Seahawks Insider

5 things to watch for in Hawks vs. Chargers

Post by Eric Williams on Aug. 8, 2013 at 8:24 am with 29 Comments »
August 8, 2013 8:24 am

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll gave us some insight into his expectations for the Seahawks in the team’s exhibition opener at San Diego tonight.

Frontline players like Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice, Max Unger and Bobby Wagner likely will be observers in this one, as Carroll gets a good look at younger players battling to make the 53-man roster.

However, tonight’s contest also provides Carroll with his first real opportunity to continue to refine the style in which he wants his team to play each and every game – physical, smash-mouth football.

“We are going to go out and try to play football our style, play fast on offense and fly around on defense and special teams and start the process of figuring out what it looks like and start to figure us out,” Carroll said on Wednesday. “Because you did something last year doesn’t mean anything about this year. t just doesn’t. It’s what you do about it, how you respond and how you answer the call to the challenges and all that.”

That said, let’s take a closer look at five storylines to watch for this evening.

Who’s toting the rock? With Lynch expected to play sparingly, if at all, the Seahawks will get a closer look at second-round draft choice Christine Michael, along with sixth-round draft choice Spencer Ware and second-year pro Derrick Coleman. I’m really interested to see how Michael plays, particularly in the passing game when he has to pass protect. I also want to see how much patience he shows running the outside and inside zone. Ware and Coleman also have flashed at practice. Specifically, Coleman shows a good feel of reading where the creases are going to open up in the zone running game. With Robert Turbin still nursing a foot injury, these young backs need to take advantage of the extra reps.

Who’s rushing the passer? With Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin all out for this one, it will be interesting to see what players are out there rushing the passer on third down. Specifically, I want to see how Michael Bennett is used, and how young edge rushers like Mike Morgan, Benson Mayowa, O’Brien Schofield and Ty Powell compete against San Diego’s starting offensive tackles. I also will be watching interior pass rushers like Jordan Hill, Clinton McDonald, Jaye Howard and Tony McDaniel.

The ongoing competition at right guard: J.R. Sweezy and John Moffitt continue to split reps at right guard with the first unit during training camp. It appears both players likely will make the final roster, but I’m still interested to see if either player can create some separation in that competition tonight.

Can Willson make an impact: With Zach Miller (foot) still on the PUP list, the Seahawks will count on rookie Luke Willson to play an important role as an impact player in the pass game. So we’ll see if the athletic tight end out of Rice can meet those expectations. Specifically, I want to see if Willson can make plays in the red zone.

Competition at QB: Tarvaris Jackson is trusted by his teammates and knows the offense, so the competition for the No 2 job is a formality, right? Well, not really. Jackson still has to show he can get it done on the field. The Seahawks picked Brady Quinn in a tryout that included Matt Leinart, Seneca Wallace and Tyler Thigpen for a reason – they like his skill set and what he can add to the quarterback room, working closely with Russell Wilson on game planning each week. So Jackson still has to prove he’s the guy for the job, not only in games but how he carries himself in practice and in the meeting room.

Other things to watch: The battle for the starting defensive tackle job between Jesse Williams and Tony McDaniel. Carroll continued to rave about Williams this week. … Allen Bradford will get a chance to start at middle linebacker. He needs to show that he can be consistent there, and also make plays on special teams. … After an impressive training camp, cornerbacks Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell need to show they can do the same thing in a game. … Stephen Williams, Phil Bates, Chris Harper, Bryan Walters and Brett Swain are all battling for those last, few spots at receiver. We’ll see which player steps up there.

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Leave a comment Comments → 29
  1. Thanks, Big E. Great stuff.

  2. Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn
    interviewed by Mitch Levy on 31 July 2013, KJR:

    Q: Who are the guys leading that competition to play next to Brandon Mebane at the 3-tech Defensive Tackle?

