Gallant: 4 takeaways after Seahawks wrap up preseason with win
It’s rare that a preseason game is satisfying, especially when you go another Saturday night without seeing Russell Wilson, Shane Waldron’s new-look offense, or any of the Seahawks’ best players. But the Seahawks closed out the preseason with a dominant, 60-minute 27-0 victory over the Chargers, and I came away quite satisfied.
That’s largely because the ‘W’ wasn’t Seattle’s frenetic, “win the game in the fourth quarter and stress everyone out along the way” style. I’d like some more Sunday cruises with the Hawks this fall.
Here’s what’s on my mind after the Seahawks’ preseason finale.
Can these two defenders be special?
Seattle’s defense needs young players to blossom into more than just plus players. They need playmakers, and I’m hoping we saw the beginning of that with both Marquise Blair and Darrell Taylor.
It still hasn’t even been a year since Blair’s serious knee injury in Week 2 against New England, but the third-year safety looked just like the player who stole the show at training camp in 2020. He was constantly in great position, consistently penetrated the line when he blitzed, thumped some receivers and did an excellent job getting his hands up into passing lanes. He even got a touchdown, snatching the ball from the air after linebacker Cody Barton blasted it out of Chargers quarterback Chase Daniel’s hands on the fifth play from scrimmage.
Cody Barton gets a free run and Marquise Blair houses it! @Seahawks
— NFL (@NFL) August 29, 2021
Blair looked like a seasoned veteran out there, and I can’t wait to see him back on the field after a year where injuries prevented him from delivering on his hype.
Taylor – who’s also had a lot of hype despite little playing time – played a great game himself. Whether it was sitting back in coverage before flying up to bump a quarterback out of bounds, recovering to make a tackle after a running back shook him, or his slowly improving speed rush off the right side (watch the way he drops his left shoulder), he too was all over the field.
I’m never going to be the guy that gets too excited about things he sees in the preseason, but Blair and Taylor looked like they’ve got quite a bit of potential.
Second-round pick Dee Eskridge made his pro football debut Saturday, and I can’t wait to see more of the wide receiver out of Western Michigan. You can tell he’s extremely fast out there by the way he runs, and he never even hit full speed. For example, he looked like he was tip-toeing behind that convoy of blockers on the speed sweep he ran off the right side. I wish he’d seen a gap that he could explode through at full speed. Eskridge also made a really nice catch on a high throw his way.
He only touched the ball twice and had at least one moment of confusion while lining up, but it seems like he has a real chance to contribute this year despite missing much of training camp with a foot injury.
Rookie Dee Eskridge makes his first catch as a pro! @Seahawks
— NFL (@NFL) August 29, 2021
The running back battle
There have been a couple of moments this training camp where Rashaad Penny has looked a bit tentative. That’s understandable over a year and a half after the knee injury he suffered towards the end of 2019. At the same time, it’s something he’s going to have to work through if he wants to be a regular contributor in Seattle’s backfield. Thankfully, he looked like he’d shaken the cobwebs off Saturday night. He played well, making some catches, showing a little wiggle, and running smoother with the football.
But Alex Collins stole the show, to the point that I think all running backs need to learn how to Irish step dance like he did. His footwork and ability to change direction gives Seattle a running back who frequently breaks ankles. Those skills were on full display when he completely reversed field on a screen that had been blown up and turned it into positive yards. He looked a lot like the running back who averaged 4.6 yards per carry and nearly ran for 1,000 yards with Baltimore in 2017 with all the guys he shook.
How does 6️⃣ more sound, @Budda03?
📺: #LACvsSEA on FOX
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) August 29, 2021
Seattle can’t make judgments based off one game alone – especially against backups – but Collins made a strong case to get significant touches this coming season behind Chris Carson.
The Seahawks need Duane Brown back
On the Seahawks’ third play of the game, Geno Smith (who suffered a concussion in the first preseason game) nearly got clocked from the blind side again. And this time, it wasn’t coming from a corner blitz. Jamarco Jones looked like he was stuck in mud and a defender blew past him for what could have been a sack. Luckily, Smith got the ball out, even though it ended up short of the first down. Seattle needs a starting caliber left tackle. ASAP.
Takes on the #Seahawks THOROUGH 27-0 W:
– Blair / Taylor hype may be real
– Eskridge could be really, really football fast
– All RBs should Irish step dance like Alex Collins
– They need Duane Brown back to prevent Jamarco Jones stuck-in-quicksand moments. @710ESPNSeattle pic.twitter.com/MceDjFSCdN
— Paul Gallant (@GallantSays) August 29, 2021
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