8 Things We Learned About the Seattle Seahawks During the Preseason
The NFL preseason is not about wins and losses. It exists to help NFL teams evaluate players and to help to make sure that the team puts together the best roster of 53 players that is possible.
Player evaluation can come in many forms, and statistics rarely tell the whole story in the NFL. This is especially true in the preseason when some players are playing against starters, while other are playing against guys who will be out of the league before Week 1. The solution to this is to use analytics, or metrics, like the performance ratings created by the guys at Pro Football Focus.
Here I will be addressing eight things we learned about the Seahawks, and I'll be augmenting what I saw in my tape study with analytics where appropriate.
The Roster Depth Is as Strong as Advertised
The Seahawks won all four of their preseason games by pulling away in the second half once the backups from both teams were in the game. Seattle's backups were simply better than the backups of their opposing teams.
The quality of Seattle's depth was especially on display against the Raiders. Oakland left much of their first-team offense on the field well into the second quarter to help with the evaluation of Terrelle Pryor. The Seahawks played their backups exclusively after the first series and were still able to stymie the Raiders offense.
The Offense Doesn't Need Percy Harvin
Enter Stephen Williams.
The unheralded free agent stood out throughout training camp and showed that he was the downfield threat this team was looking for during the preseason. Williams caught just seven passes in limited playing time, but those included three touchdowns of over 40 yards.
His plus-5.6 performance rating was by far the best of any WR in the NFL and was compiled in just 58 plays.
The Offensive Line Is Still a Work in Progress
The Seahawks returned all five starters on the offensive line, but it remains to be seen if that is a good thing or not. Breno Giacomini, J.R. Sweezy and Paul McQuistan all struggled at times and combined for six penalties in the preseason despite limited playing time.
The Seahawks also struggled to run the ball early in games when the starters were playing. Marshawn Lynch finished the preseason averaging just 1.8 yards per carry, and Robert Turbin averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. Clearly, the blocking needs to improve.
Christine Michael Is Going to Be a Playmaker
The Seahawks drafted Christine Michael in the second round of the draft, even though they already had Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin on the roster. After four preseason games, we now have an idea as to why.
Michael posted a Pro Football Focus rating of plus-1.6 in just 85 snaps, and plus-1.9 as a runner. In 40 rushing attempts, he averaged five yards per carry, including an explosive 43-yard touchdown against the Packers.
Michael may not receiving many touches this season, but it is clear that he has a bright future.
The Team's Depth in the Secondary Is Even Better Than Expected
In the past two seasons, three of Seattle's starting secondary have been to the Pro Bowl, and the fourth was a first-team All-Pro. The "Legion of Boom" is arguably the best starting secondary in the NFL, but what about the players behind them?
Back in April, the Seahawks signed CB Antoine Winfield to help improve that depth but realized in the preseason that he simply wasn't needed. Walter Thurmond beat out the 36-year-old veteran for the nickel corner job, and backups Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell also played extremely well. All three of them posted better performance ratings than Winfield during the preseason.
All of this led to the Seahawks eventually releasing Winfield to save some salary cap space.
Defensive Tackle Is Still a Concern
The Seahawks had four defensive tackles (Brandon Mebane, Jesse Williams, Tony McDaniel and Jordan Hill) all miss much of the preseason with injuries. This caused them to trade for Sealver Siliga just before the third preseason game and then later trade for D'Anthony Smith just prior to setting the roster.
Siliga was later cut, and Williams was placed on injured reserve. Now the Seahawks are stuck hoping that Smith can make an impact and that some of the others will be healed up and ready to play by this Sunday.
Benson Mayowa Was a Steal
Benson Mayowa was signed as an undrafted free agent, and undrafted free agents aren't supposed to be this good.
Mayowa earned his place on the roster by posting four sacks, and a Pro Football Focus performance rating of plus-1.1, and he did so partially while playing against the starters of opposing teams. The Seahawks managed to find a potential contributor without even using a draft pick.
John Schneider Can Admit to His Mistakes
Chris Harper was a fourth-round pick for the Seahawks. Chris Harper is no longer on the Seahawks' roster.
Harper struggled throughout training camp, and despite playing more snaps than any other skill position player for the Seahawks in the preseason, Harper finished with just four catches. Pro Football Focus rated his performance as a dismal minus-2.0.
Harper was clearly not among the five top players at the position for the Seahawks, so John Schneider released him rather than keep him solely because of his draft position.