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Broncos/Seahawks Preview

16 Aug

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Matchup: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

The Seahawks return home for their 2013 CenturyLink Field debut on Saturday night when they host the defending AFC West champion Denver Broncos. Last week the Seahawks backups were able to put their foot on the throats of the San Diego Chargers en route to a 31-10 victory. The Broncos are coming off a 10-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With a victory on Saturday night, the Seahawks will break a franchise record for most consecutive preseason wins. A win over Denver would be Seattle’s 7th straight preseason win dating back to 2011. Here are some things I will have my eyes on while in attendance at the game this weekend.

According to King 5 sports, the Seahawks starters may play into the second quarter on Saturday night and some starters may even play the entire first half. After a dismal performance by the first-team units last week, I am looking to see a lot of improvement on both sides of the ball. On offense, I want to see improvement mostly from the offensive line. Russell Wilson had to create space because his protection broke down several times last week. If Max Unger is back in the lineup Saturday night, definitely expect to see better pass protection for Russell Wilson. I also would like to see the Seahawks run at least a couple of zone-read option plays. Wilson and the starting offense ran no zone-read option plays against San Diego. In my Chargers review I wondered if the Seahawks would wait until the regular season to progress the playbook. Against a talented defense like Denver’s I think it would be wise to run a couple zone-read plays to see the level of effectiveness.

On defense the first team defense gave up a long drive to Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense which resulted in a field goal to start last week’s game. We were missing several starters on defense last week including Cliff Avril and Bobby Wagner, but this week I expect to see more significant improvement than the offense. At home, even in the preseason, the defense can play at a “lights out” level. I hope to see better quarterback pressure and a minimum of two sacks in the first half. With Avril continuing to recover from an ailing foot I am anxious to see who will step up as a defensive end pass rusher. Possibly look for Michael Bennett to stretch outside this week to play defensive end. I am also hoping that his play last week against the Chargers has earned undrafted rookie Benson Mayowa an opportunity to see first half playing time with the first and second string units. His improvement in practice this week has earned him some playing time earlier in the game in my opinion.

There are several position battles continuing this week to keep your eye on. After last week I believe Tarvaris Jackson has a leg up on Brady Quinn for the backup quarterback job. Quinn will have to play very well and make no mistakes this week. If Jackson continues to impress later in the game he will win the job in no time. Expect to see Robert Turbin get a good amount of playing time this week as well. Turbin practiced for the first time during training camp this week and there are some people who believe rookie Christine Michael could beat out Turbin for the backup running back spot. Last week Stephen Williams impressed at wide receiver. There are several other receivers who need to step up but the man I continue to watch is Chris Harper. Fourth round picks usually make the roster but with the talent and depth the Seahawks have, Harper may be in jeopardy of not making the team. A strong game against Denver can do nothing but help him to make the team moving forward.

The Denver Broncos enter Seattle with one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Denver has come a long way from the Tim Tebow era two seasons ago and now feature four-time NFL most valuable player Peyton Manning at quarterback. The Broncos also welcome new weapon Wes Welker to the offense. We will not see much of the offense and even less of Manning this week. Instead, we will see a lot of backup quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert. The Denver offense could only score 10 points last week. Granted, they played one of the best defenses in the league in the San Francisco 49ers but the Broncos backups are in a similar situation to the Seahawks backups. They need to show improvement or else with the 12th Man behind the Seahawks defense, it will be a long night for the Broncos. USA Today is reporting that the Broncos have a pistol package installed in their offense and that could definitely be a weapon if they choose to use it since they did not run a pistol style formation last season.

The Broncos defense is also a very strong unit and it will be interesting to see who steps up as a pass rusher given that Elvis Dumervil signed with Baltimore during free agency. I am excited to see Von Miller, assuming he plays in the first half and I am especially excited to see Champ Bailey, most likely one last time. The Broncos defense did a good job of shutting down San Francisco’s offense last week. They did not allow a touchdown. Red zone offense will be my focus for the Denver defense. If they are effective and can hold the Seahawks to field goals, they will be in good shape once the regular season rolls around.

