O’Neil: DeShawn Shead is making the Seahawks and other things we learned
The Seahawks’ offense didn’t score a touchdown in Minnesota but the defense is starting to take shape, which leads off the list of what we learned over the weekend:
Three Things We Learned
1. Deshawn Shead is going to be on this team.
That was hard to foresee when the Seahawks signed him after training camp began. After all, it had been two years since he played in a regular-season game for the Seahawks. He was also playing safety instead of cornerback, which meant he’d likely have to beat out Lano Hill and Shalom Luani to make the roster given Seattle’s stockpile of secondary players. Well, he had a safety in the first preseason game and followed that up by picking off Minnesota backup – and former Oregon State Beaver – Sean Mannion in the second quarter on Sunday and returning the ball 88 yards for a touchdowns.
Not only has Shead scored in each of Seattle’s first two preseason games, but he was part of the team’s first-defense dime package on Sunday in Minnesota and the first safety off the bench as he replaced starter Bradley McDougald in the second quarter. While we’ve seen that preseason success is no guarantee of a roster spot (see: Williams, Kasen circa 2017), it’s hard to imagine Seattle leaving out a player with Shead’s versatility and evident value when the season starts against Cincinnati.
2. Seahawks proving to be Ford tough.
As in Poona Ford’s tough. Real tough. After sitting out the preseason opener, Ford was on the field to start Sunday’s game in Minnesota, and his penetration off the line of scrimmage disrupted three different first-half plays. Not only that, but he forced an apparent fumble that Seattle recovered only to have officials rule the runner’s forward momentum had stopped.
As Ford emerges as an incredible bright spot, it’s important to rewind to the first month of last season when Seattle general manager John Schneider drew a fair amount of criticism for releasing veteran Tom Johnson just one week after having guaranteed his full year’s salary. Well, the reason Seattle released Johnson? It didn’t want to risk losing Ford on a waiver claim. One year later, Johnson isn’t on anyone’s roster and Ford is poised to be not only be a starter on Seattle’s defensive line but a difference-maker.
3. The NFL’s pass-interference problem is about to get (way) worse.
On Minnesota’s first possession, Seattle’s Pete Carroll challenged a 34-yard completion to Minnesota’s Adam Thielen, asserting the Vikings receiver pushed off from Shaquill Griffin to make room for the reception. The challenge was overruled and Seattle lost a timeout. On Minnesota’s second possession, Seattle’s Tre Flowers was flagged for pass interference, which cost the Seahawks 45 yards and set the Vikings up with a first-and-goal. Thielen clearly made contact with Griffin.
Two problems: 1) The contact initiated by Flowers wasn’t any more egregious than the contact initiated by Thielen; 2) Flowers was clearly playing the ball, which means some inadvertent physical contact should have been allowed. Yet one penalty remained uncalled even after replay review while the other was flagged in a potentially game-changing call.
What. A. Crock.
And given the early returns on the NFL’s decision to allowed interference penalties to be reviewed, it’s only going to result in MORE penalties. In the first 31 preseason games, there were 31 instances in which a coach challenged a play with regard to pass interference. Twenty-five of those challenges were overruled. The six that were upheld all resulted in penalties being assessed on plays that went unflagged. Anyone else think the game is going to be improved with MORE pass-interference penalties? Because that’s what we’re about to see.