Gallant: 6 things I’ll be looking for during Seahawks’ preseason opener
We’re still at least a month away from answering the most important questions for the 2021 Seattle Seahawks.
Those questions are:
1. How much better can the Seahawks offense be with Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator?
2. Will Russell Wilson look like the MVP candidate we saw in the first half of 2021? Or will his struggles at the end of 2020 continue?
3. Did the Seahawks defense truly improve in the second half of 2020? Or did they take advantage of a cupcake buffet of bad quarterbacks?
Answers like that won’t come in a practice game to determine who fills out Seattle’s 53-man roster. But I’m still excited for Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders. Here’s what I’ll be looking for:
1. Given how paranoid NFL coaches are of revealing “state secrets,” we’re unlikely to see anything sexy out of Shane Waldron’s offense. In fact, we’re unlikely to see many starters at all. But as someone who’s been out at Seahawks training camp, I think we will get to see some of Seattle’s new offensive pace/rhythm/tempo on display. Actual game situations are a much better place than practice to figure out the best way to hit the gas and put the defense on its heels.
2. I’m tired of hearing about Darrell Taylor, and I’m dying to see him in game action. EVERYBODY – coaches, players – has been raving about the guy since the Seahawks took him in the second round. He’s got the unenviable task of sliding in for longtime Seahawk K.J. Wright at SAM linebacker this year. Considering Wright probably had the best season of his career last year, that’s quite the uphill battle. For what it’s worth, I’ve been impressed by Taylor’s speed at training camp. He’s certainly made enough plays to be noticeable. Let’s see it happen in a game.
3. Cornerback is the most competitive position group on the Seahawks roster. And with D.J. Reed banged up, there will be plenty of opportunity for Tre Flowers, free agent signing Akhello Witherspoon, and fourth-round pick Tre Brown to show they’re not just starting caliber corners, but that they’re playmakers. At the very least, all three have had some impressive moments at training camp practices. There’s a lot to prove on the outside. But inside at nickel promises to be the positional battle of the offseason. We saw flashes of what Marquise Blair could be as a rookie – he’s quite the thumper – and got really excited about his first training camp as a nickelback last year. Then he tore his ACL. He’ll try to hold off the undersized but extremely explosive Ugo Amadi. I’d love to see the Seahawks use both Blair and Amadi – with their two different skillsets – at the position this year.
4. With left tackle Duane Brown holding in and a series of injuries, the Hawks don’t have a whole lot of depth on their offensive line. If the season were to start tomorrow, this would be quite nerve-wracking. But with a month to go before the start of the season, I really want to see sixth-round rookie tackle Stone Forsythe in full contact, no holds barred action against defensive lineman. Forsythe is one of the biggest people that I’ve ever seen first hand on a football field. It’s really striking, especially when you’re standing at field level. He stands a full head over most offensive lineman and looks like a basketball player at times. He may be at a disadvantage in terms of pad level, but he is great with his hands. With a good enough showing in game action, he could win himself the ‘Hawks swing tackle spot.
5. Aldon Smith looked like someone who’d be a major part of the Seahawks defensive line in 2021. After his release, there’s playing time to be had. The bulk of it will likely go to Benson Mayowa and Kerry Hyder. But can Alton Robinson, L.J. Collier, or Rasheem Green play their way into more snaps? Their first chance to make that happen will be on Saturday.
6. Every training camp we see an unexpected player make the most out of his opportunity. Undrafted Arizona State rookie defensive back Aashari Crosswell has been this Training Camp’s best underdog story. Can he keep up the sheer volume of big plays he’s been making at practice? If so, he could challenge Ryan Neal.