Colts @ Seahawks: The Ryan Grigson Revenge Game

NFL neckbeards rejoice! Football has returned and, right off the bat, a very important exhibition has been slated – one in which our good friend Sam Hawkbadger can finally lay the Luck vs. Wilson debate to rest! The pinnacle of Sam’s sole purpose embodied into a single offensive series,,, or maybe even two! It’s as Drizzy & Ciara’s ex often crooned, ‘”What a time to be alive’! Speaking of rappers, let’s not forget the reunion with our favorite Soundcloud artist, Christine Michael. The Seahawks preseason legend who single-handedly did so many things wrong, he might actually be the root cause in persuading an entire generation (of Economists, Stanford Goalies, and Lifelong Laker Fans) to believe that running the ball is useless. Inside jokes now out of the way, let’s run a refresher on why these glorified scrimmages actually matter, so we can establish the game preview.

The Purpose

For Players: 

Aside from starters and established veterans who mainly use these games to progressively ramp up to game speed, it’s perhaps the most pivotal time for a blooming athlete to earn a more permanent role. Hundreds upon hundreds of hours training, studying, and, playing all culminate in these four weeks. The average NFL career, according to the NFLPA, is 3.3 years. Under the current CBA, that’s not even the full length of a rookie contract! It’s not because the average player isn’t talented enough.

The prominent reason, in my opinion, is simply lack of opportunity. It’s hard enough to knock an established starter off his spot when they’re paid, proven, and healthy. When you consider these teams go from a census of 90 to 53 (+practice squad) in a month, there simply isn’t enough room. Every rep is a blessing and opportunity. One mistake may cause you to get that call to coach’s office in the morning. With that in mind, you have to clear your mind and just play as you’ve prepared. For geeks like myself, I love watching those bubble players in the middle of the 4th quarter when everyone else at the bar is closing their tab.

For Coaches/Front Office:

I can’t say I know all the intricacies, but this is quite a critical time to evaluate all position groups. For some players, this will be the most experience they see in a game setting for the entire year. This may or may not be by design. Regardless, the staff uses these moments to meditate on the confirmations or new questions of previous evaluations. Sometimes players underperform or overperform. Sometimes, they have to cut a player who, for whatever reason, can’t quite contribute immediately, knowing they’re letting go of a valuable talent. Alex Collins, Spencer Ware, and Jaye Howard are great examples of that. As attrition evidently always occurs, and your depth chart shakes out, the waves of cuts begin and the last big opportunity for player acquisition comes along for the personnel department.

For coordinators, it’s all about building outwards from base schematics in camp towards a somewhat vanilla game plan. While this may be stale for vets, it’s mostly beneficial for young guys coming from college schemes or different teams where language and philosophy may be different.

For Officials:

With new rules and refined penalties, expect lots of flags. Refs are encouraged to throw more than the usual amount, especially during plays related to refined penalties. Then, when the regular season starts, the amount of  calls are substantially decreased. Why? Film study! Refs and the league want to see obvious calls, close calls, and bad calls as teaching tape to ultimately understand if these implementations improve the quality of the game and/or player safety. This season, some revisions have been made to what constitutes a catch, kickoffs, helmet dropping, and illegal contact. If you haven’t scrolled past this by now, here’s a link with more detailed information.

https://operations.nfl.com/the-rules/2018-rules-changes-and-points-of-emphasis/

For Fans:

These games matter so that we can lock in players like Kasen Williams to our 53-man projections, only to be wrong. We then pat ourselves on the back as we all echo the same sentiment; Wow, what a blunder. Apparently Pete lied about competition. This front office has lost their magic.  imho,,, fire Pete. Hire Jeff Fisher.

