At will (Observations on Seahawks pre-season game 3)

Russell Wilson

Photo credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE – Presswire

“At will” is the phrase I’ll use to describe this game.

The Seahawks scored at will, both on the ground and through the air; they stopped the Chief’s offense at will, and dominated on both sides of special teams at will. I haven’t seen the Seahawks utterly dominate another like that for a very, very long time. I know, it’s pre-season.

So! Here are some of my observations:

  • I’m not officially worried about the Seahawks’ ability to defend against a no-huddle/2-minute offense, but I’m getting very close. Against Denver’s starting offense, the starting defense gave up a 11-play, 5.5 minute drive that led to a touchdown run by Willis McGahee. In Kansas City, they gave up a whopping 16-play drive that resulted in a Matt Cassell touchdown pass. In the third quarter, they gave up a long drive that luckily ended up in a fumble by Matt Cassell (most QBs wouldn’t have held the ball that long). I’m not exactly sure what the defense needs to, but this has got to improve.
  • This very well could be the defense’s weakness. Pete Carroll drafts and uses a lot of “specialists”; not a lot of the Seahawks defenders are every-down guys. The dominant every-down guys are tough to find and often are drafted very high. When a certain defensive formation is on the field and the Seahawks are unable to make substitutions, it can be exploited. Both the Broncos and the Chiefs had success in doing just that. It will be interesting to see how Carroll can mitigate that risk.
  • On the sack by Scruggs that ended the Chiefs’ first drive: Bruce Irvin got off to a quick start, bowled into the right tackle and drove him back, reeling. This kid is way stronger than I had expected. 
  • The offensive line is getting push. And I mean REALLY getting push. On the first 3rd and short that Michael Robinson converted, both Sweezy and McQuistan, the guards, got up off the turf two yards past the first down line. How are these guys getting so much push!?
  • Miller is kinda slow. Once Russell Wilson realizes that, they’ll start to connect a bit more. Wilson overthrew Miller as he ran up the seam. Zach Miller is like the Jesus Montero of the Seahawks.
  • I think I said this last week, but man: Robert Turbin is REALLY embracing the one-cut and go running scheme. He makes his decision quickly (and more often than not he’s picking the right cut), and just turns on the jets. I’m still floored how quickly Turbin accelerates.
  • On the throw-away on 3rd-8 at the end of the first drive … it was a bit of an odd play. I re-watched it 15+ times and I’m still flummoxed. Wilson had all kinds of time to throw the ball, and the protection that afforded it (the o-line bunched all the defenders together; there was little pressure). Wilson first looked right and saw what appeared to be Rice and another receiver blanketed while running toward the end zone, and then looked left and saw Tate, one on one with the defender, making a break for the end zone. Tate did not have his man beat. I’m a bit perplexed why Wilson gave up on the play so quickly, seeing as he’s the guy that’s known for extending plays that break down. Odd. It’s possible he was spooked by the free blitzer coming off the right side, but he was well picked up by the running back (I think it was Turbin – tough to tell).
  • All three receivers in the aforementioned play were in unfavorable situations against the defenders. And this is against a Kansas City secondary missing Brandon Flowers and their starting safety. The receiving corps is flashing, but I still see them as the weakest unit on the team.
  • The defense bit on play action a few times; once, they were lucky Cassell missed the TE down the middle for an easy 20+ yard gain.
  • Wilson’s first run (on 3rd and 8) was perfect, brilliant, and exactly the right thing to do. The o-line opened a gaping hole up the middle, and Wilson saw not a soul from the defense. I hope he runs on that play every single time.
  • Sweezy still has work ahead of him. On the run where Leon Washington was stuffed (and hit hard), he engaged his man well, but lost the upper-body strength battle as the defensive tackle simply yanked Sweezy’s upper body to the left and discarded him to make a play in the inside to bulldoze poor Leon. Sweezy will have to learn not get discarded so easily.
  • If Leon Washington wasn’t at least mildly concussed on that INSANE block to help spring Wilson for another 15 yards on his second scramble, Washington has got to have a brain made of steel, held together by more steel.
  • During Chiefs’ touchdown drive, Irvin bull rushed the right tackle once again and backed him right up to Cassell. When Irvin tried to disengage to sack Cassell, the tackle pretty blatantly held Irvin long enough for Cassell to step up and convert on 3rd down. These replacement refs are pretty cool.
  • Anthony McCoy has stood out on a lot of plays, but wasn’t without his gaffes. He abandoned Tamba Hali on an edge rush to help Okung with his man (which was unnecessary), but gave Hali an unobstructed path to Wilson. It led to the late hit that gave the Seahawks a first down. But that’s something McCoy cannot do – Wilson could have easily been injured on the play. He also jumped early a few plays later, leading to a false start. It’s how you kill drives, man – penalties. Luckily, McCoy is still very young and appears to be quickly improving.
  • Wilson’s numbers should be higher. T.O. dropped a big pass he should have hauled in (he dropped another, but it was negated by a late-hit on Wilson), and Rice dropped a bullet that appeared to bounce of Sidney Rice’s mask (he was a little tangled up with the defender).
  • Matt Cassell is very, very shifty. He reminds me of a less-douchey version of Ben Roethlisberger. If he had been any other QB, the defense would have brought him down on 2-3 more occasions throughout the game.
  • The pass rush is starting to look better. Carroll is beginning to mix in some of the plays that he has used in the past to generate sacks: stunts (I saw Clemons stunt at least twice, once nearly getting to Cassell but was perfectly chop-blocked by the running back), corner blitzes (pass deflected by Phil Adams, I believe it was), etc. The Seahawks looked to get a lot more push than they got in their first two games. And that was without Jason Jones in the middle. If not for Cassell being so shifty, they’d have generated a few extra sacks. But they did their job – on many of the plays they “almost” got him, he rushed his throws and didn’t often connect for a productive gain. Heck, pressure caused the late, duck of a throw that Earl Thomas intercepted and returned for a touchdown. It’s not just about sacks.
  • Charly Martin really helped himself today. Aside from catching that beauty of a touchdown (his second in pre-season, so far), he made a critical block that helped spring Golden Tate on the touchdown punt-return. This guy is doing it all – catching balls that come his way (you paying attention, TO?), being a willing blocker, and being productive on special teams. Could this guy potentially replace Ben Obamanu (who we’ve seen VERY little from this pre-season)?
  • Do I really need to talk about Russell Wilson? Fine. It just looked easy for him. Every play, every throw – like he’s been doing it for years in the NFL, and it has become ‘mechanical’. So far he’s played three games in the pre-season, and he has yet to show any major signs of struggling (his red zone game needs to improve, but he has still be good). In every game, he played very good football. He has made some mistakes (interception, throw away I mentioned earlier, blatantly missing an open McCoy in the KC game), but the vast majority have been great plays. In just about every way, he has out-played Matt Flynn.
  • Russell Wilson has put Pete Carroll is in a very tough spot.  This is a big topic; more on this later.

About Nick

I'm a guy that loves the Seahawks far and away more than any other team in any other sport. I live in Seattle, I'm married to the perfect woman, I work in marketing and I'm nearly into my 30s. Scary. Find me on Twitter talking #seahawks @nandron.
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