ARLINGTON, Texas — You can close the book on the Seahawks’ preseason after a 27-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys here Friday night.
The loss left Seattle 0-3, and what is just the second winless preseason under coach Pete Carroll, the other coming when the Seahawks went 0-4 in 2018 (a year they then went 10-6 and made the playoffs).
But if the team didn’t get any wins in the preseason, it doesn’t mean there weren’t any winners on the team.
Here’s a look at six who helped their cause Friday, as well as three who didn’t.
QB Geno Smith: Smith was the biggest winner of the preseason, entering camp as the starter and then holding on to the job enough that coach Pete Carroll decided not to wait any longer and named him the starter heading into the season.
What did Smith do to earn the job? It’s what he didn’t do — turn the ball over. Drew Lock had four turnovers in roughly five quarters of preseason action while Smith had none in virtually the same time span. And for the talk that all Smith did was check the ball down, well, (A) his receivers didn’t help him a ton; and (B) he ended up with almost the same yards per attempt as Lock (6.6 to 7.0).
Smith, the 39Th overall pick of the 2013 draft by the Jets, also now gets a chance for one of the most unlikely career revivals in recent NFL history, having not been a full-time starter since 2014, and starting just five games in that span.
According to ESPN, only three other QBs have had gaps of eight or more years between making season-opening starts — Zeke Bratkowski (nine), Frank Tripucka (eight) and King Hill (eight), all more than 50 years ago.
RB DeeJay Dallas: The third-year back led the Seahawks in rushing with 163 yards on 28 carries, a 5.8 average, and also tied for the team-high in receptions with seven of eight targets for 78 yards and a touchdown.
With rookie Ken Walker III having had a recent hernia procedure, Dallas’ strong preseason showing demonstrates he’s ready for a more significant role to start out if needed.
CB Michael Jackson: A four-year vet, Jackson could also argue for being the standout player of training camp, working his way up the depth chart at cornerback to earn the start at left corner against Dallas.
According to Pro Football Focus Jackson, he was targeted eight times and gave up just two catches for 11 yards while also forcing one incompletion and not allowing a first down.
DT Myles Adams: The third-year pro might well have played his way onto the 53-man roster in which he was second in sacks with 1.5 (Boye Mafe had two), led the team in quarterback hits with four and tied for third in tackles with 12.
As always, preseason stats have to be taken with some grain of salt if you consider there are few starters on the field. But coupled with a strong ending to last season, Adams’ camp performance shows he might be ready to be a contributor this season.
RT Abraham Lucas: Lucas appears to have won the starting right-tackle job after a preseason in which he allowed three pressures on 88 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, and also finished with an above-average run-blocking grade.
LB Joshua Onujiogu: The undrafted rookie free agent from Division III Framingham (Massachusetts) State has worked his way steadily up the depth chart of late and closed the preseason with a strong performance with one of Seattle’s three sacks against Dallas. He might not make the roster now but he looks like a player who could well see the field at some point down the road.
And here’s three who didn’t.
QB Drew Lock: In the all-or-nothing world that is a quarterback battle, Lock for now is on the outside looking in after a three-interception performance that helped to further illustrate what the team sees as the biggest difference between Lock and Smith — taking care of the score.
But one phrase of Carroll’s Friday to explain the decision to pick Smith is telling, that Smith will “give us the best chance to play great football right off the bat.” This was a decision for the moment, with the Denver game Sept. 12.
It seems unlikely Lock wouldn’t get a chance to play at some point this season, and Lock’s comments afterward indicated he seemed to understand that for now he has to accept his role and keep pushing Smith and that maybe a chance will come down the road .
But what he’ll need to show coaches in the practice snaps he does get is better decision-making — that’s where Smith has the lead for now and that meant everything to Carroll.
WR Freddie Swain: The third-year receiver played mostly with the deep reserves against the Cowboys, an indication his roster spot is shaky, at best, after a preseason in which he battled a back injury and also had two key drops, finishing with just one catch for 6 yards on four targets.
Backup receivers in general: Swain’s struggles highlighted a receiving corps that without DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett on the field did not inspire a ton of confidence. That Dee Eskridge got back in action Friday, playing 19 snaps, and turned in a few good moments is a positive, and he for now appears to firmly be the No. 3 receivers heading into the season.
But while there were a few other positives — Dareke Young flashed at times, although he also had two drops Friday — overall Seattle’s receiving depth seems an issue. One thing that could help is getting veteran Marquise Goodwin on the field. He’s been battling a hamstring issue but indicated last week that he’s close to being ready to go. Oddly, recently acquired JJ Arcega-Whiteside did not play a snap and for now does not appear to be a candidate for a roster spot.