BY Art Thiel 12:22AM 08/31/2018

Thiel: Seahawks whiff preseason; more coming?

A dreary 30-19 loss to the Raiders left the Seahawks winless in the preseason for the first time in club history; the more foreboding personnel news came earlier in the week.

Coach Pete Carroll wonders if his revamped secondary can handle the regular season. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Every school child knows that results of the NFL fake season are meaningless, except, of course, for the full price charged for tickets.  That’s a real hurt.

Nevertheless . . . 0-4 is not a good look. Especially since the Seahawks have never been blanked before. Their first winless preseason, concluding with a banal 30-19 home loss to the Oakland Raiders Thursday night, will leave a stain requiring scrubbing.

So coach Pete Carroll tried.

“I wish we’d won a couple games and have more fun in the locker room, but that’s all,” he said dismissively of the o-fer.

As per usual in the final fake game, the first-unit veterans played little, if at all. But the same can be said of the Raiders. And their backup QB, E.J. Manuel, sliced up the re-made Seattle secondary, completing 18 of 22 passes for 255 yards, three touchdowns and no picks.

Despite the planned absence of QB Russell Wilson, the Seahawks did have 449 yards of offense and 24 first downs. Defensively, rookie LB Shaquem Griffin again looked good. He led Seattle with eight tackles and appeared ready to start, which he will do Sept. 9 in Denver in the regular season opener in the absence of veteran K.J. Wright, who had an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee.

But there were plenty of clanks, including two failures at fourth-and-one, two missed PAT kicks by Sebastian Janikowski against his former team of 19 years, a couple of weak punts from the darling of training camp, Michael Dickson, and 11 penalties for 98 yards.

Backup FS Delano Hill, a distant hope at one time to fill in a bit for holdout Earl Thomas, failed to wrap up an open-field tackle, which turned into a 45-yard touchdown catch and run. And RT Germain Ifedi, who had some shaky moments in the preseason, left the game early after he “turned his ankle,” said Carroll, who didn’t know the seriousness.

But with backup Isaiah Battle out with illness, the Seahawks in the second half had to use backup center Joey Hunt at right tackle

The sense of foreboding had more to do with the week’s personnel news, which didn’t speak well for immediate prospects. And it will cause the Seahawks, ahead of Saturday’s roseter cutdown deadline to 53 players, to make even more difficult decisions.

Here’s a sampling of the unsettling news.

Wright’s knee will keep him out awhile

Carroll reported post-game that post-surgery “was good” for Wright, but the idea of a mere two-week absence seems the typical Carroll over-optimism. So Griffin will join his his brother, cornerback Shaq, in the starting lineup, likely to be the NFL’s leading human interest story of opening weekend.

“I’m well-prepared for (the start),” Griffin said. “Even in times when K.J. was gone, he called me every day and made sure I was studying. Having guys like Bobby (Wagner) and K.J., the only thing you can do is get better every day.”

Said Carroll: “He’s a running and hitting guy – we are not worried about that. It’s making sure he’s really playing the scheme well and is really precise about all of his (run) fits.”

Besides punter Dickson, Griffin seems like the only rookie starter.  But numerous players could make their first starts as Seahawks: RG D.J. Fluker, WRs Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall,  TE Nick Vannett, LB Barkevious Mingo, DE Branden Jackson, DT Tom Johnson and FS Tedric Thompson.

The mystery men are CB Byron Maxwell and TE Ed Dickson, both of whom sat out the preseason with injuries.

If Maxwell can’t play, the Legion of Boom has been wiped out, leaving a gaping void, which Carroll acknowledged: “The question is how much can we hold up back there and play good football.”

Another 2019 draft pick is gone already

Rather than wait for QB Brett Hundley to be cut this week, a likely development after the Packers in the off-season traded for DeShone Kizer to back up Aaron Rodgers, the Seahawks this week threw a sixth-round pick at Green Bay for Brett Hundley, the fourth-year pro from UCLA who had a weak 2017. That leaves Seattle with five choices for the 2019 pickings.

