Rost: Snooze button or panic button? 4 concerns from Seahawks preseason

Aug 23, 2021, 12:10 AM
Seahawks Alex McGough...
With backup QBs playing exclusively, the Seahawks didn't find the end zone Saturday. (Getty)

It’s been two years since we all watched the NFL preseason, which means it’s also been two years since fans wondered whether they should ever read into an ugly preseason loss – and the Seahawks have had two of them.

Stock Up, Stock Down: Who shined, who didn’t for Hawks vs. Broncos

When it comes to exhibition games, is there ever anything that should make you hit the panic button?

The short answer is no. But to make sense of what we’ve seen – sort the good from the bad, and the meaningful from the insignificant – here’s when you can hit the snooze button or the preseason panic button.

Snooze button: Backup quarterback play

No team wants a second-string quarterback to cost them a postseason win with an ill-timed pass, but the reality is that position can see the greatest drop-off in talent on the NFL’s best rosters. And that’s OK. When the league’s best passers are typically the highest-paid players, teams can’t afford to shell out another big deal for a starting-caliber backup.

The Seahawks have been especially fortunate in this department: Russell Wilson hasn’t missed a single start in his career.

On Saturday, Alex McGough got the start for Seattle and finished 9 of 13 for 91 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble. Shawn Mannion was 13 of 23 for 118 yards. Neither quarterback found the end zone, and none of that really matters.

Snooze button: The battle in the trenches

Depth is important at any position group, and that remains true for the offensive line, but Saturday’s first half was especially lopsided on either side of the line of scrimmage. That shouldn’t be a surprise since Denver played several starters on offense and defense in the first quarter while Seattle played almost exclusively second- and third-stringers.

The starting offensive line for the Seahawks from left to right was Stone Forsythe, Damien Lewis, Kyle Fuller, Phil Haynes, and Jake Curhan. Lewis is the only starter of the bunch and likely saw time to work up reps at left guard, which is where he’ll start for the first time this year. Even then, he wasn’t in for long. On the other side of the ball, Denver’s defense featured starting nose tackle Mike Purcell, starting edge rusher Dre’Mont Jones, and starting linebacker Alexander Johnson. Seattle’s defensive line also had to face all five of Denver’s starting offensive linemen.

Panic button: Injuries

Again, there are very few reasons to ever panic in the preseason. But if there’s one area every team dreads hearing bad news, it’s with injuries. Even then, there’s some good news here: the Seahawks haven’t been hit with an injury to any key starters. However, they haven’t escaped unscathed.

Wide receiver John Ursua and linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven both suffered serious knee injuries Saturday. Ursua has since announced on Instagram that he suffered a torn ACL.

The hope for Seattle is also that a few injured starters are able to return by Week 1. That list includes center Ethan Pocic and cornerback D.J. Reed.

Snooze button (for now, but not for long): Defensive contributors

It’s preseason for everyone and the ramp-up to the season is real, which is why fans don’t need to panic about early missteps. But it hasn’t been entirely backups for Seattle so far.

Players who are expected to be contributors in 2021 – namely cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Tre Flowers, edge rushers Alton Robinson and Darrell Taylor, and starting linebacker Jordyn Brooks – have all seen extensive time, and gradually improving play from those names will bode well for a quicker start on defense this season. Those players will be buoyed by the stars around them once the regular season is underway, but a trip to a Super Bowl for a veteran-heavy team like Seattle won’t just be on the backs of All-Pros and Pro Bowlers. It’ll also be on important contributions from younger players when they’re needed most.

Follow Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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