Thoughts on the Broncos game

August 8th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

This penalty by Tharold Simon pretty much sums up a sloppy Seattle display in Denver

Losing this game might be a good thing.

The Seahawks were sloppy last night. That was Pete Carroll’s assessment and he’s right. The game was littered with penalties (more on that later), but that’s nothing new in pre-season. The most surprising thing was Seattle’ poor tackling and the ease in which Denver ran all over the backup defense.

The days of Seattle’s deep roster outclassing all and sundry in pre-season might be over. Last year we wondered if a team made up of the backups would be competitive in the NFL as a starting unit. Last night was an eye opener.

There needs to be some context — with so many players not even making the trip to Denver, many of the backups were acting as starters. On the offensive line J.R. Sweezy was the only established lineman to begin the game and he took a handful of snaps. None of the first choice linebackers started and neither did Marshawn Lynch.

Even so, this was uncharted territory for this roster. And as suggested in the first sentence — it might not be such a bad game to lose.

Seattle won the Super Bowl so comfortably it’d be easy to feel immortal. When the big contracts started getting dished out, that feeling was probably enhanced even more. This was only a pre-season game, it has no meaning. But a sluggish, ugly defeat to the same team pummelled in the Super Bowl might present a much needed sense of mortality.

This isn’t an unstoppable force capable of dominating due its mere presence on a football field. It’s no bad thing to remember that now before the real stuff begins.

Here are some other thoughts on last night:

– Brock Croyle started well against the run and was solid. He took a couple of poor angles — benefiting from one of the many dubious calls when Wes Welker was penalised for an illegal block in the back. That’ll improve with time on the field. He looks like a Seahawks LB — mobile with a nose for the ball. His tackling technique needs work however.

– Demaryius Thomas is set for a huge season. Peyton Manning went to his #1 target time and time again and Byron Maxwell couldn’t make a play. It’d be easy to criticise Maxwell, but he played the coverage well and there was no real game plan on defense. It’s clear though that teams are going to avoid Richard Sherman at all costs and this will give Maxwell multiple opportunities to sink or swim in a contract year.

– Denver came out like a team trying to make a statement. They converted some big third down plays and managed a long 14-play drive leading to a short rushing touchdown. Peyton Manning was largely untroubled by the pass rush, even on third and long. It was weird to see both Manning and Wilson stay out as long as they did in a week-one pre-season game. Two long winded, penalty inflated drives ensured that.

– Robert Turbin gives his all, but he’s just an average running back. He needs good blocking to make plays. And by plays, I mean even 6-7 yard gains. The run blocking was poor but when asked to stretch the play and bounce outside, Turbin couldn’t make an impact. He’s not a natural one-cut runner and appears laboured changing direction. Christine Michael didn’t have a flawless game by any means, but he offers so much more dynamism. If Michael with all that talent can’t displace Turbin as the premier backup this year, it’s time to start wondering if he’ll ever mature enough to be trusted. The talent differential is substantial.

– Paul Richardson looks in terrific shape. He’s added good weight and had a natural feel to his game. Just as we saw in college he eats up a cushion and gets open. They didn’t test him deep but we can all look forward to that. He also earned a ‘teaching moment’ from Kippy Brown when he dipped out of bounds one yard shy of a gettable first down. This was a promising start.

– Considering the starting offensive line was Bailey, Hauptmann, Jeanpierre, Sweezy and Britt — we should be grateful Russell Wilson ended the game without injury. The Broncos went after it on the pass rush and looked dangerous on every play. They put together a sound game plan to combat the run in the Super Bowl and were even more effective here. Wilson was jittery, which is kind of understandable. He didn’t put up major yards in pre-season last year and these types of situations aren’t designed for him. Every year Philip Rivers’ stat line looks great in pre-season because he throws 4-5 passes, completes the lot and runs off for a Gatorade. Wilson’s game as a mobile point guard isn’t suited to one accomplished pass-heavy drive and an energy drink.