Random Thoughts: It is going to feel so good to be back in my seat at CenturyLink. This is my 8th season as a season ticket holder and I have seen every game in that time from the same seat… I’m not bringing a bag in this week but it’s going to be a pain trying to get in the stadium due to the new league wide bag rule. I’ve seen some stadiums really have trouble being organized… Remember to “stuff the bus” for the back-to-school supply drive this week… Will the Seahawks wear a different color pant at home this week? They wore blue jerseys and blue pants for all 10 home games last season… I am excited to see Peyton Manning again, even if it is only for a couple drives. I love being able to watch all-time greats play live. I saw Manning play the Seahawks in Indianapolis in 2009, a 34-17 Seahawks loss… I am taking one of my best friends and roommates Clayton to the game. He has never been to an NFL game before so I’m excited for him. He’s not that big into football but he’s told me how excited he is on multiple occasions already… There is an unnamed referee retiring after the 2013 season so the NFL is conducting on-the-field tryouts of potential future NFL referees during the preseason. The Broncos/Seahawks game will be officiated by Ronald Torbert. I know nothing about him… The weather forecast for gameday is a high of 73 degrees and a chance of rain during the game. It has only rained during one preseason game I have ever gone to… The starting unit that gets introduced Saturday night will be the unit introduced before the home opener against San Francisco. I hope it is the offense… Not sure what the pregame tailgating plan is yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if we make camp at the Hawks Nest Bar and Grill before the game… This will be the last game I attend while living in my Seattle house. I’m moving back to the Eastside at the end of the month. A lot of fun bus rides and tailgates last season with my roommates before the games. I will definitely miss those experiences.

Prediction: The Seahawks backups have shown they can make plays and I expect nothing less this week, especially at home. Russell Wilson will lead one impressive scoring drive in the first half and Peyton Manning will struggle getting offense momentum at the beginning of the game. The Seahawks will extend their franchise record preseason winning streak on Saturday night.

Seahawks 26, Broncos 21

Look for a review of the Seahawks preseason home opener on Sunday afternoon. Go Seahawks!

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Review: Seahawks 30, Broncos 10

19 Aug

The Seahawks were able to overcome a shaky first half and behind the solid play of quarterback Russell Wilson, defeated the Denver Broncos 30-10 Saturday night. Here are some thoughts on what I witnessed and some points I took out of the game.

Flynn took chances, but looked average: Something that was talked about by mostly everybody including myself after last week’s game was that Matt Flynn looked good but was very vanilla in terms of deciding where to throw the ball. He played safe last week and I wanted to see him take more chances down the field in Denver. Flynn took more chances but unfortunately he was inconsistent. Some throws were his fault and others were the receivers fault. A couple passes specifically, a pass intended for Kellen Winslow sailed high and through the endzone, was clearly a Flynn blunder. Another pass which has to be mentioned is a 46 yard pass to Terrell Owens that would have been a touchdown. Flynn put the ball right into Owens’s hands and he dropped the ball. As “Hawk Blogger” tweeted after the game if T.O. would have made that catch, Flynn’s would have been 7/14 for 77 yards and a passer rating of 158.0. Instead, Flynn finished 6/13 for 31 yards and a 57.4 passer rating.

Speaking of T.O.: Terrell Owens had every opportunity tonight to show Coach Carroll that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster. Instead he did not catch any passes that were intended for him. The target that hurt him the most was the long would-be touchdown pass. Owens should consider himself lucky that Braylon Edwards did not have any catches tonight either because that would have made his night even worse. What I also noticed was Owens’ body language on the field. Very early on Owens seemed to look frustrated that some passes were not thrown in his direction. He would slightly flail his hands up in the air, trying to show Flynn that he was open. I know Owens has stated that he is now very humble and gracious to have this chance but I wondered what would happen once he stepped on the field. My worry was that his prior attitudes would flare up again in the heat of the moment. The sample size is way too small to make assumptions at this point but Owens did look slightly frustrated at times. Owens will get a big chance next week in Kansas City to prove he belongs on this team and if he does not take advantage, I believe the T.O. experiment will be cut short. You cannot impress in practice and not have it translate in a game. It has to be a two-way deal.

