Friday, August 9, 2013

The Great Depth of the SEA


After months of anticipation, it's finally here.  Last night from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego we got our first look at the 2013 Seattle Seahawks who are weeks away from the start of a season that is overflowing with expectation.

Given the hype that has surrounded our team since losing to the Atlanta Falcons in January, coupled with the recent struggles of the Chargers franchise, anyone with half of a brain would surmise that a thorough whooping was to be handed to the Bolts on their home turf.  Indeed, that was the case, but not in the fashion I had hoped.

On the opening San Diego possession, the Chargers moved the ball at will on the Seahawks before settling for a field goal.  The ensuing Seahawks possession started great with Russell Wilson connecting on a 20 yard dart to Jermaine "Chop Chop" Kearse but sputtered out shortly thereafter.  Wilson and the first string offense came out for another uneventful series before calling it a night.

I know it's only the preseason, but I was largely unimpressed by what I saw from the Seahawks starting units on both sides of the ball. Believe me, the starters accomplished their one and only objective of the night-- DO NOT GET HURT.  It just would've been nice to see them flash some of what we all expect to see in the regular season.

After all, the current state of the Chargers is reminiscent of the Seahawks in Carrol's first year with the team in complete rebuilding mode.  A team like the Seahawks with lofty goals and the highest of expectations should've had their way with an opponent in the midst of an identity crisis.

By the middle of the second quarter, we began to witness what I believe is the key to Seattle living up to the Super Bowl or Bust expectations of this season-- tremendous roster depth.

Once the backups for both teams were in the game, Seattle began to make it look like you were watching the Varsity squad scrimmaging the JV team.  By the second half, I found myself panicking upon realizing that there will be a lot of talented players that will not make this team because of limited roster space.

It was certainly an unfamiliar feeling to me as a Seahawks fan; definitely one of the best problems a team can have.

The Seahawks beat the Chargers 31-10 in dominating fashion.  Here's a few notes on what I saw:

Tarvaris Jackson will be a great backup to Russell Wilson.  I never viewed Jackson as an NFL starting quarterback and was extremely disappointed when he was named the Seahawks starter a few years back. Judging by his performance last night, it's clear that he is more than capable of being a competent #2.  His leadership and toughness are constantly praised by the media, his coaches and teammates alike but last night we saw a maturation of Tarvaris Jackson that showed he has accepted his new role and feels confident in his ability to excel at it. Specifically, there was a play where he was flushed out of the pocket and forced to the sideline.  In his last stint with the Seahawks, Jackson would've stepped out bounds or threw the ball in the stands.  Last night, however, he remained poised and connected with a receiver down field. He threw a pair of touchdowns and his only incompletion was on a pass that hit TE Cooper Helfet (who made a brilliant catch just a few plays prior) squarely in the hands.

The return specialist void left by Leon Washington isn't as bad as we thought.  Upon the news that Percy Harvin might not be available until late in the season, I was deeply concerned about who would be shouldering the load on special teams. Jeremy Lane, Perez Ashford, Will Blackmon and Walter Thurmond were all exceptional last night in picking up the slack.  Turns out that this area of concern might actually prove to be an interesting position battle storyline to follow this preseason.

Who the hell is Benson Mayowa?  I hadn't heard a single utterance of this young mans name before seeing him play last night. The dude looks like a Chris Clemons clone from both a physical standpoint as well as his relentless pass rush technique. The rookie out of Idaho finished last night with 1.5 sacks and could provide some pass rush depth while we await Clemons return from injury and Bruce Irvin's return from suspension.

Linebacker depth is a non-issue.  When Leroy Hill was let go, many of us were concerned with who would replace his production at linebacker. We were even more concerned when the Seahawks seemingly made no attempt to find Hill's replacement in the draft.  As it turns out, as usual, Pete & John had a plan-- and it's unconventional, as usual.  The Seahawks leading tackler from last night was former running back turned linebacker, Allen Bradford.  Rookie linebacker Ty Powell was right behind him in tackles. Malcolm Smith, the projected replacement for Hill, got himself a sack with 3 tackles and 2 assists.  Don't sleep on undrafted free agent, John Lotulelei.  He swarms the field with the same tenacity and hairstyle as Troy Polamalu.

Christine Michael is legit.  Most Seahawks fans were scratching their heads when Seattle selected the Texas A&M running back with their first pick of this year's draft (in the second round) but it didn't take long for fans to understand why.  Michael finished the game with 89 impressive rushing yards and could well push Robert Turbin for the back up job.  Spencer Ware looked sharp on his carries and proves to be a reliable option on short yardage situations.

Please don't tell me we're only keeping 5 receivers.   Traditionally, the Seahawks only keep 5 receivers on the roster going into the regular season. With Harvin on the PUP list, that leaves us to assume that Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are locks to land jobs.  Are we to believe that only one additional receiver will make a roster spot?  I certainly hope not.  I understand we can't keep everybody, but if we keep Stephen Williams does that mean we're releasing 4th round pick Chris Harper? 
 We might be able to stash Phil Bates on the practice squad, but there's no way Harper would make it past waivers. 

Secondary depth is incredible.  One thing is for sure-- Seattle will cut some secondary players that will become starters for other NFL teams.  As well as they've all played, I couldn't begin to tell you who is most likely to be cut.  I really hope that Carroll and Schneider have this mostly figured out and are somehow able to parlay this tremendous depth into some future draft picks.  It would be a travesty to lose a great player for nothing-- especially if that player found his way onto a division rival's roster. 


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