– Tharold Simon had possibly the biggest bone-head penalty I’ve ever seen by a player trying to earn snaps. Striking a player on a dead-ball foul in pre-season is ludicrous and unacceptable. Kris Richard had a few words on the sideline — I suspect Pete Carroll had a few more after the game.

– The pass rush generally was weak. Seattle recorded only one sack on the night. Benson Mayowa was anonymous which is a concern, while the likes of Gregg Scruggs and O’Brien Schofield didn’t have much of an impact. It’s too early to be concerned about Mayowa, but he needs a good pre-season to live up to last years promise. Cassius Marsh was the most positive story here — recording that solitary sack. He did well to shed a block and explode into Brock Osweiler. He had a few good moments, but he also allowed the Broncos QB to escape his clutches for an 18-yard gain. Out of all the young pass rushers, he looks like the one most likely to get some decent snaps based on this evidence.

– Horace Miller and Jackson Jeffcoat weren’t impressive and it’s when they teamed up with Heath Farwell at linebacker that the run-D seemed to collapse. It was a difficult second half to watch on defense. Brock Croyle aside, not many of Seattle’s defensive hopefuls stepped up to the plate against a good offense.

– Terrelle Pryor was OK. He had a chance to lead a long scoring drive to win the game before a costly (and avoidable) interception. His mobility is an asset and he can make plays. It was surprising to see the difference in arm strength however between Pryor and Tarvaris Jackson. There was a noticeable difference in Jackson’s favour. I’m not sure there’s any way he steals the backup slot and it all comes down to whether Seattle can afford to carry three quarterbacks this year — something they’ve tended not to do in the Carroll era.

– I’m totally confused by what’s happening to pre-season. The ref’s threw a million flags in this game, calling pretty much anything to make a ‘point of emphasis’. And yet they visit the teams in training camp teaching, guess what? ‘Points of emphasis’. They charge people money to watch these games and they broadcast them on the TV. This isn’t an officials training session or seminar. It’s a football game. And it should be treated like a real football game. The refs made this intriguing contest unwatchable. Seattle gave up a first down on 1st and 35 because of a terrible pass interference call, but they can thank the refs for extending their first scoring drive (ending with a Christine Michael TD). It was a mess and if they’re going to go down this route — have teams visit each other in camp and play a scrimmage behind closed doors.

35 Responses to “Thoughts on the Broncos game”

  1. FC says:

    I was watching Justin Britt in particular and he is simply not ready yet. He showed promise, but needs a lot more experience before he can run with the first team. His hand use needs work and he wasn’t holding his center of balance as well as he should.

  2. John says:

    Went back and watched some of the game and got about the middle of the way through Manning’s scoring drive, when Mayowa, Scruggs, and O’Schofield were seeing some significant reps.

    Honestly, Mayowa is a more frustrating DE prospect than Irvin. Saw him spin away from Clady and fall down when he had a straight shot to Manning and saw another stutter step by Clady though Manning got the ball out fast. You see the tools, somethings that are hard to develop, but what he is missing is the power. Absolutely frustrating.

    Scruggs didn’t flash any pass rush ability. Manning was putting the LG, Orlando Franklin (who was the RT in the SB) on him 1 on 1 and Scruggs was stonewalled. Then he’d double Bennett or Avril on the right side and had all day.

    Kevin Williams didn’t push the pocket either, though unlike Scruggs, he was doubled which allowed Bennett and Avril to provide some pressure.

    Bennett struggled against Vasquez when he lined up inside. Vasquez is an all-pro guard so I don’t expect domination by Bennett but it will be interesting to see what Seattle approaches the rush in Week 3 when they meet for real.

    I am so glad we re-signed O’Schofield… He actually looks serviceable out there, though he is no Clemons. I didn’t really watch him exclusively but he is better than Mayowa at this point.

    As far as our O-Line goes. I only rewatched the few 6 or so plays of Seattle’s first drive and I came away less concerned than I did with the initial impressions.

