Broncos 21, Seahawks 16: Shaking off the Rust

The first preseason game of the year is never pretty. Last night at Denver was no exception.

To paraphrase what Pete Carroll said in his post-game comments, some of these guys have only been with the team for two or three weeks. And some of those guys included de facto starters, such as Eric Winston and Wade Smith, who made up yet another patchwork offensive line in the absence of three regular-season starters. (Russell Okung, James Carpenter, and Max Unger all sat out last night.)

So last night in Denver, it wasn’t surprising to see the offensive line out of sync at times, and Russell Wilson scrambling out of the pocket. By now, we’re all thankful he can do that so well. But the pass blocking as a whole was not up to par, and the run blocking wasn’t much better.

It was the one weak spot on a Super Bowl-winning team last season. But it’s not as though the issue has been completely ignored during the offseason – talent was drafted in the second round in the form of Justin Britt, and he wasn’t embarrassed last night in his first NFL action. When you face a defense led by DeMarcus Ware, that’s worth mentioning. He has some work to do, but he’ll get there.

Meanwhile, CB Tharold Simon was playing with Sherman-esque downfield coverage skills, but that was before he got ejected for striking a Denver running back in the helmet after scoring a TD. It was a stupid move, to be sure, but something that can be chalked up to excitement and lack of self-control. In Simon’s defense, it was his first game action in over a year, and he flashed a moment of poor judgment and paid the price. I’d rather have him learn the hard way during the preseason than when it matters, so hopefully he can keep his act together from this point on.

Regardless of Simon’s blunder, the ugly o-line play, and the ending score, there were plenty of good takeaways from Thursday night’s action.

  • Paul Richardson looks like the real deal. He led the Seahawks with four catches for 37 yards, showing quality run-after-the-catch prowess and a consistent ability to get open.
  • Brock Coyle, the undrafted free agent linebacker out of Montana, looked like Lofa Tatupu last night. I’m not even exaggerating – from the first snap, Coyle was all over the ball carrier, finishing tackles with the look of a veteran. The game wasn’t too big for him, and from where I’m standing, he was the most promising (and surprising) young guy on the field last night.
  • Cassius Marsh is going to make plays on this defense. He was relentless in pass rushing and gave a nice second effort on a few QB hurries, notching one sack in the process.
  • Cooper Helfet had one hell of a catch from a total laser of a pass from T-Jack in the second quarter. Helfet has been a tight end with the team for a few years, but hasn’t had a chance to stand out due to being buried on the depth chart. If the coaching staff didn’t like him, he’d have been gone a long time ago. It may be his year to contribute.
  • Phil Bates is another guy I’ve had my eye on during this offseason. The training camp buzz around the wide receiver has been all positive, and he had a chance to flash some speed with an end-around play with the starting offense last night. It looked Harvin-esque.
  • Christine Michael came in with the second-team offense after Robert Turbin was given the start, but Michael showed more speed, burst, and second effort than Turbin. This isn’t news by now. Michael has more explosion than Turbin, scoring a 1-yard rushing TD that pushed back half of Denver’s front seven at the goal line. But if he wants it, the coaching staff is going to make Michael earn the backup job behind Beast Mode.
  • Terrelle Pryor looked sharp for the most part, going 9/16 for 137 yards. But as has been the case with Pryor, he cracked under pressure in the third quarter and made a dumb decision to throw into heavy traffic, resulting in an INT. Pryor’s maddening inconsistency is no secret by now, but he did show increased composure and accuracy during most of the game.