NFL preseason games aren’t so much about which team won or lost — although for fans, obviously, it’s more fun if your team does win — but which players helped or hurt themselves, or maybe just maintained the status quo in their attempt to make the roster.
And, yes, even in a game like Seattle’s 27-11 loss to the Bears on Thursday that was mostly unfun to watch, there were players who actually helped themselves, as well as those whose stock might have dipped some, and others who came out even.
So let’s take a look at three up, three down and two right in the middle from Thursday’s game.
Cornerback Michael Jackson: Jackson has been the quiet contender in the team’s cornerback competition, a four-year vet who played two games late last season after being signed in September. Jackson started at left cornerback with Tariq Woolen on the right side and played a team-high 55 snaps.
On a night of shoddy tackling for Seattle — seven missed tackles on run plays, according to Pro Football Focus — Jackson earned the best run grade on the team from PFF with three tackles allowing just two receptions on five targets for 11 yards on 35 coverage snaps .
Neither Sidney Jones IV nor Artie Burns has played in the preseason, and the assumption is that they remain atop the depth chart. But the Seahawks have to feel good about how their cornerback depth is developing.
Running back Darwin Thompson: Thompson appears to still be on the outside looking in at the running back spot where Seattle seems to have a pretty set foursome of Rashaad Penny, Ken Walker III, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas. But Thompson might be a player Seattle wants to keep on the practice squad after breathing some life into a mostly moribund offense with 34 yards on six carries late in the game — including a 16-yarder in which he leapt over Chicago’s AJ Thomas — and scoring Seattle’s only TD on an 8-yard run.
Many Seattle fans may not know much about Thompson, who signed as a free agent in February after three years with the Chiefs and Bucs. But here’s one piece of trivia — he is one of only two current Seahawks to have played in a Super Bowl, getting 11 offensive snaps and one carry for zero yards when Kansas City beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV (center Austin Blythe started for the Rams in Super Bowl LIII).
Cornerback Coby Bryant: The rookie had a nice bounce-back game, breaking up two of five passes sent his way, including one in the end zone to Isaiah Coulter on third-and-goal at the 1 that keyed a Seahawks goal-line stand that was one of the other few moments of the night worth cheering about for Seattle.
PFF gave Bryant a grade of 71.8 compared to 47.5 against the Steelers the week before when he’d given up a touchdown (although to be fair, that was also a heck of a catch by Steelers rookie George Pickens, who has been a camp sensation ). Bryant again saw much of his snaps playing nickel — 12 of 22 according to PFF — the spot that increasingly looks like his immediate future with Seattle. All of his snaps came in the second half.
Safety Marquise Blair: On a night when the tackling was again an issue, Blair unfortunately stood out the most, credited with four missed tackles. He also allowed receptions on both of his targets for 13 yards and committed an unnecessary roughness penalty. Blair’s spot on the team as a versatile backup able to play just about anywhere in the secondary seemed secure after the trade last week of fellow 2019 draftee Ugo Amadi to the Eagles. But he’s going to need to play better than that to assure any kind of real role in 2022.
Receiver Freddie Swain: Swain dropped an on-target pass from Geno Smith on third down on Seattle’s first drive that would have been good for 20 yards or so and got the Seahawks into Chicago territory. The night might have looked a lot different had that catch been made and Seattle went on to score against a Bears defense that still had some of its first-teamers on the field.
Swain missed the Steelers game with a back injury, and the Bears game was his chance to shine with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett making only token appearances, and Dee Eskridge and Marquise Goodwin out with injuries. But he had just one catch for 6 yards on three targets and his spot on the team seems far from assured (although few other Seattle receivers did much, either).
Kicker Jason Myers: One preseason miss is obviously not that big of a deal, and 47-yarders aren’t complete gimmes. Still, Myers is coming off a shaky season and has the fifth-highest salary cap hit of any kicker in the NFL this season at $5 million, according to Spotrac.com, so the Seahawks would surely like to see him enter the season on a good note.
And two in the middle
QB Geno Smith: Seattle going scoreless on its six full first-half possessions and what were pedestrian overall stats — 10-for-18 for 112 yards — look on paper like Smith opening the door even that much wider for Drew Lock to make a run at the starting QB job, assuming he can get well following his bout with COVID-19 and start Friday at Dallas.
Seattle has scored on just two of the 11 full possessions Smith has led in two preseason games. But to be fair to Smith, he had three passes dropped Thursday, including the aforementioned third-down throw on the first drive to Swain. Smith is 20-for-33 for 213 yards in the preseason but has had five passes judged as drops and another in which Noah Fant didn’t get his foot inbounds. In their evaluation of Smith, coaches are sure to take into account how those passes would look being thrown to Metcalf and Lockett.
LT Charles Cross: The rookie had five penalties on a night when the Seahawks had 13 overall, a stat hard to overlook. But as coach Pete Carroll noted later, four were for false starts, the kind of thing typically pretty easily correctable, especially in someone playing their second NFL game. The bigger picture was another game of solid overall play once the snap got off. Cross has not allowed a pressure in 55 pass-block snaps in two games, according to PFF — maybe the most critical thing Seattle wants him to provide — and has been solid enough in the running game.