Seattle Seahawks: What We've Learned Through Week 2 of Training Camp
The loss ends Seattle's nine-game win streak in preseason football. It was a game marred by penalties and poor offense from the reigning Super Bowl champions.
A lot has been learned in the time leading up to last Thursday's action and the time since, providing plenty of opportunities to evaluate the Seahawks' roster from top to bottom.
Here's some of the more recent knowledge gained.
The Offensive Line Is Still a Concern
The Seahawks took a five-day respite from training camp practices leading up to Thursday's tilt with the Broncos. The results left much to be desired from the offensive line.
Only one regular starter, guard J.R. Sweezy, made it on the field against Denver, along with expected starting right tackle Justin Britt.
The rest of the unit was filled with backups who proved incapable of keeping quarterback Russell Wilson upright.
Wilson was sacked twice and forced to scramble on several other plays after having played just 24 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Speaking to the media afterward, coach Pete Carroll was able to find some positives in the play of Britt and backup guard/center Stephen Schilling:
He [Britt] did well. He made the plays he had to make. ... But I thought Justin did really well. For his first time out, he looked comfortable. He got more aggressive as the game went on.
Well he [Schilling] shows the versatility. He does a nice job under center and we like him there. He played pretty well at right guard too so that flexibility is real valuable to a guy trying to make the team so it’s helped with his cause.
While it is disconcerting to see the offensive line struggle so badly in the first real action of the season, it shouldn't be judged too harshly. It will be tough to evaluate the unit's depth and abilities until Seattle's starters get healthy.
Byron Maxwell made the starting lineup five times last season due to suspensions and injuries to Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.
Maxwell excelled when given the opportunity, finishing the season with the 13th-best coverage rating (+9.6) in the league, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
However, judging by the way things went in Thursday's preseason action, Maxwell should prepare to be targeted early and often during the 2014 season.
According to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times, Peyton Manning threw seven passes toward Maxwell's side of the field on the first two drives. He completed five of the throws in Maxwell's direction, with four of the completions going to Demaryius Thomas.
It may be early to be worried, but with Richard Sherman roaming the other side of the field, Maxwell should get used to being challenged by opposing quarterbacks.
Linebacker Depth Is Looking Good
The Seahawks went into Thursday's game against the Broncos without starting linebacker Bobby Wagner, starting rookie Brock Coyle in his stead.
The undrafted rookie stepped up in a major way, making up for Wagner's absence by leading the team in tackles with five solo and one assisted. Pete Carroll reigned in the excitement a bit but was mostly positive when speaking to reporters:
Brock did well. He made some good hits. I think his tackling will be a little more effective. He made his tackles, but I think he got caught a couple times. But he read really well, showed good burst, had five tackles and contributed on special teams well, had five or six snaps on special teams. That was a really encouraging game for him, really encouraging and we’re thrilled that he’s holding his own right now.
In the meantime, Mike Morgan played well as a backup a year after going undrafted himself. While he didn't light up the stat sheet, Morgan did a quality job of staying in his lanes, closing down space and covering well.
With the two young talents performing well, the Seahawks continue to show their talent for finding quality talent and have quality depth at the position.
Coach Carroll had this to say to the media about Morgan:
Mike’s having his best camp we’ve ever seen. This is the best we’ve ever seen of Mike. He’s healthy. He’s the strongest he’s ever been. I’ve got a lot of reservoir here. This is his best football he’s ever played and it’s really pleasing. He’s a huge factor on special teams for us. He can play three different spots on linebacker, playing nickel situations and all that, just a really versatile guy. By the time we get everybody back and healthy we’re going to be as strong as we’ve been, I think, at that spot.
The Battle for No. 2 Is Real
While quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Terrelle Pryor have performed well throughout the offseason, it's always a bit more reassuring to see them perform against an actual opponent.
In Thursday's meeting with the Broncos both quarterbacks were given playing time, and both quarterbacks played well.
Jackson put together two high-caliber drives, completing five of his seven pass attempts for 47 yards and leading the offense to a first-half-ending field goal.
Pryor did exactly what Oakland Raider fans saw last season. He had moments where he was able to make some dazzling plays and moments of pedestrian play. Being granted the most playing time, he led the Seahawks offense by completing nine of 16 pass attempts for 137 yards and tacking on 28 yards rushing on seven carries.
Pryor threw a poor pass that was intercepted toward the end of the game, bringing up fears over his decision-making abilities.
Depth Behind Lynch Isn't There
Marshawn Lynch sat out the Seahawks' first preseason matchup, putting the talents of Christine Michael and Robert Turbin on full display.
The pair finished with a total of 21 yards rushing and a score on 11 combined carries. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor led the team in rushing yards with 28, and the team finished with a total of 94 yards on the ground.
While Lynch is working his way into better condition and should be healthy for the regular season, the running back position is a volatile one. Lynch is 28 years old but has a lot of wear on his tires, averaging 334 carries a season over the last three years (including the playoffs) along with an average of 29 touches.
That's an average of 364 touches over the last three seasons and a clear-cut plan to continue the strategy.
While Russell Wilson has proven himself to be a spectacular quarterback in his first two seasons, the Seahawks are a run-first team with few receiving weapons.
As long as Lynch is healthy the offense will be fine, but Michael and Turbin continue to fail to impress when given opportunities.