The score ended up pretty lopsided but it is worth noting that the Seattle Seahawks kept their starters in the game on offense long after the San Diego Chargers had started putting their backups in. Still, the Seahawks looked pretty good in all facets of the game on their way to a comfortable win in front of the 12th Man while the Chargers could only add a couple of scores from backup QB Kellen Clemens in reply.
The most impressive thing about Seattle was that they got performances all the way down the depth chart. While San Diego walks away unhappy that they weren’t able to generate a score with their first team as their only drive stalled just inside the Seattle half, they did at least see signs of life from their depth players.
Let’s check out our three performances of note for each team.
San Diego – Three Performances of Note
Weak Up Front
Defensive linemen Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes struggled badly to anchor against the run and this game was no exception. The pair combined for a -3.6 grade with Reyes in particular being pancaked by single linemen during the game. On 1st-and-10 with 2:45 remaining in the first quarter, Reyes gets driven off the line and then put to ground by Seattle right tackle Justin Britt. The defensive end also suffered at the hands of J.R. Sweezy with even James Carpenter getting in on the action as the team opened big lanes to be exploited. The Chargers have had issues up front for a while and they need to see improvements from Reyes and Luiget if they are to prove more difficult to gash in the running game.
Feeling the Heat
Kellen Clemens put up both of the San Diego scores and ended the game with a passer rating of 118.9. That rating was 131.3 when you discount passes that were thrown away and dropped passes. His touchdown pass to Keenan Allen, in particular, showed a nice ability to buy time and find the breakdown in coverage before lofting it over coverage and in for the score. His passer rating however plummeted to 53.3 on plays where he felt pressure, and the Chargers allowed that to happen on almost as many snaps as not. Of his 25 drop-backs 11 of them featured pressure compared to 14 without. In addition, his numbers dropped against the blitz, though the Seahawks sent blitz pressure on just four snaps.
Right tackle D.J. Fluker ended up with a -2.4 grade overall but that was composed of a +1.6 grade against the run and a -3.1 grade as a pass protector. On 15 pass blocking snaps he allowed four hurries to the Seattle edge rush, three of them to Cliff Avril and one to O’Brien Schofield. He also was flagged for a false start penalty which came after three of his pressures, perhaps trying to steal a step on Avril, who seemed to have his number all evening. With 8:31 to go in the second quarter the sophomore tackle surrendered his quickest pressure of the game. Fluker allowed Avril to get around him almost instantly and get hands on quarterback Kellen Clemens, sending the ball to the dirt in front of its intended receiver. Fluker is a powerful run blocker but will likely always struggle against small, quick edge rushers and this game was no exception.
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Cornerback Tharold Simon was the recipient of one of the worst calls of the new officiating’s crackdown on illegal contact. He had otherwise perfect coverage when his pick-six was flagged for illegal contact as he defended a route into the end zone, gaining perfect position on the receiver and catching the ball himself. The officials have been at pains this preseason to throw flags on anything they deem illegal in the secondary but the bottom line is the official NFL rulebook points out the following when discussing permissible acts when the ball is in the air:
(d) Laying a hand on an opponent that does not restrict him in an attempt to make a play on the ball.
(e) Contact by a player who has gained position on an opponent in an attempt to catch the ball.
Note 1: When the ball is in the air, eligible offensive and defensive receivers have the same right to the path of the ball and are subject to the same restrictions.
Battle for the Beasts Backup
Marshawn Lynch played just two snaps leaving the rest of the running game in the hands of Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. Turbin earned the superior grade (+1.5) thanks to 81 yards on just 12 carries. The thing that hurt Michael the most was putting the ball on the ground, even if he managed to get it back. Michael is certainly dangerous with the ball in his hands but looked far too quick to give up on the intended point of attack and freelance. The pair combined to force five missed tackles from San Diego defenders and earned 68 of their combined 126 yards after contact. Michael’s fumble was the only major black mark against the two and to his credit he was able to recover that fumble and had made a pair of nice cuts before the ball came out on the play. On a combined 20 rushes the pair averaged 6.3 yards per carry against a soft looking Chargers run defense.
No Signs of Slowing Down
Russell Wilson was at his efficient best in the game, completing 11 of 13 attempts. It’s worth pointing out that some of this play was against the Chargers backups as Wilson stayed in the game long enough to play 23 snaps and only three of those attempts traveled further than ten yards deep in the air. On those three attempts Wilson connected on just one of three attempts for 37 yards. He did of course also add 31 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground and looked in late-season form already. Though Terrelle Pryor could only complete one of his four attempts, he did have a very well placed pass on 3rd-and-long dropped by his intended receiver. Of course, he made the Chargers defense look foolish when he kept the ball on a rollout and torched them on his way to the end zone. B.J. Daniels completed the quarterback lineup for the Seahawks, completing both of his attempts and scoring himself on the ground, completing the hat trick of rushing scores by Seattle passers.
– If you can say one thing about Pete Carroll it’s that he doesn’t coach scared. While San Diego had long since boxed their starters back up in cotton wool on the bench, the Seahawks sent Earl Thomas back to return a punt and had Richard Sherman blocking the gunner on the same play.
– The Seahawks were able to score enough that kicker Steven Hauschka was able to use the new 33-yard extra points as an extended field goal practice session. Hauschka alternated where he placed the ball from the right hash mark, the middle of the field to the left hash mark. He also nailed a 55-yard field goal as well.
– The Chargers defense struggled against the run and could only notch 10 total pressures on defense, three of which were recorded by Melvin Ingram.
PFF Game Ball
It would be too easy to give the ball to Wilson, especially given how many of those snaps came against second team players. Instead, let’s doff our cap to J.R. Sweezy and his +3.1 grade overall. Sweezy has struggled in the past but looked excellent against the Chargers here.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam