No doubt that Seattle is ready for the regular season. Not after a second consecutive home blowout that left an opponent marveling at just how fast the Seahawks are.
That was among the takeaways from Friday's exhibition game against Chicago, though there are still questions remaining, too.
Three things we learned:
1. Russell Wilson is going to be an MVP candidate.
If not for Peyton Manning and his 55 touchdown passes, Wilson would have gotten heavy consideration a year ago. And so far this preseason, he's completing better than 75 percent of his passes, he has yet to be picked off and of the 12 drives he piloted in three games, only one resulted in a punt. That's right, only one, and that was his first possession of the preseason opener in Denver. The Seahawks scored eight touchdowns in his 12 possessions. You can talk all you want about how 5,000 yards passing is the new benchmark in the NFL, but if Seattle's offense is better than it was a year ago – which it certainly looks to be – get ready for Wilson to receive a heaping helping of the credit.
2. O'Brien Schofield is going to make this team.
There might not be a harder-luck story in this training camp than Schofield. Four years ago, he was projected to be a first-, maybe second-round pick coming out of Wisconsin until he suffered a severe knee injury at the Senior Bowl and fell all the way to the fourth round. As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract with the Giants only to have the team say he failed his physical because of concerns about his knee. Well, he came back to Seattle with the promise of a shot to make the team, and through three preseason games there has been no member of Seattle's defense more consistently impressive than Schofield. He has two sacks and seven quarterback hits.
3. The demise of Seattle's secondary has been greatly exaggerated.
The focus upon eliminating defensive holding was supposed to be squarely focused upon the Seahawks. After all, that's what opponents tended to complain about, and when the NFL changed rules this offseason to make it a penalty any time a defender holds a receiver downfield – not just when it affects the play – most people assumed the league was looking right at the Seahawks. Well, through three weeks of preseason games, the Seahawks are the only team in the league that has yet to be flagged for defensive holding. That's right, the only one. That absence of flags certainly isn't due to an absence of attention, because if this preseason has shown us anything, it's that officials are looking for a reason to throw flags. But through three games, none have been against Seattle for defensive holding.
Three things we're still trying to figure out:
1. Where was this special-teams effort from Ricardo Lockette two years ago?
That's when he was Seattle's up-and-coming receiver, a second-year player with track-star speed who had a 61-yard touchdown catch in the 2011 regular-season finale at Arizona. But that training camp, he did not establish himself as a special-teams mainstay. In fact, he didn't play much special teams at all, which was both his choice and also a tactical mistake. Ben Obomanu made the regular-season roster, Lockette didn't. Two years later, Lockette's focus is unmistakable. While he was penalized for his fourth-quarter clobbering of Chicago's punt returner, make no mistake that he's a special-teams demon who can also be used as a receiver, not the other way around. There may still be questions about which six receivers will make the roster, but not about whether Lockette will be one of them. He's a lock.
2. What was Terrelle Pryor thinking on that fourth-quarter interception?
As Seattle's third quarterback on Friday, Pryor didn't figure to get enough time to win the backup quarterback job. He might have had enough of a chance to lose any remaining shot at it, though. First, he short-armed a pass while scrambling to his left. Then on third-and-5 from Seattle's 25, he dropped back and had a pass rusher in his face. There are a number of things Pryor could have done. He could have made like Russell Wilson and pirouetted away. He's fast enough that he could've run in the other direction. Heck, he could have whipped the ball out of bounds, eaten it for a sack or drop-kicked it. Any one of those options would have been better than what he did, which was loft a pass, throwing off his back foot toward the sideline in the direction of Arceto Clark, who at 5 feet 10 is a long way from being Seattle's tallest receiver. The resulting interception was worse than punting on third down.
3. Is Seattle as strong along its defensive line?
We know the Seahawks' defense is faster this season with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril as the starting defensive ends. But how will that group hold up against the run in early-down situations? The release of Red Bryant did more than just cut into the average weight of the Seahawks' starting defensive line, it meant that their base defense – while better at chasing the quarterback – may not be as stout against the run. The Seahawks do have a heavy set, which features Brandon Mebane and Kevin Williams as the defensive tackles with Tony McDaniel at defensive end, but that's not the base unit, which means that base unit is bound to be tested by opponents on the ground in early-down situations.