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Predicting Seahawks training camp battle winners based on first week of practices
Seaside Joe 1247: Who starts, who sits; who marinates, who celebrates?
The Seahawks decided to take a day off, it seems like everyone is taking vacation these days. So I’m going to go ahead and take a day off too. There won’t be any newsletter today, not even this one, so looks like the streak must end at 1,246 days in a row. There is no newsletter today, I’ll be taking a day off.
Thanks for understanding. Have a good Thursday.
I’m waving goodbye now.
Go on then...
You know the funny thing about a day off is…it gives you more time to write about football.
The Seahawks have run through a little more than week of practices, barely any in pads, and there’s only so much information you can glean from days like these. Whether reports are positive or negative, players who have yet to prove themselves on the regular season stage have a lot more left to reveal to us.
Consider the 2021 training camp reports that training camp reporters hoped you would forget about:
But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t learned anything to this point about the immediate future of the Seattle Seahawks. Based on training camp reports this week, we’ve at least learned certain pecking orders, who has earned more looks, and potentially the frontrunners to win certain position battles and roster spots.
So today on my break from writing, I’m going to write some predictions of what we will see in Week 1 based on what we’ve seen in the first week of training camp.
Since it is my day off and today there is no newsletter, because frankly who would want to cover the Seahawks every day, sometimes multiple times per day, for 1,247 days in a row? Not me! So instead of a newsletter, this will be more of an “art-icle” or a “po-st.”
No work for me today. Sorry :)
After all, these days Seaside Joe is living on easy street: On Wednesday, we came less than 100 visits shy of our a new all-time record of people reading the newsletter in a single day and over the last four days we’ve seen a new four-day record for visits and BY A LOT.
The word is out that the Seahawks are back and news is spreading that Seaside Joe is the hip, new hangout spot for fans this season. It’s like the club with no sign out front and no Yelp page. Don’t get me wrong, we remain the underdogs to outsiders, but much like the Seahawks we could surprise some people this year.
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But just don’t expect a newsletter today. I’m on vacation.
Predictions That Could Be Proven FALSE—But Sound Reasonable To Joe Today
These fall dangerously into “hunches” territory, so these are subject to change as more is revealed during padded practices, scrimmages, and preseason games.
Artie Burns starts over Coby Bryant
Bryant has been called “the star of Seahawks training camp” and the fourth round pick was getting reps with the starters on Wednesday.
It would seem reasonable to think that means Bryant could start in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos, but that remains unlikely. Though Artie Burns may not have been a high-profile acquisition in the offseason, having only started 13 games over the last four years, he’s a veteran with experience in Sean Desai’s defense and he’s also been credited as a star in camp. As much as Bryant may want to send Burns to the dunk tank…
It would still appear that the only reason that Bryant (and Tariq Woolen, who nobody expects to start as a rookie) got reps opposite of Sidney Jones IV on Wednesday was because Burns was on a break. And trust me, take it from a guy enjoying his vacation and not working today: Everybody needs a break!
Not even Richard Sherman started for the first six weeks of his rookie season and Sherman was showing out as the best cornerback on the team as soon as he got to Seattle. Bryant has given fans all the excitement that they’ve prayed for with every day three cornerback drafted since Sherman set an unreasonably high bar for those players…but it is only August 4th.
Given the likelihood for Burns and Jones to miss game action in 2022, Coby Bryant’s day is coming soon regardless.
Drew Lock will become the starter
I liken Lock’s situation to that of a rookie quarterback who is drafted ~14th. The drafting team insists that they’re taking the long-term approach with the rookie but the whole time every fan and media member is looking at the starter and going…”But… Andy Dalton???”
In my 5 training camp predictions, I noted that Lock would get positive reports from coaches about picking up the playbook ahead of schedule and doing all the right things in practice. Shane Waldron has essentially said all of those things already and Lock hasn’t even played with the entire 1s yet. For Regular Joes, you can read my full explanation for why Lock is the true intended starter right here. But my favorite point in there is this:
He was signed to backup money, he’s been a league backup for the past seven years, none of the other 31 teams considered signing him to compete to start, and one of Smith’s most important offseason tasks has been to get Drew Lock ready.
Sometimes the “Andy Dalton” starts Week 1 because the team doesn’t feel it had quite enough time to prepare the rookie, so that is a possibility—plus, do the Seahawks feel any need to shield Lock from the emotions of facing Denver in his Seattle debut?—but I would say all signs point to Drew Lock starting more games in 2022 than any other Seahawks quarterback.
Ken Walker III and Rashaad Penny are a true duo
I said this in a comment to a Seasider on Wednesday and I’ll repeat it here: If the Seahawks had drafted any other running back this year other than Walker or Breece Hall, I’d have no justification in hyping y’all up this much for that player.
Those were the two ‘special’ running backs in the 2022 draft class and the ONLY reason that I get to say “Ha ha” to the people who hated the pick is because Ken Walker III is that good.
