JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: The Seahawks’ many questions entering their opener vs the Broncos

Sep 7, 2018, 5:16 PM
Will the Seahawks have much of a pass rush besides what Frank Clark creates? (AP)...
Will the Seahawks have much of a pass rush besides what Frank Clark creates? (AP)
(AP)

It’s been a long time since the Seahawks have entered a season like this in which there are more questions than answers.

2018 Seahawks previews: O’Neil | Rost | Wassell | Moore

On Sunday against the Denver Broncos, the Seahawks hope to see where they truly are after resetting their roster and their attitude. The Broncos, meanwhile, are another team trying to figure out where they are.

Denver added Case Keenum at quarterback and is starting third-round choice Royce Freeman at halfback, and clearly the Broncos are more talented than their 5-11 record in 2017 suggests.

Now let’s get into some of the questions for the Seahawks in Sunday’s game.

• The right side of the Seahawks’ offensive line remains a big concern, and the line will be challenged plenty in the first two games. The Broncos have Bradley Chubb and Von Miller on the outside, while next week’s opponent, the Chicago Bears, have Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack. This week, right guard D.J. Fluker is out with a hamstring injury, so getting the start is J.R. Sweezy, who has missed more time than he has practiced because of a high ankle sprain. Sweezy was great when he was first with the Seahawks from 2012-15, but he’s had so little time to work with the other blockers since coming back to the team in training camp. Right tackle Germain Ifedi was taken off the injury list Friday despite an ankle issue, so he will play. His big challenge is being on the side as Miller, a six-time Pro Bowl linebacker.

• One of the big mysteries will be whether Earl Thomas will return to the secondary after ending his holdout earlier this week. It makes sense to do it even if it’s on a limited basis. Tedric Thompson beat out everyone for the free safety spot and earned a chance to get the start, but Thomas is the difference-maker on defense who sets the table for better play in the secondary. His range will make it easier for a cornerback position that is in transition.

• Back to the blocking scheme, you will have to think the Seahawks will use more sets with two tight ends with Nick Vannett and Will Dissly. Both players are good blockers, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a blocking tight end next to Ifedi to help him when Miller rushes.

• One of the fun things to watch will be rookie punter Michael Dickson, both for the mile-high altitude and because there were stories that some people with the Broncos laughed when the Seahawks traded up with them in the fifth round to draft a punter. At sea level, Dickson is one of the most unique punters I’ve seen. He’s a 50-yard punter with a 47-yard net who can place most of his kicks inside the 10 – and now we’ll get to see what he can with the thin air in Denver.

• On defense, the two biggest questions for the Seahawks are the pass rush and the defense’s ability to create turnovers. Let’s focus on the former. Frank Clark is now the No. 1 defensive end, but who is No. 2? Will it be Quinton Jefferson, Rasheem Green or Dion Jordan? Jordan is technically the No. 2, but he just got activated from the PUP list for a leg injury. Pete Carroll said Jordan will play, but for how many plays?

• It’s not out of question that the Seahawks could start three rookies on defense, which could be a challenge in this road game. Shaquem Griffin will get the start at weakside outside linebacker for K.J. Wright, while Tre Flowers could be pulled in at right cornerback if Dontae Johnson can’t do much because of a groin injury (Johnson is questionable for the game but expected to play, while Carroll said Friday he thinks Flowers is ready to start if needed). Green could get a lot of playing time at end, too. Even though there is clearly talent in this rookie class, that is a lot of youth.

• This will be a good test for the running game. Chris Carson has been sensational, while Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise are expected to help out. Can the Seahawks get to around 30 or 32 rushing attempts? If they can, it would give Russell Wilson a great chance to win the game.

O’Neil: It’s petty to blame Wilson for Seahawks not becoming a dynasty

The John Clayton Memorial Fund

Benefitting the Multiple Sclerosis Society

The Professor's Notes

John Clayton hosts a daily video breaking down the NFL

John Clayton

John Clayton Memorial Fund...
No Author

John Clayton Memorial Fund benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society

Seattle Sports and Bonneville International are honored to announce the “John Clayton Memorial Fund.” The John Clayton Memorial Fund will benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
7 months ago
Seahawks Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf...
John Clayton

Clayton: What’s next for Seahawks after kicking off ‘major’ rebuild

After some major moves, John Clayton breaks down what the next things to watch for with the Seahawks are heading into the new league year.
7 months ago
Seahawks Russell Wilson...
John Clayton

Clayton: Won’t be easy for Seahawks to replace Wilson after surprising trade

After a surprising trade he never thought would happen, John Clayton shares his immediate reaction to the Seahawks' trade of Russell Wilson.
7 months ago
Seahawks Action Green...
John Clayton

Clayton: Why you shouldn’t worry about salary cap with Seahawks this offseason

Seahawks fans and followers are worried about how they can re-sign players and stay under the salary cap. John Clayton says they shouldn't be.
7 months ago
Seahawks Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll...
John Clayton

Clayton: The big news from Seahawks, NFC West as combine begins

Wednesday was a big news day for the Seahawks and the NFC West. John Clayton breaks down what's going on in Seattle's division.
7 months ago
Seahawks Rashaad Penny Russell Wilson Chris Carson...
John Clayton

Clayton: How RBs in NFL Draft should help Seahawks this offseason

The Seahawks should be looking to bring Rashaad Penny back, but a loaded class of running backs is likely to help them in a few ways.
8 months ago
Clayton: The Seahawks’ many questions entering their opener vs the Broncos