I know it’s pre-season, so I’m not going to go overboard here, but at no point in the last two games have I even been remotely worried about us losing to these teams. That doesn’t really matter a whole lot, considering the games don’t matter and we’re not really getting the best effort out of our opponents, but I’d like everyone to take a minute and relish what we’re experiencing right now.
Say what you will about the pre-season, but those were the Denver Broncos we just played over the weekend. For nearly a full half of football, we faced one of the leading Super Bowl contenders out of the AFC and it felt like a cat toying with a mouse. Yeah, they moved the ball a little bit against our defense – they’re Peyton Manning and Company, you’re not going to completely shut them down – but we were able to do pretty much anything we wanted in that game. Offense? How about a couple touchdown drives from Russell Wilson? Defense? How about three fumble recoveries, one of them taken from house to house? Special Teams? How about Jermaine Kearse clobbering his lone kickoff return for 107 yards?
Honestly, this pre-season couldn’t set us up more perfectly for the regular season. San Diego, on the road, was a tap-in putt; a nice, soft landing to get our season going. Denver, at home, is a solid test for our team as a whole; but since we’re at home, you still have to like our chances for success. That builds us up to the Master Sword of the pre-season: this Friday’s game in Green Bay; our toughest challenge yet. If we get by them the same way we’ve gotten past these last two teams, then it’s smooth sailing through our final pre-season game as we rest everyone ahead of the regular season.
That having been said, there are concerns. There are ALWAYS concerns. While Russell Wilson improved greatly from last week to this week, he was still a little sloppy on some throws. That interception into double coverage was as bad as it gets (even if it was called back on an offsides penalty, that’s not the kind of chance I want to see my quarterback taking). I wasn’t all that impressed by Robert Turbin, which makes Christine Michael’s injury that much more disappointing. I think he really could have solidified my opinion that Turbin gets the ax with some quality reps playing with the 1’s. And then, of course, there is the pass rush.
Pre-season games are never more deceiving than when you’re assessing the play along the lines. You watch the Seahawks struggle to get anywhere NEAR the quarterback in the first half, then you see the Seahawks swarming and decapitating the quarterback in the second half, and you can’t help but wonder what those guys (Benson Mayowa, O’Brien Schofield, Michael Brooks) would look like in our starting unit. Of course, it never fails when you actually give them a chance to run with the big boys: they almost always disappoint and then you remember, “Oh yeah, they were playing against second and third stringers when they were making all of their plays.”
All in all, though, there was a lot more to like about this game than last week’s in San Diego. The starting offense moved the ball well. More of the starting defense participated (including a lethal-looking Bobby Wagner). And seemingly everyone got a shot at returning kicks and punts.
I, like everyone else, can’t help but be excited by the pre-season Jermaine Kearse is throwing out there. He looks like a completely different animal than he did last year and yet another find from the ranks of the undrafted free agent. I don’t envy these coaches and the choices they have to make in the coming weeks.