O’Neil: Why is the red zone a dead zone for Jimmy Graham with Seahawks?
Russell Wilson hasn’t been perfect this preseason.
There was that pass that was almost picked off in the first quarter of Friday’s preseason game though Kansas City’s defensive back dropped the ball.
There are also five guys who have passed for more yards than Wilson so far this month though it’s worth noting only one of those guys is his team’s starter.
But as good as Wilson has looked – and he has been awesome, completing more than 70 percent of his pass attempts – the one area where the Seahawks not only can but need to improve is their scoring efficiency, which is where we start with the list of what we’re trying to figure out after Seattle’s third preseason game.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out
1. Why isn’t Jimmy Graham a bigger red-zone threat for Seattle?
Seattle needs to get better in red-zone scoring. They reached the end zone on 46.4 percent of their red-zone possessions last season, which ranked No. 27 out of 32 teams. They have a 6-foot-8 tight end with great hands who has experience posting up opponents in basketball. How hard can this be? Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical because it’s obviously been plenty difficult for Seattle whether it’s because Wilson is hesitant to throw a ball up for grabs or because Graham is accustomed to the way Drew Brees anticipated the throw. One way or another, Seattle’s short-game needs to improve, which is what made it so frustrating to watch Seattle attempt a fade to Graham in the corner of the end zone in the second quarter on Friday only to have Chiefs defensive back Daniel Sorensen – who it should be noted is 5 inches shorter than Graham – defend the pass perfectly. So far, there’s very little evidence that Graham will be the solution to Seattle’s short-game scoring struggles.
2. Can you leave Mike Davis off the 53-man roster?
A waiver claim from San Francisco in the offseason, Davis very well might have led Seattle in rushing if he were on the team last season. Whether he makes the 53-man roster this season, however, is a question. Seattle’s backfield is already well stocked with Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise, Thomas Rawls and rookie Chris Carson. Throw in the fact that Seattle is looking at a fullback choice between Marcel Reece and Tre Madden and it’s possible there will be no room at the inn for Davis, which would be too bad. He has been really, really productive in the opportunities he has received whether it was a 38-yard run in the preseason opener or the touchdown he scored off a screen pass in the second preseason game. Davis is going to carry the ball in the NFL this season. Whether that’s with Seattle is a question at this point.
3. Should we be worried about the special teams?
If Seattle is as deep of a team as we think it is, the special teams should become the strength like they were in 2013, which makes it puzzling why special teams were such an abject liability on Friday night. That wasn’t the reserves who gave up De’Anthony Thomas’ kickoff return for a touchdown, and as much as Pete Carroll praised Thomas – or “the Black Mamba” as Seattle’s coach kept calling him – it was veteran Jermaine Kearse who appeared to take a really bad angle. The Seahawks also had a punt deflected, and while that actually ended up helping Seattle in the game, that’s not a technique the Seahawks will want to replicate.