By Andy / PNW Sports
If you’re a Seahawks fan reading this, you’re probably wondering what in the world we’ve been doing for the better part of a year. Yes, we are supposed to be covering all things sports in the Pacific Northwest and the Seahawks are a major part of that landscape. However, I failed you. I’m just going to own it. I haven’t given you the coverage and content you deserve (all 3 of you).
So I’m here to make amends. Let’s get this season started out right. Im going to give you a quick rundown of five things to watch for as the Seahawks take the field for their first preseason game against the Colts tomorrow evening.
- Offensive Line– Tomorrow isn’t going to tell the whole story, but I would hope we see some encouraging signs for the big fellas up front. It starts with them. They need to give Russell more time than a quick “one two step” (yes that was a shameless Ciara reference) on pass plays and they need to make holes big enough for some of these young running backs to “level up” (oh, there I go again). The unit returns a healthy Duane Brown at left tackle, Ethan Pocic and DJ Fluker at the guards and Justin Britt at center. Oh yeah, as of now the human penalty flag, with feet ever submerged in concrete, Germain Ifedi will get the nod at right tackle. I don’t say that to be overly harsh. I hope he is a new player this year. I just want to see him be smart and show progress. If he doesn’t, expect a very short leash this season. I like George Fant to take over the right tackle spot at some point this season. It all begins tomorrow for a unit that just wasn’t good enough a year ago.
- The young secondary- I’m excited for these guys. The Legion of Boom is gone. It was the gold standard and an era we’ll never forget. But it’s time to start anew. I want to see young and hungry this season rather than old and disgruntled. Shaquill Griffin showed flashes last year, but he now faces a new challenge of sliding into the number one corner spot. It’s a task I believe he’s up for, but there may be some growing pains along the way. Aside from Griffin the other established player in the secondary is Bradley McDougald. His versatility is a huge asset for this team as he can play both strong and free safety positions. After those two guys, the secondary is a bit of a question mark. Keep an eye out for who seizes the moment tomorrow and weeks to come. At corner I’ll be looking to see who challenges incumbent starter, Byron Maxwell. I like Tre Flowers and Justin Coleman to be hot on Maxwell’s heels for reps. Coleman will play a lot in the slot regardless, but I think the guy has the capability to be a hard nosed defender on the outside too. It will also be important to see who pushes for the free safety position while Earl Thomas continues his hold out. Some popular names so far in came have been Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill.
- Kicking and Punting– I can’t believe I’m including this, but this will be one of the more interesting things to watch throughout preseason. Who wins the kicking battle between 40 year old, Sebastian Janikowski and 4th year pro Jason Myers? Janikowski has a long, decorated resume, but can he still kick at a consistent high level? That remains to be seen. I just want to see someone who is better than Blair Walsh. At punter we have fan favorite, Jon Ryan and 5th round pick Michael Dickson. A good ol’ fashioned Canadian, Aussie showdown. Truthfully, it looks as though the Seahawks feel like it’s time to move on from Ryan or else they wouldn’t have drafted a punter. But you have to hand it to Jon for going down swinging and forcing the Seahawks to stick to to the “Always Compete” standard. Speaking of Dickson, that dude has some insane film. He could change the punting game forever. I think he’ll be a huge weapon for the next ten-plus years.
- New Coaches– Pete Carroll cleaned house last winter. See you later Tom Cable, Darrell Bevell and Kris Richard. Nice to meet you, Mike Solari and Brian Schottenheimer. Welcome back, Ken Norton Jr. Having that many new coaches on a staff is a big deal. I think the shake up was for the best, but it will be very interesting to see how the team performs with new blood on the sidelines.
- How close are we to flag football?– Everyone was panicking after the Hall of Fame game a week ago. I didn’t see much other than some of the highlights. I am definitely concerened as to where the future of football is headed, but I’m going to wait and see before I hit the panic button for 2018. Oftentimes, the officials call things much tighter in preseason as they try to emphasize rule changes. If these ticky-tack calls are still drawing flags in week three of the regular season, I’ll be concerned. I’ll be interested to see how tomorrow nights game is officiated.