Hundley’s arrival, which happened only Wednesday, left the QB chores Thursday to Austin Davis (first half; 13 of 20, 194 yards and an 81-yard TD pass to Damore’ea Stringfellow) and rookie Alex McGough (second half; 12 of 23 for 131 yards passing, and three carries for 31 yards). The veteran Davis obviously will be cut, so the Seahawks showcased him, and the Seahawks hope McGough will pass through waivers and be available for the practice squad.

Getting nine starts the past season in place of the injured Rodgers, Hundley had nine TD passes and 12 interceptions, finishing 30th in passer rating, which suggested he wasn’t the heir apparent, even though this month he out-performed Kizer.

“We just thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up,’’ Carroll said. “It’s his fourth year, he’s played quite a bit and started a bunch of games last year. We’ve been able to see how he has developed. We liked him coming out of college as well. He’s big, he runs well, he’s got a good arm, he’s got good vision on the field, he’s made a lot of big throws and big plays.”

Maybe GM John Schneider, a former Green Bay personnel exec, values the history of Packers backup QBs, which includes Rodgers himself, as well as Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell and, um, Matt Flynn.

Baldwin will play diminished

WR Doug Baldwin was welcomed back to practice this week and expects to start in the opener, but the candid assessment of his balky knee that has kept him out of the preseason was worthy of a full shudder among the 12s.

“I’m probably about 80-85 percent right now,” he said.  “The truth of the matter is, it won’t be 100 percent. It’s something I’ve got to deal with the rest of the season.’’

Baldwin, who has missed only two games in his career that began in 2011, is a vital part of the plan to have the offense carry a greater share this season. Any loss of effectiveness will be a hurt for a group of receivers that has much to prove.

Lockett gets (over)paid

For a team perpetually up against the cap, WR Tyler Lockett’s three-year contract extension was a bit surprising. It is said to include $20 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $37.8 million, making him the 21st highest paid wideout, according to overthecap.com.

That’s a big commitment that leaves less money for Wright and DE Frank Clark, both in their contract years.

Even though he played all 16 games, Lockett admitted the leg he broke in December 2016 limited him to 75-80 percent last season. But Lockett has also endeared himself to coaches and teammates with personality and work ethic.

“It broke my heart to watch him have to fight through the rehab throughout the year because he’s a guy that wants to be on the field every minute,” Carroll said. “He’s the first guy on the field and the last guy off. It just accentuated what it took for him to work through that.”

After four preseason losses and some key injury absences, there’s more mystery around the Seahawks than at any time since Carroll’s first two eventful Seattle years of magnum roster turnover. Naturally, he is unfazed.

I’m excited about getting to our 53,” Carroll said. “We’ve got some roles for guys to take over . . . We know what we’re doing.”

For the first time since his early days in Seattle, that assessment is to the house an open question.

 


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YourThoughts

  • bugzapper

    “Maybe GM John Schneider, a former Green Bay personnel exec, values the history of Packers backup QBs, which includes Rodgers himself, as well as Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell and, um, Matt Flynn.”

    Did Schneider get a new contract extension recently? He’s acting too much like Jerry Dipoto for this to be a coincidence.

    • art thiel

      So I suppose you think Hundley is the Seahawks’ Vogelbach?

      • Husky73

        Go easy on Daniel…give him 400 at bats and he hits 25 homers….and .186. His is the quintessential 4A guy.

      • bugzapper

        That wouldn’t be giving Vogelbach enough credit. I mean, he’s still Leader of the Band, isn’t he?

  • ll9956

    There were a few bright spots in the last preseason game, but overall not a particularly impressive showing. Too many missed tackles, and as always, too many penalties (98 yards), but not as many as Oakland (113 yards).

    Austin Davis did well, but apparently is expected to be cut. If McGough is assigned to the practice squad I predict he has played his last Seahawk snaps. I believe he has enough talent that another team will grab him up very quickly.

    • art thiel

      Nearly every team has a competent veteran QB, and can’t afford the luxury of a raw rookie, unless 3 QBs are kept, which is also a luxury.

      • jafabian

        If they put McGough to the practice squad he’ll get picked up IMO. If the Hawks are willing to throw away a sixth rounder they should have done it towards an offensive lineman.

  • coug73

    So many changes on this team, 0-4 in fake games does leave big questions on the Hawks destiny this season. This team has serviceable players but no game changers.

