Five things we learned about the Seahawks against Dallas include notes on Paul Richardson, Brandon Browner and J'Marcus Webb.
Along with finding out that, yep, the first-team offense still knows where the end zone is, here are five other things we learned in Seattle’s 27-17 preseason win over Dallas Thursday night.
1. Trevone Boykin has just about answered the backup quarterback question.
As spectacular as was Boykin’s 16-yard touchdown run, what also stood out were the lack of mistakes — no pick-sixes this week (and without having a deeper knowledge of the play, Boykin didn’t appear to have much more he could have done on the failed fourth-and-one play late).
Seattle has all along seemed to want a younger, less expensive and Russell Wilson-esque backup this season, and Boykin appears to have done enough to make them comfortable he can handle that role.
Coach Pete Carroll said after the game that the team has considered Boykin the backup all along, saying “he’s still holding on to that spot.’’ But with each passing week, that grip seems a little tighter.
2. J’Marcus Webb appears to have a role on this team — though exactly where remains in question.
In his first action of the preseason, Webb played two series at right tackle for the Seahawks, with Bradley Sowell on the left side, and then played two series on the left side, with Garry Gilliam on the right. Seattle scored on three of those drives, and touchdowns on two of them.
Carroll said afterward “I didn’t see enough to know how it went” when asked about the tackle spot, and Webb specifically.
But simply given the success of the offense when Webb was on the field would indicate the competition might still be on at tackle — or that Webb has at least earned a role as a swing tackle capable of filling in on both sides. And it’s worth noting again that Webb is guaranteed $2.45 million this season — the most of any offensive linemen — which also points to the team figuring out a way to find a role for him.
3. It’s probably best to wait to show any real concern about anything related to the first-team defense.
Even without Tony Romo, the Dallas first-team offense had its way with the Seahawks during a first-quarter drive when the Cowboys moved 81 yards in seven plays.
Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott got 40 of the yards on five carries working behind a Dallas offensive line many regard as the best in the NFL (a personal foul penalty on Kam Chancellor also didn’t help things).
That the Seattle defense stiffened from there might mean that drive was more of a testament to how good Dallas’ running game may be this season, and especially with Elliott, who didn’t play after that series.
Under Carroll, the Seahawks defense has also gained a reputation for effectively making adjustments as the game wears on, the kind of thing the continual lineup juggling and relative lack of gameplanning of the preseason really doesn’t allow. One series seems too little to worry about too much.
That said, the Seattle defense has been on the field for 184 snaps this preseason and has faced a starting quarterback for just 11 of them.
We may need to wait until week two of the regular season against Todd Gurley and the Rams to know if there’s any reason for concern over Seattle’s run defense (and also worth noting Seattle played Thursday without rookie defensive tackle Jarran Reed, drafted specifically to bolster the middle and replace departed vet Brandon Mebane. Reed is out with ankle/toe injuries).
4. Thursday didn’t make it any easier to tell if Brandon Browner is going to make the team.
Browner didn’t play Thursday until the late going, working basically at safety with the third-team defense. Is the team merely keeping his supposed role as a hybrid safety/linebacker — thought to be designed for specific matchups against tight ends and big receivers — under wraps? Or have the Seahawks not seen enough from Browner — while seeing all they need from Kelcie McCray, who has locked down a backup safety spot — to assure him a role on the final roster? Browner signed a one-year contract for the veteran minimum of $760,000 with no guaranteed money so finances won’t dictate the decision.
5. Christine Michael simply reinforced that he’ll have a significant role this season, while Paul Richardson gave the most clear evidence that he will.
The team’s first picks in the 2013 and 2014 drafts, respectively, each appear set to finally contribute the way the team always hoped.
Michael’s story hardly needs retelling at this point. But if you were waiting for any dents in Michael’s new-found armor, they weren’t found Thursday as he had 58 yards on seven carries and earned the highest offensive grade of any Seahawk from Pro Football Focus.
Richardson, meanwhile, showed clearly what the coaches have been saying for a while — he’s fully healthy after missing all but one game last season and will be the fourth receiver after the starting three of Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse. Among Richardson’s receptionis was a 9-yard touchdown pass — a play that helped him earn PFF’s third-highest offensive grade among Seahawks.