Monday, August 17, 2015

Preseason Week 1-- Seahawks 20 Broncos 22

Preseason football usually conjures up mixed emotions among NFL fans.  After a long drought, we finally have football again but with the caveat that none of this counts.  We typically see little from the stars of our teams and it doesn't quite have the look and feel of the football we're accustomed to.

This preseason was different for Seahawks fans.  We needed the baptism of the preseason to wash away the awful feeling we've carried since that ill-fated pass in Super Bowl 49.  For more than six months, 12s lived with the agony of having our second consecutive Lombardi trophy ripped from our hands in the blink of an eye.

Unlike the Seahawks themselves, I did not have a productive offseason.  I could not bring myself to write about the team. I felt like my only options were to replay that interception over and over in my head to analyze it to death or get caught up in the Russell Wilson contract speculation and the team holdouts. I didn't have the strength of passion for either.

I knew the team was going to contend again this season.  I knew Seahawks brass would take care of business and get Wilson and Wagner's deals done.  I couldn't care less about Russell's relationship with Ciara or the holdouts and comments from players who were still under contract.  I knew it was all going to work out, and short of repeating that ad nauseum-- I didn't want to put any energy toward speculation and rumors until the team had the opportunity to prove itself again.

Finally, the road to redemption unfolded on Friday when the Seahawks took on the team the defeated in Super Bowl 48 at the CLink. While many of the stars were absent due to injury, holdout or otherwise, we were treated to our first taste of Seahawks football since our hearts were broken in February.

We know this team will be good, so the real draw for this game was for fans and staff alike to get a taste of the new blood brought in through the draft and free agency. Seahawks top pick, 2nd rounder Frank Clark, looked great.  He saw significant playing time and made several plays including a forced fumble.

After trading Percy Harvin early last season, Seattle was left with no semblance of a return game.  While that didn't stop the team from reaching the Super Bowl, it certainly didn't make it easy to get there.  The seem to have solved that problem when they drafted Tyler Lockett in May.  Lockette looked explosive every time he got the ball in his hands and even took a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown.  He didn't see much action as a receiver, but he surely proved he will play a roll on this team.

Jimmy Graham only caught one pass, but it was enough to see that he will be extremely valuable to Russell Wilson this season.  Undrafted free agent Thomas Rawls looked as impressive as the early camp reports indicated-- I wouldn't be surprised to see Christine Michael traded for a late draft pick before the season starts.

It was refreshing to see Jesse Williams return to action.
Lots of talented youngsters showed flashes on the defensive side of the ball.  Most impressively was Jesse Williams-- just 3 months removed from losing a kidney to cancer.  Williams showed excellent strength and #90 was seen getting to the ball carrier often.  Cassius Marsh also looked sharp coming back from injury.  Rookie Dion Bailey displayed to me why Kam Chancellor might be continuing his hold out.  If Bailey can put on a few extra pounds, he looks every bit the part of the heir to Kam's throne.

One thing I found especially impressive was Richard Sherman.  No, he didn't see any action on Friday, but it was his sideline demeanor that caught my eye.  If Sherm's face wasn't so easily recognizable, you might have mistaken him for a defensive coach.  He looked focused and rather than jaw-jack with the other stars that didn't suit up, he was actively helping to make his team better by coaching up the young bucks and enthusiastically praising them when they did well.

The only real issue I saw was the same one everybody else did-- this offensive line needs to get better fast.  Wilson's first dropback resulted in strip sack as Von Miller blew right by second year right tackle, Justin Britt.  Denver's starting defense pushed around the Seahawks line all night and even rolled up Tarvaris Jackson's ankle later in the game.

Tom Cable once again has his work cut out for him, but this has been the case every year and he's never let us down.  I expect him to sort things out eventually, but hopefully sooner rather than later.

We're only a quarter of the way through the preseason but at least the bitter taste of the Super Bowl is slowly leaving my mouth.  I promise to ramp up my writing as we near the upcoming season.  It's a new season and we have a team capable of winning it all.

UPDATE-- Seahawks announced Monday that they will be moving Justin Britt inside, from Right Tackle to Left Guard.  Gary Gilliam (the guy that caught Jon Ryan's touchdown pass last season) and Alvin Bailey will compete for the Right Tackle job. 

Also, Tarvaris Jackson was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain that will sideline him 4-6 weeks. We should see more from R.J. Archer this preseason.  Perhaps they'll sign another QB in the interim, or maybe B.J. Daniels will reconsider his move from Quarterback to Receiver.

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