Seahawks beat Raiders, go 4-0 in pre-season
Oakland are a mess. Years of mismanagement are coming back to haunt them in a big way. Seattle’s backups never got out of second gear and still managed a relatively comfortable 22-6 victory.
They need a spark and at least they have a quarterback capable of providing it. Terrelle Pryor didn’t do anything terrible on the night and should earn a start over Matt Flynn. The Raiders need something to believe in. Pryor is capable of being a playmaker.
So who impressed for Seattle ahead of the final cuts?
Michael Brooks will be one of the players making life difficult for Seattle’s front office. Once again he flashed in this game. You temper the excitement slightly with it being Oakland’s second unit (and the first unit’s bad enough as it is). Yet with the Seahawks struggling for healthy bodies at tackle and needing some interior pass rush, I’m rooting for this guy to make the team. I doubt he’d make the practise squad. He’s consistently made plays in pre-season.
Jaye Howard also showed up and probably secured his place on the roster with a solid performance. Benson Mayowa is an absolute lock given the injuries at defensive end. He even pulled a Chris Clemons pose after a sack/fumble. He’s raw, but could be Seattle’s next big find. Let’s see what he brings in Carolina.
Winston Guy had a nice game overall. Will it be enough? I’m not sure. Chris Maragos also had a good night and Jeron Johnson has been consistent. Guy won’t have any trouble finding a roster elsewhere (eg the Jacksonville branch of the Seattle Seahawks).
Bruce Irvin looked fluid and comfortable in his new hybrid SAM/LEO position. Why did you have to go and get yourself suspended, Bruce? His return can’t come soon enough.
Luke Willson gives me every confidence he can feature quite prominently as a pass-catching #2 tight end. Time has been a great healer, and as pre-season progressed Willson just got better and better.
Seattle’s depth at corner is insane, but you knew that already. Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane all looked assured. None of these guys will be making the trip to Jacksonville.
Stephen Williams had one big play before leaving with a concussion. Russell Wilson, who had issues with overthrows against Denver, actually undersold the pass to Williams. If he throws it out in front of the receiver, it’s a long touchdown. Williams had created acres of separation on the play.
Who faces a nervous wait?
I’ve been Chris Harper’s biggest defender at times, but this wasn’t a good night. He had a bad drop in the end zone, looked lethargic overall and a little out of his depth. I still believe we need to be patient with the rookies. Not everyone can be Russell Wilson. Some are going to take time — just like Kam Chancellor, Jaye Howard and even Richard Sherman (who didn’t start immediately). Throw in the complexity of the receiver position and this was always going to be a big ask for Harper.
He’s a fourth round pick and they clearly believed he could grow into an Anquan Boldin-type figure with his sturdy frame. You have to consider they expected to have Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin as locks. They were always going to carry Jermaine Kearse and probably planned all along for Harper to be a ‘red shirt’ player. Yes, we’ve seen Stephen Williams emerge. But Harvin’s now on the PUP. So they can still carry six as they probably planned all along.
Adjusting that position and carrying five receivers isn’t out of the question either. I’m not sure I’m ready to write off Harper yet, and the team may share that sentiment. I doubt he makes the practise squad, someone will stash him on their roster. But if it means carrying an extra offensive lineman or a guy like Michael Brooks, they might have to bite the bullet.
The reason they might want to carry an extra lineman? For the first time I had a few doubts about Michael Bowie’s ability to start in relief. Plus he picked up a shoulder injury. He won’t make the practise squad, so it might be worth keeping a Mike Person or Rishaw Johnson. I’d still take Brooks over both.
Not for the first time, I thought John Lotulelei struggled a bit. He developed a bit of a cult following after the Chargers game, but I think too many people were quick to anoint him a star of the future. I think he’ll struggle to make the cut and may even make it to the practise squad.
The offensive line play across the board was poor tonight. Far too often Oakland found interior pressure, even with the #1′s on the field. On one play Max Unger was well beaten by Pat Sims, which is a rarity.
I wouldn’t make too many adjustments to my 53-man roster projection. I’m less confident about Harper making it as the #6 receiver. He’s on the bubble, with Brooks or Person seemingly the most likely beneficiary. Michael Robinson’s illness increases the possibility they keep Derrick Coleman as a fill-in full back. Do they risk keeping him over Spencer Ware? Or do you game-plan without an orthodox full back for the first week or two?
Brandon Coleman stands out
One of my favourite 2014 prospects is Rutgers receiver Brandon Coleman. We’ve talked about him several times on the blog, but having opted not to declare for this years draft he needed to make that extra season count.
It’s not an easy challenge given Rutgers are more of a run-first team without an established passing quarterback. Yet last nights season opener was a promising start for Coleman’s stock.
He managed nine catches for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rutgers took a chance in overtime on a two-point conversion to lose 52-51 to Fresno State. It’s an ugly loss for the Scarlet Knights, but it’s the kind of production Coleman needs. He has all the physical talent you look for (6-6, 220lbs, speed despite the size) but needs the stats to back it up. Coleman also needs to make more of his size, high pointing the ball and making the kind of 50-50 grabs we’ve seen Stephen Williams make in pre-season for the Seahawks.
Another talented wide out, USC’s Marqise Lee, also had a decent start. He had eight catches for 104 yards in a 30-13 win over Hawaii. The Trojans split snaps between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek at quarterback. Lee is an incredible talent worthy of a top-ten draft grade. The lack of an established quarterback at USC might hamper his production this year.