By Danny O’Neil
The Seahawks finished the preseason a perfect 4-0 for the second consecutive year, but August is no time to draw conclusions.
At least not in the NFL where the results will start to matter next week. With that in mind, let’s summarize what we learned from Seattle in the preseason and those things that everyone is still trying to figure out.
Three things we learned:
1. Bruce Irvin will be both spectacular and suspect at his new position.
His speed was evident Thursday when he had the single most impressive individual play of the game, chasing down Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor from behind. Not only did Irvin catch up to one of the fastest quarterbacks in the league, but he did it after biting on the play fake and nearly tackling the running back.
However, after the game both coach Pete Carroll and Irvin himself pointed to mistakes made earlier in the game. Irvin said he was thinking too much, Carroll said Irvin was trying too hard.
There are going to be growing pains as Irvin moves outside, but he looked really, really fast in space as a linebacker. That makes it all the more disappointing that he won’t be around the team at all for the next four weeks while he serves a suspension.
2. Seattle’s depth is not overstated.
The Seahawks’ depth led to a lopsided scoring differential in the second halves of Seattle’s four preseason games. (AP)
The Seahawks outscored opponents 51-17 in the second halves of their preseason games this year after outscoring opponents 67-24 in the second half last year. That scoring edge that can be chalked up to the depth the Seahawks have.
In fact, teams have already started snapping up some of the Seahawks’ leftovers, the Jaguars acquiring both linebacker Kyle Knox and cornerback Will Blackmon after Seattle let them go earlier this week. They won’t be the last players added by other teams after being cut by Seattle. In fact, the Seahawks’ roster cuts might become the most popular bargain bin for the other 31 teams in the league.
3. Steven Hauschka can go long distance like AT&T.
Seattle’s kicker was inches away from making a 61-yard field-goal attempt in the preseason opener at San Diego, and anyone who thought that was a fluke is advised to look at Thursday’s game when he made all five field goals he attempted, three of them traveling more than 50 yards. His 56-yard field goal in the first quarter would have been the second-longest in franchise history had it been a regular season game.
In his first two seasons as a Seahawk, he attempted eight field goals of 50 or more yards, making just three. His performance Thursday was pretty compelling proof that he should get more long-distance opportunities this year.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. What was the most important point for Seattle’s defense?
Seattle allowed the fewest points of any NFL team in the preseason, never allowing more than 10 in any game. That can’t just be taken at face value, though, since the Seahawks’ opponent scored on its first possession in two of the four preseason games. Not only that, but Pryor was the first starting quarterback the Seahawks were able to sack this month after they failed to get Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers.
Pryor’s 25-yard scramble in the first half should be a little troubling, too, as the Seahawks will be facing Cam Newton in the regular-season opener, and he has the ability to tuck the ball and run, too.
2. Does Benson Mayowa make the 53-man roster?
The undrafted rookie from Idaho led the Seahawks with 3.5 sacks in the preseason, showing he’s got promise as a pass rusher. Not only that, but Seattle is suddenly thin at defensive end given the uncertainty about both Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril, neither of whom played in a single preseason game.
But Seattle played Mayowa extensively with its first-unit defense in the second preseason game against Denver, and he looked overmatched. There’s no doubt Mayowa can run circles around second and third-string opponents, but before you write him onto the roster, are you sure he’s ready to play against frontline competition?
O’Brien Schofield may very well start at defensive end in Week 1 with Mike Morgan backing him up.
3. What is Seattle’s plan at fullback?
It is quite simply the most confusing position on offense.
Mike Robinson has been Seattle’s starter at that position for three years, but has missed the past two preseason games because of illness and is scheduled to make $2.5 million this year, which is an awful lot of money for a fullback.
Spencer Ware was a sixth-round pick out of LSU whom Seattle evaluated as the most physical runner available in the draft, and while the Seahawks projected him as a fullback, he spent more time carrying the ball this month than blocking.
Then there’s Derrick Coleman, who has certainly looked capable catching the ball out of the backfield and blocking, but is Seattle so strapped to save money under the salary cap that it is going to part with a veteran like Robinson who has become a cornerstone of both its special teams and the locker room?