The Seahawks wrap up preseason play on Saturday night when they host the Chargers at Lumen Field, and are looking to put forth a better performance regardless of who takes the field, having lost by double-digit margins in each of their first two preseason games while resting almost all of their starters.
"This is a chance to finish the preseason on a good note, we're certainly going for that," Carroll said. "We didn't like the first couple, so we're looking to make a better statement about where we are."
In addition to the Seahawks looking to just put forth a better performance, here are six things to watch in Saturday night's game.
1. How many offensive starters play and what does the offense look like while they're in the game?
Carroll said last weekend that starters would play in the preseason finale, but on Friday he made it sound like that was less certain, so the first questions will be seeing who is actually playing when the offense and defense both take the field for the first time.
"I know you guys all want to know who's playing, you guys will find out when we get there how we're doing that," Carroll said. "Really the decisions that we're making are for competition and to give guys the opportunity to show everything that they can show to make this club, knowing that we're coming down to the end of it here, end of camp. So it's a really big opportunity for us, and we're looking forward to it in a number of ways. So we'll see how it goes for those guys. I'm really rooting for a lot of guys to come through and have big night and make the plays that they're capable of making and show themselves really well."
If Russell Wilson and the No. 1 offense do get any playing time, it will be the first chance to see Seattle's new offense in a game setting, or at least a preseason game setting. So far, the Seahawks have managed only 10 points in their two preseason games, but they've also rested their entire starting offense with the exception of possible starting center Kyle Fuller. So if the starters do see any action, it would be encouraging to see that group build on what it has shown in camp.
New offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said he feels "really good about where we're at," based on what he has seen in practice, but he'd also like to see that translate to a game setting.
"Just great fundamentals," Waldron said when asked what he's looking for Saturday. "Great fundamentals, being able to transfer so many good, competitive periods in practice. Our defense challenges us every single day so that's been a great experience for us to go against. So, when it transfers from the practice field where we're getting more and more comfortable every day, we're transferring that right onto the field on game day which is the next most important step in that process."
2. How does rookie WR Dee Eskridge look in his debut (if he plays)?
Carroll stopped short of saying Eskridge will play, answering "You'll have to wait and see," but the rookie receiver has been back on the practice field the past two weeks, and Carroll has said he hopes to get the second-round pick some preseason action, so it seems like there's a good chance we'll get a look at Eskridge on Saturday night. And if he does play it will be a good first look at a player who has been making a lot of plays in camp since coming off the physically unable to perform list.
"In the short time we had him before his toe acted up, he showed us a little bit of the range of things he can do," Carroll said. "He showed us how he can catch a football, he showed us he can get in and out of breaks, his comfort in dealing with the deep ball. Also, early on we did things with him that we hadn't seen in college, because they didn't ask him to do stuff, different route concepts and things like that. So he made a real good impression right off the bat, but you never know until- He came out here and has done everything that we've asked him to do very capably. He's strong, he bursts and in and out of breaks. Very comfortable on the deep ball, catching the ball way down the field—Russ hit him for a 60-yarder the other day and it just looked like it was no big deal. We'll learn more about expanding him in the kicking game too as we go forward. We've kind of put that on the back burner for a bit, but our hopes were that we could involve him there also. There's nothing that's happened that doesn't give us all the hopes that he's going to be a big contributor."
3. Which cornerbacks make their case for starting jobs?
While the Seahawks have rested most of their starters, one position that has seen all healthy players take the field is cornerback, and that's because there is competition going on for both starting spots. While the people competing for jobs—Ahkello Witherspoon, Damarious Randall and Tre Brown on the left side and Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed on the left side—have had plenty of chances to show what they can do in practice, they haven't been tested a lot in games, so for those who do play Saturday, this will be a good last chance to state their case for starting spots.
"The competition is still out there, I don't think any decision has been made," defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "We have some really good players to choose from."
4. What does the pass rush look like at full strength, or at least closer to full strength?
Again, we'll preface this with the caveat that we don't know for certain who will play, but if the Seahawks do indeed give any playing time to ends Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, who have so far not played in the preseason, it will be the first look at what is expected to be a very deep pass-rush rotation.
With those two sitting out both games and with Kerry Hyder Jr. playing only early in the second game, the depth has been impressive with players like Alton Robinson, Rasheem Green and Darrell Taylor all standing out at times. Now we might get a look at what that unit can look like with two more accomplished pass rushers leading the way.
5. Can Kyle Fuller claim the starting job at center.
Ethan Pocic in the incumbent at center and came into camp presumably as the favorite to win the competition he and Fuller were having for that job, but a hamstring injury has kept Pocic on the sideline for most of camp before returning this week. Pocic could still finish strong and win the job, or perhaps challenge for it after the season starts, but right now Fuller has a good chance to open the season as the starter just because he has had so much more time on the field, and a strong performance Saturday night would only strengthen his case.
"He's been able to do everything, and he's really commanded the line of scrimmage too," Carroll said. "And he and Russ get along great with the communication, he's working well with the guards. He has given us no reason to just say that he can't start. He's done a nice job, really well done."
6. What bubble players make a statement in the final audition?
After teams wrap up the preseason this weekend, rosters will be trimmed to 53 players by Tuesday, and while there are plenty of players on Seattle's roster that are safely on the team regardless of what transpires Saturday, there are also some players for whom a big game could make the difference between making the team or being cut. And for those players, standing out on Saturday, particularly on special teams, could be crucial.
As Carroll said when talking about his decisions about who plays in the game: "Really the decisions that we're making are for competition and to give guys the opportunity to show everything that they can show to make this club, knowing that we're coming down to the end of it here, end of camp. So it's a really big opportunity for us, and we're looking forward to it in a number of ways. So we'll see how it goes for those guys. I'm really rooting for a lot of guys to come through and have big night and make the plays that they're capable of making and show themselves really well."
Players and competitions to watch when the Seahawks host the Chargers in their third and final preseason game.