    Quinn: Tony McDaniel is one. Long, big guy, 6’7″, 300 pounds. Jordan Hill whom we drafted out of Penn State, a guy who is great the move, has quickness, big buy. Jesse Williams, really stout, really strong rookie from Alabama. And then we’ve worked Jay Howard in there. We will rotate those guys in preseason, and we’ve also worked Jay Howard some at DE so he can get after the passer some. Once we go to the nickel package, we will also work Michael Bennett down inside some at DT. At defensive line you can count 7 or 8 guys that will rotate into a game.

    Q: What about Red Bryant?

    Quinn: No doubt he is our base DE. He’s off to a terrific start. He’s healthy coming into camp. In nickel he can move down and play some DT, but in our base sets, he’s our starting DE.

    Q: Avril?

    Quinn: Number one, we expect him back soon. He’s very strong. He’s a powerful guy who can knock a tackle back in his pass rush. He’s different in that he’s not just running around everybody, but he has that initial quickness where he can get up and set an edge. We will usually use him as a an open side end or nickel. He’ll be an open side rusher for us.

    Q: Competition to replace Leroy Hill at OLB?

    Quinn: We are going to play a number of guys on that side, and we’ll play our OLB some on the end of the line as a rusher. That would be Irvin, Smith, Morgan, Avril, who can stay on the line and handle a TE.

    Q: Irvin’s transition to OLB? How much is he missing by being suspended four games?

    Quinn: We look at that like he’s injured for four games and we’ll get him back. We’ll use him a little bit differently. Through the offseason he has developed a lot as a pass rusher. We’ll also use him at LB, where he can play over a TE and cover man-to-man, and take the flat. With this type of athlete its pretty cool, you can do a lot of things with him. He’s off to a terrific start, you can feel the relentless attitude he wants to bring.

    Q; Bobby Wagner?

    Quinn: He gets football. Nothing overwhelms him. Very good instincts in terms of where he keys and goes to the ball. As the Mike LB, you need that person there who can tell the others to settle down, here’s what we’re going to do. He brings that.

    How many of your CBs will make the roster?

    Quinn: Could be 5, 6, 7, depending on what they can do on special teams and their value to the whole team.

    Q: Antoine Winfield?

    Quinn: You can feel his knowledge out on the field in terms of routes and recognition. He’s come in and worked to fit in with the guys.

  3. yankinta says:

    I will be specifically watching for Luke Willson and the young DTs to perform well.

  4. sluggo42 says:

    10 hours!

    I wonder if RW will even play. I am dying to see if Luke can get a ball in a game. Cristin has a great opportunity too shine too.
    Can Jesse hold up? Looking forward to seeing our second string DB’s thwart their first string WR’s, I hope.

    Great day, PGA championship first round, and Seahawks opening round.

    its just FANTASTIC…

  5. bird_spit says:

    Stevos – these transcripts are must read for me. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

  6. RDPoulsbo says:

    I doubt that we’ll see Willson used as he would in the regular season with a healthy Miller at Z, but it might be a glimpse of the future.

    Interior pass rush will be what I’ll be most watching. I’m not so concerned about the edge rushers. I’ll wait for later games when guys that will make the team are playing. It would be nice to see some consistent pressure on Clipboard Jesus though.

  7. thanks Stevos – appreciate it!

  8. I think the battle between Jesse Williams and Tony McDaniel is interesting. It feels like the Seahawks WANT Williams to win the battle, but I have the feeling that Williams will be another Marcus Tubbs with chronic knee problems.

    Watching Bradford at MLB will be interesting too. I think the back-up MLB position is a non event; in reality if we lost Wagner to injury we would slide KJ to MLB.

  9. you are welcome guys. here’s one more…

    Pete Carroll
    interviewed by Brock Huard and Danny O’Neil , 5 August 2013

    O’Neil: Bruce Irvin’s next step forward will include a position change. What he’s done is rush the passer, going back to junior college where he was a safety and they moved him to pass rushing end. What did you see in his skill set that allowed him to move to LB? And, how is his transition going?