    • art thiel

      Wilson and Wagner are game-changers. So is a healthy Baldwin. Otherwise, mostly true.

      • coug73

        Wilson yes. Wagner is a LB, great player, game changer impact, I don’t know. Baldwin, gimpy knee and a serviceable receiver. Even with all pro seasons for all three this will not be enough for the Hawks to become playoff participates. The big drama is who from the untested players will rise up and claim a key role on this team.

    • Husky73

      So, a new punter, a feel-good rookie defender, Dissly and playing Denver in the first game. That’s the good news. The bad news is a holdout, an injured #1 pick, a wobbly offensive line, an injured receiver and just about everything else. I haven’t been this pessimistic since Ty Willingham was in town.

      • Centiorari

        Earl has been my favorite player on the team for years but I think it may be time to give him the Harvin treatment; sign him to a 4 year contract then trade him to the Browns/Jets/Bills etc.. for a late round draft pick. We won’t have to deal with him on the field for years and the drama is over. Trading him to the Cowboys is a terrible idea that we will likely suffer from at least 3 times in the 4 year period and isn’t worth less than a 2nd round pick to reward Earl’s holdout and improve considerably the consistently bad Cowboy defense. Even Eric Berry couldn’t get Eric’s Berry’s contract this season, a contract that was the result of KC’s mismanagement of the situation in the spirit of Flacco’s post Superbowl and Cousin’s Redskin debacle. Earl is just being unrealistic.

  • Matt712

    Two things have really stood out to me this preseason – one good, one not so good.

    The good: After several drafts ranging from mediocre to disastrous, the 2018 class appears to be really promising, with some immediate contributors.

    The bad: After the departures of several veterans and consequent elevations of backups finally getting their shots, it has become painfully obvious that there’s really no one behind them. In other words, the 2018 Seahawks have almost no depth. Given the rigors of a typical NFL season, I don’t think this team has enough talent behind the ones to make the playoffs.

    That said, I’d much rather watch a young team flying around and learning and getting better, than an aging team slowing down and fading. There’s much to be excited about this “retooled” Seahawks squad, but I think it’s going to take a repeat of this year’s draft before they become contenders. Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      The bad drafts from 2013 on is costing 2018’s team dearly. But the April draft seems productive. Penny and Carson as a tandem could be a season-saver.

  • WestCoastBias79

    The Hundley trade just baffles me. This team’s fortunes rest with Russell Wilson. Full stop. Without him, they’re contending for the first pick overall. Hundley won’t change that. Also, if they really did feel the need to pretend the season isn’t all on Russ and get a backup, Kaepernick is available for, at this point, likely the league minimum, and is still better than half the starters in the league.

    • Mark Stratton

      Stop with the Kaepernick nonsense. He is currently suing all of his potential employers; he’s radioactive and will never play in the NFL again.

    • rosetta_stoned

      Kaepernick is available for, at this point, likely the league minimum, and is still better than half the starters in the league.

      He’s already been offered league minimum. By more than one team. He refused.
      Funny how people continue to forget that while holding him up as some sort of truth to the power.

      • Kirkland

        And that’s a smart legal play by Kaepernick to refuse league minimum contracts. If he wins his arbitration case against the league, he’s eligible for an award of the contract(s) he would have earned if there was no collusion, plus punitive damages. That total amount would be at least eight digits before the decimal. See: Why the Arbitrator Ruled in Favor of Colin Kaepernick, and What This Means for the NFL http://www.si.com/nfl/2018/08/30/colin-kaepernick-collusion-case-nfl-arbitrator

      • LarryLurex70

        Is that you, John Elway?

    • Centiorari

      I like Lockett a lot but I was surprised they gave him high end #2 receiver money. I hope that is an indication on how much better he is than contracts they avoided like Tate, Richardson, Kearse, etc…. I have no problem giving up a 6th round draft pick on another veteran QB who still has a lot of upside, worse case scenario we save some cash for 2 years and have a backup experienced in our system at the vet minimum after that if we choose.

      I do think Kaepernick is better than at least 10 starters but he does come with some downside; He wants to start, he is too high of profile for a backup, he is distracted from “all football” like Pete wants, and all indications are that he doesn’t want to play cheap. I also think he has reached his upside and has little more room to grow, so he will never even have a chance, no matter how slim, of being better than Wilson.