I could re-read all 12 episodes of the Ken on Ken series over and over again. From his first game at Wake Forest to his last for Michigan State, Ken Walker III was the best player on the field.
During Wednesday’s training camp with Rashaad Penny taking a rest day, Ken Walker III might have been the best player on the field.
I just get this feeling that Walker will have a 170+ rushing day as a rookie and that we won’t have to wait long for it. I’ll have a whole other post predicting Walker’s rookie season but something I’ve said since I started tracking Walker’s career is that he would catch more passes in Seattle this year than he did during his entire college stint.
Walker reiterated to reporters on Wednesday that indeed he is playing more as a receiver than he ever did in college.
How many times does Joe have to be right to get the Seahawks to acknowledge that I’ve hacked their mainframe?
Last season, A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones were separated by two touches. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams were separated by 15. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were on pace for similar playing time until Hunt was injured.
I think Penny and Walker will get a similar amount of playing time and that Walker, like Javonte Williams or Hunt or Jones, will be the running back who does more of the receiving. Penny was targeted only eight times in 2021 and I think Walker could be targeted at least eight times in September.
Josh Jones makes the team over Ugo Amadi
Though Amadi appeared in all 17 games last season, the numbers don’t seem to be working in his favor and he’s missing training camp at a time that others in the secondary are shining. And though Amadi played in 54% of the snaps in 2020, 55% in 2021, he has yet to stand out after three years in the league.
Maybe that’s not entirely his fault and perhaps Ken Norton, Jr. was not putting Amadi in the best position to succeed. But if it comes down to Amadi or Marquise Blair, wouldn’t the team favor Blair if he’s healthy? Right now, it’s Amadi that has to be concerned about injuries.
If Sidney Jones IV, Burns, and Justin Coleman settle in as the top three corners, with Coby Bryant, Tariq Woolen, and Tre Brown as presumed backups, that’s already one more cornerback than the Seahawks held onto in 2021. If Blair can switch between safety and nickel, that gives six.
Safety won’t offer Amadi much of an opportunity either as Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs handle the top two spots, Ryan Neal is a lock if his injury isn’t serious, Blair remains in house, and now Josh Jones is standing out early in camp. The former second round pick may have finally found his NFL footing and he has 700 snaps worth of starting reps with the Jaguars in 2020 to give Pete a little more comfort that he can handle the reserve role.
If the 25-year-old Amadi wants to make the numbers work in his favor, he has a lot of work to do in the next four weeks.
Marquise Goodwin is the third option at receiver
At least for the start of the season, it seems that Goodwin has made a solid case to be Lock or Smith’s deep threat against the Broncos.
With Dee Eskridge yet to practice, Freddie Swain yet to turn into Christian Kirk, I’d think it safe to argue for Goodwin as the third option for an offense that lacks adequate depth at receiver. That’s why I believe—and will continue to believe until the 2023 draft—that the Seahawks will pick a receiver within the first two rounds.
Goodwin is not only a nine-year vet, he’s also showcased the same speed that got him into the NFL as a raw third round pick in 2013. Though he has only caught 55 passes in the past four years, this is probably one of the reasons that Goodwin chose Seattle: it’s a short road towards getting playing time in this receivers room.
Now, if you’re asking me about season-long predictions, I would still lean on Eskridge over Goodwin. I could compare Goodwin’s situation in 2022 to DeSean Jackson’s with the Rams in 2021: The Rams sure seemed to believe that Jackson would have a significant role on the offense but they also drafted Tutu Atwell (whose NFL comp was Jackson) in the second round.
Jackson was targeted just 15 times in the first seven games and then was released.
Goodwin has the advantage now, but Eskridge’s career shouldn’t be judged by the first 16 months of it alone.
Jake Curhan will start at right tackle—but guard is a real possibility
This one I feel less sure of than the others, but I’m fairly confident that the team is not in a rush to start Abraham Lucas at any position. However, the team is using offensive line combinations in practice (early, early practice) that includes Curhan sliding into guard on Gabe Jackson’s rest days and Stone Forsythe at right tackle.
That also seems like one potential solution for the offensive line, should the Seahawks opt to part with Jackson or need to move pieces around because of an injury or necessary rest. Or it could be the plan for 2023, should Curhan play really well but the team is anxious to start Lucas at right tackle by next year, which I assume they will be if all is going well in practices.
It’s either that or call J’Marcus Webb.
The key word for the Seahawks offensive line in 2022 is “patience.” The only returning starters from Week 1 of last season are Damien Lewis and Jackson, the tackle positions lack experience, and the center spent 2021 on the bench. No matter who starts at right tackle…or right guard or left guard or center…it may not indicate who is starting at that position in Week 8.
It could just be that one of the big men needed a day off.
Don’t we all?
That’s it for today’s Seaside Joe day off. Sorry there was not a newsletter today, not even this one. Y’all come on back now, y’here?