The Seahawks kicked off preseason play with a 24-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. While that final score may not foretell a lot about either team's fates this season—both teams rested most of their starters—it was a good night for a lot of players in Seahawks uniforms, including several who were making their NFL debuts.
With that in mind, here are seven rapid reactions to Thursday's win at Lumen Field:
1. Some bright spots early for the defense.
The Seahawks started the game with mostly backups on defense and a few starters scattered in, one of whom was free-agent addition Devin Bush. Bush had several solid stops and showed good instincts in the middle of the defense, recording six tackles, one for a loss, while also providing a huge hit on kick coverage.
And Bush was one of just several defensive players to shine early on. Boye Mafe, who Pete Carroll earlier said was maybe the team's most improved player from last season, continued what has been a strong summer, looking stout in run defense while also providing some pass rush.
Perhaps most impressive, given how new he is to the position, is how comfortable Coby Bryant looked at safety, a position he just started playing in camp. Last year's starting nickel corner, Bryant got the start at safety with Julian Love and Quandre Diggs both getting the night off, and he didn't take long to make the type of hard hit over the middle that safeties are known for. Bryant also came up to the line of scrimmage and helped set the edge on a third-and-short run stuff, not necessarily the type of play one would expect from a player his size, but one safeties need to be able to make.
2. Big Play Bobo?
OK, we'll let Jordan Babineaux keep the "Big Play" nickname, seeing as he earned it in preseason and regular season games, but undrafted rookie Jake Bobo showed up in a couple of big moments on Thursday night, another solid outing for the UCLA product who also was the team's leading receiver in last week's mock game, including the winning touchdown.
Against the Vikings, Bobo finished with 55 yards on three receptions, including a 19-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to give Seattle a 17-13 lead. Bobo also had a 29-yard reception to get the Seahawks into the red zone in the second quarter, helping set up a Lock touchdown pass to Easop Winston Jr.
And speaking of Winston…
3. Easop Winston Jr. made a statement in a crowded receiver competition.
The Seahawks have a lot of receivers competing for the final couple of roster spots at that position, and while Bobo put up the biggest numbers, another roster hopeful who had a good day was Easop Winston Jr., a WSU product who spent time on Seattle's practice squad last year.
As mentioned above, Winston had a touchdown catch in the second quarter, and it was an impressive one, caught in traffic and with enough contact to draw a pass interference flag, which was declined. Winston also had a tough catch over the middle on which he held on after a big hit, and perhaps most importantly to his roster chances, he was used on kickoff and punt return duty.
4. The run defense was solid.
OK, OK, it's the preseason, and both teams left most of their starters on the bench, so we shouldn't read too much into the fact that the Seahawks, who struggled to stop the run last season, held the Vikings to 83 yards on 26 carries, averaging 3.2 yards per carry, right?
Probably not, but it was encouraging that plenty of the players making plays in the run game like Mafe, Bush, Myles Adams, Mike Morris and Tyreke Smith all will likely see plenty of time in the regular season, and perhaps more significantly, schematic adjustments made this offseason should carry over throughout the depth chart.
And to help punctuate a strong performance, the defense came through with a fourth-and-1 stuff in the fourth quarter to help preserve what at the time was a one-score lead. On that play, rookie safety Jonathan Sutherland blew up a block at the line of scrimmage to bottle up the run, then cornerback Benjie Franklin came in and made the tackle for no gain and turnover on downs.
No one will declare the Seahawks run defense fixed until they show they can regularly stop the run in the regular season, but Thursday's performance was certainly an encouraging first step in the right direction.
5. Drew Lock had some very good moments, minus one interception.
Drew Lock saw extensive playing time with Geno Smith being held out, and Seattle's backup quarterback came through with some impressive throws, most notably the dart he threw to Winston for a touchdown.
Lock also had big throws to Bobo, showed great touch on a wheel route to running back Brant Koback for a huge gain, and overall had a solid night, completing 17 of 24 passes for 191 yards, two scores and a 104.7 passer rating. The one major flaw for Lock was a third-quarter interception, though the throw was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
6. Zach Charbonnet runs HARD.
Second-round pick Zach Charbonnet didn't get a ton of touches, and his final numbers were fairly modest, but one thing the rookie out of UCLA definitely showed is that he will be physical at the next level, just as he was in college. On both run plays and on one reception, Charbonnet showed a willingness to get low and take on a would-be tackler, and in both cases, he knocked the Vikings defender back.
7. The second half brought some preseason weirdness that went in Seattle's favor.
The deeper teams get in their depth charts, the more likely it is unusual things can happen, and that was definitely the case late in Thursday's game. For the Seahawks, two of the stranger plays played a big role in their victory. First, thanks in part to rookie Jerrick Reed II's work as a gunner, driving two blockers back towards Vikings punt returner Thayer Thomas, Thomas muffed a punt, which was scooped up by Seahawks rookie tight end Griffin Hebert. Hebert recovered the bouncing ball in stride and took it to the end zone, but unfortunately for him, muffed punts can't be advanced. Even so, the Seahawks took advantage of the short field, with Lock eventually connecting with Bobo for the go-ahead score.
In the fourth quarter, rookie quarterback Holton Ahlers capped an eventful first drive with a wild touchdown pass. Ahlers fumbled the snap on his first play in the game, but recovered the loose ball. A few plays later, he showed off his athleticism with a 22-yard scramble, the longest running play of the game for either team. Then he capped the drive with what was probably an ill-advised throw that ended up being a touchdown. With pressure bearing down on him, Ahlers lofted a pass high into the air that looked like potential trouble, but fellow undrafted rookie Matt Landers was able to adjust to the ball, make the catch, then shake his defender for a 30-yard touchdown.
Check out some of the best action shots from Preseason Week 1 vs. the Minnesota Vikings at Lumen Field on August 10, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery. This album will be updated throughout the game.