    Sweezy is really good. Stuffed Wolfe and Williams on the first drive, but struggled with Jackson who is a future stud. On the Ware sack where Wilson Scrambled out, that was all because Jackson drove Sweezy back immediately.

    Britt did better than I initially thought against Von Miller’s back up McCray. My brother (a die hard Den fan) is excited about that guy so to see Britt do well against him is something. Personally saw more problems with the interior line than the tackles when I watched it again.

    I want to give some credit to Den for making our O Line look as bad as they did. They have a lot of pass rush depth. I saw 3 players that aren’t starters (Jackson, McCray and Smith) that I’d rather have on this team than Scruggs/Mayowa/Williams but yeah. For as awesome as Seattle’s drafting has been I would like to see them take a page out of Elway’s pass rush draft book. Because he’s stock piled some very good players. DL has not been Seattle’s highest mark in terms of the draft.

    I’m not panicking for the season and, for as frustrating as it was, most of the depth will be better for the snaps they saw tonight. Seattle didn’t always dominate preseason and I see this as an opportunity to start developing the next wave of depth.

    • Steve Nelsen says:

      Pro Football Focus confirms what your eyes were telling you; Obrien Schofield had a good game. He got their “game ball” and was singled out for his play against a fine Denver opponent.

      And you aren’t the only one who liked Britt’s play after further review. Tom Cable praised Britt’s in-game adjustments. Which brings up a fair point; it is easy for the casual observer to see the mistake plays, it is much harder for the casual fan or “fanalyst” to measure improvement. I still tend to think that Eric Winston didn’t sign here to be a backup but maybe I am being too quick in my judgment on that point. Britt is penciled in as the starter right now for Friday night. If he is still starting pre-season Game 3, then the talk of him starting Week 1 will be very believable.

      Did anybody else read Ken Norton’s strong praise for KJ Wright? He called him, “My best tackler, my best pass defender, my best rusher, and my best field general at WILL, SAM or MIKE.” He is predicting a big breakout year for KJ. I have to admit that I still see Wagner as the top MIKE but those comments got me thinking about the Hawks potential offseason free-agent priorities.

  3. CC says:

    I want to see more from Pryor – and if there is a way to keep him, I’d like him to stay around. Partly because I think he’d fit in with a team like SF – and TP and Kaep are quite similar in their playing styles.

    I like what Obi Schofield brings in his experience. He filled in well for Irvin last year and I think he adds to the rotation.

    PRich looked good – so I think if Russell gets time with the line, he might be able to throw some nice passes to PRich. I also like Spencer Ware – and I just don’t get the Turbin hype – he doesn’t break tackles – how can he replace Marshawn? Michael, well, he shows some speed, but then you wonder why is he behind Turbin?

    I’m sure next game will be better.

  4. Mylegacy says:

    Looking at weaknesses – on the Dline with Clemens, Red and McDonald gone I see Marsh as a possible suitable replacement for one spot – but Williams (total failure on the night), Mayowa (couldn’t stay on his feet – I know the field was bad – but I remember him falling down a lot in last year’s pre-season too), Scruggs (big disappointment), and Hill (did he even play?) were all well below what they were advertised as. Suddenly, the Dline may be a real issue.

    The OLine – MAY – come together…Okung HAS to stay healthy, Unger HAS to stay healthy, Carp HAS to stay healthy (and in Carp’s case improved as well), and Sweezy has to not be the only real professional level quality on the field. As for Britt – he’s still a long way from being ready. Jeanpierre and Hauptmann are back up guys. Baily and perhaps Isles MIGHT be able to contribute…

    With our brutal schedule – I seriously fear even a few small injuries will see both these units being unable to play at a Championship level. It’s VERY early – but – A repeat is looking seriously unlikely – despite our considerable strengths.

