Here are my thoughts and observations from the first pre season game of the 2012 Seahawks season.
The uniforms are sharp, I love them. The blue is vastly better than the multiple blue tones they’ve had for more than a decade. The gray and green ascents really popped well on TV. I love the fact the Hawks really took a chance with the uniforms, it gives them a unique identity that fits well with the whole 12th Man motif.
The starting defense looked tremendous. The eleven that started will (Lord willing) be the eleven who start in Arizona on September 9th. Outside of the obvious pick six by Browner, I was immediately impressed with Red Bryant who just seemed to be everywhere, and that’s impressive for a guy who’s 6’4′ 330 lbs. He swatted a pass down and got in a few good licks, all the while giving the Titans o-linemen and earful. Jason Jones made his presence felt, getting decent pressure on the QB. Bruce Irvin was boom or bust, but when he boomed, it was fun to watch. The stunts the Hawks ran were successful and caused Hasselbeck to be flustered when he threw. No sacks were recorded but there was pressure. Baby steps. I liked what I saw from rookie Bobby Wagner, he looked comfortable and ok with being a leader in the linebacking corps. Only time will tell how he grows into the role. On a very good note, I was glad to see Marcus Trufant running with the second team and embracing the role, looking fresh and excited to play. I think it’s vital Tru hangs around, he’s a great leader and could be a very nice nickel back.
You can probably tell I love what the Hawks are doing on defense. This crew has all the makings to be a top five defense. Teams will simply not be able to run the ball, forcing them into the pass, which will play into the hands of an extremely aggressive and confident secondary. Will those guys make mistakes at times? You bet, but they don’t string them together, and recover quickly with big play ability. Pre season games are traditionally marked by defenses who are way ahead of offenses, and that was on display Saturday night. But even in light of that reality, the Hawks looked ready to rock. I only see upside with this crew. They are the foundation Pete and Co. are building upon.
On the offensive side of the ball, I literary had no idea what to expect. Unlike most folks, all I cared about seeing Saturday was the defense because, well, I love defense, so when the offense finally took the field, I just tried to keep an open mind. Matt Flynn had a very thin wide receiving corps running routes, and no Beast Mode behind him, so what conclusions can we draw? He had one terrible pass (the INT to the LB), and a bad sack, but over all he looked solid. He got the ball out and on time to the receivers. He seemed comfortable running the offense. His best play was the roll out completion to Zach Miller, (who then promptly got blown up and received a concussion, not good). I was pleased with what I saw. Regarding Russell Wilson, I was equally impressed. Being a rookie, you simply take the good with the bad and roll with it. His athletic ability was apparent from the start. Bevell rolled Wilson out A LOT, which I think was designed to ease Wilson into his first pro game. He ran a lot of roll outs at Wisconsin, so it was only natural to keep him in that comfort zone. His arm strength was solid. His speed was great. His worst play was the red zone INT, which to my eye looked like jitters and nerves. His best play could have been the TD pass to Edwards or the TD run, but for me I can’t really grade at this point. Just seeing him out there looking comfortable was enough.
I was impressed with the starting offensive line’s run blocking. Washington and Turbin (The Turbinator was putting on a gun show, I’m pretty certain he lifts weights…) had gaping holes to run through, and Flynn had time to pass. Good to see considering the plethora of injuries that unit has seen the past two years. Michael Robinson was dominant run blocking, no surprise there. I wish I could say the same for the second unit offensive line. The Hawks don’t have any depth up front, so if further injuries rear their ugly head, they could be in a world of hurt.
Overall, it was a great night of football. There is a lot to be excited about with this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. If they can identify a clear starting QB and develop some semblance of an aggressive passing game before week 1, I like their chances to get off to a good start in the division and then make a playoff push. But if a passing game is not developed, the upside this team could achieve will be stunted. The next three weeks are vital.