Making us all wait until Saturday before we get to watch the first Seahawks pre-season game seems a little masochistic by the NFL, but what are you gonna do? Tomorrow, FINALLY, the pre-season starts. All we’ve had so far are beat writer accounts of practice and sports radio interviews of coaches and athletes. But, now we get to see the team in action. It might be pretend action, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a whole lot about what these 2016 Seahawks are going to look like.
From this point forward, there will be a lot more writing on the Seahawks on this site, so get ready! I’ve jotted down a list of the major storylines, with a little blurb on each one, that I could very well expand upon in longer posts sometime in the next month or so. Without further ado, and in no particular order:
The Offensive Line
Yeah, you better believe I’m going to be focusing on the O-Line more than any other unit when the Seahawks take the field this pre-season. I read good things about various guys so far in Training Camp, but is that relative to last year’s abomination? We’ll find out.
I think it’s funny to hear these national writers talk about the Vikings, or some other team, having the league’s best and deepest secondary, TOTALLY sleeping on the Seahawks. Motherfuckers act like they forgot about
Dre the L.O.B. Earl is still Earl, Sherm is still Sherm, Kam is still the most destructive force in the strong safety game today. Beyond that, you want to talk about depth? I’m looking at Lane, Shead, and Simon all playing at high levels when healthy. I’m looking at a 2nd year pro in Tye Smith with a chip on his shoulder who had a healthy rookie year where all he had to do was learn the system. I’m looking at safety Kelcie McCray who could be starting on a lot of teams right now. I’m looking at a special role for Brandon Browner, matching up exclusively with other teams’ big receivers and tight ends. Then, there’s Tyvis Powell, an undrafted rookie, who’s making a big impression these first couple weeks. They’re sleeping on the L.O.B. now, but the league will be quick to learn who the real O.G.’s are.
The Defensive Line
I keep reading reports about how this is – or could be – the greatest pass rush we’ve had since 2013, but I’ve got my doubts. We lost Bruce Irvin and replaced him with Frank Clark; is that a good move or not? Last year, we had BOTH guys, so how does losing Irvin help us, exactly? And, aside from Bennett, where are we getting our interior pass rush? Is there someone I’m not familiar with who will step up as a 4th pass rush option from the defensive end position? Believe you me, that’s going to be a huge part of my pre-season focus.
New Look Running Game
Obviously, the scheme will be the same, but the players are new. Will Thomas Rawls return to last year’s record-breaking form? Will the resurgence of Christine Michael translate into increased opportunities? Will ANY of the rookies be able to stay healthy?
Passing Game Stability
I love the fact that the Seahawks brought Jermaine Kearse back, and that for the most part, our entire receiving corps is back for another run. They may not be household names across the league (although, I don’t know how you can ignore Doug Baldwin’s contributions to our success any longer), but these guys continue to get the job done. As they continue to mesh with Russell Wilson, in conjunction with the question marks surrounding the running game, I do think we’ll see an increase in this team’s passing numbers.
For at LEAST the next two weeks, as the backups tend to play more than the starter in those games, this will be a constant point of focus, in the games and in the media between games. Trevone Boykin vs. Jake Heaps vs. some possible third option not currently on the roster vs. Tarvaris Jackson perhaps? Boykin appears to be more mobile, more Russell Wilson-esque; Heaps appears to be the better pocket passer and more accurate. We know what Tarvar can do, so he could probably roll in here the day before the regular season starts and get his job back if he wants it. But, I’ll tell ya, if the backups shit the bed against the Chiefs tomorrow, don’t be surprised if you see a flurry of tryouts by Monday.
Scoff all you want! You won’t be scoffing the moment one of these new long snappers sails a football over Jon Ryan’s head, or costs us a game-winning field goal attempt! Don’t say I didn’t warn you chickenfuckers, because I’m going to have a little blurb about the long snappers after every pre-season game this year! “Steven A. Taylor’s Long Snapper Corner” I’ll call it, and it’s going to be all anyone ever talks about!
