When Seattle completed their draft in April this year there was a queue of people lining up to rip them for a lot of their decisions. Now that the real action has started, and the intellectuals who grade drafts before the players have even turned up for OTA’s have scuttled back into their holes, there may be a little bit of revisionist history going on. Four Seahawks draftees started, another three had prominent early roles and all played in a thoroughly professional performance. It now looks possible, when things settle in a few years, that many teams will be looking to this as a benchmark for drafts should be run.
The Chiefs didn’t need the draft to make them immediately dangerous; the wealth of talent on their roster already marks them as such. However, a number of injures in the secondary and the somewhat inconsistent play of Matt Cassel makes them suddenly vulnerable. This is a team that could easily win the division and make a deep playoff run but given the performance here (being 37 points down with two minutes left in the third quarter) you’d need a constitution of ice to put your house on it.
Seattle Seahawks – Three Things of Note
1) Wilson Delivers
The prevailing wisdom until recently was that because the Seahawks gave Matt Flynn such a big contract it was illogical to then draft Russell Wilson in the third round, especially since his height has been hinted at as low 5-foot-10. There are a number of issues with this view. First, Flynn is getting $5M a year for two years, that’s approximately $1.25M a year more than what Jason Campbell is being paid to be the back-up in Chicago; it’s hardly Kevin Kolb territory. Second, when a guy falls to you in the third round with that level of talent, at the most important position in football you’d be stupid not to take him. However good a punter Bryan Anger turns out to be, do you think in a number of years the Jaguars may be ruing that selection (he was taken six picks earlier than Wilson). Lastly, my view is that he’s probably only half an inch shorter than Drew Brees and his height doesn’t seem to be too much of a disadvantage to him.
So, after playing superbly with the backups in the first couple of weeks of the preseason, an elbow problem for Flynn gave Wilson the start here. Once more, he rose to the occasion. I only counted one poor pass in the 23 he threw and even this was of the inaccurate as opposed to dangerous variety. He attacked the defense deep, in areas of weakness and never once seemed as if the game was too big for him. Wilson also also picked up 58 yards on two scrambles without putting himself in any danger.
On the basis of pure performance I’d start him week one at Arizona; forget the rushing skills he’s just been a better passer and leader than Flynn so far. Will the coaches see it that way or will Flynn’s elbow issue make that question moot?
2) The “Turbinator”
The pick after Wilson was his current room-mate, halfback, Robert Turbin. He was initially envisioned as a back-up to Marshawn Lynch but injury and potentially a suspension for the veteran has seen him step into the starting role.
He doesn’t run with the palpable aggression or sheer desire to break tackles that Lynch does but he is still extremely physical. He’s a very direct north-south, one-cut back who does little wrong. His touchdown run was longer but perhaps the best of his 14 carries (which went for 93 yards) was the play with 10:18 gone in the second. Turbin cut outside the containment of Justin Houston for nine yards and then refused to go down, dragging tacklers for another five.
In clear passing situations he was removed for Leon Washington but that’s to be expected given his lack of experience and the type of runner he is. Whatever happens next it looks as if the Seahawks will be well stocked at running back.
3) Easy Sweezy
The first of the seventh round picks was teammate of Wilson’s at N.C. State, J.R. Sweezy. What’s remarkable about him is that he was actually a defensive lineman all the way through college and is already the starting right guard after a move across to the offense after he was drafted.
As a run blocker he just about held his own, doing well at the point of attack but struggling a little bit with linebackers and in particular Derrick Johnson who knifed underneath his pull block on one play to take Turbin down for a short gain.
However, his pass protection in the first half was excellent. Sweezy gave up nothing and often held his opponent at the line of scrimmage giving up nothing to the tackles and ends he faced. Even when he was driven, he always seemed to have the ability to recover and anchor.
If this is his ability after only a few quarters playing offense it will be interesting to see how he matures as the season progresses.
Kansas City Chiefs – Three Things of Note
1) Will the Real Matt Cassel Please Stand Up?
The success of the Chiefs season is going to be entirely predicated on the play of Matt Cassel which is completely infuriating given I still don’t know exactly how good he is. I think half the problem is that he’s not entirely sure himself.
Cassel didn’t play that badly, but is often so marginally inaccurate with his throws you tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. This has you tell yourself that it was close to being a great throw as opposed to him missing another opportunity. He led Steve Breaston into a collision with Earl Thomas that will probably go down as a drop, put the ball on the wrong side of Tony Moeaki on a dump-off and later allowed the same player to get two hands to a deep seam pass that, in hindsight, other quarterbacks would not have made him leap for. Unlucky or just not quite good enough is the question for Cassel.
I think my mind was made up on his touchdown throw and the interception that was returned for a touchdown. On the touchdown, a nice scramble to evade pressure and decent throw, he celebrated with such gusto you felt he’d just made the pass that got the Chiefs into the Super Bowl; watch it if you can – I can’t do the comedy justice but needless to say he didn’t act as if he’d been there before. To add to that stupidity he then somehow managed to get himself into a mid-air fetal position while throwing a pick six to Earl Thomas. It’s fair to say he was about to be tackled by another Seahawk draftee, Korey Toomer, at that time but I believe the protective position came before the hit and not as a result of it.
2) Flowers to Brown
With Brandon Flowers still nursing a heel injury and no one apparently too sure as to when he’ll return, Kansas City decided to give Jalil Brown the first shot at replacing the excellent corner on the left of their defense. It wasn’t too long before the end of the first quarter they probably began re-thinking that strategy. By that time Brown had given up three first downs, a penalty and was looking like “the gift that always gives” so frequently was Wilson going back to get more.
He did manage to come back with a pass defensed from the generous Chiefs scorer (I’m fairly sure he never got a hand on the ball) and fared better in the second quarter but was later by Jacques Reeves.
If Flowers isn’t ready to go this will be a major cause for concern will Julio Jones and Roddy White coming to town in week one.
3) Amen Amon
While the scoreboard is slightly misleading what’s more certain is the lack of quality performances for Chief fans to cheer about. Even when the first string unit scored their quarterback ended up making himself look like a clown. So it looks like we’ll need to look to the defense for some decent play. To be fair all of the usual suspects; Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry did OK but the stand-out for me was Amon Gordon.
Lining up at defensive end in a three man line the ex-Seahawk gave his old team lots of problems in the running game and also got pressure too. On consecutive plays at the end of the first quarter he got the better of Russell Okung, cutting down Turbin for two yards on second and later got inside Paul McQuistan to pressure Wilson.
Kansas City has a lot of talent on their line but watch out for Gordon this year, if he can up his productivity in the passing game (it was a little limited last year) he may demand a few more snaps.