Week two of the preseason offered the Seattle Seahawks a great opportunity. It presented the chance to test its No. 1 offense and defense against one of its biggest competitors for a Super Bowl trophy in the Denver Broncos. With cuts looming, seeing how its personnel performs 1-on-1 against elite competition is critical in the evaluation process. How some of the players on the 53-man roster fence showed against the Broncos would go a long way to determining certain position battles.
Entering the game, I was focusing on two particular areas of the Seahawks — its offensive line and defensive line. I thought the first string offensive line played pretty poorly at San Diego last week. Whether that was thanks mostly to an underrated Chargers pass rush or more attributed to missing All-Pro center Max Unger, is not known. Finding a more clear cut answer was especially of interest to me.
And same thing with the defensive line. Facing the Broncos Saturday, the team was still without projected starters DE Chris Clemons, DE Cliff Avril, DT Tony McDaniel and LB/DE Bruce Irvin. Yet with young players like DT Jordan Hill, DT Jesse Williams and DE Benson Mayowa looking impressive early on, it’s important to see where they fit moving forward.
Lastly, I really just wanted to see who the individual standouts would be after facing the Broncos. Who may be the future leaders of this young Seahawks team?
My impressions beginning with the offensive line on Saturday:
OFFENSIVE LINE- Despite an early holding call on pro-bowl LT Russell Okung and a false start on LG Paul McQuistan, I thought the group showed really well. Considering the team was facing a top 5 defensive line last year, I thought the push they got in the run game was impressive and the ability to largely keep pressure off of QB Russell Wilson was very good. Yes, Denver was without its All-Pro DE Von Miller, still the Seahawks oline helped up well against a solid defense.
DEFENSIVE LINE- A little more hit and miss for me. There were some bright moments in the first half as the line was able to get some pressure on Denver QB Peyton Manning, held up against the run, etc. but there was also a number of situations when there were some big lanes for running back Monte Ball. On top of that, the first string line did not record a sack against Manning all game.
As the game moved along however, and we got to see the second string, the third string, I thought it showed a lot better. The pass rush overwhelmed their counterparts along the Denver oline. We saw some sacks and tackles for loss from a number of guys. I think as far as defensive tackles were concerned, Jordan Hill, Brandon Mebane and Jaye Howard all looked strong. The defensive end play was led by Mayowa, O’Brien Schofield and Michael Bennett.
- WR Jermaine Kearse. The former UW receiver had a big touchdown catch on a nice route on the Seahawks opening drive and then followed it up with a kickoff return in limited action. He has looked strong all camp and has solidified a role as the fourth wideout on this team while Percy Harvin remains sidelined.
- MLB Bobby Wagner. Wagner, only entering his second year, looked extremely quick, aggressive and sharp in his first action of the season. He made a couple of plays in the backfield and some key tackles against Denver. If he improves significantly off a solid rookie season, watch out.
- CB Walter Thurmond. Thurmond for some reason is still in a competition with veteran corner Antoine Winfield for the nickel role. This is strange considering Thurmond is clearly the better player currently and may even be better than second corner Brandon Browner. The former Duck had a pass defense, some nice tackles and was never beat in 1-on-1 coverage. Oh, and he added a couple of nice special teams plays both in coverage and as a returner. Just so solid all around as a player.
- Brandon Browner. Speaking of the 6-foot, 4-inch Browner, he looked like the outstanding playmaker that he has been so far for the Hawks. He was beat in coverage on multiple occasions Saturday, yet he recovered with a forced fumble, a pass defense and a fumble recovery return for a touchdown that more than overcame those faults. Browner is a very physical, opportunistic corner who makes up for his weaknesses in coverage by being opportunistic. He showed that in spades against Denver.
- WR Golden Tate. Just so solid again. Caught every pass thrown to him. Consistently got open for Wilson against one of the best corners in football (Champ Bailey).
- FB Spencer Ware. I really liked the physicality with which Ware ran. He’s hard to bring down and always finishes his runs. He also showed the ability again to catch the ball in the flat and make a defender or two miss. I like him as the second fullback behind Michael Robinson for this team.
- WR Stephen Williams. Again showed a great rapport with QB Tarvaris Jackson. Made two nice catches along the sideline and scored another touchdown.
- MLB Allen Bradford. I thought he was outstanding. He made a number of plays behind the line of scrimmage reading and reacting. He was extremely physical and aggressive. He even showed up with a great tackle in punt coverage. I think Bradford has secured a spot on the final roster.
- DT Jordan Hill, DE Benson Mayowa, DE/OLB O’Brien Schofield, QB Tavaris Jackson. We already mentioned these players but they were also outstanding tonight. Schofield can really get after the quarterback and Jackson has been extremely sharp all preseason.