With the loss on Thursday night, the Seahawks fall to 0-4 in the preseason — marking the first time since they entered the NFL in 1976 that they did not win at least one exhibition game.
If you must know, the Raiders beat the Seahawks 30-19 in the thoroughly inconsequential fourth exhibition game of the 2018 season.
Here, instead, is what you need to know about a game both sides wanted to get over with as quickly as possible and without injuries so they could get to the business of cutting the rosters from 90 to 53 by Saturday at 1 p.m.
— The starters played not at all or very little. Quarterback Russell Wilson didn’t play, nor did almost all of the offensive starters. The only ones who did were right tackle Germain Ifedi, left guard Ethan Pocic, running back Chris Carson, tight end Nick Vannett and, for a couple of snaps, receiver Tyler Lockett. The only core defensive player who started were cornerback Shaquill Griffin, and he lasted just a series (Bobby Wagner didn’t play).
— The Seahawks matched preseason franchise infamy. The Seahawks finished the preseason 0-4, the first time since they entered the NFL in 1976 that they did not win at least one exhibition game.
The Seahawks also hadn’t had a losing preseason since coach Pete Carroll’s first year in 2010, and they had gone 19-5 since the arrival of Russell Wilson in 2012, never going worse than 2-2. Whether it’s just one of those preseason things — Cleveland went 4-0 in the preseason last year before going 0-16 in the regular season — or a foreboding sign of things to come, will be learned soon enough.
Carroll didn’t seem too worried about it.
“I just wish we had won a couple games and had a little more fun in the locker room,” he said. “But other than that, these guys, they’ve busted their ass the whole time.”
— The right tackle “comp’’ appears over. In what might have been as meaningful as anything that happened Thursday night, George Fant saw all of his snaps at left tackle. Recall that a week ago the big story was that Fant was being moved to the right side with Carroll saying “the comp (competition) was on’’ between Fant and Ifedi.
But that competition appears over as Fant only played left tackle against the Raiders. Ifedi played one series as the starter and was replaced by Willie Beavers. Fant took over at left tackle for the second series and played there into the third quarter.
When Fant finally went to the sidelines, the Seahawks used backup center Joey Hunt at right tackle, a position he’s never played in a game and possibly never in practice.
The game indicated some uncertainty about the backup tackle spots, but any doubt about Ifedi’s status as the starter at right tackle appears over. Carroll essentially confirmed that after the game saying of Ifedi that he’s “done a nice job. … he’s worked really hard to clean up his game and that’s helped him.”
However, Ifedi also “turned his ankle” Carroll said, adding “I don’t know how serious it is but he did turn his ankle some so we’ll have to see how it goes.”
— Austin Davis did a nice job in a showcase for another team. The arrival of Brett Hundley seems to mean he will be the backup quarterback instead of Austin Davis, who served in that role last year.
The Seahawks appeared to do Davis something of a favor by starting him and letting him play the first half after he had played little in the first three games. Davis, who was just 7-of-11 for 56 yards in the first three games, went 13-of-20 for 194 yards against the Raiders. He also highlighted his performance with an 81-yard touchdown pass to Damore’ea Stringfellow in the second quarter.
Davis will likely be waived in the cutdown to 53 players on Saturday, but at least he has some film to show to any team who might want him.
— As for Alex McGough, he was spotty. It was another game of some good and some bad for McGough, which showed why the team wants to keep him around long-term, but why it also felt he wasn’t ready to be the backup just yet.
He showed the athleticism and arm the team loves when he rolled out and hit Malik Turner for an apparent 52-yard touchdown in the third quarter before a review determined that Turner did not have his second foot inbounds. He showed it again later on consecutive scrambles of 18 and 11 yards in the fourth quarter when he tried in vain to bring Seattle back with a drive that concluded with a 10-yard TD pass to Kyle Carter with 3:11 left.
But he also misfired on a fourth-and-three pass to Keenan Reynolds and had a mostly uninspiring statistical line until the final minutes.
McGough also figures to be waived Saturday, but the Seahawks are sure to want to re-sign him to the practice squad. Any team claiming McGough would have to place him on their 53-man roster. That would seem unlikely for a rookie who would have to learn a whole new playbook, and with most teams generally keeping just two quarterbacks.
“They both competed really well,” Carroll said of Davis and McGough in light of the news this week of the trade for Hundley.
— Could one play have helped Stringfellow earn a roster spot? Damore’ae Stringfellow’s 81-yard TD, in which he beat corner Raysean Pringle at the line to break open and make an easy catch down the sideline of a well-thrown ball by Davis, was the offensive highlight of the night for the Seahawks until McGough led a late 91-yard drive when the score was 30-13.
It was also the preseason highlight for Stringfellow, a one-time UW Husky who ended his career at Ole Miss after he left the Huskies following an arrest for assaulting a Seahawks fan after the Super Bowl win in 2014. He has had a good training camp.
Stringfellow still appears to be on the outside looking in at the receiver competition. But that play may have helped assure a spot on the practice squad.
Seattle’s other TD in the first half came on a somewhat questionable pass interference call drawn by David Moore that led to a 1-yard TD run by Mike Davis.
Carroll also cited the play of Turner, who had three receptions for 69 yards and could have had the 52-yard TD, as well.
“I thought Malik Turner did a great job tonight,” he said.
— The Seahawks pass defense left a lot to be desired all preseason, and particularly Thursday. That, of course, comes with all the usual caveats about most of the defensive starters not playing. Still, Seattle entered the game allowing a 99.5 passer rating in the first three games and let Oakland backup E.J. Manuel complete 18 of 22 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Seattle didn’t have a sack through the first three quarters and missed tackles contributed to two long Oakland touchdown passes thrown by Manuel.
— But the run defense was stout and the linebackers showed up. Conversely, the Seahawks allowed just 63 yards on 24 carries rushing with Carroll noting “they couldn’t run the ball at all” early — Oakland had only 12 yards on 10 carries in the first half.
Carroll cited the play of backup linebackers Austin Calitro and Shaquem Griffin as keys in that effort. Calitro appears to have won a spot on the roster as Wagner’s backup while Griffin figures to have to play against Denver in the opener in the likely absence of K.J. Wright. Carroll said Griffin’s play early added to the team’s confidence he can get the job done if needed in place of Wright in Denver.
“Calitro showed up again,” Carroll said. “Grif showed up with eight tackles in the first half, which was great. We really wanted to see him be comfortable and fit into the scheme. Those were things that we needed to see.”
The Seahawks also got a long look at safety Maurice Alexander playing weakside linebacker in the second half, a move made this week after the loss of Wright. Alexander appears set to be the backup there for as long as Wright is out.
“It does help us,” Carroll said. “He’s got a lot of flexibility.”