  5. James says:

    I think our D line will be OK. Clemons was the big loss, but there is a lot of depth there, and the NASCAR package that emerges will be just fine. Our LBs will be even better than last year, and then there is the LoB, the best in the game, historic. The offense, on paper, should be improved over last year. I still don’t know how we ran the gauntlet when Okung and Unger were out, and Carp was huffing and puffing on one leg; oh, and Percy Harvin was in the hospital…..well, we do know, and his name is Russell Wilson, who got us just enough points to win, which is his specialty. But this O line has to have the five starters throughout the season, or RW is at extreme risk. You get lucky and count your blessings, but you don’t press your luck a second time, so Pete, Bevell and Cable have to get these guys healthy and keep them healthy. If so, Beast, Percy, Baldwin, Kearse and Richardson, with RW at the controls, will light up the scoreboard.

    I don’t get the plan on Pryor. T-Jack is only 31, so just plan on him as your backup for the next three or four years and turn your attention elsewhere. Are they carrying Pryor just to keep him away from Santa Clara? After all, he is a poor-man’s Kaepernick, with the same strengths and weaknesses, and is better suited for that offense. He is a FA after this season, so I see no long term plan or future with him on this team.

    The NFL “brain-trust” is too clever by half. Leave the damn game alone, and stop with the penalties to try to force 50 point per game offenses upon us.

  6. Arias says:

    I’m coming to grips with the probable fact that this team will find it hard to be good as last year. The defensive line play was a major disappointment. If Mayowa and Scruggs are any indication, they aren’t going to have the depth they had last year which will make it harder on the LOB.

    Speaking of, wow Maxwell really got schooled. Let’s hope that was an aberration and not the beginning of a trend.

  7. JeffS says:

    RW looked old,slow and fat to me.

    Was I imagining this?

  8. Colin says:

    Man, people are taking this game WAAAY too seriously. You’d think we just lost the regular season opener. Relax. Just because the 2s and 3s didn’t dominate hardly means there’s already issues. Some people here are acting like the sky is falling. Why? It’s preseason game 1. Let’s see how things are in games 2 and 3. What we saw out of the ones is hardly cause for concern.

  9. James says:

    Our ones can beat their ones; our twos can beat their twos; and our threes can beat their threes. But, our twos cannot beat their ones, nor can our threes beat their twos. This is the NFL, for Pete’s sake.

    Which brings us to… the O line. I am calling right now on Pete to sit Russell Wilson until the five starters are all in the game at the same time. If the Seahawks throw another backup O line out there next week, RW stays on the pine.

    And what the heck…. Pete and Cable take Sweezy out but leave RW in, and Denver’s DT immediately blows past Schilling and nearly kills Russ…. please stop with the arrogance and play the percentages… this is the preseason after all. No Okiung, no Carp, no Unger, no Russell Wilson.

    • James says:

      …and speaking of arrogance and playing the percentages, enough of this crazy talk of Earl Thomas (or Richard Sherman) returning punts. Without ET, add three more losses this season. Earl doesn’t step on the field except as the FS, same with Sherm at CB. Kearse is the ideal punt return guy, in my opinion. Good size to take a hit, great hands, great instincts, great under pressure, shifty enough to get the job done. There, that was easy.

      • Darnell says:

        What’s your issue with ET returning punts? I can understand being hesitant about it if punt returners got injured at a troubling rate – but they don’t.

        You can’t make decisions out of fear; returns offer another opportunity to get the ball in the hands of a playmaker. Fortune favors the brave.

        • glor says:

          fortune favors the smart.. there is no upside to ET returning punts

        • James says:

          The punt returner is a sitting duck for a cheap shot. Some third string guy who wants to make a name for himself could take out ET with a head shot at the cost of a 15 yd penalty. Earl is the best FS in the game and a potential defensive MVP, and that should be more than sufficient….let someone else do the special teams job.

          • Radman says:

            There’s probably nothing particularly risky in punt returns per se. But it is more opportunity to get hurt. It’s another dice roll.

