Seahawks standout players and room-for-improvement for preseason Week 1

Seahawks football is back! Seattle kicked off their preseason late Saturday afternoon in a rare exhibition thriller, as they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 32-25 with seconds left on the clock.

It’s always worth noting to take everything – the good, the bad and the ugly –  with a healthy grain of salt as teams shake the offseason rust. As such, I am slightly amending the Studs and Duds list for the preseason and dubbing the categories “standouts” and “room for improvement.”

In a year where many believe the Seahawks are headed for implosion, Seattle gave fans some reason for hope with more than a few standouts.

Standouts: Quarterbacks Geno Smith and Drew Lock

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

For the first time in well over a decade, the Seattle Seahawks have a bonafide quarterback competition. On Saturday night, Geno Smith and Drew Lock made strong cases they deserve to be the No. 1 option when the Denver Broncos roll into Seattle Week 1.

Geno Smith started the first half and despite a pair of sluggish drives to begin the game, the longtime Seahawks backup settled in. Smith led Seattle on a nine-play, 61-yard scoring drive to get within a score before halftime, finishing the game completing 10-of-15 passes for 101 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Drew Lock took over after intermission and completed 11-of-15 passes for 102 yards and two touchdown passes. Unfortunately, Lock’s night ended when the offensive line missed a block on a Steelers pass rusher, forcing him to fumble, eventually leading to Pittsburgh’s game winning drive.

Room for Improvement: Rookie cornerbacks

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The Seahawks drafted a pair of rookie corners in Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen. Both players were seen as solid picks and received praise coming from training camp.

However, both received classic “welcome to the big league” moments on the first two drives of the game.

The Steelers starting offense marched down the field and capped off the opening drive with a wide open touchdown to receiver Gunner Olszewski, thanks in part to blown coverage from Woolen.

On the following drive, Coby Bryant fell victim to fellow rookie George Pickens. In fairness to Bryant, Pickens made a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone and Bryant had a decent remainder of the game.

Standouts: DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer

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For the Seahawks, all hype towards the running back group has been pointed squarely at rookie Kenneth Walker III, especially following the retirement of Chris Carson.

Against the Steelers, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer did their best to remind the 12th Man they’re still looking to make an impact for Seattle.

Dallas bulldozed his way to 73 yards on 10 carries and found the end zone on an impressive 17-yard reception. Homer made the most of his four carries by scampering for 41-yards and catching a crucial two-point conversion to tie the game at 25-25.

Room for improvement: Rushing defense

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Perhaps this is mostly driving from the fact key starters were playing limited snaps – if any at all – and the apprehension of the coaching staff for showing off anything more than a vanilla game plan.

That being said, Seattle’s rushing defense left more than a little to be desired.

The Pittsburgh Steelers found little resistance on the ground as they rumbled their way to 185-rushing yards as a team. Third-year running back Anthony McFarland did the most damage with 56-yards on seven total carries, but three other Steelers ball carriers had over 30-yards rushing individually.

Standout: Defensive end Boye Mafe

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Over the last several years, the most glaring weakness for the Seattle Seahawks has been their abysmal pass rush. Seattle’s defense has surrendered yardage at a historic clip in each of the last two years, due mostly in part to their inconsistencies at making opposing quarterbacks even remotely uncomfortable.

Seattle sought to address this by drafting Minnesota defensive end Boye Mafe with the 40th overall selection in the 2022 NFL draft this past spring. The early returns are looking promising.

Mafe finished the game with two sacks, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. The biggest paly defensively was Mafe’s second sack, which brought down rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett on 4th down to give Seattle’s offense one last opportunity to win the game.

Story originally appeared on Seahawks Wire