Moore: It’s hard to get past the Seahawks’ flaws in preseason
This year the Seahawks remind me of the Mariners at spring training. You know that feeling you get every year with Seattle’s major-league baseball team – in Peoria, everything seems great. It’s rainy in Seattle, but sunny in Peoria. Everyone is optimistic about the season ahead, glossing over potential flaws.
During most training camps with the Seahawks this decade, it’s different from the Mariners because there are more reasons to think they’ll be playoff contenders than reasons they won’t. This year it’s not the case. The Seahawks are a team in transition. They have two new coordinators and a new offensive line coach. They have younger players that they hope will produce right away. It’s fair to think these players will produce in time, but right away? Some of them perhaps, but all of them? Can’t see that happening.
Like the Mariners, the Seahawks are filled with “ifs” this year. If Germain Ifedi comes around. If the running game works. If the offensive line blocks. If Tedric Thompson can capably replace Earl Thomas. If they can get a pass rush. If Doug Baldwin’s knee is actually OK.
I know it’s a better way to live to look at the bright side of things, but not to the point of being delusional. We watch these preseason games and get caught up in how fantastic so-and-so looked and project that so-and-so will do these same amazing things in the regular season. Fact of the matter is that so-and-so is not going to do those same amazing things in the regular season. Actually, so-and-so has a better chance of being on the practice squad than getting five sacks or making five interceptions this year.
I say this because I remember when Nick Reed, a defensive lineman from Oregon, was sensational in August and didn’t do a darn thing when the games counted. It happened again Saturday night after David Moore made two terrific plays in a row, taking a ball away from two San Diego defensive backs on a long pass play and then bulling his way to the goal line after making another reception. I tweeted something about Moore making the team with those two plays but was reminded that everyone thought Kasen Williams would make the team last year too. The Seahawks cut the former Skyline High and Washington standout even though Williams appeared to have a terrific preseason, making several leaping catches. Williams went to Cleveland, is now in Indianapolis and hasn’t really done much of note ever since.
The excitement for Carson seems warranted, but I wonder if he’s going to be as great as everyone expects him to be. He had one good game last year, rushing for 92 yards and otherwise showed glimpses of being a solid running back. And let’s face it, 92 yards in one game isn’t exactly an endorsement, but I guess with that Seahawks’ offensive line, it was like running for 200 yards behind a better line. Yet we talk about Carson like he’s running toward Canton, Ohio, when he’s coming back from a broken leg, forgetting that he was a seventh-round draft choice. And honestly, I’m sure the Seahawks love him, but if they loved him that much and were so certain about how he would do this year and in the future, would they have invested a first-round pick on Rashaad Penny? I’ll answer my own question with an emphatic no.
In the best-case scenario, the offensive line is going to transform itself using a new blocking scheme that was implemented by new coach Mike Solari. It will help the Seahawks re-establish a competent running game that should help open things up in the passing game for Russell Wilson. Problem is, four of the five guys on this year’s O-line were on last year’s O-line, which was one of the worst in franchise history. One of those guys, right tackle Germain Ifedi, is still pretty much terrible, but there’s no one who is either healthy enough or good enough to replace him. The new guy, right guard D.J. Fluker, played on a line that was worse than the Seahawks last year and, guess what, the guy that coached that bad New York Giants’ line was Solari, the man who is supposed to suddenly and magically turn things around here.
Baldwin’s knee injury or sore knee or whatever you want to call it may be nothing to be worry about, as the Seahawks want us to believe, but when your top receiver is out for the entire preseason, sorry, I’m not buying it as a minor concern. I would guess that Baldwin will not be a full 100-percent go for the opener at Denver on Sept. 9, and even if he is, can he step right in and be his usual self without a training camp? Again, that’s another emphatic no from me.
The pass rush, or lack thereof, appears to be the biggest issue with this team, and even the sunshine-and-lollipop crowd agrees with that. You’ve got Frank Clark and no one else at this point. Dion Jordan was supposed to be Clark’s sidekick, just as Cliff Avril was to Michael Bennett, but he’s got some sort of mysterious injury that no one has specified. He figures to be sight unseen when the season starts. Maybe Rasheem Green will be his new partner, and there’s reason to think that’s possible – the defensive end from USC has three sacks in the preseason. But remember, he could be the Nick Reed of 2018, and even if he isn’t, he’s still a rookie who has done most of his damage against the opponents’ backup blockers thus far.
I don’t know anything about being a defensive coordinator, but if I was game-planning against the Seahawks’ defense, I’d double-team Clark. I wouldn’t let him beat me and take my chances with the no-name collection of would-be pass rushers that Pete Carroll will have on the field. Raise your hand if you think Barkevious Mingo is the answer. I hope he will help, but Mingo’s on his fourth team, and the constant changing of scenery hasn’t helped this highly touted player as yet. Why would he suddenly pop here? As far as I can tell, the best thing about him so far is a really cool name.
Without a pass rush, the Seahawks are more vulnerable in the secondary than they have been in the past. They should be fine with Shaquill Griffin switching from right corner to left corner, but we’ll see about Byron Maxwell or Dontae Johnson or Tre Flowers at right corner. Bradley McDougald should be passable and maybe even good at strong safety, but everyone knows that Thompson will be a drastic downgrade from Earl Thomas at free safety. I’d guess that the Seahawks will be beaten deep a lot this year while Thompson endures growing pains.
But when you have a quarterback like Wilson, all things are still possible, including the playoffs. I know a lot of people disagree, but I almost look at him the same way I look at Tom Brady – no matter who you throw out there at the other 21 spots, you’re always going to have a chance to win every game with No. 3 running around and making plays. So there’s that.
But when I look at all of the new faces and coaching changes, this figures to be a transitional year. The guys in Vegas who think they’re going to be an 8-8 team appear to be right on the money.