KCCD Editor: Jason Madson
Derek Stephens, Editor at Scout the Seahawks, was kind enough to answer a few questions about tonight’s game. Head over to STS to check out more of Derek’s excellent work. Head inside for his answers to the 10 questions every Chiefs fan needs answered.
1. How was training camp? Who were the biggest surprises and disappointments? Did the Seahawks suffer any costly injuries?
Training camp has been good for the most part. The biggest surprise across the board has been the difference in quality depth along the front lines. Guys who made the team as back-end roster guys last year, both on the O-line and up front on defense, are playing with the 3rd team this year, and are being passed up by bigger, faster athletes. The biggest surprise in camp, from an individual player standpoint, has been Seattle’s first 7th round pick this year, J.R. Sweezy out of N.C. State. He was a D-lineman in college, but Seattle drafted him to convert him to guard on offense. They sent OL coach Tom Cable to work him out prior to the draft, and he came back with a good report. Fast-forward to week 3 of the preseason, and you’ll see him starting at right guard for the Seahawks on Friday night against K.C. Again, this is a guy who hadn’t played a snap on offense since Pop Warner coming in, and he’s starting (legitimately) on a really good offensive line – one that boasted the best rushing attack during the second half of last season. As far as disappointments, some of the young receivers that Seattle had hoped would be a big part of the offense this year, have struggled with drops. Namely, last year’s 4th round pick Kris Durham out of Georgia and a UDFA from last season, Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State) were expected to come in and compete for starting WR spots, and as of now are playing with the 2nd and 3rd teams respectively. Locket is a sub-4.3 guy who can really stretch the field, but hasn’t been able to hang onto the ball in practice. No major injuries to speak of. Sidney Rice will play for the first time this preseason against K.C., after having reconstructive surgery on both shoulders.
2. What is the biggest strength on offense and defense for the Seahawks?
On offense, it’s the running game, without question. Marshawn Lynch led the league in rushing for the last 9 weeks of last season, and the O-line, under the watch of Tom Cable, has really synched up and bought into the zone blocking system that he teaches. On defense, it’s the secondary. Three of Seattle’s four starting DBs made the Pro Bowl last year, and the one that didn’t, Richard Sherman, arguably played better than all of them. He was a 5th round pick out of Stanford last season. Brandon Browner is the other corner. He’s 6’4, 225lbs and played his first season in the NFL last year after 4 years in the CFL. He made the pro bowl. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor might be the best young safety tandem in football.
3. Biggest weakness on both sides?
QB has been the biggest weakness on offense. Tarvaris Jackson was underwhelming as the starter last year, so the Seahawks went out and signed Matt Flynn from GB, and drafted Russell Wilson out of Wisconsin. Russell Wilson will get the start in K.C. He has dominated with the 2nd team, and Flynn has done well with the first team. The starting job is still up for grabs, and Wilson will get his chance on Friday to show what he can do with the 1st team. On defense, Seattle has struggled to get a consistent pass rush for the last 3 or 4 years. They went out and drafted Bruce Irvin from West Virginia, signed Jason Jones from Tennessee and moved him to the 3-technique, drafted Jaye Howard out of Florida and a guy named Greg Scruggs out of Louisville, all of whom were brought in to add speed to that D-line. Chris Clemons returns after two straight years of 11 sacks, so the hope amongst Seattle fans is that the speed upgrade will generate better, more consistent pass pressure.
4. How are Seattle fans reacting to the QB situation? Are they upset about big money Flynn sitting behind Wilson, even if it’s a preseason game?
Most fans want to see Wilson, because of how electrifying he can be, particularly when he gets outside the pocket. He has a better arm than Flynn as well, so he’s quickly become the fan favorite. The lack of clear direction by the coaching staff at this position, however, has generated some frustration amongst fans, who, for the most part, see this as indecision. But Pete Carroll is all about going against the grain, and doing things in an unconventional way. So there’s a lot of positivity around Wilson getting the start, but some frustration with how the situation has been handled at the QB spot.
5. Name a few under the radar guys Chiefs fans can pay attention to on your roster that may make the team.
Sean McGrath – TE – UDFA – #45 – Henderson State. McGrath has good hands, is a solid blocker, and displays solid fundamentals while running routes and securing the ball with his hands. He’s not afraid to go over the middle, and has been a favorite target of Russell Wilson. He’ll probably run mostly with the 2nd unit though, as SEA is pretty deep at TE. J.R. Sweezy – OG – 7th Round – #64 – Wrote about him as the big surprise in camp. Watch this guy. He’s explosive with his hands, and an extremely aggressive run-blocker. Jeron Johnson – SS – UDFA ’11 – #32 – Johnson rode the inactive list last year, but is poised to be a rotational safety this year at both spots. He can hawk the ball deep, or come up and defend the run in the box. Bobby Wagner – MLB – 2nd Round – #54 – Wagner was SEA’s 2nd pick this year out of Utah State. He’s the fastest linebacker on the squad and takes over the starting position for the departed David Hawthorne (New Orleans). He’s extremely instinctive, and should be around the ball early and often.
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