Marquise Blair shined at nickelback Wednesday with two interceptions. (Getty)
Who’d have thought that a Seahawks game would be a back-page story?
Apologies for bashing you in the face with two of the most overused words of 2020, but in the most uncertain year of our lifetime, athletes boycotting games across multiple sports in protest is about as unprecedented as it gets. After today’s events, who knows if the Hawks will in fact open the year less than three weeks from now in Atlanta?
Whatever the case, Seattle wrapped up its second and final dress rehearsal of training camp at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday. And this time, they completed the game with zero injuries.
Just like last time, we’re limited in what we can tell you about the actual game. But here were my biggest takeaways:
• I had my doubts about Marquise Blair being able to play an entirely new position in his second season. Shifting from safety to nickelback is quite the challenge when you’ve never played the latter position before, let alone if a pandemic shortens the offseason, but Blair was the star of Wednesday’s mock game. He intercepted two Anthony Gordon passes – one off a Shaquill Griffin deflection, and another on the right sideline – blasted through the line of scrimmage for a huge tackle for a loss, and made a physical play on a pass to the sideline to force an incompletion.
• The other star? Carlos Hyde. The sixth-year veteran picked up right where he left off in Houston last season, blasting through the line of scrimmage with power for a couple of huge runs. He has an impressive second gear of speed when he hits the open field. The Seahawks ran out of viable running backs at the end of last season. Adding Hyde to the Chris Carson/Rashaad Penny duo should prevent that problem from submarining Seattle’s running game at the end of the season.
• I’m not sure who the Seahawks’ second cornerback is, but Shaquill Griffin is their best player. Griffin had two deflections – including the aforementioned one on one of Blair’s picks – and made a great open-field tackle on a tight end right in front of the sticks on third and short. That said, there’s a moment he’ll likely regret that I’ll get to later.
• I wish I could say that the Seahawks’ (likely first-string) defensive players dominated the day, but that simply wasn’t the case. They went up against Gordon, the undrafted rookie from Washington State who an extremely rough day at quarterback. He was hit hard his first snap under center, threw up two prayers into heavy coverage that were intercepted, lost control of the football while trying to execute a handoff, was on the field for three false starts over two drives, and looked extremely uncomfortable at all times. Seattle’s defense wasn’t challenged in the slightest when he was on the field. I feel for him. Playing in the NFL is no joke.
• Seahawks tight ends should be in for a huge year. Russell Wilson was looking for them – especially Greg Olsen, who continues to impress – and hitting them in stride down the seams. Jacob Hollister made the most of that part of the field too, catching another touchdown pass down the seam.
• Russell and DK Metcalf weren’t 100% in sync. Wilson overthrew him on an end zone fade, then again on a shot play after a running back failed to pick up pressure up the middle. Later he threw behind Metcalf on a slant that DK still was able to corral, and nearly threw a pick six to Debine Renfro while forcing it to 14. But when they do hook up? Like when Russell hit Metcalf in stride through blanket coverage for a beautiful touchdown pass of about 30 yards down the left sideline? It’s GLORIOUS.
• DeeJay Dallas got a LOT of opportunities. I think he’ll be the Seahawks fourth running back, especially if he can catch the football. Dallas nearly bobbled away a Gordon throw but was able to regain control with one hand. I found it noteworthy that he finished the game glove-less. You never see skill players who don’t wear gloves these days.
• I never thought I’d say this, but I feel extremely comfortable with Geno Smith as the Seahawks’ backup quarterback. He did a great Russell impersonation, dropping a perfect ball to David Moore across his body while rolling to his left.
• Danny Etling has a shot to make the roster as a quarterback. He’s got mobility, doesn’t panic when under pressure, and made a nice throw past Griffin for a touchdown to undrafted UW rookie Aaron Fuller. By the way, Fuller caught while diving with one hand. No big deal. It was the play of the day.
• Honorable mention play? How about when TE Tyler Mabry, who is listed at 247 pounds, hurdled a dude in the middle of a catch and run. That was awesome.
• I’m not sure that I’m ever going to feel great about Jason Myers as the Seahawks kicker. Yes, he hit the only field goal he attempted, but he missed an extra point wide to the left. I get that the Hawks have less roster spots this offseason, but why not bring in some competition?