The Seahawks first preseason game should give us some answers that practices simply can’t. For starters, how good will the Seahawks pass rush be?
It was great to see Russell Wilson and the first team offense running like a Dreamliner in their mock game last Saturday. The problem is, they were playing against the Seahawks defensive backups. Wilson was 16 for 19 and threw four touchdowns, but that was against the second unit. That second unit was really a blend of backups and their backups, too, as no fewer than five defensive starters sat this one out. So the first unit robbed from the second unit, and so on. So tonight’s visit by the Indianapolis Colts will give us a much better picture of the current state of some key Seahawks. One major concern is the pass rush. So what can we expect?
One thing we know for sure, is we won’t see either player the Seahawks expected to be their starting defensive ends coming into 2018. Frank Clark has been limited in practice, but he’s not the biggest concern. That would be his pal Dion Jordan, who is still a huge question mark for the first regular season game, let alone any of the preseason. So Seattle needs the backups to come through, starting tonight.
The Indianapolis Colts shouldn’t present an overwhelming test, as if Seattle was facing the top-ranked Eagles line (which they handled pretty well, getting three sacks and holding the Iggles to under 100 yards on the ground). Pro Football focus ranked the Colts line 25th last year, and has them pegged 17th. That’s a good test for the Seahawks first time out, especially with the defensive ends that will start tonight.
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Seahawks need two key backups to up their game
The first man up is Quinton Jefferson. Jefferson got into six games in 2017, almost all in the second half. He only committed one penalty during play, so at least that’s an improvement over Michael Bennett. He also accounted for just one sack and six tackles, with an assist. Dion Jordan played just six more snaps than Jefferson, yet had four sacks, ten tackles and eight assists. Jefferson will have to step up his game, obviously.
His counterpart will be Branden Jackson. Jackson played in the final 12 games last year, and did less than Jefferson despite getting more than twice as many plays. He was in for half a sack, seven tackles and four assists. These were not Frank Clark numbers, not Jordan numbers, and certainly not Dwight Freeney stats, for that matter. That would be three sacks and three tackles on a mere 101 snaps, for those playing at home. And if you are playing at home, keep your helmet up, for gosh sakes!
Can Jefferson and Jackson show more? Absolutely they can. After Saturday’s game, Pete Carroll said the duo was playing their best ever. I’d love it, mainly because we could write about the Seahawks Presidential defensive bookends. Then again, if things don’t go well, you might look at it as a twenty-two dollar set of ends. And that is no one’s idea of a good thing. Luckily, it won’t be all on them. Barkevious Mingo has gotten extensive work on the edge this summer, so you can expect to see quite a bit of him. More to the point, hopefully Andrew Luck sees a lot of him. Regardless: Frank, Dion, get well soon!