Seahawks preseason preview: What to expect vs Steelers, Bears, and Cowboys
Seaside Bonus: Which starters will play for Seattle in the preseason? When will Geno and Drew get their starts? And what to look for on the other rosters?
This is the most important Seattle Seahawks preseason since 2012. I haven’t given the schedule any thought until now, but then as I went through the opponents and the magnitude of each situation and these important camp battles at QB and other positions, it became clear how great that three-week stretch could be.
For Regular Joes below, I will preview the Steelers, Cowboys, and Bears. Not only what to expect from the Seahawks, but which starters and key position battles can you look for on the other side? First, we need to know how Seattle approached the preseason in 2021.
Last year, the Seahawks opened their preseason with a 27-0 win over the Chargers, as starters Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert sat out this contest to make way for the backups.
Geno Smith went 11/15 for 90 yards and Sean Mannion also threw 15 passes, completing 13 for 77 and a touchdown. Rashaad Penny had seven carries for 24 yards, while Josh Johnson and Alex Collins each had at least 10 attempts.
Collins also caught seven passes for 52 yards. Dee Eskridge had two touches: a nine-yard carry and a 19-yard catch.
This was mostly a show for the backups, but Darrell Taylor had to get his feet wet and he finished with 1.5 sacks. Cody Barton and Alton Robinson also had a sack each.
In the second preseason game, Seattle was on the opposite end of a blowout, losing 30-3 to the Broncos. In fact, Drew Lock went 9/14 for 80 yards, getting outplayed by Teddy Bridgewater and leading to his position as Denver’s QB2. This game was the heart of that competition and we can expect something similar for Lock in 2022.
Pete Carroll again gave a lot of work to Mannion, but Alex McGough was 9/13 for 91 yards and two interceptions. Russ and Geno did not play, nor did most starters.
Jordyn Brooks did lead the team in tackles, however. Even 34-year-old Al Woods was getting reps in the preseason, but for the most part Carroll saved his starters and veterans.
Finally, in a preseason finale loss to the Raiders, 20-7, Mannion, McGough, and Geno split the reps and they all did poorly. Smith was 4/10 to 46 yards. McGough did the best.
We saw few starters, but Barton had seven tackles and two sacks and Carroll kept trying to ease in a few players who would have increased roles in 2021. Seahawks fans will have to expect something different this preseason though, as Carroll is monitoring Seattle’s first quarterback competition since 2012. And that quarterback will need the support of his starters, even if veterans like Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are not included.
What should we expect for the upcoming three preseason games?
Preseason Week 1-Seahawks at Steelers, 8/13, 4 PM
In talking to my Steelers friend, he made the following notes over text:
“I think Mitchell Trubisky gets the start, maybe splits the 1s with Mason Rudolph. Probably tons of Devin Bush because he’s battling with Robert Spillane for ILB2 behind Myles Jack. And Kendrick Green, Kevin Dotson will battle for LG. There’s three running backs fighting for one spot, which will be a fun battle as well.”
Pittsburgh is hashing out their own quarterback competition, and rookie Kenny Pickett is almost certainly going to be the QB3 when the season begins. It would appear that either Trubisky or Rudolph starts in Week 1, so how they perform against the Seahawks will be important for Mike Tomlin in making a decision at QB.
That means that Seahawks-Steelers in 10 days could be even more important than Super Bowl XL.
It’s hard to believe that Ben Roethlisberger played in that game but only retired this past January. Now both teams are going through a similar phase, but the Steelers likely took themselves out of the running to draft a quarterback in 2023 because of the Pickett pick. Seattle should also get an opportunity to see the quarterback who they passed on in the draft, and anything less than a little dominance against the rookie should be considered a disappointment for the Seahawks. Even if it’s the backups of the backups.
Given that Pete Carroll rested most of his starters in 2021, I wouldn’t expect a different plan in 2022. The fact that the Seahawks will have their potential QB1 out there is not a change in philosophy, it is only a reaction to the situation; Carroll always starts players if they’re in a competition and right now there happens to be a competition at quarterback.
It also happens that the offensive line is in such shape that it may behoove Seattle to start the 1s merely because Charles Cross is a rookie, Austin Blythe hasn’t played in a year, Damien Lewis needs to show improvement, and there’s a competition at right tackle.
I would not expect to have Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf available at any point in the preseason. If Carroll has said differently, how embarrassing for me. But I don’t think there’s a need to risk the players who have nothing left to prove and everything to lose if they get injured:
Lockett, Metcalf, Will Dissly, Rashaad Penny, Ken Walker III (maybe a couple series over the entire preseason), DeeJay Dallas, Jordyn Brooks, Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Al Woods, Shelby Harris, Poona Ford, Darrell Taylor.
I’m not sure to what degree Pete feels the need to see his starting cornerbacks out there. Most likely the team will be careful with Sidney Jones IV, there’s little left to unturn with Artie Burns and Justin Coleman. So maybe add those names in there too.
However, this should leave a starting opportunity for camp standout Josh Jones at safety, camp standout Coby Bryant at cornerback, and extra playing time for Ryan Neal and Tre Brown if they are healthy enough; Neal has missed two practices, Brown remains on PUP.
Of course, Tariq Woolen should also play against the Steelers.
