OK, so that was a little sloppy. Even the best play of the day for the Seahawks in Friday night's 22-20 loss to the Denver Broncos, a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Tyler Lockett, included a bit of comedy thanks to a sideline collision between Pete Carroll and field judge Eugene Hall.
"All in all, a pretty sloppy game for us in a number of ways, and not as good as we'd have liked coming out of these first two weeks," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "But there were so many good things to see, some exciting things. I thought it was really fun to see these guys play ball and run and hit and do some good things that we can really clean up and fix."
Of course before anyone panics about the result, it's worth remembering a few things. For starters, it was a preseason game, and the first one at that; Russell Wilson had one pass attempt, after all. Also, the Seahawks played without a lot of their best players, with Pro Bowlers like Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Marshawn Lynch all unavailable.
But between the combined seven fumbles, 19 penalties, nine sacks, the dropped passes and the missed assignments, there was a bit of useful information to glean from Friday's game.
1. Seattle's top two picks from the 2015 draft look like they're ready to contribute in a big way.
Tyler Lockett showed in his first game why the Seahawks were willing to give up four picks to move up in the third round to draft him with the 69th overall pick. Obviously the 103-yarder was the big highlight, but Lockett also had a 46-yard return in the first half, and his one punt return went for 18 yards.
And Lockett wasn't the only rookie to show up on the stat sheet. Second-round pick Frank Clark had a game-high nine tackles, playing both defensive end and tackle. Clark recorded a tackle for loss and a forced fumble on his first play of the game, then continued to make big plays throughout four quarters, seeing as much play time as anyone on Seattle's D-line. On Denver's first drive of the third quarter, Clark factored in on all three tackles as the Seahawks forced a three-and-out.
"Lock did a great job tonight," Carroll said. "He lit it up—kickoff return, punt return—it's great to see that. That's exactly what we were hoping to see. He looked very special tonight. I thought Frank looked really good tonight too. He was really active, really running around, so we're happy about the young guys coming out and doing some good things for us.
"It's great. That's a beautiful first message they sent us that they're ready to do something to help this football team. Everybody was really lit up about Tyler's returns, and then you couldn't miss Frank. He had a bunch of plays that he was very active on. He has looked like that in practice, he has looked like he can be a factor and help us, and it was great that he carried us to the game."
2. The O-line is still a work in progress.
Following last weekend's mock game, Carroll was pretty blunt in his assessment of the offensive line, noting that "the young guys need a lot of work." A week later, it was evident that more work is needed. The Seahawks allowed seven sacks, had trouble opening running lanes, and the offense struggled to get much going until a late fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
"We've got to clean up a lot of things, obviously," Carroll said. "I'm disappointed we struggled up front, but not surprised that the young guys might have some trouble. We just need to get a lot better and get a lot better fast with all the backup guys. First group on both sides did OK. Unfortunately we got hammered on the sack early on. We'll get a lot out of this film, it'll be good for us. We've got to get cranked up and go to Kansas City and have a performance that's a lot better."
3. Cassis Marsh played well in front of his big brother.
While Clark was the star of the defensive line Friday, he wasn't the only productive non-starter to make a case for himself to be a part of the defensive line rotation. Defensive end Cassius Marsh, a second-year player who missed most of last season with a foot injury, only recorded three tackles and a quarterback hit, but those numbers don't tell how frequently he was beating blockers and disrupting plays the backfield. Adding Marsh and Clark to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril could give the Seahawks a lethal pass rush that can bring pressure down after down, even when the starters need a break.
Even better for Marsh, he was, for the first time in his life, playing a game against his older brother, Broncos defensive back Curtis Marsh.
"That was really cool, man," he said. "That was really cool. He made a couple plays. It was definitely fun. We've never been on the same field together, so that was a first time thing for us. It was definitely special walking across the field and seeing big brother. It was cool for me."
Marsh was hoping that the two might go head to head at some point on special teams, but that chance never materialized.
"We were hoping that we got to come across each other on the field, but that never happened," Marsh said. "I was hoping to get a hit that I could talk about for the rest of my life, but I didn't get that. But it was a very special experience for me to be able to play on the same field as my big brother."
The Seahawks took to CenturyLink Field with their 90 man roster for the first preseason game of the 2015 season against the Denver Broncos.
4. Tye Smith might be the next cornerback steal for the Seahawks.
This is probably way too premature. OK, it's definitely premature, but in a game in which the Seahawks had their cornerback depth tested—Richard Sherman, Will Blackmon, Tharold Simon and Jeremy Lane were all out—fifth-round pick Tye Smith looked very much like a player who can at some point become yet another late-round success at cornerback. Playing Sherman's left cornerback spot for much of the game, Smith broke up a pass on one deep ball, had good coverage on another that went incomplete, and was physical on tackles. It's too soon to say he's the next Sherman or Byron Maxwell or Lane, but there is some potential there.
"He did a nice job on a deep ball, he was close on a couple of others," Carroll said. "I thought he showed up really well."
5. A lot of young guys helped themselves.
As is usually the case in the first preseason game, Seattle's starters were mostly out of the game by the end of the first quarter, which meant ample opportunity for younger players to show what they could do, and quite a few made an impression.
- Both undrafted rookie running backs were solid, which will only add to the competition for the No. 3 running back job alongside Christine Michael. Thomas Rawls was held to 31 yards on nine carries, but as mentioned above, the line didn't do the offense many favors, and Rawls also had a 19-yard touchdown reception. That score was set up by a series runs and catches by Rod Smith, who had a team high four receptions for 29 yards, as well as 18 yards on two carries.
- Receiver Kevin Smith had the best showing in a limited passing game, catching two R.J. Archer passes for 36 yards, the first of which was a spectacular grab on a ball thrown behind him. "He had two great plays and finishes on catches," Carroll said. "He's been really active in camp and done very, very well for us. The one behind him was a fantastic grab, and he hung on and got wacked too, so good showing."
- Undrafted rookie defensive tackle T.Y. McGill was active, recording four tackles and a quarterback hit, and earning a mention from Carroll in his postgame comments.
- Safety-to-linebacker convert Eric Pinkins had one of the better individual plays, sniffing out an end-around and stuffing the play for a big loss.
- Second-year safety Dion Bailey played physical and was around the ball a lot, as was evident in his five tackles.
The 12s packed their rain gear and came out to CenturyLink Field for the first home preseason game of the 2015 season against the Broncos.