Takeaways from Seahawks preseason victory over Cowboys

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 19: Jaxon Smith-Njigba #11 of the Seattle Seahawks runs a route against the Dallas Cowboys during a preseason game at Lumen Field on August 19, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

One more preseason game to go.

The Seattle Seahawks won their second game of the exhibition schedule, 22-14, over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night. Head coach Pete Carroll actually elected to play some of his presumptive starters for a chunk of the first and second quarters as regular season preparations ramp up. However, the majority of the contest still was left to depth players and those competing for roster spots at the back end of the roster,

Geno Smith and Drew Lock each completed 5-of-6 passes on the night before giving way to third-stringer Holton Ahlers. Smith threw for 46 yards while Lock racked up 119 yards before both joined the spectators in watching the rest of the contest.

The Cowboys didn't play hardly any of their starting lineup against Seattle as they deferred entirely to the depth of their roster.

DeeJay Dallas and SaRodorick Thompson each scored on 1-yard touchdown runs and Jason Myers converted a pair of field goals, including a 57-yard effort, to lead the Seahawks to the win. John Hall blocked a punt that went out of the end zone for a safety as well to complete the 22-point effort for Seattle.

Here are some of the takeaways from the victory over Dallas:

– Drew Lock showing Seattle at least has a very capable backup quarterback

Drew Lock still wants to be a starting quarterback and believes in his ability to do the job. However, he's also fully accepted that Geno Smith has entrenched himself as the starter in Seattle after last year's training camp competition.

Smith himself was the backup to Russell Wilson for multiple seasons before he ultimately got his chance last year and has run with it, earning Pro Bowl honors last season.

But Lock is determined to show that he's still plenty capable of playing well. Saturday night's effort against the Dallas was clearly his best outing (albeit in limited chances) in a Seahawks uniform.

"I think he's a starter," Carroll said of Lock. "That's what we're so excited about having him. We thought that when we got him. It just didn't work out. Geno was just too much in command. But I think he's playing like a starter. We think of him as a guy that can go out there and win a football game for us, running our whole entire offense. There's nothing we do that he can't do, doesn't have a command of. That's a fortunate situation."

Lock made several two great throws to Smith-Njigba and Thompson, and a completion to tight end Tyler Mabry set up another 1-yard touchdown run by SaRodorick Thompson.

"I'm confident, I'm ready to roll," Lock said. "I wanted to show that tonight to not only the coaches but the team; that I'm going to be ready at all times, whenever that time comes.

"As a backup, you hope it never comes, you hope the head guy is playing every single snap throughout the year, unless we're beating somebody bad enough to get thrown in there. Just showing that I can show this next week as well, but that I'm just ready to go. I'm here for this team if that time comes, the guys are confident when I walk out there to go take the huddle, to try to help us win games."

Carroll and Lock both talked about Lock trying to adopt a new mentality of how to prepare as a backup quarterback in knowing the chance to play is always right around the corner.

"We kind of tried to emphasize that this week," Lock said. "‘Geno is going to go out and play. Drew, you know you're going to play. Geno is down and you're going in.’ That's how we try to talk about it this week with me going in to play. The offense when I was out there, guys blocked their butts off, guys made plays with the ball in their hands, we scored points. That's the number one goal."

Carroll said it's the same mentality Smith used in sitting behind Wilson to be ready when the chance presented itself.

"We've learned from him the mentality that it takes to be in that situation where you're backing up, but be on the ready," Carroll said. :We would give him credit for doing that for four years straight. Then when he finally got his chance, he kicked butt. Drew was practicing that tonight. He knew he was going to play, so all week long he practiced like he knew he was going to play. So the game comes, and he does in this one because it's all set up. But that's the way he needs to think. That's Geno prep, that's G prep, what we're talking about. That's Geno, how he's done it. He's learned from that."

Last week's game against the Minnesota Vikings was the first chance Lock had to play at Lumen Field. For last year's only preseason game in Seattle, Lock missed the game due to COVID-19. He was a bit anxious for last week's game and felt much more settled against the Cowboys.

"I think it comes from being in the same offense for two years now, like you said, just quicker decisions with the ball," Lock said. "Knowing when on a play-action I turn my head around, knowing whether it's going to be good or bad. Just processing quicker. When you get to that point and kind of feel the way I'm feeling right now, you feel like you can go out there every time and walk down the field. That's the feeling that every quarterback wants to have. Finally, being able to be confident in a system with the guys around me, I know what's going on, it feels really good right now. I'm excited to get back out there again and keep showing it."

– Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Boye Mafe, Tyreke Smith all with strong performances

Rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba had one of the highlight plays of the night with a 48-yard reception on a pass from Drew Lock in the second quarter.

Lock delivered a perfect throw to Smith-Njigba over cornerback Eric Scott Jr. that setup Dallas' 1-yard touchdown run.

