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Seahawks-Cowboys: As I See It
Which players stood out, who had a rough night, and what does it say about the Seahawks regular season?
As I see it, the Seattle Seahawks showcased their two best “second-year players” on Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys. It just so happens that only one of them is literally in his second year, whereas the other one only plays like it.
The “other one” is Jaxon Smith-Njigba and if he continues to play in the regular season like he has in training camp and the preseason, he won’t be like any “other one” in the NFL.
JSN played a little bit with both starter Geno Smith and backup Drew Lock during Saturday’s 22-14 win over the Cowboys and it doesn’t seem to matter which quarterback he’s paired with because anybody under center would love to have him in the slot. Smith-Njigba finished with three catches for 58 yards and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that he will be able to command at least eight targets on a regular basis when the real games begin.
Smith and Lock both completed 5-of-6 passes, and though Lock out-gained the starter 119 yards to 46, Pete Carroll is surely comfortable that in the regular season it will be Geno benefitting from this incredible trio of receivers and timing those bombs to Smith-Njigba streaking across the field.
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Though Smith-Njigba is a rookie and even though he barely played football last season at Ohio State, it was said on the radio broadcast that teammates are amazed with how well he fits in with the veterans. As if he’s been playing in the NFL for his whole life. Which isn’t surprising when you go back to his historic career as a Texas high school legend and his record-breaking season as the most productive receiver that the Buckeyes have ever seen for one year.
Out of all those games that Ohio State has played in history, JSN has the single-game record (the only one to go over 300 yards) and also the third-most ever in a singe contest.
I know how much speed matters in the NFL. But I like betting on football players who have already proven that they are great football players. Since he was at least 15, JSN has usually been the best football player on the field and nothing about his time as a Seahawk so far has been evidence that his lack of elite straightline speed will hold him back from continuing to do that.
As I see it, JSN won’t need to play in the preseason final next week.
The other second-year player who is making a jump, the player actually in his second year, is outside linebacker Boye Mafe. As I see it, Mafe is gonna become “the guy” on defense.
Playing like he was way too good to be going against “amateurs” by comparison on Saturday night, Mafe surprisingly played the entire first half and was dominant against the Cowboys right tackle. He batted two passes and was consistently pressuring the quarterback. One of Seattle’s big needs in the last two years has been to find an edge who could be one of the best in the league. Signing Uchenna Nwosu has been the addition of a very good outside linebacker, but if we have seen his ceiling already then ideally the Seahawks would be able to find a player at the position who could be that Pro Bowl, borderline All-Pro edge who would take the defense to a championship level.
Players like Chris Jones, Aaron Donald, Nick Bosa, Haason Reddick, Trey Hendrickson, Von Miller…It’s a cliché because it’s true: Show me a great team, they likely have a great pass rusher.
While Nwosu has five years under his belt, Derick Hall is a rookie, and Darrell Taylor has been sidelined for weeks, it is Boye Mafe who has the best odds of potentially giving the Seahawks their own “great pass rusher”. That’s what he was on Saturday, that’s what he’s apparently been throughout training camp, and hopes have never been higher than he could be “that guy” in Week 1.
From Saturday morning: Find out where Seahawks fans hail from in the latest fan survey results!
As I see it, Levi Bell wants it the most
Name another player whose effort shows up in the preseason as much as Levi Bell. So much so that even if I said “Okay, but only players who have played on offense”, the answer still might be Bell, as he played fullback on a touchdown run for SaRodorick Thompson.
Bell was flying all over the field. As guest commentator Jeff Schaffer put it on the radio broadcast: “Bell is running around like a chicken with his head cut off and he’s going after the farmer.”
For most teams and most years, I think it gets easier to make a 53-man roster projection as you get closer to cuts. For the Seahawks in 2023, it has only gotten progressively more difficult.