    Carroll: It sounds like a bigger deal to you guys than it is to us. The nature of the two positions… we brought him in here to be the Leo, knowing he might expand his game from there. Right now we have good depth there, so we have the chance to think more broadly, utilize guys’ talents and get the best guys on the field. What we saw in Bruce is that he can do everything. He’s fast, he’s agile, he’s tough, he reads well, he understand the game, he loves to practice, loves to prepare, loves to study. He was really excited about this opportunity.

    What you don’t realize is that at USC, we moved Cushing and Clay Matthews around to exactly like we are doing now during the course of their careers to get both guys on the field to maximize what they were doing. With Bruce, its just a matter of time for him to understand all the dynamics of the position. There is a little more coverage-oriented stuff, but he’s going to be a premier rusher in our defense. That hasn’t changed at all, we are just expanding his role looking to get the best guys on the field. We looked around and asked ‘can Clem do it? can Cliff do it?’ and we decided Bruce was the best guy to do it.

    Huard: What about the physicality today? There is less hitting today, less live scrimmaging, fewer two-a-days, are you concerned about the lack of live hitting and level of contact? Are the preseason games now critically important?

    Carroll: Definitely. Jim Lambright was here yesterday and we had a good time talking about this. He was hard-core and tough as nails and he asked ‘how can you get the same product?’ We had a good exchange about that.

    Today, our guys are conditioned year around. Guys used to come to camp to get in shape and they had six preseason games. Now we are in a different mode. To your question, now these games are hugely important. This is the only time we will play full speed. We don’t tackle in practice. We do everything up to that, but that part of the game, which IS the game – full speed blocking and cut blocking and open field play and special teams – these are hugely important. So this is my favorite time for football, its football just for fun. Its not the real deal, but its hugely important for us.

    O’Neil: Tell us about the training camp battles?

    Carroll: I always go back to when we were trying to pick six defensive linemen to make the team, and we couldn’t find six. Its a different time now. We have competition everywhere. Those competitive snaps in preseason games, once we get through four of them, its really going to tell a story.

  10. Eric, Are you implying that Luke has not been able to make plays in the Red Zone during Training Camp?

  11. Mocarob: Nope. He’s made some plays in red zone situations in camp. But he has to carry that effort over to the games.

  12. I think TE is my most significant concern. Hopefully we can find another veteran TE after teams cut down to 53.

  13. Bobbyk–I for one wish you would comment, even if its not your best stuff. But whatever is best for you right now.

    I left the blog alone for a couple days due to a couple commenters and the infighting, but leaving it long-term due to that stuff would be letting the trolls win.

    This blog is what it is partly because Eric is awesome, but also because we have a strong community built and maintained by the regular and semi-regular commenters who bring their passion, analysis, opinions, and criticisms to the table every day.

    Some of the arguing you mentioned does come from those determined to be right all the time–but much of it is simply miscommunication and clarification. I will beat a point to death if I think Im being misinterpreted or that no one has logically defeated my point…but it isnt that I have to be right all the time. I am aware that I am often wrong, and say so fairly often. Most of the commenters are that way…its only a few turds in the punch bowl…

    Anyway, I hope you will come back and add your personality to the blog once more. You are part of what makes this the best Seahawks blog around, and it suffers without you.

  14. Dukeshire says:

    Stevo – Thanks! You know how I love that stuff.

  15. Damn, Im excited for the game! I love preseason, with its desperate vets on the way out, its even more desperate youngsters looking to impress, and just the fierce attitude they bring. Its sloppy football, and ugly at times, but its REAL football, with guys laying it on the line, and leaving it all on the field, no matter what some say.

    Yes, the games that count are more fun in a lot of ways, but I also enjoy the preseason, keeping my eye on position battles and my favorite underdogs of the year, trying to get clues as to whats changed, scheme-wise, and how this years team will differ from last years…

    And there’s no stress for me as a fan in the preseason. I dont really care if they win or lose, and either way I have a great time and end up stoked about individual efforts and performances–something that rings a little hollow in the regular season when winning is (nearly) everything.