Btw, I just googled Kasen to see what he’s been up to. Turns out he’s an Indianapolis Colt…

But folks,, in all seriousness, there is no purpose for a casual fan to watch more than a few minutes of preseason. You need to be invested in more than wins and losses to get the most out of these games. That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a casual fan. You matter too… just like preseason games 🙂

Colts vs Seahawks

Trenches, trenches, trenches! Camp is not a good indicator for the states of OL & DL. An overwhelming curiosity for most will be how Solari structures these guys left to right. While it’ll take weeks for the starting five to ‘mesh’, you aren’t exactly going against a world-beater DL. I am curious, though, about Colts DT Hassan Ridgeway entering his 3rd season and rookie DE Kemoko Turay from Rutgers, who had pre-draft visits with the Seahawks. Ourlads lists him as their LE2. If so, whoever is battling for Germain Ifedi’s spot should have a decent opportunity to make a good impression against a young pass rusher the front office has respect for. Germain just seems disinterested. Watching him these past couple weeks in camp has been awful from the laziness in drills to the barrage of penalties in the scrimmage. I don’t think the team will cut Ifedi, but he definitely can’t be as big a liability this year if he’s to remain RT1.

Though the Colts defense isn’t star-studded, it’s worth noting their 2017 1st round FS, Malik Hooker was recently activated from the PUP list and, if cleared to play, provides an immediate boost to their secondary. Unfortunately, the former Buckeye spent the 2nd half of his rookie campaign on IR with an ACL injury and the team may not feel the need to rush him back. I’m hoping to see him in some capacity, as I believe the challenge would be welcomed by Seattle, who has competition at QB2 and WR4-6.

Obviously, we all want to see how the running backs are utilized in this new offense and who breaks out. I think the team is pretty solid with Carson, Penny, Prosise, and McKissic. The curveball would be Mike Davis showing out, which would validate some of the great flashes he’s made in camp thus far. He’s not simply going to lay down defeated. He knows he’s playing for a job. Here or elsewhere. Davis has been very vocal about it lately, as well. Simply put, watch Carson, Penny, and Prosise for entertainment. Watch McKissic and Davis a bit more objectively though.

If we flip the field and look at the Colts’ offense against the Seahawks’ defense, obviously the entire world wants to know if Luck is actually good to go. Though it appears his recovery is finally going well, we heard similar things last year. The Colts’ new head coach, Frank Reich, expects Luck to play “about a quarter”. Reich, former offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, is coming off an outstanding year winning the Super Bowl with a backup QB, something almost entirely unheard of. His current backup, though, Jacoby Brissett, makes for a great primer to this ‘Post LOB’ secondary. Sign me up for any amount of Shaquill Griffin vs T.Y. Hilton we can get!

I mentioned trenches earlier and I want to return to that by discussing Indy’s line. LT/LG/C shakes out as Anthony Castanzo, Quenton Nelson, and Ryan Kelly. You may or may not know this now, but that’s going to be a solid left side! If we focus on the interior, the rookie out of Notre Dame, Quenton Nelson, is touted as one the cleanest/can’t miss prospects of the last decade. Ryan Kelly, a former first rounder himself, should give Jarran Reed and Naz Jones fits. These are easily my favorite matchups of the week.

Additionally, if Frank Clark is held back with his wrist injury, a flurry of guys will supplement that spot. Keep your eye on rookie Jordan Martin, an OLB, who Pete has praised for his pass rush ability. I expect this week will be big for Branden Jackson, who needs to show growth in year three.

The team appears to be interested in adding some veteran pass rush in lieu of Dion Jordan’s injury. Perhaps we will see them move on one depending how the game goes. Another injury to note is K.J. Wright’s. Though not expected to be serious, I imagine they’ll be extra careful with a hamstring-related injury. Shaquem Griffin could play a ton.

Lastly, a couple hyped names we need payoffs on: Poona Ford, Tedric Thompson, and Keenan Reynolds. I think come Friday morning, we’ll be talking about one of them.

In closing, the most important thing for Seattle is to escape as healthy as possible. A year ago, Seattle lost George Fant for the season. We watched how quickly an injury like that changed this team’s landscape. Try and remember how gut wrenching that day felt. Between what happened to Malik McDowell, and that game against the Vikings, the team would later go on to make big moves to mitigate said losses, acquiring Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown. I’m happy to have Brown around, but I often ponder what may have transpired had Fant panned out in 2017. What if there was no need to trade for Sheldon? Oh well. It’s 2018 now and some things you can’t control. When that happens, the safest bet is to sit back, raise your cup of creamless joe, and murmur Tasteful Profanities at Tom Cable….