Post-game observations of Seattle's 18-11 loss to the Vikings include items on the running back position, Russell Wilson, Jon Ryan and more.
Here are observations on the Seahawks’ 18-11 preseason loss to the Vikings Thursday from beat reporters Bob Condotta and Jayson Jenks.
First, three from Jenks:
1. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson still finding the balance between big-play hunting and moving on to the next snap.
This has always been the line Wilson has walked. When should he throw it away? When should he keep running around, looking for an opening that could change the game?
It’s a hard balance, and the Seahawks have had conversations with Wilson on a case-by-case basis since he entered the league. I bring this up now because after Thursday’s game coach Pete Carroll said that Wilson could do a better jot to help the Seahawks “when we get stuck.” Some of the problems along the offensive line, Carroll said, were actually Wilson’s problems.
“Sometimes we try really hard to get out, try to make a bigger play when the pressure eventually gets there,” Carroll said. “ But, on rhythm, we were fine a few times. We need to get the ball out and stay quick with it like we want to and not let the rush get to us. When you don’t, then you suffer negative stuff that makes it hard to get going.”
When Wilson was at his best last year, in the second half of the season, the offense just seemed to flow. The rhythm, the timing, it was all there, and it was usually quick. When Wilson and the offense struggled, it often looked more jumbled, more bogged down; it lacked that eye-test rhythm.
It’s just the preseason, but it’s an important point to remember, and one Carroll made sure to include in his opening remarks, unprompted, after the game.
2. The long snapper position will be worth watching.
Nolan Frese, the undrafted free agent out of Houston and the only long snapper on the roster, had a high snap on a missed field goal and a low snap on a punt. The Seahawks, like pretty much all NFL teams, highly value special teams, and Carroll especially values taking care of the ball.
The Seahawks didn’t re-sign veteran long snapper Clint Gresham this offseason, and then they let the other long snapper on the roster go earlier this offseason, leaving Frese as the guy.
At the very least, it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks bring in an outside long snapper to either a) create competition at that spot or b) replace Frese entirely. It’s a tough gig and sometimes a bit unfair, but that’s the nature of a specialists’ job: Nobody notices until you mess up.
3. Jon Ryan is crushing the ball.
Ryan has boomed the ball in the Seahawks’ first two preseason games, and it least looks like his leg is more powerful this season than in previous years. So I asked Ryan in the locker room after Thursday’s game if that was the case.
Here’s what he said: “I feel strong,” Ryan said. “Everyone always says your leg starts to go down as you hit the age I’m at right now, but I feel stronger and stronger every year. I’ve never felt this strong before. I feel like it’s one of those things where my technique and my strength kind of matched up real well right now. So I’m just going to try to stay consistent and keep doing that.”
Ryan has been so consistent the last few years that he sort of flies under the radar this time of year. But he’s looked good in two preseason games.
And from Condotta:
1. Can Troymaine Pope make a real run at a roster spot?
The game marked the first extended look for the Seahawks at rookie running back Alex Collins, a fifth-round pick, and the first game action of any kind for rookie Zac Brooks, a seventh-round pick.
But it was another rookie who stole the show, undrafted free agent Troymaine Pope who finished with a game-high 86 yards on 10 carries.
While Pope was helping lead a fourth-quarter comeback that fell just short, Collins was held to 13 yards on six carries while also dropping a pass and appearing to be at fault for missing a block that led to a sack. Brooks got just two carries for 10 yards and one catch for four yards.
Collins still seems pretty much a given to make the roster, one game isn’t enough to judge anything yet about Brooks and given the imminent return of Thomas Rawls, the way Christine Michael has played and that C.J. Prosise is also on the mend, there may not be room for Pope.
But it was hard not to leave the stadium being a little wowed by the speedy Pope, who played at FCS Jacksonville State and had a brief stint with the Chiefs in the spring but was pondering his football future before the Seahawks called a few weeks ago when Brooks and others were sidelined with injuries.
Carroll seemed suitably impressed afterward.
“I’m not surprised,” Carroll said. “I really thought we saw some stuff in practice that showed us the special quickness that he has. He’s very elusive. He has a good burst and a good sense. I went right back after watching him, and the kind of yards he made in high school. He had some huge years in high school and he had a really big year his senior year in college. He’s made a lot of touchdowns and scored a lot of points. It was exciting to see a young guy come through like that.”
2. The door also seems open for Kenny Lawler to earn a spot as a receiver.
The Seahawks have four sure things at receiver — Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson.
But after that it is a jumble for the final spot or two, especially with Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith — who were on the roster at the end of last season — each having been sidelined of late with hamstring injuries. Williams returned this week but didn’t get involved in much against the Vikings, not having a single pass thrown his way.
Another player considered a leading contender for one of the final receiving roster spots, Douglas McNeil, also didn’t have a target in the game.
But with the likes of Williams and Smith (and a few others) sidelined, rookie seventh-round pick Kenny Lawler has stepped into the void the last few weeks and he did so again against the Vikings with three receptions for 47 yards on six targets.Antwan Goodley also had a nice game in his first action of the season with five catches for 65 yards — each game highs for the Seahawks. But given his status as a draft pick and his apparent upside, Lawler’s games of the past two weeks may have more significance.
“He gives you the confidence,” Carroll said afterward. “He’s a real natural football player and he really kind of gets it and makes things look easy. He’s done a really good job the last week and a half.”
3. Last week’s UDFA heroes were a little quieter in week two.
One thing coaches really wanted to see this week was whether some of the young players who shone last week could do so again this week.
But the most notable standouts of the win over the Chiefs — receiver Tanner McEvoy and defensive back Tyvis Powell — were quieter against the Vikings.
Of the two, McEvoy made more of an apparent impact with one catch for eight yards and also drawing a pass interference penalty in the final minute that got the Seahawks close. But McEvoy also committed two penalties, illustrating the learning curve he still has to muster.
Powell, meanwhile, had two tackles playing defense but didn’t make much of an evident impact on special teams as he had against the Chiefs.
At first glance, it was also hard to tell if any others really stood out. If one did, it was linebacker Kache Palacio. In one of the more surprising developments, Palacio — a Washington State alum who didn’t join the team until after camp started — got work with the second defensive unit and then played throughout, finishing with four tackles and a quarterback hit.