"He's been amazing," Lock said of Smith-Njigba. "I think the biggest part about him is his composure. Not once have I felt like he was a rookie when he's out there. He's confident in himself. He knows what he's doing. When the ball is in the air, he's going to make a play on it."

Smith-Njigba had three catches for 48 yards on the night as he continued to show why Seattle wanted him in the first-round of this spring's NFL Draft.

"That is just a little bit of what he can do," said linebacker Tyreke Smith of Smith-Njigba, who was teammates with him at Ohio State. "He has a lot in his bag. Jaxon is a special player. I’ve seen it day in and day out when I was on the practice field with him at (Ohio) State. When he gets his chance, he’s going to show y’all what he can do for real." 

Smith meanwhile came up with a big sack of Will Grier on a fourth down late in the fourth quarter that allowed Seattle to close out the victory.

"He did well tonight," Carroll said of Smith. "Now, it's taken him some time in camp. But he had a really impressive week. You could see it coming. The fact that he goes out and does it in the game, it's kind of what you hope happens from the coaching perspective. He did it. He was quick, assertive. He used his calls and stunts and things really well to make plays in the backfield from the backside."

Smith also showed good situational awareness on a big punt return by Tyjon Lindsey by getting in the way of Dallas defenders without forcibly contacting them for a potential blindside hit penalty. Smith finished the game tied for the team high with seven tackles.

"Every moment I get on the field is like surreal, and I just thank God for putting me in this position and giving me the guidance and the strength to be here," Smith said. "Thank the team, they’ve been rallying behind me. It’s been a great camp, just working every day, trying to stack days, make sure I get better each day."

Meanwhile, Mafe didn't play beyond the first half but made another strong impression. He had two tackles with a quarterback hit on Cooper Rush that forced an incompletion. He was strong in the running game and disrupted multiple passes in the backfield.

"He's doing everything better," Carroll said of Mafe. "A year ago the newness, you didn't know, looked like he didn't have a clue what was going on. He's not like that any more. He's physically really apt for the position. He's fast, long, strong, got a good motor to him. He seems to have good endurance. He's not getting worn down when he's out there playing."

– Offense created numerous explosive plays

In addition to Smith-Njigba's 48-yard catch, the Seahawks managed several big gains on offense between Smith and Lock.

Smith had a 26-yard completion to receiver Jake Bobo as his highlight of the night while Lock had the completion to Smith-Njigba, a 24-yard completion to Cody Thompson, and a 21-yard gain on a throw to Noah Fant.

Additionally, rookie running back Zach Charbonnet added a 29-yard run with SaRodorick Thompson getting a 29-yard carry of his own in the fourth quarter.

"I was fired up about it," Carroll said. "Those guys, they're 10 for 12, the first two quarterbacks. I thought Shane gave them some good chances tonight. Went after them a little bit. Coming up with some big plays in sequence. I really liked the way he called it. We ran the ball for 140 yards. That's the kind of balance that we're looking for. Gives us a chance to be able to do all of the stuff, all of the play passes and movement stuff that we like doing."

Four of the ten completions delivered by Smith and Lock netted at least 21 yards.

"That room is stacked with really good players right now," Lock said. "To be able to help our run game, get us a couple explosives in the pass game. We knew our run game was going to be explosive. For us being able to add that second piece, big plays, big chunk plays, then come back to the run. It makes us a more well-rounded offense, to say the least."

– Bit of a rough outing for Mike Jackson despite strong training camp so far

Cornerback Mike Jackson has really had a strong training camp for the Seahawks as he has made a strong case to hold onto the starting job on the left side. However, Jackson took a pass interference penalty (that was declined) and had a pair of notable passes completed to wide receiver Jalen Tolbert with Jackson in coverage.

"Unfortunately they catch the fade on him," Carroll said of the 35-yard pass Jackson was also called for interference on. "It's kind of underthrown. He's all over the guy. He got tangled up a little bit. That's why they got the penalty on him. There was a tackle Mike had. He'll hit it better than he did tonight. But I thought he continues to play well. He's an experienced veteran guy for us that we can really count on. It's just kind of like the outside backer spot. We got guys that can play, we like the opportunity to be flexible there if we want to."

Jackson has maintained the lead case for the starting job opposite Riq Woolen. His strong play also has led Seattle to try Devon Witherspoon in the nickel spot instead during training camp when he's been healthy. Tre Brown has applied pressure on Jackson's spot throughout camp and Brown intercepted Grier on Saturday night as he looks fully back in form after a torn patella tendon sustained in the 2021 season.

"He's a good football player. He's doing pretty well. He's played really well consistently. We're lucky to have him on our side," Carroll said of Brown.

It's probably nothing overly concerning from Jackson given his track record and performance during training camp. However, the Seahawks do have options to turn to should any struggles continue to linger moving into the season.