12th Man: Seahawks Week 9 Review & Week 10 Preview
I naturally expected the worst from the Seahawks after they shit the bed against a bottom-five defense eight days before their Monday night matchup against the Buffalo Bills, but while I may love to keep things simple, the Seahawks certainly don’t. Ok. Frankly, after the results of the election last night, I’m depleted. I’ll be brief. There was a lot going on in this game, some things were outstanding. Others were concerning. Before I go into that, I’ll say this about the Bills – Tyrod Taylor impressed me with his ability to extend plays and spoon feed a depleted wideout crew with big time throws. They ran the ball at a very high level, but it doesn’t play this close without Taylor being the playmaker with his arm that he was that night. Now without further ado:
THINGS THAT WERE OUTSTANDING: Jimmy Graham. Doug Baldwin. The deep ball. Wilson is definitely getting healthier week by week, which has been a constant since sustaining his lower body injuries to open the season. He extended plays with his feet a good bit and scored a rushing touchdown. Since the run game is abysmal, it’s been necessary to look for big plays through the air, and when given chances, this team’s aerial playmakers have consistently responded to the challenge. Wilson’s health matters in this equation though, as you can’t look for deep plays with an injured quarterback and an offensive line that can’t pass protect. But I digress. The chemistry between Wilson and Graham has been outstanding, and Doug Baldwin is still very much a technician who runs routes with hair-splitting precision. Tyler Lockett is also much healthier, but seems to be the odd man out when it comes to touches. I expect that to change in good time. On defense, Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright have been on another level all season long, carrying this defense at times with crucial plays against the run, in coverage, and on the blitz. Damontre Moore was a name I didn’t expect to hear much, but he showed up several times on the defensive side, after signing with the Seahawks a bit over week ago. C.J. Prosise is pretty good.
THINGS THAT CONCERN ME: The offensive line doesn’t seem to block in the run game. It looks like a big mush of players up front running into defensive linemen and I’m guessing that’s why offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell abandoned the run early (12 rushes, 33 yards). The defense wasn’t really good either. Wagner and Wright are doing all they can, along with Cliff Avril playing like a madman (1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits), but it feels like they’re missing a statement maker on defense (they’re missing two: Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett). It helps that Chancellor is finally due to return this coming week. Yes, for real this time. Kelcie McCray has performed admirably at some times, dreadfully at others. But he doesn’t bring the size, familiarity, and physical imposition that Kam does, and that has been made clear. What will help the defense as much as Kam’s return is Bennett coming back, and I think he’s a few weeks out. What will help even more, is an offense that can sustain drives.
5-2-1. On to the Patriots.
Speaking of the Patriots…I have to admit that this is the most pessimistic I’ve been about a matchup since the Rams (the Rams ALWAYS give us trouble). Tom Brady has been on fire all season long, Rob Gronkowski is healthy, and I am concerned about how (or even if) Seattle can stymie this high-octane offensive attack, in hostile territory at that. To make bad matters worse, this game will be called by Cris Collinsworth, who is guaranteed to run Malcolm Butler and Super Bowl references into the ground, just as he has for the last fucking year. Woosah. Woosah.
My projection for gloom and doom aside, this is football, and football doesn’t believe in following logic week in and week out, because where’s the fun in that? With that said, there are a number of things the Seahawks could do to try and make this a close one:
KEEP THE OFFENSE ON THE FIELD: The defense hasn’t been great lately. Probably has something to do with them playing a ton of snaps over the last several weeks. Kam Chancellor is back, and provided he can shake the rust off quickly, his fresh legs will help in coverage and on the ground. But this is about the offense. Again. The best thing the Seahawks can do to stand a chance at winning is to carry out long and deliberate drives. But in order to do that, you need a run game and/or a competent offensive line. Bradley Sowell is questionable for this matchup after practicing this week. Meh. As I said previously, C.J. Prosise is really good, and that helps a lot, because Christine Michael has not been. OL coach Tom Cable needs to get this line blocking properly in the run game. This would be a great week for them to finally start doing that. If we can take Monday’s game with more than a grain of salt, Russell Wilson’s mobility is almost back to normal, and the deep ball is alive and well. Both of those will help in this case.
ACTUALLY SCORE TOUCHDOWNS: I like Steven Hauschka. But you don’t beat the Patriots, in their house, by kicking field goals. You have Jimmy Graham, Doug Baldwin, and Tyler Lockett at your disposal. Put the ball in the end zone.
BEND, DON’T BREAK: This is a very onerous matchup for the linebackers and secondary. The Patriots do any and everything they can on offense to, a., get the ball out of the QB’s hands quickly and b., create explosive plays. Their offensive line is quietly suspect, and I would have a bit more confidence in Seattle’s pass rush if Michael Bennett were healthy, and New England didn’t regularly run clinics on negating opposing pass rushes. It will take another big showing from Cliff Avril and Frank Clark to turn potential touchdowns into field goals.
Gameday comes soon. The big question will be whether or not the offense decides to show up.
No prediction this time. My nerves are kinda bad.