Seattle’s DEEP cornerback depth includes UDFA rookies Elijah Jones, Josh Valentine-Turner, and 2021 UDFA Mike Jackson at cornerback. As well as Bubba Bolden, Deontai Williams, Scott Nelson, and Joey Nelson, all UDFA rookie safeties.
These are the secondary names that should see the most of Kenny Pickett on August 13th.
Preseason Week 2-Seahawks vs Bears, 8/18, 5 PM
On Chicago’s side, I have to assume that Justin Fields needs the start and won’t be protected for the entire game. Maybe figuratively and literally.
Not only is Fields a second-year quarterback who struggled immensely in year one, the Bears have surrounded him with new coaches and a lot of new supporting players. The top receivers after Darnell Mooney are Byron Pringle, N’Keal Harry, rookie Velus Jones, Dazz Newsome, and Equanimeous St. Brown.
There’s a good chance we’ll also see one former Seahawk and a couple of notable veterans: David Moore is now with the Bears, as are Dante Pettis (49ers), Tajae Sharpe (Titans), and Nsimba Webster (Rams).
I have said since draft day that Fields would not fit with Chicago and that seems to be a more widely accepted belief now, 18 months later.
The Bears offensive line looks bad too: Riley Reiff, Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, Michael Schofield, and Larry Borom may top the depth chart for now. The team is looking to trade recent second round pick Teven Jenkins, according to reports.
We won’t see running back David Montgomery, but maybe Khalil Herbert and sixth round pick Trestan Ebner.
This could be a great opportunity for Seattle’s defense to feel really good about themselves because of a preseason game matchup. When Fields is removed from the game, it could either be veteran Trevor Siemian and/or veteran Nathan Peterman. They’re competing to be the backbup but given the supporting cast, could be starting eventually.
This is the game that I think Drew Lock starts in. My current expectation is that Geno Smith starts against the Steelers and is eventually replaced by Lock, who clearly opens up the offensive playbook downfield, and likely limits any potential for mistakes during his audition. The coaches will help make sure of that too. If Lock has a preseason turnover, something went horribly wrong.
Then I would assume that after a week of playing with the 1s, Lock starts against the Bears and if he does well enough, is named the starter within the following week.
As you know, I think Lock is the plan at QB1 and that’s what the coaches are currently keeping a “secret” in-house.
Chicago’s defense features two interesting secondary prospects in second rounders Kyler Gordon (familiar to Huskies fans) and safety Jaquan Brisker. Those were the only two notable defensive draft picks, in addition o fifth round edge rusher Dominque Robinson. The Bears starting defense has some great players like Roquan Smith, Robert Quinn, and Eddie Jackson, but Seattle shouldn’t see them in the preseason.
They do have a cornerback named BoPete Keyes though.
Preseason Week 3-Seahawks at Cowboys, 8/26, 5 PM
“If I’m Eason, I’m Leasin’!”
While getting his minutes in late in the first two preseason games is likely, Eason could play the entire third preseason game if the Seahawks are comfortable that they’ve found a starter. It’s not going to be Eason, he’s just not getting any mention as a guy who will ever play with the 1s unless there’s an injury.
I think it will be Lock, it could be Smith. There’s incentive for Pete to name one of them prior to the third preseason game because it’s one less opportunity for the guy he likes better to get injured…and Seattle’s actually going to need both of them this season.
I still believe that Geno was signed to be the backup and he’s a pretty important backup.
When I texted by Cowboys friend about Dallas’s plans, he said that it was hard to say because Mike McCarthy didn’t have a preseason in 2020, then there was the first three-game preseason in 2021.
What the Cowboys do need to figure out this month is the situation at receiver: Michael Gallup is on PUP and won’t be ready for Week 1, and expected starter James Washington suffered a broken foot.
Dallas could end up starting rookie Jalen Tolbert alongside CeeDee Lamb, if not 2021 UDFA T.J. Vasher or veteran backup Noah Brown. UDFA rookie Dennis Houston has also stood out for a moment or two in training camp.
The Cowboys also feature defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, meaning there’s going to be a mentor-mentee rivalry on the line too. I doubt Dallas would start many starters in this one, which means no Micah Parsons, but maybe Jabril Cox, Trysten Hill, or recent signee Anthony Barr could play.
First round pick Tyler Smith, a tackle moved to guard, has been turning heads in practice and should be a Week 1 starter.
For the Seahawks, this could be the time to decide on their receiver depth between Bo Melton, Dareke Young, Kevin Kassis, Cade Johnson, Aaron Fuller, and Penny Hart. Does Tyler Mabry have a shot to make the team? Is Marquise Goodwin a lock? Where does Cody Thompson fit into this?
We might also see a ton of Abraham Lucas at right tackle in the preseason, since Lucas seems to be third in line at right tackle for now. It could be Josh Johnson leading the team in preseason rushing for the second year in a row, with carries left for Darwin Thompson.
Defensively, fifth round edge Tyreke Smith could be healthy and ready for reps by this point, as well as former International Pathway Program player Aaron Donkor at linebacker, another name to keep an eye on throughout the preseason.
Does Marquise Blair play a lot of preseason snaps, too?
There are 10 UDFA rookies on defense, including three at linebacker, such as Joshua Onujiogu.
Normally the preseason comes and goes for me. This year, it holds a lot more significance.