Seahawks vs Broncos: What to Watch for in Preseason Week 2
Both Denver and Seattle experienced success during the opening week of preseason, yet both teams know there is room for improvement as the regular season approaches.
The Seahawks rookies were on full display in a big way, none bigger than third-round draft selection Russell Wilson. His performance coupled with Matt Flynn's has all the talk focused on them.
Luckily, unproven quarterback play isn't all this team has going for it. Positional battles are in full swing and roster spots are up for grabs.
So, let's take a look at what you should be watching for as Seattle heads to Denver on Saturday night.
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Even after a victory against the Titans, head coach Pete Carroll made it clear that there was plenty of room for improvement. Most notably, the tackling just wasn't good enough. A lot of big defensive stops were left out on the field.
Carroll had this to say on Saturday night after the game:
I thought the tackling was terrible, we didn’t tackle anybody. Particularly in the second half, we were just falling off the guys and that’s a first-game situation. We just have to get a lot better. That was really the area that jumped out at me. We could have had a ton of plays in the backfield for losses that we didn’t make. We just have to improve a lot there.
Both Jamie Harper and Darius Reynaud slipped through defenders' hands out of the backfield, but the biggest tackling gaffe was on Reynaud's 21-yard touchdown run. At the end of the run, two Seahawk defenders had the opportunity to make a play and both missed.
As Seattle heads into Denver for Saturday's game, it's likely the Seahawks made tackling the number one priority in practice this week.
The Broncos have a dangerous trio of running backs in Willis McGahee, Lance Ball and Ronnie Hillman. However, it's doubtful Hillman will play as he's been battling hamstring soreness. Look for Xavier Omon to see extended playing time in his absence.
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The Seahawks' three-man quarterback competition is now a two-man race with Tarvaris Jackson being put on the trade block. Even though Jackson is still on the roster, it appears as if he will sit again this week. Seattle does not want to risk getting him hurt in hopes of an organization taking the trade bait.
Coach Carroll announced on Tuesday that Matt Flynn would start his second game in a row and the rotation of him in the first half and Russell Wilson in the second half seems likely.
By no means is the quarterback competition over, as Carroll stressed he needs to see more from both players on the field. Yet, he did make it clear that Flynn is in the lead at this point by offering up some words of encouragement after practice on Wednesday:
Matt has done a really good job of commanding all the stuff. He understands the game in great depth and he gives us a veteran presence even though he doesn't have a lot of starting time, because he recognizes defenses, he's well into that whole understanding of what is going on on the other side of the ball.
Wilson realizes that he is the No. 2 right now, but he feels as if he is closing in on the starting job after last week's performance:
I definitely believe I’ve moved closer. You take one step at a time, one day at a time, one rep at a time and you just improve. You respect the process and that’s the biggest thing is just respecting the process and taking one day at a time and just learning as much as I can. I’m on a constant quest for knowledge and just trying to gain as much knowledge as I can so when I do get that opportunity I just keep growing.
Both quarterbacks had bonehead interceptions, so look for one them to take that next step and play turnover-free football.
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Even though the numbers didn't show it in the box score against the Tennessee Titans, the first-team defense did a really nice job of getting pressure on Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. More than once, Chris Clemons and the boys were staring down Hasselbeck before he even knew it.
Look for that same tempo as Peyton Manning is never an easy assignment, especially when he has all day to throw. Because Manning gets rid of the ball so quickly, I would expect Gus Bradley to dial up the blitz at least a couple of times.
No one likes to show too much during the preseason, but a few vanilla blitz calls should keep Manning guessing.
Bruce Irvin had a decent debut, although it's fair to expect more out of him. Playing him in pass rush situations is realistic in terms of regular season playing time, but what can it hurt to move him around and expose him to a different set of downs in the preseason?
Seattle should stand him up so he's rushing off the edge. They aren't in their 3-4 look a whole lot, and him and Clemons coming around the corner makes things interesting.
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Newly signed veteran wide receiver Braylon Edwards showed he still has some big-play ability left after he caught a 39-yard touchdown pass. Can Terrell Owens show off that same playmaking ability when he makes his debut?
There's no doubt he looks the part as his physique is still chiseled and his 40 time is in the low 4.4s. But as we all know, workout warriors don't always translate into effective touchdown-scoring machines.
The good thing about T.O. is he has been here before and he knows what it takes to be successful in this league. The biggest thing to keep an eye on is his ability to separate from defensive backs. He's been in some spirited practice sessions with Richard Sherman, whom he's battled in exciting one-on-one situations.
Whether Owens receives any first-team reps will remain to be seen, but as of right now, it looks like Edwards has a leg up in the battle for that last wide receiver spot.
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Robert Turbin, the Utah State University product, saw plenty of productive carries last week with Marshawn Lynch on the bench. Coach Carroll didn't give any insight as to why Lynch didn't play last week, even though he was fully suited up.
Nevertheless, Turbin should see plenty of action again this week since Carroll has been mum on his status for the second week in a row.
Up to this point, there has been no official word from the league regarding Lynch's suspension, so it makes sense that Seattle is erring on the side of caution and getting Turbin as many reps as possible.
Leon Washington and Kregg Lumpkin are also slated for action as they saw there fair share of reps last week.
The back that I would like to see on some draw plays and outside runs is speedster Tyrell Sutton. Sutton is seen as a one-cut runner who could challenge for the No. 3 running back position.
He does have some value on special teams and with more than two carries he could prove he's a more explosive runner than Lumpkin is.