During the off season and training camp there are reports and rumors about who is performing well, who is disappointing and the speculation runs wild. Fans get their hopes up with dreams of grand success with their favorite player and new faces all making plays and their team never losing again. But all the talk and illusions are put to rest when the first preseason game rolls around and fans get to see how far off their hopes are from reality. The fans of the Seattle Seahawks finally got to see how all of the questions their team faced this off season were answered when the Hawks took the field against the Indianapolis Colts. Here are all of the biggest takeaways from the new look Seahawks in their first preseason game of 2018.
Seattle took their opening drive and strolled down the field with a masterful outing from Russell Wilson. Fans have been especially hyped on Wilson with a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer calling the shots instead of Darell Bevel, the long time thorn in the side of all Seattle fans ever since the infamous decision to pass the ball in Super Bowl 49. Doug Baldwin fanned the flames of the Wilson hype when he was quoted saying the quarterback looks better than ever in the week leading up to the game and Russell met all the expectations that were placed on him, completing four out of five passes for forty-three yards and a fire ball touchdown pass to tightend Nick Vannett. Wilson was in total control of the offense and was assisted by an offensive line that was able to create an actual pocket for more than a second and an actual running game from Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. With Seattle spending their first round draft pick on Penny and Chris Carson only showing starter potential for just two games last season, the leading theory was that Penny would win the starting job by the time the regular season rolled around. Carson proved that thought dead wrong with his performance in practice and he solidified himself as the lead back with his outstanding play against the Colts. Carson only carried the ball four times but he averaged six and a half yards per carry and channeled his inner beast mode with his punishing running style while Penny showed his youth with sub-par pass blocking and averaging just two yards per carry. Another second year player that helped his case against a higher drafted player was wide receiver David Moore, who racked up two catches for thirty-five yards while his competition to make the roster, Amara Darboh, who was drafted in the third round in the 2017 draft, did not take the field. Overall most of the offensive players projected to make the opening day roster showed very well and gave fans hope of an entertaining season when the hawks have the ball.
Defense came as expected
With the absence of five pro-bowl players on the defense, the national media counted Seattle’s defense out before a single snap was played but they were wrong to rush to judgment. On the defensive line the biggest question was about the pass rush with Seattle losing Cliff Avril and Micheal Bennett and the question was answered with a dominant showing from free agent acquisition Barkevious Mingo and a surprise performance from the rookie Rasheem Green who put up two and a half sacks between the two of them. Seattle showed that they have a clear intention to replace Richard Sherman with the rookie Tre Flowers with the extensive snaps they gave him at cornerback with the starters and into the second half, the converted safety will need the reps while he learns the new position on top of learning the complexities of an NFL defense. Seattle showed that they have a much less defined path for using linebacker Shaquem Griffin, having him play at middle and weak side linebacker as well as lining up on the line of scrimmage. Griffin showed his tremendous versatility playing every position but, more importantly, he produced, recording a team leading nine tackles with one of them for a loss. In the end the defense didn’t make as many dynamic plays as we have seen in the past but the ‘bend don’t break’ attitude was very much present with the defense holding both of Andrew Luck’s drives to field goals before the second stringers were subbed in.
Special teams were ‘special’
Never before had I seen kicker Sebastian Janikaoski in a Seahawks uniform but I could not help but to think to myself, who’s dad wondered onto the field and stole a uniform? The untucked jersey, lack of any sort of pads below the chest and the build of a professional dark thrower, it was clear that the long time Oakland Raider stuck out on the field compared to his teammates. But on a more serious note, Janikaowski performed kick off and point after attempts very well for Seattle during the game while Jason Myers drilled a forty-three yard field goal with the only attempt they made, in a year where kick off rules have been changed to help the returning team and with both players on team friendly deals, we may see both kickers stay on the roster with specialized roles. The battle for punter was also on display and the rookie Micheal Dixon showed incredibly well against the veteran John Ryan. Both men booted three punts with Dixon recording more net yards, pinned the colts behind their own twenty yard line which Ryan did not accomplish, and Dixon’s longest punt of the night was sixty-one yards compared to fifty-three for Ryan. The Seahawks drafted Dixon as the best rated punter in his class and it will take a stronger outing than he gave against the Colts for Ryan to keep the rookie from overtaking him.
Overall, Seattle showed exactly how you would expect if you have been paying attention to what they have added as opposed to what they lost this off season. A revamped offense which emphasizes the run and works off the play-action pass with an elite quarterback at the helm. The ‘next man up’ mentality on defense with young guys stepping into the spot light and making mistakes but rebounding and maintaining the same toughness and refusal to allow the opposition to get into the end zone. Special teams came to play and we will see how competitions at kicker and punter will work out, one thing is for certain though, anything is better than Blair Walsh. The season of the reset has taken its first major step and fans should be very encourages by what they saw and be excited for what they are going to see.