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Bonus shoutout to Tyjon Lindsey for a big punt return, John Hall for blocking a punt, and Patrick O’Connell for being a team captain on Saturday. The undrafted players battling for a roster spot are making it very difficult on Pete and again, Jake Bobo continues to make a name for himself. Bobo had two catches for 43 yards and he recovered Hall’s blocked punt.
As I see it, the offense is explosive
The Seahawks probably don’t get enough credit for the number of explosive plays—and touchdowns outside of the red zone—that they scored in 2022. What we have seen in the preseason is more of the same, as JSN, Bobo, Zach Charbonnet, SaRodorick Thompson, Lindsey, Cody Thompson, Noah fant, and even Holton Ahlers (six carries, 43 yards) all had explosive plays.
My one question on the Charbonnet run was whether or not his lack of long distance speed showed up and cost Seattle what would have been a wide open touchdown. But the defense was able to easily catch up, it seemed.
As I see it, there shouldn’t be measurements in the preseason
This was so stupid.
So was waiting 15 minutes for the last two minutes of the first half to finish. Don’t bring out the chains in the preseason…just make a call and stick with it and tell coaches to pick up their red flags. Fans committed to watching a preseason game, do us a favor and skip some of the regular season annoyances.
As I see it, the Seahawks could have the best special teams in NFL
Jason Myers hit a kick from 57. Michael Dickson could be the NFL’s best punter. Seattle blocked a punt and had a nice punt return. They had an amazing night on special teams in preseason Week 1 against the Vikings, as I wrote a week ago that coordinator Larry Izzo may be one of the rare people in that job who deserves to get head coaching interviews. I think about how the Rams used to kill the Seahawks on special teams when they had coordinator John Fassel, and then Sean McVay fired him and replaced all their special teamers. L.A.’s been in special teams hell since then, so what can Seattle do to make sure that Izzo never leaves?
If the Seahawks can have a top-5 offense and a top-3 special teams, how good does their defense really need to be to have the type of success that they want to have? Of course you want to be number one in all phases, but if the preseason tackling has been any indication, it isn’t probable that the Seahawks have improved to their 2012-2015 era levels on defense quite yet.
As I see it, the Seahawks first-team defense underwhelmed
Facing the Cowboys backup offense, Seattle allowed too many third and fourth-down conversions. Forget about the scoreboard, which showed that Dallas only scored 7 in the first half, how will these same Seahawks defensive players do if next time they’re facing Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Tony Pollard?
Some key players for the regular season didn’t play, if not at least half of the starting defense, but the first half performance isn’t the standard that Carroll has set for Seattle. It’s made worse by the fact that some of the names out there will have huge roles this season and I don’t think that was the case for anyone on the Cowboys offense.
The Seahawks may not face a huge test in Week 1 against the Rams, but then face the Lions (who put up 45 points on them last season) in Week 2.
As I see it, Mike Jackson didn’t “look good” on Saturday
I’ll give Jackson the benefit of the doubt and put “look good” in quotations because that’s all I’m going off of right now: How did he “look” live in the game? Well, he was in coverage on some of the biggest Dallas gains in the first half, he had a DPI on one of those gains, he gave up a fourth down conversion. For a while it seemed like Cowboys QB Cooper Rush would just target Jackson on third or fourth down.
On the contrary, Tre Brown had an interception at the goal line, wrapped up his first tackle attempt, and may have improved from his off-night in the first game. Whereas Jackson may have out-played Brown in the first game, Brown strikes back on Saturday.
Two other players who didn’t “look good” on first inspection were Coby Bryant and Jerrick Reed. There were at least a couple of plays where their missed tackles led to longer gains, including a Deuce Vaughn touchdown.
Tyreke Smith did have a good tackle for loss on Vaughn. Jarran Reed had a sack. Myles Adams stood out with a big run stop.
As I see it, the Seahawks are 2-0 in the preseason. They wrap it up next Saturday at 10 AM against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. After you see it, come back to Seaside Joe to see how I see it.