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Analysis: What we learned from the Seahawks’ 21-20 preseason loss to the Vikings

UPDATED: Sat., Aug. 25, 2018, 4:45 p.m.

MINNEAPOLIS – Six, seven – oh heck, let’s make it eight –morning-after thoughts on what we saw Friday night as the Vikings beat the Seahawks 21-20 in a preseason game in Minnesota.

Expect Germain Ifedi to be the starting right tackle week one

Much was understandably made this week of the Seahawks’ decision to move George Fant to right tackle to compete with Germain Ifedi.

But from this vantage point, the best guess remains that Ifedi will be the starter week one at Denver.

The offensive line earned plaudits for its play early, and especially during a 12-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter that resulted in Seattle’s only offensive touchdown in the first half.

Ifedi was the right tackle on that drive and helped pave the way for Chris Carson’s 6-yard TD run over the right side, blasting linebacker Antwione Williams into the end zone.

“We’ve felt the line of scrimmage in all three games,” coach Pete Carroll said afterward. “We just hadn’t had a chance to really dig in with our first group (before Friday). But it felt like we had some crispness to us.”

Fant also appeared to do creditably enough – it helped each that standout Vikings end Everson Griffen didn’t play.

But at this point, with a short week before the final preseason game against the Raiders when the starters likely won’t play much, it seems likely Ifedi will get the nod to start with Fant being groomed to be in position should a change be needed later.

David Moore looks like he could have a significant role

It’s been evident for a while Moore was likely going to make the roster.

But his play Friday – a 36-yard TD reception and a 75-yard punt return for a TD that was called back because of a hold – only reinforced that he has been the standout receiver of the preseason.

Moore has five receptions for a team-high 142 yards and a touchdown in the preseason with the punt return showing some comfort in an area he has not been called on before, even if it didn’t count.

“We have been thinking this whole time that when David has the chance to get the ball in his hands he can do something special,” Carroll said. “The punt return looked easy for him. He was just slithering through and making the finishing cuts to end it all. He looked great, so that’s a real positive. It just showed us again the dynamic player he is.”

Brandon Marshall can fulfill the big role the team needs

There maybe shouldn’t have been all that much doubt about Marshall making the team. But the Seahawks had to like being able to get a legitimate glimpse at what Marshall may add when he had three receptions for 34 yards on the TD drive, including a 20-yarder against Minnesota standout corner Xavier Rhodes (one of the players Minnesota got in picks acquired in the Percy Harvin trade).

“He did a great job on that corner route against a really good corner in Xavier Rhodes, one of the best in the game,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “He made a great catch. I gave him a chance up high, he goes up and gets it.”

That’s exactly what the Seahawks need after losing Jimmy Graham off last year’s team, who for all that he may not have done did manage to catch 10 touchdown passes last season.

Marshall, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $1.105 million, is giving early signs that he could be a bargain for the Seahawks.

K.J. Wright loved putting the hurt on Stefon Diggs

Wright’s second-quarter lowering-the-shoulder boom of Diggs in the second quarter was the most emphatic of several big hits by the Seahawks on a night when the sidelines seemed a little like the old days, players rushing to celebrate a big play or greet a player who had just made one.

The new NFL rules on lowering the head, though, had Wright immediately turning his to see if a flag would be thrown.

“That was that clean strike zone we talk about,” Wright said. “I thought that since it was a big hit they are going to throw the dang flag anyway. So luckily the ref was locked in, zoned in, and it was good.”

Wright said he checked on Diggs, who stayed in the game, to make sure he was all right.

“You don’t want to hurt nobody,” he said. “It was a good, clean hit and it was fun to go out there and hit somebody.”

The Seahawks might blitz a little more under Ken Norton

It’s hard to read too much into scheme in the preseason. But the Seahawks have thrown a few blitzes at opponents, notably sending Justin Coleman in from the slot corner on one occasion to force a hurried incompletion from Kirk Cousins.

Wright said he thinks it’s a sign of things to come.

“We are (blitzing more),” he said. “That’s coach Norton’s style. He wants to be aggressive and get guys going. You want to attack as a defensive player, you don’t want to just sit back and run your same old zone coverages, you want to be aggressive and get guys going and that’s something I like that we are doing. Coach Norton talked about it during the week, what he is thinking, and he’s got us being aggressive. That helps us out.”

But about those third downs …

The one big negative of the night was the defense allowing the Vikings to convert 7 of 10 third downs in the first half (though at least the Seahawks made two third-down stops to end long drives and force field goals that were missed).

“We still have to do better job of getting off the field,” middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said.

Wright hinted that all the new parts on defense just need some time to mesh.

“That was bad,” he said. “Third down was really bad. Definitely was on the field way too long. Some plays we’ve just got to win our leverage, sometimes we’ve got to trust our teammates. We’ve definitely got to improve that.”

Does anyone want the backup QB job?

Last week against the Chargers, it was pretty clear that Alex McGough had played better than Austin Davis and taken a step forward in the competition. That was less clear against the Vikings.

Davis again did little playing just two series and seven snaps without guiding the offense to a first down. It was obviously the design for Davis to play less than McGough, though, as the Seahawks need the rookie seventh-round pick to get more experience – and give them more information about what he can do – than Davis.

McGough’s results were decidedly mixed. He showed off his athleticism on a few occasions and a nice arm on a few others and tossed a 36-yard TD to David Moore.

But he also missed a few throws and tossed one into traffic that was picked off and overall was just 5 for 14 for 140 yards, a total burnished greatly by the 55-yard completion on the final play.

That Davis entered the game second isn’t completely without meaning – for now he appears to be the backup and likely regarded by the team as the safer choice, with the Seahawks likely thinking they’ll be able to get McGough back on the practice squad, as they did last year with Trevone Boykin.

Or, maybe, the Seahawks keep looking to see who else is out there as cuts begin being made in earnest next weekend.

Oh yeah, Michael Dickson

A few days after the Seahawks said goodbye to Jon Ryan, Dickson showed emphatically why they had made the move to trade up and draft him with the 149th overall pick in the fifth round last April.

Dickson averaged 53.6 yards on five punts with a net of 45.6, curly-cueing two out of bounds at the 3-yard-line.

“Michael Dickson really couldn’t have been more effective with the punts in his first time out (as the team’s starter),” Carroll said.

While there are lots of things in the preseason that come with the caveat that “it’s just the preseason,” punting isn’t one of them.

There’s no planning or scheming that opponents can do to suddenly make Dickson less effective.

Unlike kickers, who can sometimes inexplicably start missing kicks, punters tend to stay pretty consistent.

In other words, the Seahawks got a really good one in Dickson for now and likely for a long time to come.

Good enough that a lot of the criticisms of the Seahawks for trading up to take a punter – a punter! – last April (which reportedly included the Broncos laughing in their war room).

I’ve seen some argue since that the criticisms weren’t aimed at Dickson so much as just whether Seattle didn’t have bigger needs.

But a good player is a good player – best player available and all that, right?

As with everything three games into the preseason, we need more time to know for sure.

But history may well reveal that Dickson simply was the best player available for the Seahawks with that pick.


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