Michael Bennett’s Contract
Things have sort of quieted down in this arena, which is nice, because no one really wants to hear about it anyway. But, you know it’s going to come up again. If Bennett continues to kill it, you’re going to hear (from him, and media types alike) that he deserves bigtime money. But, the fear is: what if he goes the other way? What if the production dips? Surely, they’ll look to point out that he’s not content with the money he’s making. Now, a lot of that is likely a bunch of bullshit; but if there’s any element of truth to it, and he does slack off because he’s not making the money he thinks he’s earned, then we could be in for a long, frustrating season. He is key in so many ways to this team’s defensive success.
Bobby Wagner Bounce Back Year
It’s not in the numbers he put up last year, so much as the eyeball test. I just want to see more of an impact, in the obvious, fan sense. Big run stuffs, big sacks, big interceptions, big forced fumbles. Let’s get Bobby Wagner back on the map and in the same arena as Luke Kuechly.
Brandon Browner’s Return
This guy was a Pro Bowler for us. This guy’s tenacity and strength and attitude was a HUGE reason why this secondary was so good back in the day. I want to see if he’s as bad as he was in New Orleans, or if he was just used improperly. I want to see if he’s still got something in the tank to be an enforcer this team needs. I want to see him knock some tight ends on their asses! Remember all those games we blew late last year? Cincy, Carolina, Green Bay, St. Louis? All of them had big days out of their tight ends. Here’s to hoping Browner can put a stop to that shit once and for all.
Russell Wilson’s Eliteness
There’s nothing fans love more than to tout their quarterbacks as the best. New England fans have had a stranglehold on this type of douche-baggery for far too long. Wilson showed he can be an elite pocket passer for much of the second half of last season. Let’s see him pick it up where he left off (especially since we’re breaking in this all-new offensive line). Let’s see him make Pete Prisco look more and more like the know-nothing jackass that he is.
Tyler Lockett’s Impending Breakout
He was excellent as a rookie. So, what can this kid do now? He made it through the whole year healthy, has had a full offseason to absorb the playbook and work with Wilson away from the practice setting. He’s going to be on the field more than any other receiver except for Baldwin; he’s going to get PLENTY of chances to make some big plays. I, for one, can’t wait to see him unlock his full potential.
Frank Clark’s Expanded Role
He was pretty solid as a rookie. He didn’t have to play a lot, but he showed flashes. I’m curious to see how he’ll do as more of a primary pass rusher (really, as this team’s third option behind Bennett and Avril). I don’t generally have a ton of confidence in young pass rushers, so I hope he’s able to take a HUGE step forward. Otherwise, as I mentioned up top, this team’s pass rush could be in real trouble.
The SAM Linebacker
Or, Replacing Bruce Irvin in Base Defense. So far, it’s been a 3-man race between Mike Morgan, Cassius Marsh, and Eric Pinkins. Morgan has the experience, knows the system, and feels like the sensible choice. Marsh dropped weight to get to this point, has always been good against the run, and seems athletic enough. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job, you don’t have to worry about him, because he’s one of this team’s best Special Teamers. Pinkins has been coming on strong of late, from what I’ve read. He appears to have the highest upside of the three, from a playmaking perspective. He’ll need to play mistake-free, assignment-correct football (or pretty close to it) in the pre-season games to win the job. I hope he does; this team could always use another young, cheap playmaking force.
Jimmy Graham & Thomas Rawls
Their returns from graphic injuries will continue to be stories until they’re not. Until they get back on the field, in a game setting, and knock it around with the pros. Rawls came off the PUP list first, and could be practicing with the team as early as next week. Graham just came off the PUP list a day or two ago, has the more-serious of the two devastating injuries, and will need to be brought along more slowly. As such, and given his star status, his every movement will continue to be news for the next month straight. I eagerly await his return, but I’d be just as happy to see him held back as long as possible, to avoid re-injury, and ESPECIALLY to avoid injuring other body parts in compensation for protecting the knee.