The Seattle Seahawks dropped to 0-2 in exhibition play following a 24-14 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at the StubHub Center.
Even in defeat, plenty of positives emerged for the Seahawks, while some chronic problems from last year returned with a vengeance.
After re-watching the tape, here's a look at 10 observations from Saturday's game.
- Germain Ifedi, you are the weakest link...
- It's not fair to kick a horse when it's down, but the former first-round pick hasn't been able to get out of his own way and hurt the Seahawks offense throughout the first half. After playing solid football during Seattle's first drive, which resulted in a field goal, the Chargers started picking on Ifedi with standout defender Melvin Ingram. Trying to convert a third down in the red zone, Ingram knocked Ifedi down with a bull rush, forcing quarterback Russell Wilson to bail the pocket to his right before eventually throwing an incomplete pass to tight end Nick Vannett.
- On the ensuing drive, Seattle again drove down to the goal line and running back Chris Carson received back-to-back carries trying to punch the football into the end zone. Ifedi didn't block anyone on either play, immediately allowing the defensive lineman across from him to penetrate and disrupt the backfield. He doesn't deserve the blame for Carson's fumble, but he also didn't do anything positive on either run.
- For the rest of the first half, Ingram and his teammates assaulted Ifedi on a regular basis using speed rushes off the edge. He surrendered a sack and also committed one false start penalty, though Seattle should feel blessed because he easily could've been called for several others as he tried to compensate for the Chargers' speed off the edge.
- Fumble aside, Carson looks like he's set for a big season out of Seattle's backfield.
- The big, powerful back rumbled through the Chargers defense and his stat line (9 carries for 34 yards) doesn't do his performance any justice. He had a 23-yard touchdown on Seattle's opening drive called back thanks to a block in the back penalty against tight end Will Dissly and had several nice runs where he bulldozed through tackles to pick up extra yardage. His yards per carry average took a hit from his two runs at the goal line. He also added a reception out of the backfield.
- The offense struggled to finish, but so did Seattle's pass rush, especially the first-team unit.
- After the Seahawks scored a field goal on the game's opening drive, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers marched his squad downfield for a touchdown to answer. The veteran signal caller made it look easy as he carved up Seattle's secondary, but ultimately, it was his ability to maneuver the pocket that made everything click. On the first play of the drive, Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark and defensive tackle Tom Johnson disrupted the pocket quickly after the snap and looked to have Rivers dead to right, but he somehow managed to evade the pressure and completed a 21-yard pass to receiver Tyrell Williams.
- On the next drive, Seattle again had Rivers boxed up with seemingly nowhere to go in the pocket but couldn't get him to the ground. He managed to escape once again and hit running back Melvin Gordon for a 16-yard pickup to move the chains. The Seahawks have to find a way to get home with their pass rush, but looking at this from a positive perspective, they're clearly creating pressure and simply have to finish.
- Speaking of rushing the passer, rookie Rasheem Green seems to be pretty good at it...
- After posting 1.5 sacks during his NFL debut against the Colts last week, the USC product arguably played better on Saturday night, though he did have some struggles against the run at times in this game. He once again recorded 1.5 sacks and racked up four quarterback hits, showcasing great hand technique and his penchant for collapsing the pocket off the edge. Add in his two tackles for loss and Green suddenly looks primed to push for a starting role far more quickly than the Seahawks ever could have hoped for.
- Interior defensive line play versus the run was... undesirable.
- From the outset, the Chargers seemed to have their way along the line of scrimmage and won in the trenches. Johnson had a rough start, as he helped create run lanes by penetrating too much into the backfield, including on a well-executed 14-yard draw by Gordon. Los Angeles finished the drive by imposing its will on the ground, as running back Detrez Newsome and Gordon teamed up on back-to-back runs inside Seattle's 10-yard line to punch it in for a score.
- For the night, the Chargers rushed for 176 yards and averaged nearly five yards per carry. Quarterback carries factored into this, as Seattle's reserves allowed backup quarterback Cardale Jones to rush for 41 yards on four scrambles. Still, the ease in which Los Angeles ran the ball on the opening drive has to be a bit disheartening for coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.
- Very encouraging to see the Seahawks starting offense unleash several explosive plays.
- It's only the preseason, but kudos to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for being aggressive and allowing Wilson to take several shots downfield. Along with hitting veteran Jaron Brown for a 45-yard connection, the Pro Bowl quarterback also received help from second-year receiver David Moore, who continued to build on an impressive August by snagging a 52-yard reception out of the hands of Chargers safety Jahleel Addae. Add in Carson's run called back by penalty and Seattle accumulated a number of chunk plays during the first several series.
- Chess match at backup quarterback swings in favor of Alex McGough.
- Some would argue Austin Davis only played a couple of series because he's already a known commodity, but I found it telling that Schottenheimer could be seen visibly frustrated on the sideline following one of Davis's incomplete passes. He immediately turned to McGough, and after a quick three-and-out on his first drive, the seventh-round pick found his groove on his second drive. With Schottenheimer opening up the playbook a bit, he hit receiver Cyril Grayson on a vertical route for a 39-yard completion to put Seattle in scoring range. Showing renewed confidence, he threw a perfect dime towards the back right pylon to receiver Malik Turner two plays later for his first NFL touchdown.
- Goodness, Michael Dickson can sure boot the football...
- Fifth round punters aren’t supposed to be must-see television, but the former Texas star qualifies as such every time he steps onto the field. He's a magician kicking the football, as seen when he drop-kicked an onside kick attempt in the preseason opener. Two of his punts on Saturday were extraordinary, including a 57-yard boot in the second half with 4.8 seconds of hang time that landed right along the sideline. The returner had no chance to do anything and the punt pinned the Chargers at their own 10 yard line. Earlier in the game, he mashed a 55-yard punt with similar hang time, allowing for linebacker Shaquem Griffin to nail the returner for a one-yard return.