ReFo: SEA @ SD, Preseason Wk 1
The Seahawks and Chargers kicked-off their preseason having both lost arguably their top wide receiver options recently. That’s about all these two teams have in common, as their identities couldn’t differ much more. Seattle has a strong, proven core, with high expectations for this season. San Diego begins a new coaching era with Mike McCoy, and they seek to implement a new scheme while evaluating their many young, untested players.
Neither teams’ projected starters produced any real fireworks in their limited time. The Chargers controlled the ball for the vast majority of the first half, but all that time of possession led to just 3 points in that span. San Diego regularly gave Seattle excellent field position due to interceptions and poor punt coverage. In the end, the Seahawks ran away with the game, dominating on both sides of the ball in the second half. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out.
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
The Return of Tarvaris
After a season in Buffalo, Tarvaris Jackson is back with the Seahawks, battling to be Russell Wilson’s primary backup. Jackson made a very strong case in this one, going 8 for 9 with 128 yards, 2 TDs and no picks. The performance was good for a perfect QB rating, and a PFF grade of +3.2. Highlighting his day were two excellent deep balls down the left side to Stephen Williams (+1.7), one a touchdown, the other setting up a touchdown. Jackson played about as well as you could ask for, as his only incompletion came on a dropped pass.
Strong D-Line Play
Three different members of the defensive line graded in the green here. Newcomer Michael Bennett, formerly of the Bucs, played 12 snaps at LE as a situational pass rusher, and graded +1.5 overall. Undrafted free agent DE Benson Mayowa was all over the San Diego quarterbacks, recording 2 sacks, 2 hurries, and 1 QB hit on 23 pass rushes en route to a +1.8 grade (+2.2 pass rush). Perhaps the biggest standout of Seattle’s defense was LE Jaye Howard, who routinely blew up Charger guards and tackles in the running game. Howard (+2.6) recorded three stops, and was an integral part of a Seahawks run defense which held the Chargers to just 4 rushing yards on seven second-half carries.
Beast Mode’s Apprentice
Christine Michael’s debut was a definite success. He carried 16 times for 89 yards with no fumbles and two missed tackles forced. Michael graded at +0.7, and also gave up zero pressure in the passing game, albeit in just five pass block snaps. The rookie also racked up an average of 2.9 yards after contact, equaling Marshawn Lynch’s number from last season.
Paving the way for Michael was LT Alvin Bailey, a rookie free agent out of Arkansas, who graded out at +1.6 in run blocking (+3.3 overall). Bailey also maintained a clean pocket for each QB, allowing no pressure in 20 pass blocking snaps.
San Diego – Three Performances of Note
While the starters had a decent showing, the reserve offensive linemen of the Chargers were absolutely horrendous. A staggering six different players graded in the red. Particularly porous was the right guard position. Brandon Dombrowski, attempting to convert from left tackle, was completely outmatched in the running game, grading -2.5 in run blocking and -3.7 overall. Perhaps even worse was Steve Schilling, also at right guard, who managed a -3.5 grade in just 19 snaps, half the amount Dombrowski played. Most of Schilling’s struggles, however, came in pass blocking, where he was beaten badly twice.
Intriguing QB Play
Philip Rivers led a strong 12-play opening drive for the Chargers, resulting in a field goal. Rivers completed 5 of 6 passes and graded out at +1.2. His only incompletion was on a deep pass to Malcolm Floyd. Rivers has struggled with the deep ball over the past few seasons.
After Rivers, Charlie Whitehurst came in as the favorite for the backup position. Whitehurst threw two interceptions and graded -0.7 for the game, struggling at times. Rookie seventh-rounder Brad Sorensen looked very good during his first opportunity. On Sorensen’s first play, lined up in shotgun, center David Molk snapped a dribbler. Sorensen was able to quickly adjust, dig the ball off the ground, and complete a short pass. Sorensen graded +1.0 in just 14 snaps, moved the offense well, and finished a drive with a TD pass to tight end Ladarius Green. The Chargers will take a long look at Sorensen, and if he continues to impress, the No. 2 QB position may just be up for grabs.
Battle for Left Tackle
One of the most interesting position battles for the Chargers is that between King Dunlap and Max Starks for starting left tackle. Dunlap started the game, played 12 snaps, and graded +0.6 overall. Starks received a +1.2 grade, but on 28 snaps, meaning the two were pretty much even on a per snap basis. However, the key positive is that neither player allowed any pressure in a combined 22 pass blocking snaps.
— Seahawks ILB Allen Bradford, who played RB in college for USC, led the defense in snaps with 49. He also recorded five stops.
— Each member of Seattle’s formidable starting secondary played 19 snaps. All graded positively, and the starting four combined for a total grade of +3.2.
— Manti Te’o and Dwight Freeney played just nine and seven snaps respectively. Freeney recorded two hurries in just five pass rushes.
PFF Game Ball
Tarvaris Jackson led three touchdown drives in under a quarter-and-a-half of action on his way to a +3.2 grade, earning him our PFF game ball.
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