Russell Wilson deserves a chance to play with the first- team unit in a game: After going 10/17 for 155 yards and two touchdowns, I think Russell Wilson is gaining legitimate ground to challenge for the starting quarterback job and definitely deserves the chance to play with the starting offense sometime in the next two weeks. The Seahawks scored 21 points in the second half thanks in large part to Wilson’s play. Wilson once again did a great job splitting defenders and is not afraid to air it out. Wilson’s most impressive play was a first-down conversion to Lavasier Tuinei in the fourth quarter that tricked the television cameraman. It looked as though Wilson was just going to throw the ball away on the rollout to his right but he threw a floater to the sideline and Tuinei reeled it in. Two plays later, Wilson connected with running back Tyrell Sutton for a 34 yard touchdown pass. Wilson is a very smart quarterback. I have said this before and he continues to show why I have that opinion of him. With the starters expected to play into the second half next week against Kansas City, I do not think Wilson will get the chance to start but he may get the chance to start when the Seahawks finish up the preseason in two weeks against Oakland.

MVP of the game: My MVP of tonight’s game was corner back Jeron Johnson. The second-year defensive back from Boise State had 4 tackles and also picked off Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the second quarter. Johnson played the majority of the game and was the definition of “ball hawk” tonight. Wherever a play developed, Johnson found a way to be around it whether he directly contributed or not. Johnson made the team last year and primarily contributed on special teams. After a solid outing Saturday night, Johnson has a really good chance of making the team this season.

My critique of Peyton: For the most part, Peyton Manning looked good enough. Good enough to be a solid quarterback fully capable of getting the Broncos in contention for the AFC West title. Manning did not look as sharp as has looked in the past, but what do you expect from a 36-year-old quarterback coming off two spinal fusion surgeries who hasn’t played in over a year? A lot of Manning’s passes looked wobbly but he managed the offense with ease. He was able to pick apart the front seven of the Seahawks for the majority of the first half but made key mistakes that cost the Broncos points. Manning proved a couple things to me after Saturday’s game. First, he has the arm strength to throw the ball deep down the field. He was unsuccessful against “the legion of BOOM” (The self-given nickname of the Seahawks starting secondary), but if he has to make a deep throw, he can. Secondly, Manning can take a hit. The Seahawks were not able to record a sack on Manning but we knocked him to the ground on multiple occasions. None of our quarterback hits were too hard and none were to the head/neck. Manning has yet to be hit hard in game action since his recovery so time will tell if he is durable enough to last after hard contact. Best of luck to him this season and here’s to a healthy Manning in 2012.

A potential (fantasy) sleeper: There has been a lot of talk over the offseason about the chemistry building between Peyton Manning and Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker. It is believed that Decker is the player to draft in fantasy football over flanker Demaryius Thomas. However after tonight I believe there is a super sleeper hidden on the Broncos depth chart; none other than Brandon Stokley. Stokley, a Seahawk in 2010, was a teammate of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis from 2003-2006 and was arguably Manning’s most trustworthy target out of the slot. In Saturday night’s game, you could tell the Manning-Stokley combination this season could be deadly after Stokley caught a team-high three catches for 41 yards. As a decent fantasy football player *cough cough* I believe that Decker and Thomas will put up good numbers but do not forget about Stokley. If Stokley makes the team expect Manning to throw his way a good number of times.

Broncos D haven’t missed a step: The first team Denver defense looked really sharp Saturday night, sacking Flynn once and flushing him out of the pocket multiple times. Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller will be a deadly duo rushing the passer this season. A combination of Peyton Manning’s play and the young, dominating Broncos pass rush will go a long way in securing the division title this season.

Random Thoughts: The weather did not play as big of a factor as I thought. When I went to Denver two years ago game time temperature was in the high 90’s. The high in Denver Saturday night was in the high 70’s. Very comfortable for a night game… I was glad to see us finish the game in great health. The only injury off the top of my head at this moment was tight end Anthony McCoy getting the wind knocked out of him in the second half… Marshawn Lynch saw some playing time early on in the game. After every handoff I quickly prayed that he did not get hurt. The last thing we can have is our star running back be sidelined for any amount of time… Our uniform combination was white jerseys and blue pants. The combo looked good but I would have liked to have seen white pants instead of blue… The Broncos brought back their orange jersey as their primary home jersey this season. Peyton Manning looks the weirdest in a navy blue helmet and orange jersey in my opinion. My buddy Alan has been waiting for a shout-out on my blog so here it is. There is nothing like brats, beer, friends, and football. Great to watch the game with Alan and have him pick my brain about the team. Can’t wait for us to go to the Cowboys game next month buddy!

The team landed safely in Seattle late last night. The Seahawks will take Sunday off before getting back to practice in preparation for the game against Kansas City next Friday. Thanks for reading everybody. See you back here tomorrow!