We learned that the Broncos took last week’s preseason opener pretty seriously. We also learned that their coaches weren’t above unleashing a safety blitz in the second quarter.
But those aren’t the most significant conclusions nor the most meaningful questions as the Seahawks work themselves into regular-season shape:
Three things we learned:
1. Paul Richardson is a real, live, functioning receiver.
We’ve heard a ton about Richardson’s speed as Seattle’s second-round pick was one of the fastest receivers available in this draft. We’ve also heard worries about his size. After all, this was a guy who had to bulk up in the offseason to get to 175 pounds. What we saw in Denver, though, was a fully functioning, curl-route-catching and open-field-juking receiver who caught four passes on five targets. Despite missing a few days with a sore shoulder, Richardson should be more than just a deep-threat specialist this season.
2. Justin Britt may not have been perfect, but he was impressive.
No player’s performance was more important on Thursday than the rookie right tackle who’s being groomed to start, but no position is tougher to analyze than the offensive line. Was Britt responsible for picking up T.J. Ward on that safety blitz that resulted in a sack in the second quarter? How about the pressure earlier in the quarter when Britt and guard Steven Schilling each thought the other had a pass rusher who then ran freely to the quarterback? You can’t assume to know the blocking scheme or the responsibilities, which makes coach Pete Carroll’s assessment of Britt all the more important. “He looked comfortable,” Carroll said of Britt. “He got more aggressive as the game went on. We’re real pleased at this point. First game, he couldn’t have done a whole lot more for us.”
3. This team could really use Bruce Irvin.
He’s recovering from hip surgery, and while he’s not cleared to practice yet you can expect him to be plugged into this team’s role as the nickel pass rusher as soon as he’s ready. Benson Mayowa didn’t stand out in his opportunities on Thursday, and as impressive as rookie Cassius Marsh has been, he’s not that quick-twitch, outside rusher like Irvin. Now, the question becomes when Irvin will be ready. “He’s running really hard now,” Carroll said, “and it’s still one week at a time to make sure there’s no setbacks, but his rehab has gone beautifully.” Carroll hasn’t said anything more specific than “soon” when asked about when Irvin will be back.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. What’s Marshawn Lynch’s level of conditioning?
Last Wednesday, Carroll said Lynch had a long way to go. On Sunday, the coach praised Lynch’s conditioning, saying his weight was down and he’d done a great job of staying in shape even though he didn’t participate in the offseason program. So which is it? Well, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, but judging from Lynch’s workload in practice Sunday, he’s going to be doing a lot more this week. “This is really the first week he has a chance to really compete,” Carroll said.
2. How large of a role is Marsh going to play his way into?
Marsh and fellow rookie Brock Coyle had two of the most impressive performances on Seattle’s defense Thursday. The question isn’t whether Marsh will get playing time as a rookie, but how much. He has played at end in the team’s base defense and tackle in the nickel pass rush, and it’s worth watching to see if he gets in the game earlier this Friday against San Diego so the coaches can see how he fares against starting-caliber players.
3. Did Terrelle Pryor help or hurt his case for a roster spot?
On the one hand, he was the reason the Seahawks were in position to win the game as he moved the team down the field, completing six of his eight pass attempts on the final drive. Not only that, the screen pass to Demitrius Bronson could have won the game. But after Bronson dropped it, Pryor’s decision-making cost the Seahawks as he threw on the run into a receiver defended by three Broncos. Carroll loves Pryor’s athleticism and creativity, but Carroll hates turnovers to the point that the only thing he hates more than turnovers are turnovers in the red zone, which is exactly what happened. Seattle has carried three quarterbacks into the regular season only once under Carroll. Pryor still has work to do if he’s going to change that trend.