            I just don’t see the risk in putting a premium, best-at-his-position player in a punt return role as a worthy one to take. Find another player. One who is not perhaps your most valuable defensive player, to put in that role. It’s not worth the dice roll. There are lots of players out there who can do the job well, and if they get hurt, you find another.

            I think the risk is foolish. You lose ET to an injury on defense, it’s a bad outcome on a roll of the dice you have to take. You lose him on a punt return, you rightly just look like an idiot for rolling the dice.

    • glor says:

      Just wait until Okung injures himself yet again, Carp plays in his normal fashion, and … ya well at RT, nuff said.
      This O-Line isn’t getting better, it has peaked and is now getting worse.. which is sad, because it has been the weakest part of this team the last 4 years.

      Add to that ET blowing out his knee on a punt return (now that is a smart idea)..

  10. Dan says:

    I’m amazed at these comments. It’s a preseason game! And a first one at that. Let’s wait and see what happens.

  11. HD says:

    1st preseason game and the sky is falling…Let’s see if Seattle’s coaching staff has a clue and where we end up at the start of the season…For all intents and purposes…you are looking at some major personal changes…let’s let preseason and camp do it’s job and get this things to Jell…I watched a number of other preseason games this weekend…it wasn’t pretty…..Seattle has a real opportunity to put together another dynamic team….let’s find what’s right in the next four weeks…and then come to grips when the season starts…Don’t forget…the draft isn’t finished until the final 53 cutdown.
    Clem, Avril, Irvin and McDonald didn’t start last season…we lost Browner and Thurmon…Okung and Breno for half the season…Unger for 3 games when Breno and Okung were out…Things have been worse.

  12. David M says:

    Hey guys think the hawks should just throw in the towel now?? That’s what all you sound like… geeze lol

  13. DieselDriver says:

    I disagree on Brock Croyle. Based on my understanding of how the run fits were supposed to occur on several plays, I found him to be over-pursuing on most plays. On plays where it appeared his run responsibility was to force the play inside out, he instead aggressively attacked what appeared to be a specified point at which he thought the play was going and ended up either caught in the wash or too far outside to make the play.

    I thought his reads and reactions were pretty stellar (especially compared to Miller), but he needs to become significantly more patient to be an effective linebacker in the NFL.

    I understand that was out backup O-Line unit, but they got thoroughly dominated that entire game. I think the performance of our O-Line over the past couple of years has been overrated and I question just how good our front office is at grading Offensive Lineman and how well Tom Cable is at coaching them. I really don’t feel like his reputation is warranted. If we didn’t have Russell the past couple of years…………

  14. Steve Nelsen says:

    There is a certain arrogance that many Hawks fans have after last year. The arrogance that our backups can play with your starters, that our 3s and 4s are better than your 2s. I know I am guilty of that arrogance. The Denver game was a small reality check. That said, we had 17 players scratched. Denver had none and we still had a chance to win it at the end. So, I am not overly concerned that this loss reflects a decrease in depth from last year.

    We obviously still have some questions to answer on the offensive line. But, we need to see Okung, Carpenter and Unger play to get those answers. We should have them all for preseason game 3 which is fine for being prepared for the season. I am still optimistic that Winston, Bailey or Britt will emerge at right tackle. The play of Bailey and Gilliam has reassured me that we have some depth at left tackle behind Okung which was a concern coming into the season.

    Another thing to remember about this game is that we play Denver in week 3 of the regular season when it counts so we showed them absolutely nothing but our base defense (with no Kam and no starting linebackers). Honestly, I think that when Denver comes to CenturyLink, we will crush them.

    I had thought going into camp that Seattle would carry 2 QBs, 3 TEs and 6 WRs. But, now I can see the possibility that they keep both Tarvaris and Terrelle. None of the #3 TEs on the roster have shown enough for a spot on the 53 man roster at this point.

    • cha says:

      Well said Steve. There was definitely a difference in intensity of play between the two teams.

