and more diverse pass-rushing teams in the league, the Hawks barely put up a fight when the starters were in the game. Lemuel Jeanpierre got pushed around at center, and Justin Britt looked more like the overmatched rookie of last September than the much-improved, promising stud of December. Sporting his new number (32) Robert Turbin didn’t have any creases to run through, and if we were all hoping to see Russell Wilson take a step forward as a pocket passer this year, well….. he certainly didn’t get a chance last night.

We’ve seen this before, and Tom Cable has shown he can coach up backups and injury replacements. With the Rams, and their imposing D-line staring at us in Week #1 of the regular season schedule, he’s going to have to shape this unit up in a hurry.

Personnel changes could be coming.

Anything think Evan Mathis would play for the veteran minimum?

SILVER LINING, THIS ROOKIE CLASS IS REALLY GOOD: It will take a year or two before we really know what we have in the 3 offensive linemen the Seahawks drafted, but Tyler Lockett showed why he was considered the consensus best kick returner in the draft, running back a kickoff 103 yards for a TD, and had another long punt return called back. He didn’t get any chances in the passing game, but here’s hoping Darrell Bevell figures out how to get the ball in Lockett’s hands as often as possible.

Frank Clark played the entire game at DT/DE and was all over the field. He led the team in tackles and had a couple big stops for losses. There are questions about his explosiveness as a pass rusher, but the Michael Bennett comparison’s don’t seem so far fetched now.  He can play all over the line and pursue sideline to sideline. It’s always great to see young players convert practice raves into game day production. Clark definitely did that.

CB Tye Smith also held his own. He was tested deep a couple times by backup QB Zac Dysert in the second half and was in excellent position each time, even breaking up one long pass that appeared to have been caught by the receiver. With all the injuries and inexperience plaguing the defensive back reserves, Smith really helped himself last night.

Undrafted rookie RB Thomas Rawls continued to impress. He showed instincts in traffic, caught the ball well, and put it all together on his 19 yard TD of a screen pass late in the game. With Chrisine Michael’s continued struggles (spoiler alert: upcoming story!) Rawls is making a strong case.

DID THE WR DEPTH CHART JUST CHANGE? Chris Matthews made a difficult catch look easy early on, and then went down with a shoulder injury covering a kickoff.  The prognosis is he may be out a couple weeks, and for a guy who was on the bubble already he may regret missing that time because a couple other guys made surprising impressions last night. Kevin Smith has had a good camp and he carried that into the game, making two catches for 36 yards including one twisting grab of an R.J. Archer pass that was thrown way behind him. B.J. Daniels had a couple catches as well. The converted QB not only looked the part of WR, but also handled return duties capably. On one kick return he was a shoestring tackle away from taking it to the house. He’s probably destined for the practice squad, but there’s something there.

WILSON TO GRAHAM MAY BE UNSTOPPABLE: It was just one play, in the first quarter of a meaningless preseason game, but it could foreshadow exactly how much Graham can help this offense. After a play action fake, Wilson bootlegged to his left and found Graham running a drag route over the middle. No defenders were anywhere near him when he made the catch. It was only a 12 yard gain in a meaningless preseason game, but when you think about the prospect of Marshawn Lynch being the guy who gets that initial run fake, this play could be absolutely unstoppable in the regular season.

Overall, this game played more like a scrimmage. Backups vs. backups after two weeks of mostly non-contact practice. The fumbles and penalties were to be expected, and there were things from the Broncos side that I’m sure have their fans wringing their hands today as well. For the Seahawks, there were some intriguing positive signs, but the massive struggles of the starting offensive line were so severe that it’s understandable for Seattle fans to be worried about the prospects for the 2015 season.

Those things can change quickly, with a good week of practice and perhaps a couple of shifts in personnel. Let’s hope they do.

Next: Keith's 5 Takeaways from Seahawks vs. Broncos

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