    Yup, Im a nerd. I dig the preseason, and I think Gooddell is a greedy idiot for wanting to shorten it and expand the regular season. 16 regular season games is enough wear and tear on athletes and coaches.

  16. Dukeshire–In response to your comment from another thread, on Maxwell; I was under the impression that Carrol and company said he might also play S his rookie year, and that he practiced some there. Perhaps my memory is faulty; wouldnt be the first time!

    I think preseason play will be a big factor is who makes the team between the bubble guys–Lane, Maxwell, Blackmon, at CB, Shead, Maragos, Johnson, Guy at S.

    Blackmon is a good player, and has shown that in camp, but he still might not make the team. One of the crappiest things about the league nowadays is that decent vets like Blackmon have trouble finding a spot on a team, even though they can play (and Blackmon is an excellent ST guy and can return kicks), due to coaches being invested in younger, worse players, and their salary. The NFL pays part of vets salary to teams if they are league min, but its still a tough go for guys like Blackmon…

    If he gets cut here, I hope he gets on with Jax or the Jets or Raiders.

  17. wallinator says:

    Seahawk football is back!! Check out 2 interviews with The Man Eric Williams & former Seahawk Jon Kitna & many other Big Time Guests at http://www.double-s-xpress.com/shows.html Great Sports Talk OnDemand on your schedule & Live Monday’s at 7p PST! #GoHawks

  18. GeorgiaHawk says:

    I’m definitely looking forward to Eric’s five storylines in this game. Also I’m looking forward to seeing Washington’s possible replacement in the return game.

  19. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Good stuff Stevos-

    “How many of your CBs will make the roster?”

    “Quinn: Could be 5, 6, 7, depending on what they can do on special teams and their value to the whole team.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they keep 7 CBs.

  20. jchawks08 says:

    Haven’t posted a comment since January, I bet. I have lurked throughout the offseason from time to time. Same old same old around here. Duke with his level-headed analysis on EVERYTHING, Georgiahawk, I love your stuff, dude. ChuckEaston is another old (blog, not age) poster whose stuff I really enjoy. Nateweed, And the rest of the regulars. Except BobbyK. I hear he’s been staying away for one reason or another. Which is fine with me. No offense. Though I know that sounds like I meant to offend.
    Can’t wait for the game this evening. Golfing right after work and should be home just in time for the game, though of course the DVR is all set-up just in case.. :D Looking forward to this season. This should be a very special year. LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

  21. doubledink says:

    And Bobby, just look how much progress you’ve made in letting go of the Hutch thing… ;)

  22. GeorgiaHawk says:

    For what it’s worth. Seahawks are the only favored road team by the odds makers.

    How in the heck do they figure out the odds on pre season games? Where do they start?

    http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2013/8/8/4598152/nfl-preseason-2013-odds-lines-thursday-week-1

  23. Dukeshire says:

    Georgia – They start with the fact people are degenerate gamblers. lol. But you’ll notice that nearly every preseason game is +/- 3. Not all, but most. Just SOP.

    Also Georgia, is it too early for my first beer? No? Good, because I’ve already started drinking, I’m so excited for tonight’s game. lol

  24. GeorgiaHawk says:

    BTW- Hannah storm is one of the hottest (51 year old women) to walk the planet.

  25. Dukeshire says:

    Russell Wilson… I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong about anything as I was about him.

  26. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Duke-It’s never too early for your first beer on game day. Besides since we’re drinking blog buddies you can start your happy hour in my time zone.

  27. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Say what?

    A Seattle/San Diego preview from the Miami Herald? Times are changing.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/07/3548368/nfl-preseason-preview-seattle.html

  28. sluggo42 says:

    Say Georgia, isn’t it true that after 6-7 beers, every woman is one of the hottest on the planet? :o)

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