  • jafabian

    The Hawks were undefeated in the preseason during their Super Bowl run as Coach Carroll went for the jugular in each game to set the tone. Not sure if a winless preseason means anything today but it can’t be ignored. With the injuries to key personnel to start the season the Hawks could be hard pressed for a .500 record.

  • Howard Wells

    no rebuild necessary! We are still in playoff competitiveness mode! preseason is just for determining which terrifically motivated players will be able to participate in the playoffs in 17 weeks. The 12-elves are as loyal and dedicated to our destiny as the coaching staff.We will be in the playoffs before the M’s.

  • Howard Wells

    “we know what we’re doing” that is a scary admission!

  • Centiorari

    Overall, it was rather poor showing from the backups who only needed to show they could play disciplined, fundamental football. Despite my nature I’m still really optimistic about this team, something about them makes me feel they can be better than expected. Sadly, the Seahawks didn’t really use their snaps well in this fourth game from my perspective, and that was really the only thing they needed to do right. Playing Davis, a obvious cut unless you want to be the GM who traded for a QB then cut him and lost a draft pick 2 days later without him playing a snap, seemed pointless. Finding out if McGough was worth a 3rd QB spot or the practice squad was a much better use for the Hawks even if it is just experience for next season; after-all, those snaps should be used to improve the team not merely to showcase a backup for another team who will never trade anything for that player. We had a lot of those examples last night. Injuries continue to be a real concern, you don’t win divisions or conferences with the amount of injuries we have had last year and this preseason. Are we just unlucky or are we failing to do something that can change the odds, even slightly, in our favor?

  • Tman

    sanitized seahawks.

  • Chris Alexander

    Over the last several years,the phrase, “In John & Pete, we trust,” has become a bit of a cliche. But there aren’t a lot of people saying that now so I will. As a fan, it’s easy to look at this team, note who’s gone, who’s injured, etc. and say, “Crap! We’re going to suck!” But I think that’s a mistake. I think John and Pete know what they’re doing. I think that Pete approached the preseason more conservatively than he has in the past. I think there’s a lot more player evaluation and “trying to find the right fit” going on than there has been in the past. And I think that’s a good thing.

    Injuries are part of the game. I think that Hundley is a better insurance policy than either Davis or McGough. I think that even if Wright misses a month, we’ll be okay because he WILL be back and, in the meantime, Shaquem gets some meaningful reps. I think that Baldwin at 85% is still a pretty good receiver (heck, Lockett says he was only 75% last year and he still got a killer extension). Penny will be back “soon”; if not for Week 1 then by Week 2, right?

    I think we’ll be okay. Our O-line is still a concern but we didn’t have a lot of turnover, we got a new line coach and a new OC … I’m reasonably optimistic. Assuming we can run the ball (100+ yards per game, not counting Russ), that will loosen up the defenses we face and give Wilson a chance to air things out on occasion. A few home runs in the first month of the season would change perceptions in a hurry. Especially if the defense doesn’t stink (which I don’t think it will) and if our new punter is really the “weapon” that he seemed to be through 84% of the preseason.

    I don’t think we’re going to go undefeated or end up with a #1 seed but I do think that we’ll be better than we were last season, record-wise (i.e. I’m predicting 10-6 or better) and that we’ll find our stride as the season goes along and be “dangerous” come the post season. I like that we have a lot of young talent because it means that if the do gel then we have the makings of a solid core going forward.

    The games start counting for real next weekend and I, for one, can’t wait!

    • LarryLurex70

      You summed up the addition of Hundley perfectly. Contrast that with Packers fans all but holding the door open for him on his way out because he wasn’t an adequate replacement for Rodgers. I’m not aware of anyone else on their roster who is.
      Now, with news out of Oakland regarding Martavius Bryant, I’m half-entertaining the thought of JS signing him on the cheap if he’s available and worth the headache. Then I’d love to see who’s more hungry to prove themselves at the position: him or Lockett.

  • Tman

    Two takeaways:

    a pass from the one yard line and a million bucks saved on a punter and the Seahawks would be flying like Eagles.