As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll lamented later, it was a good night for four plays — the four when the Seattle first-team offense drove swiftly down the field for a touchdown.
From there, he said, it was “terrible,” among other words he used.
But noting that this was a game played largely by backups, and more than a few guys who won’t be with the team in 36 hours or so, Carroll said “this game was not indicative, I hope, of a whole lot of how we are going to play.”
Indeed, as his post-game press conference wore on. Carroll strayed toward the positives of the game and the preseason.
The biggest positive of the preseason was the offense — the number one unit scoring on 11 of its last 12 drives, the other ending in a missed field goal. As Carroll said “they are ready to play some football.”
The biggest positive of the game tonight is that vets such as Kam Chancellor, Malcolm Smith, Bobby Wagner and Russell Okung got their most significant work of the preseason, and in Carroll’s eyes, look ready for the real thing.
While Seattle has had some injuries, none have occurred to any players who project as starters, maybe the biggest positive of the entire preseason.
“All in all I think we are ready to go,” Carroll said, referring to the regular season opener a week from tonight against Green Bay. “For a preseason I am really happy that we made it through and we are healthy enough to really field a good-looking group on both sides of the ball.”
As for injuries tonight, Carroll said there were three — defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith hurt his biceps; defensive lineman Cassius Marsh a strained hip flexor and rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis a strained hamstring. No prognosis on any of them. Smith is battling for a roster spot and any injury obviously is bad news.
Now for a brief review of each position group (and sorry if these are sort of rambling, but it’s the end of a long day that started in Seattle about 18 hours ago).
QUARTERBACK: Russell Wilson was good as can be tonight — a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He appears primed to have the kind of season that will force everyone to call him elite by whatever definition they use. Tarvaris Jackson had a rocky outing, but was in there during the time when everything was going the Raiders’ way. I don’t think he hurt himself. Terrelle Pryor entered the game as one of the big stories. His stats were decent enough — 11-17 for 134 yards and a passer rating of 108.5. But he also didn’t make a great throw on a fourth-down pass, and ultimately led drives for one TD and one field goal in five drives. Pryor afterward said only that it’s “up to the coaches” whether he made the team. Carroll’s review was pretty matter-of-fact, saying “He made some plays tonight. I think it was a hard night. They did some good stuff. … he battled really hard to give us a chance.’’ The best quarterback of the night, other than Wilson, might have been B.J. Daniels, who led one TD drive in his two possessions, going 5-9 for 71 yards and also running once for 28. He’s an intriguing player who might get picked up by someone if he’s released, though I’d imagine Seattle will try to get him on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACK: No Marshawn Lynch, no Christine Michael, and not much of Robert Turbin (4-11). Spencer Ware got 23 yards on six carries and seems like a guy squarely on the bubble. Demitrius Bronson, released and then brought back with Michael out, got 31 yards on seven carries. Kiero Small had a nice tackle on special teams and two receptions for 18 yards and you have to think he’s a practice squad guy at the least.
RECEIVERS: The starting three barely played, though Jermaine Kearse was out there long enough to make a 44-yard catch to set up the first score. Bryan Walters led the team with three catches for 47 yards and also handled every return. He fumbled one early but came back to handle the rest well and may well have earned a spot on the roster. Phil Bates made a needed big play, the 33-yard TD pass from Pryor late in the second quarter. But that was his only catch and he finishes the preseason having made just two. Right now, you’d think Walters and Ricardo Lockette would have the edge for the final spot or two. Paul Richardson, who definitely is on the team, had another relatively quiet night with two catches for 16 yards and finishes the preseason with seven for 65. Chris Matthews had his most active night, getting in the game early and making two catches for 27 yards. But still seems like a longshot to make it.
TIGHT END: Luke Willson had the early TD, another play that showed he could be a bigger factor this season. Morrell Presley had two catches for 44 yards, and certainly seems to catch it when it’s thrown to him. But right now, the best guess may be that only two TEs make it — Zach Miller and Willson. You saw Gary Gilliam play a lot of tackle eligible stuff tonight as the Seahawks may be trying to see if they can get by with two true tight ends and use offensive linemen for blocking roles often reserved for another tight end.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The three interior starters played just the four plays. But Okung and Justin Britt stayed in for a while after — Okung through the first half, part of the plan to get him more work. Gilliam’s role as a tackle eligible might have been the most interesting development of the night on the line. He got beat once for a sack on a safety blitz, but has obviously opened the eyes of the coaches. The second unit tonight was Lemuel Jeanpierre at center, Caylin Hauptmann and Stephen Schilling at guard, and Eric Winston and Alvin Bailey at tackles. But is that the other five they keep if they keep 10 offensive linemen? And where does Gilliam factor in? We’ll find out Saturday.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Another injury for Marsh is somewhat ominous. Same for Smith, who I’ve thought has a chance to make it. The highlight player tonight was Jordan Hill, who had a sack on a nice spin move for the only sack of the night for a Seattle defensive linemen, and finished with five tackles overall. Benson Mayowa had three tackles, two for a loss, and has picked up his play the last two weeks, as well. And I thought it was another decent night for O’Brien Schofield, though he didn’t record any stats. Oakland did run the ball pretty well on the Seahawks, though, and that has to at least be something to watch, especially in regards to some of the second-unit players.
LINEBACKERS: Wagner was back. He showed he was healthy on an early tackle when he ran laterally 15 yards or so to make a tackle for a small gain. But he admitted he and the rest of the front showed some impatience early, especially on some of Oakland’s counter plays. Small stuff that can be cleaned up. And as Wagner noted, the entire starting defense never really played together during the preseason. I wouldn’t ready much into that first drive by Oakland against the starters. Smith got a lot of work, as well, and Seattle is pretty much back to full health now at linebacker other than Bruce Irvin, who may be back next week. Korey Toomer may be the biggest intrigue here in terms of whether he is on or off the roster. He made three tackles but hard to know where he stands. The bad news here is that Pierre-Louis suffered another injury. He has impressed in practice and you saw some of why tonight with his speed on a few plays.
SECONDARY: Cornerback Phillip Adams may have been the biggest story heading into the game, appearing to have a shot at being the last cornerback, and helped by the fact that he can return as well, though he didn’t get any tonight. Adams got off to a rough start, beaten for an early touchdown. But he rebounded to tip the pass that led to DeShawn Shead’s touchdown (a Shead’s up play, no doubt about it), among a few plays that stood out (he also had a nice special teams tackle). No one looked good early, though, as Derek Carr hit on 11-13 passes for 143 yards. And everyone looked better once Matt McGloin got out there. So that has to be considered, as well.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Walters was the spotlight player, with two punt returns for 13 yards and five kickoff returns for 137 yards — a solid average of 27.4 per attempt. Small also had a nice night, making two tackles in coverage, one that qualified as the hit of the game for the Seahawks.