With the Colts’ first preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks this Thursday evening, we had some questions about the opponent the Colts will face. Obviously given that it is a preseason game, there are different things to be learned from a preseason matchup, but Kenneth Arthur of Field Gulls was kind enough to answer our questions about this Seahawks team.
The Seahawks have had a lot of changes in the roster and in the coaching staff this offseason. What is this team’s identity?
The identity of the Seahawks from at least 2015 to now has been Russell Wilson, as it is with most teams that have a true franchise quarterback. The loss of certain defensive stars may be what a lot of people are focusing on but it should really just be highlighting what many Seattle fans already know: that the franchise belongs to Wilson. The team goes as Wilson goes.
Pete Carroll has a proven track record of building defenses from scratch and I could not in good conscious call the 2018 defense “scratch.” When he arrived, a rookie Earl Thomas was the only true highlight on defense. In 2018, they have Bobby Wagner, Thomas (he’s still under contract and I expect him to return), KJ Wright, and Frank Clark. The second tier of players includes Jarran Reed, Nazair Jones, Dion Jordan, Shaquill Griffin, Justin Coleman, and Bradley McDougald, the first four of which I expect to improve and contribute even more in 2018, if healthy. Griffin could be a real star in the making.
Moving forward this season, I expect the offense to matter because of Wilson and Doug Baldwin, but they’ll try and use that threat of a high-quality quarterback to move the ball on the ground much more efficiently this season than they have the last two, much of which will center around Chris Carson. Everybody from OTAs to camp has called Carson the standout player on the field.
That’s not an indictment of first round pick Rashaad Penny, it just means that the Seahawks may be able to run the ball efficiently again, just as they did from 2011-2015 with Marshawn Lynch, and for a short spell, Thomas Rawls. The identity is Wilson but I think the old stars will be replaced with at least a couple of rising stars, namely Clark and Griffin.
The Seahawks’ new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was well liked in Indy and worked well with Andrew Luck. How do you expect his offense to differ from Darrell Bevell’s?
I don’t think that Carroll is the type of coach who just gives his coordinators carte blanche. He knows what he wants and he passes it down for them to hopefully execute. Wilson is also going to be in control of a lot. It may appear to be a lot of “change” to people looking on from the outside, but really it’s just Seattle trying to get back to where they were a few years ago when they didn’t have to make Wilson do everything.
The addition of Duane Brown last season and the extension he signed last month is the biggest move this team has made in the last year and it goes to their effort to protect Wilson better and to open up more running lanes for Carson and Penny. They’ve got a new offensive line coach, some new offensive linemen, and added block-first tight ends with Ed Dickson and Will Dissly to replace Jimmy Graham.
The offense will look to run more but that’s not really because of Schottenheimer, in my opinion. That’s just the way that Carroll wanted things to go, as always, but the running backs and blockers have been terrible at executing that. Will it work now? Who knows.
But I’d expect them to try and get back to 450 attempts for Wilson and a Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara type split with Carson/Penny, plus more targets to the backs in the passing game, which could involve guys like C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic. They may also be needing for a breakout season from Tyler Lockett because they do not have a real threat in the passing game other than Baldwin.
With Ed Dodds in the Colts’ front office there has been a regular pipeline of players to the Colts who have spent time in Seattle. Are there any players that are on the bubble who Colts fans should have an eye on as possible acquisitions who may not make the Seahawks’ roster?
At the receiver position, the Seahawks are likely to cut at least a couple names that will upset fans. There isn’t much proven talent there but a lot of names that are intriguing. That includes Amara Darboh, who was a third round pick out of Michigan just last year. He’s been relatively quiet in his career, including up to the first week of camp. We’ll see, I don’t expect him to be cut, but it’s rumored he could be.
David Moore was a seventh rounder last year who a lot of people like but he also hasn’t proven anything and he’s dealt with some pain in camp that’s kept him out a little bit. Marcus Johnson was acquired in the Michael Bennett trade and he’s had a really good camp so far; that could mean he makes the roster or it could mean he’s this year’s Kasen Williams, who excelled last August and was still cut before the final 53. Tanner McEvoy is another name to watch on the waiver wire, probably.
At other positions I’d watch guard/tackle Rees Odhiambo, tackle Willie Beavers, tight end Tyrone Swoopes (or a bigger surprise, Nick Vannett), running back Mike Davis, defensive end Quinton Jefferson, defensive tackle Poona Ford, defensive end Branden Jackson, linebacker Jacob Pugh, cornerback/safety Mike Tyson, and safety Delano Hill, who would be another surprise.
Earl Thomas has had a contentious offseason as he seeks a new contract. How do you think this standoff ends and who fills Thomas’ shoes if he stays away?
I believe Thomas reports in September. There’s nowhere else for him to go.
In the meantime, it looks like they could go with McDougald at one safety spot and perhaps Tedric Thompson at free safety or Mo Alexander at strong safety. Thompson was a fourth round pick a year ago and he’s been first string for the most part, but when Alexander is healthy, he’s first string. The issue is that Alexander hasn’t been healthy much. Delano Hill has not seemed to step up when given opportunities and he was a third rounder last year. That’s not good. But it’s early. Mike Tyson was moved back to safety and he’s played a bit, but it really looks like McDougald plus Thompson or Alexander. Eventually it will probably be Thomas.
Shaquem Griffin was one of the coolest stories in the lead up to the draft. How has he looked, and what impact do you expect him to make this season?
Well, it’s pretty early. Griffin has looked really good so far, gotten really positive notes, made a pick of Russell Wilson in practice at one point. I think it’s fair to say he’s having a good summer. I would not expect him to play a ton more than special teams this season but as a fifth round pick, that’s not unusual. He’s got potential as a linebacker and as a pass rusher. It’s exciting to have him in the fold and to have the story of him and his brother. It’s a welcome story and I’m happy that the Griffin brothers are making history in Seattle. I hope he gets a lot of playing time on Thursday!