It’s time for football, actual, real football (sort of). On August 9th the Seattle Seahawks kick off their preseason slate with a week one matchup versus the Indianapolis Colts. As Andrew Luck and company march into Seattle, there will be plenty of action to draw your attention. We take a look at five of the biggest Seahawk storylines to watch as the game unfolds.
- The Secondary:
Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich has said that Andrew Luck will be playing more than usual this preseason. He should play about a quarter with the starters, giving Seattle’s defensive backs a great test early on. How the Seahawks manage to replace Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will be the key to any success in 2018.
During Seattle’s mock training camp game held on August 4th, Russell Wilson had his way against the ‘Hawks secondary, completing over 84 percent of his passes with four touchdowns. Granted, starting left cornerback Shaquill Griffin didn’t play and most of Wilson’s success did come against the backups. Nonetheless, Colts’ quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett offer a great litmus test to see where the Seahawks’ evolving secondary stands. Indy’s T.Y. Hilton (if he plays) will significantly challenge Seattle’s safeties down the seam with his world-class speed. Colt’s tight ends Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron are matchup problems that will force Seattle’s young defensive backs to be on top of their communication while running the zone scheme. Second-year players Tedric Thompson and Tre Flowers will be counted on to earn significant roles and must play well.
“[Tre] Flowers has really flashed in a big way. he’s been really receptive…mentally, and also physically in his ability to make things look the way it’s supposed to look. He’s really on a good track right now.”
– pete carroll
Key position battle: Tre Flowers versus Byron Maxwell-right cornerback
2. The running backs:
Chris Carson has been on a tear to open up training camp. He’s projected to be the regular season starter, but must hold off rookie first round draft pick Rashaad Penny. Both Carson and Penny ripped off big plays in last week’s mock game and both have the skill-sets to play all three downs. Rashaad must show he can pass block if he is to challenge Chris for significant snaps. How their reps are split while the first team offensive line is out there will be a major point of intrigue in the game.
Behind those two backs, Mike Davis, J.D. McKissic and C.J. Prosise are fighting for what is likely two spots on the roster. All three excel in the passing game. Prosise, finally healthy, still struggled mightily in the mock game, dropping two passes. Seattle’s coaches will be looking for consistency to separate these three.
New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer brings a power running game into the Emerald City and the lead blocker is critical to its success. After waiving Khalid Hill on Monday, the ‘Hawks have just two fullbacks on the roster; Jalston Fowler and Tre Madden. Fowler has been banged up and has missed multiple recent practices. How many snaps either sees will be a big indicator of Shottenheimer’s plans for the season.
Key position battle: Chris Carson versus Rashaad Penny-lead back
3. The Offensive Line:
Seattle’s offensive line was ranked 30th in the league by Pro Football Focus heading into 2018. The game against the Colts will get to be our first real chance at seeing how accurate their prediction is. Will the transition from Tom Cable’s zone scheme to Mike Solari’s power-man philosophy make that much of a difference? Indy has a pair of talented defensive ends in Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, though neither are double-digit sack artists. If Seattle’s tackles struggle against this crew, it will be an indication of tough times ahead for the season. This will be the first chance to see if the 2018 additions (D.J. Fluker, J.R. Sweezy, Isaiah Battle and Jamarco Jones) are an upgrade over last year’s group. Germain Ifedi may be on a very short leash after getting benched during the mock game because of penalties. He must keep his head on straight if he wants to keep his starting job.
Key position battle: D.J. Fluker versus J.R. Sweezy-right guard
4. The Pass Rush:
Dion Jordon is out with a knee injury and Frank Clark (wrist) may also sit out. This will give Seahawk fans a great chance to see if anyone else on the depth chart can step up and apply consistent pressure on the quarterback. Barkevious Mingo, Marcus Smith II, Brandon Jackson and Jacob Martin will all be fighting to see the most reps at end. Seattle must identify someone who can contribute opposite Clark and this game will provide valuable film for the evaluators.
Jarran Reed at the nose is the only defensive tackle to truly have a spot locked up. There are several players vying the job next to him. Former Minnesota Vikings’ Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen will be competing with second-year Nazair Jones for a starting role. Undrafted rookie Poona Ford will see if he can build on a very impressive start to camp. At 5-11 and 310 pounds he can provide the Seahawks with a much-needed force against the run.
Undrafted rookie, ex-University of Texas DT Poona Ford showing up in this #Seahawks mock game. Ripped off RB Mike Davis’ helmet for TFL after beating two starting linemen. Next play, sprinted outside to tackle McKissic to ruin a screen pass. #HookEm
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) August 4, 2018
Key position battle: The four-way battle for the starting defensive end job opposite Clark
5. The Receivers:
Perhaps the offensive position with the most question marks on the team, the wide receiver spot is wide open after Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. With Baldwin sitting because of a lingering knee issue, there will be plenty of snaps to go to the rest of the receiving corps. That’s great news as Seattle needs to find a third receiver. Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall seem to be the front-runners. Both had impressive showings in the mock game. Baldwin’s absence will allow former Navy-quarterback-turned-receiver Keenan Reynolds to see the field a ton in the slot. We’ll have a great opportunity to see if he is for real. Seattle will also be looking for someone to replace Paul Richardson as their deep-threat. Cyril Grayson and Marcus Johnson both have speed to burn. With fourteen receivers on the roster vying for five or six spots, players will have to do something special to get a leg up on the competition. Special-teams reps will be vital for the receivers fighting to stick around.
Key position battle: Jaron Brown versus Brandon Marshall versus Amara Darboh for the number-three receiver job.