Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Chargers – StubHub Center
AFTER a less than convincing year, the Seahawks look to hit the ground running with a healthy Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas. Can the Seahawks make another push at a Super Bowl run? They still have the talent, but after an offseason of speculation surrounding the potential trade of All-Pro Richard Sherman and the alleged feud between the defence and Wilson, the Seahawks will be looking forward to getting back to what they are good at – football.
3 things to watch
New look offensive line
No surprises here, Seattle’s offensive line has consistently been one of the worst lines in the NFL. After missing out on Pro-Bowler TJ Lang in free agency, the Seahawks settled for the underwhelming signings of the former number 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel and former Texan Oday Aboushi. Aboushi has held is own in the run game but is still poor in pass protection. The development of George Fant is intriguing, and Pro-Bowl Justin Britt was a revelation in 2016 following a disappointing start to his career. 2016 1st round pick Germain Ifedi had a disappointing camp which included copping a punch to the face by teammate DE Frank Clark. Nothing about this paragraph inspires any confidence in Seattle’s offensive line hopes.
The Seahawks traded down and down and down in the 2017 draft before eventually taking Malik McDowell with their first pick. The former Michigan State Spartan was a monster on the interior, however was prone to giving up in games when things didn’t go the Spartan’s way. McDowell was supposed to be the answer for Seattle’s lack of interior push, however an ATV accident during the offseason has all but ruled McDowell out for the year, in what Coach Pete Carroll described as a potential career ending injury. An extremely disappointing situation which leaves a massive hole in the Seattle defence. Look for 2nd year pro Jarran Reed and rookie Nazair Jones to push for McDowell’s snaps this preseason.
Year 1 without Marshawn Lynch did not go as planned, with the Seahawks dropping from a top-5 rushing team to 25th with 99.4 rushing yards per game. Thomas Rawls found form late but battled injuries all year, and rookie phenom CJ Prosise was the matchwinner in Foxborough for Tom Brady’s sole loss but failed to shake the injury prone label that dogged during his days at Notre Dame. The addition of Eddie Lacy is a risk but can be exactly what the Seahawks need, a bell cow that can run through defenders and bring the hurt. Undrafted rookie Chris Carson has shined in practice and appears to be challenging 2nd year Alex Collins for RB3. A lot going on in Seattle’s backfield.
Los Angeles Chargers
THIS week is the official launch of the LA Chargers. Following years of speculation and screwing over their fans, the Chargers finally announced the worst kept secret in the NFL that they would be joining the Rams in LA. Now with all the speculation finally behind them, the Chargers can focus solely on making one last push for a Super Bowl for Phillip Rivers.
3 things to watch
The Offensive Line
While the loss of Forest Lamp is huge, the Chargers offensive line is expected to take a huge leap forward. Former Seahawk and Bronco Russell Okung is solid when healthy and an extended look at 3rd round pick Dan Feeney and 6th round pick Sam Tevi will give us a great insight into how much improvement the line can produce, and just how far the Charger offense can go this year.
Freshly acquired from Buffalo, former Ohio State QB Cardale Jones is set to see a number of snaps in Anthony Lynn’s newly installed gameplan. Life after Phillip Rivers is fast approaching, and the future at the quarterback position is still up in the air. If Jones can manage to make the QB2 role his, he will be in the perfect position to learn from one of the elites.
No team has been ravaged by injuries as badly as the Chargers have in recent years. 2nd round pick Forest Lamp is already out for the year and the Chargers and their fans will be praying for better fortune than years past. Making it through the preseason without any more key injuries will be huge for a team without the depth to cover for its injured stars.