      Has anyone broached the idea that PC deliberately kept his teams’ plans vanilla, not just to not show his hand for week 3, but in view of how amped the Broncos were, to see how the young players would take a punch to the mouth? And maybe send the team a little message in its first post-SB game?

      Also, Cooper Helfet has been getting some pub and praise – Steve you don’t think he’s done enough to win the #3 TE spot?

      • Steve Nelsen says:

        Cooper Helfet has gotten some praise and he seems to be the front-runner for the #3 TE. Coach Pete said, “he has done everything we’ve asked and he has been impressive even though he has been under the radar.” That is not to be taken lightly. But, there had been similar praise for Terrelle Pryor and Phil Bates. The point I was trying to make was that I am not sure the Hawks are committed to carrying 3 TEs at the expense of a 3rd QB or 6th WR.

  15. James says:

    Ya’ll help me out, here….more murky than ever after hearing Terrelle Pryor’s radio interview this morning. Impressive young man, working hard to overcome some very obvious limitations. He clearly intends to make a maximum effort to be a starter again in the league. How on earth does that fit with Seattle’s plans? Pryor is a FA after this year. Is he really going to sign a three year contract to be Russ’ backup, when he might go somewhere else, some QB-bereft team, and compete for a starting job? You can’t invest in a backup QB and then lose him after a season. T-Jack is so clearly the answer that I can’t understand what I am missing? His starting days are over, and although he is on a one year contract, there seems little doubt he would sign again with the Seahawks to finish his career here. Four more years playing for the best team in the league, earning several million more dollars, is not a bad gig. What is up with Pryor, therefore, and what plans do John and Pete have for him, long-term? I don’t get it? (ps – keeping a 3d QB means releasing someone like Pierre-Louis, O.B. Schofield, AJ Jefferson or Phil Bates…..really?)

    • Steve Nelsen says:

      James,

      There are several topics that come into play when discussing Terrelle Pryor. Some are philosophical such as roster construction strategy and competition strategy. And then there are topics like individual talent evaluation.

      Both T-Jack and Terrelle are on 1-year deals like you pointed out. So, the Hawks aren’t committed to either long-term. The Carroll philosophy of roster building is “who gives me the best chance to win today?” They would not have traded for Terrelle if they weren’t willing to play him one year only. T-Jack might be more likely to sign with Seattle next year but if his skills are declining, then the Hawks may not want him back.

      One of the reasons Terrelle was brought in was to provide competition for T-Jack. Mission accomplished.

      The talent evaluation of Terrelle is still an open question right now. He has undeniable athletic gifts but raw mechanics. There is also the question of which player fits best into the offensive philosophy. T-Jack is familiar with Bevell’s offense and doesn’t make mistakes. But, T-Jack can’t run all the plays in the play book the way Russell and Terrelle can. Coach Carroll strongly believes that you win with a strong defense (check!) and a physical offense that has explosive potential but doesn’t turn the ball over. That last part is where Terrelle is still unproven.

      As far as who gets bumped if they keep 3 QBs. That isn’t clear. It might be the third TE Cooper Helfet.

  16. Steve Nelsen says:

    I went back and played around with my roster projections a bit. Here is what I have: QB 2, RB/FB 5, WR 6, TE 3, OL 9, DL 9, LB 7, DB 9, ST 3

    If the Hawks choose to keep 3 QBs, then TE 3 (Currently Helfet) or DB 9 (Jefferson before his injury in the Denver game) seem the most likely places where the roster could be trimmed.

    The case for cutting DB 9: Lane, Simon, Shead and Johnson is a pretty talented and versatile group of nickel/reserve DBs. Pinkins and Bailey are already red-shirted.

    The case for cutting TE 3: Bailey can play TE 3 in jumbo formations as a blocker.

    I would probably lean towards cutting DB 9 given the depth at DB.

  17. Nick says:

    Just FYI Rob, it’s Brock Coyle, not Croyle. He played for the Griz out of Montana. I am really rooting for this kid to make it on the Hawks roster. Go Griz and Go Hawks!