The Seahawks traveled across Lake Washington to CenturyLink Field for their first mock game of 2020 training camp, a scrimmage that was unfortunately cut short due to a frightening injury. The mock game ended up being limited to a half of football due to the injury, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll liked plenty of what he saw. Also, as Carroll noted, the game was as much about gameday logistics—the "routines we have to manage," as he put it—as it was the scrimmage itself.
"It was really more about the whole lead up to it, getting in the locker room getting the pregame warmup done, everyone understanding how we do it, getting all those mechanics worked out," Carroll said.
Saturday's mock game was played behind closed doors, so media is limited on what can be reported, but here are six takeaways from the mock game and from Carroll and Russell Wilson's postgame press conferences.
1. The Seahawks went all out in simulating gameday.
As Carroll mentioned, the lead-up was important, particularly for players new to the team and CenturyLink Field, but the Seahawks really went all out even with the little details. After warm-ups, the team went back in the locker room as they would before a game, then players ran out of the tunnel with Neiko Thorpe carrying the 12 Flag, just like on gameday. There was even a recorded version of the national anthem, followed by a pregame coin toss. During the warm-up period Carroll and some players even mock signed autographs near the tunnel despite there being nobody in the stands.
Another interesting element of the mock game was the Seahawks trying out the artificial crowd noise that NFL teams may be using in empty stadiums this year. That noise didn't replace the real thing, but despite missing the fans, Russell Wilson said the team had game-like energy.
"It felt very real in terms of our energy and our focus," he said.
2. It was a good day for offense, especially on third down.
Seattle's defense has been pretty impressive in practice lately, particularly the starting unit led by All-Pros Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams. But while Wagner did record the day's only sack to give the defense a highlight, Saturday's limited action definitely favored the offense.
Geno Smith, leading the backup offense against the No. 1 defense, led a touchdown drive and a field goal drive on his two possessions, while the starting offense had one long touchdown drive. That group's second possession ended with Jackson's injury that caused practice to be called early.
Most noteworthy for the No. 1 offense was the play of Wilson and his pass-catchers on third down, with Wilson converting third down passes to Tyler Lockett, Greg Olsen on the touchdown drive to set up a DK Metcalf touchdown that also came on third down.
"I really liked the third-down work that the first offense did," Carroll said. "It was like four out of five or whatever it was, they were pretty sharp on third down. DK's touchdown catch, that route and concept, and the throw by Russ was definitely there… It seemed like pass protection was pretty sharp today too."
Said Wilson: I thought we did a really good job. There were a lot of good things in there for sure… We just had a lot of great third down conversions, throwing it and the guys were catching it. I think we had four or five third-down conversions on that first drive—Greg had two of them, Tyler had one, DK had the touchdown, so that was great. You want your guys to make those plays, and they sure enough did."
3. Greg Olsen is already fitting in.
While Greg Olsen is new to the Seahawks, the veteran tight end has plenty of experience in his prolific career, so it isn't much of a surprise that the three-time Pro-Bowler already looks comfortable in the offense. As Wilson noted, Olsen had a pair of third-down catches that kept the chains moving.
"I'm really, really fired up about Greg," Carroll said. "He's such a great worker. He's an incredible guy, he's such a great worker and so diligent about everything he does. He just helps Russell's confidence that he's going to be in the right spot, he's going to do the right thing, he's going to make the right choice and find the spaces and all that. And he has a fantastic catching range, he can catch anything. He's a real positive. We're real anxious to get him fit into the offense, because there's things you can really count on him doing that he's been doing for years. He and Russell had a great summer together, which really you can see the chemistry already developing and all of that. He's a great addition to us."
4. Geno Smith was on fire.
There's no competition for the starting quarterback job, but as Geno Smith showed Saturday, the Seahawks have a very good backup behind Russell Wilson. Smith was 8 for 8 passing on the day, including a touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister, and led two scoring drives on his two possessions, doing so against the starting defense.
"Geno did a nice job," Carroll said. "That was a really nice series going down the field the first series, he hit everything and looked great. He was real comfortable, felt really confident in the communications and handling the situations going against the first defense, so he did a nice job. It's great to see. He's such a talented player, and he understands our stuff, and he fits in so well. He's really all we're looking for there at that spot. He's really good at it. In the supporting role for Russ, they communicate beautifully, they really count on each other for the input and the experiences that they've had. Geno is just a consummate guy in that role he's playing."
5. DeeJay Dallas continues to make a good impression.
With Chris Carson away for a funeral, Carlos Hyde, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer carried the load at running back Sunday. All had their moments, but as a rookie, Dallas is the player turning the most heads with how ready he seems for a number of different elements of the position.
"He's done a really nice job," Carroll said. "He's a real natural athlete. He's played quarterback in his background, he's been a receiver. At the running back spot, he brings some talent and background running routes and getting out of the backfield and feeling really comfortable in situations getting down the field and catching and all. So he's done a nice job for us to kind of establish that we can count on him already, he has those talents. He's right in it. He's getting involved in special teams, that's going to be a big factor for him. But I'm surprised that it's been so clear that he fits in in the throwing game. Not that he hasn't run the ball well, he's done fine there too, but he's probably ahead of where we would have expected him in the throwing game."
Added Wilson, "He's been one of my favorite rookies, DeeJay Dallas. He's done a tremendous job coming in with the right attitude—super professional. I remember through the spring, I would host rookie calls with the guys, and group messages, and he was always one of the key leaders in that, which stood out to me. There's a lot of great rookies, but he was one of the guys who really took charge of it all. He's caught the ball really well, he's run it well, he's got great vision. He's just got great enthusiasm for the game. I've been fired up about DeeJay, and he's one of my favorite guys on the team as a rookie. He's been special for us."
6. The center competition is still ongoing.
The Seahawks will still let competition play itself out throughout the offensive line, but two weeks into training camp, the most wide-open spot appears to be center, where Ethan Pocic is battling free-agent addition B.J. Finney for the job. Kyle Fuller was part of that competition as well, but it was announced Saturday that he has been suspended for two games for violating the NFL policy on substances of abuse. While it has appeared early in camp that Pocic might have the slight edge in the competition as of now, Carroll is not ready to declare a winner in that battle just yet.
"It's just a battle," Carroll said. "They're competing like crazy… The competition will just keep going. We've had enough opportunities so far to see that B.J. can handle it, and Ethan Pocic can handle it, so it's a good healthy competition… It's a good comp, and we'll call it before too long. No deadline is set yet."
Scenes from the first mock game of the 2020 Seahawks Training Camp on Saturday, August 22 at CenturyLink Field. Training Camp is presented by Safeway.