Miles Traveled to date: 10,589
Many will tell you that Flagstaff, for Cardinals camp, is the pinnacle of training camp locales but after my day in Seattle I’m going with Renton. Obviously the beautiful, cloudless skies helped but perched on the side of Lake Washington, with superb views across to Mercer Island, this was about as good as it gets; perfect grass, so green and manicured you have to touch it to assure yourself it’s not field-turf and a milder, though still warm climate, make for a superb experience.
1) A Team Apart
While the geographical location, in the country’s Northwest, sets Seattle apart physically, they are a different team in more ways than mileage.
The whole set up gives the impression of a free-wheeling, open-minded, loose organization that is not going to be stifled by some of the more traditionalist mores of other teams. From the music blaring out in the stands throughout practice to the way player personnel decisions are handled, they refuse to be cut from a standard NFL mold.
The rest of the league thinks they were mad with a capital “M” to take Bruce Irvin in the first round whereas they see him as the next Aldon Smith. They pull players like Alan Branch from obscurity and a 6-foot-4, 221-pound corner in Brandon Browner from the CFL and turn them into excellent players. However, they will also cut and run too. Mike Williams proved an unsuitable role model for the other receivers and was let go. As a first rounder, James Carpenter got only 531 snaps at tackle before we would have seen him playing guard today but for an injury.
This is clearly Pete Carroll’s team and as such, perhaps only they would even consider the methodology for the next item on the agenda: how to choose who plays quarterback.
2) Three-Way Go
Here’s the deal at quarterback: Tarvaris Jackson has now proved he isn’t the long-term solution but he is the only player in the competition for the starting role with significant experience. His body of work suggests he won’t get the team into the playoffs (except by chance), but neither will he be an unmitigated disaster.
Matt Flynn is the guy with two starts that the team initially felt was good enough to pay $6.5M a year but now doesn’t feel warrants being anointed as the starter.
Last, but by no means least, Russell Wilson is the 5’11” spark-plug the Seahawks (in another surprising move) drafted in the third round. That’s all well and good but here’s the interesting bit: they’re all getting first team reps in rotation.
That might make some form of sense if you’d drafted Flynn a year ago, given him a shot and he’d let you down (a la Kevin Kolb) but now, and this is just a guess, they only way this makes even the vaguest form of logic is if the Seahawks are actively looking for Wilson to start in 2012.
Watching the action on the field made that leap sound almost logical; Jackson was Jackson, Flynn was woefully inconsistent, and Wilson, while making his share of mistakes, looked the most in command and assured.
3) Filling the Slot (Redux)
If the secondary is counted as being made up of only four players, then on the basis of last year, Seattle has the best in the league. Unfortunately for them, with more plays calling for five-plus players than four, every team needs a fifth DB and the Seahawks need someone else to Join Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas.
Last year Walter Thurmond initially took the slot corner role before handing over to Roy Lewis. Lewis did a pretty decent job in coverage but struggled in run defense while Thurmond, probably the best fit option, is currently injured.
It now looks like Marcus Trufant will be given a go but something about his recent performances and his lack of experience in that area suggests this may be more in hope than expectation.
● My best guess is that Bruce Irvin will replace Red Bryant on passing downs. Expect for him to see between 20 and 30 snaps a game dependent on production.
● The return on investment in Sidney Rice is looking tenuous; he wasn’t in for all the snaps that would be expected for a fully fit receiver and his one outstanding season in Minnesota is now perhaps appearing as a one-off year.
● K.J. Wright could be the man in the middle for Seattle on defense. It always looked a strange move when the team picked up Barrett Ruud but as his injuries have made that transaction appear even more desperate, the answer may well be Wright.
July 30 – 49ers (Santa Clara)
July 31 – Raiders (Napa)
August 1 – Dolphins (Davie)
August 2 – ?????
If you’ve got questions for Neil to take along to any of his upcoming camp visits, follow him on Twitter (@PFF_Neil) and let him know.