Previewing the Seahawk/ Redskins game
I’ve thought about this game all week and while I feel it’s a game we can win, I have not jumped on the bandwagon of “it’s going to be a blowout!” I think the key to looking at this game is balancing expectations with reality. I’m looking at several categories:
- Scoring: The Seahawks are entirely capable of scoring a lot of points. But that hasn’t been their predominant performance over the season and certainly not on the road, the one exception being the Buffalo Bills. While our offense has turned in solid performances recently, expect Marshawn to be only moderately successful tomorrow based on the Redskins run defense. The bulk of our scoring will be on Mr. Wilson!
- Talent: the Seahawks clearly have the greater depth in talent. A great example would be Brandon Browner returning at cornerback and yet if he’s rusty we don’t have to play him the entire game because we can rely on Jeremy Lane. We also have the shared linebacking skills of Leroy Hill and Malcolm Smith.
- Taking care of the ball: both teams are excellent at this I can’t see an advantage in either direction.
- Special teams: Leon Washington. 2nd best returner in the NFL. Advantage Hawks.
- Making adjustments: both teams excel at halftime adjustments, again I can’t see an advantage for either team.
- Quarterbacks: both quarterbacks are extremely talented but I’ll take Russell Wilson. He may not be as fast that he’s an excellent game manager and he doesn’t put himself at risk trying to run the ball. He also has a ton of poise in the pocket.
- Defense: no team allows fewer points than the Seattle Seahawks. There’s that old saying that defenses win championships. My guess is that our entire defensive squad has that tattooed on their behinds.
- Pass coverage: Advantage Hawks. Browner and Sherman, Kam and Earl… Expect the legion of boom to give RG3 fits with passing.
- Running game: Both teams excel with Lynch and Morris running the ball…. But I’ll take Beastmode every day and twice on Sundays!
I expect this to be a very close game, while we haven’t played our best ball on the road this year, much of those games were earlier in the season. Expect this game to be the exception. I believe the Seahawks will win… but like the Rams game, not by much.
In many ways I think the Rams game was good for us. It reminds us as players and fans that at times we will struggle and that one of our best strengths is the ability to rise to the occasion. I’ll close with this message I got from Malcolm Smith after the Rams game last week:
@Asthmagirl thank you very much. It was too close for my liking but im glad we won. Now the real ball starts
Now the real ball starts… Well played Malcolm, well played!!
This week, The View from Section 333 goes on the road to Canada!
With the Seahawks playing in Canada, it seemed imperative to put this game in an international perspective and take it to neutral territory. Thus, this game was viewed from the snug of a small pub on Vancouver Island – probably the first time your intrepid reporter has viewed a Seahawks game without the wearing of the Seahawk attire or being surrounded by cheering family, friends and fellow 12th man. Even Twitter, that fallback of 12thman in-game commentary was off limits due to roaming charge issues on the business phone and a lack of wifi in the pub.
Our first impression centered on all the rushing yards being accumulated. In recent weeks, as the offense has hit its stride, adjustments to the offensive scheme have been impressive; Specifically, Wilson’s uncanny ability to run a read offence and make last minute adjustments, either from the line or from the pocket.
Our second impression was that the defensive seemed to be playing with the same fierceness as they did the week before. Not only the first stringers, but those filling in the missing pieces, Smith, Lane and Maxwell were stand outs. A couple quick notes here… Smith has impressed me by really playing within his game. He doesn’t get pulled out of position and he seems to have a knack for playing to the ball. Lane and Maxwell were very gung ho and I appreciated their efforts. Maxwell seemed much more effective, possibly just based on size. Lane, bless his heart, was always at the right place at the right time but lacks the weight to make really effective tackles. He’s a heck of special teams coverage guy… great speed!
Going into this game, I anticipated a win. Buffalo isn’t a horrible team, but their wins have come against less than stellar opponents. Coupled with comments I read during the week regarding how they planned for the game (by finally talking to TJack for what was apparently the first time this season), I really felt like they would not be fully prepared for the Hawks. Throw in the concept of a road game for both teams and it seemed likely we would win.
However, I did not expect the win we had. At the beginning of the 3rd quarter, my viewing companion turned to me and said “we’re going to score 50 points again”, a statement I immediately poo-pooed. No, we weren’t going to score 50 points on the road… Well, I was wrong. We did and it felt great.
After all the struggles earlier this year, the Seahawks have become a team of opportunists. The team with a plan that can respond to all sorts of opportunities. A team of depth that can rise to the occasion and compensate for personnel changes. But most importantly, they are a team in the true sense of the word. Their ability to respond to their opponents, play to their individual strengths, downplay their weaknesses, and make in game adjustments is epic. They’re exactly where they need to be going into their last two games.
And oh my gosh, they’re fun to watch!
The Seahawks did it again. The made sure that they at least have a solid chance at making the playoffs. All they have to do is win one of their remaining two games against San Francisco and St. Louis. And if Seattle is able to beat Saint Harbaugh and Arizona beats San Francisco in the final week with Seattle winning out , the Seahawks are the NFC West division champs. Basically the situation is in flux and very fluid at this point. Chance of playoff berth is high, with a smaller chance of division championship. Either way, Seattle would be playing in the first week. It’s just whether it’s home or away.
I know everybody not in Seattle has their panties in a twist over “douche” “idiot” Pete Carroll “running up the score” on poor little Buffalo, but I’m going to be covering that in another piece. For now, I’ll just say there were two other games, both shut-outs, on the same day that higher spreads in the score. Food for thought.
Onto some more meaningful thoughts. First, why the hell does Pete Carroll keep starting Leroy Hill over Malcolm Smith? Maybe there is a reason. I don’t know what it is, but I’d really like to hear it. With Hill on the field, I feel like the opportunity for the opponent to open up a big play is greatly increased (ex. CJ Spiller’s touchdown run). Smith is a better tackler, a headier player, and is able to back up his team mates. Hill often times looks lost and has an uncanny ability to get run over.
Russell Wilson continues to grow and lead the team. It is clear that Pete Carroll made the correct choice for quarterback. I wish he’d have opened the playbook up sooner, but nothing can be changed now. I just hope Seattle’s success continues into next season. The NFC West is getting much stronger and Arizona could resurge without much changing.
Marshawn Lynch is a stud. I wish Wilson had shared some of his rushing touchdowns with Lynch because it would have helped me in the fantasy playoffs. Now I have to hope that Shonn Green somehow scores 20 points tonight against the Titans. With Lynch able to get rest and Robert Turbin able to step in for the second half of the last two games, it means Lynch will be rested for the 49ers and hopefully the playoffs.
Steven Hauschka really stresses me out. I’ve thought the trajectory of his extra point kicks is really low for a long time and now he’s had two of them blocked in the last 23 attempts. I’m not sold on Hauschka as Seattle’s long term kicker. He doesn’t have great range and no real credibility in crunch time. If somebody becomes available in the off season I hope Pete Carroll takes a look.
The defense seemed very lackadaisical for the first half. Seattle built a quick lead but the defense had a difficult time stopping CJ Spiller and Stevie Johnson was able to make some nice catches (one of which there was nothing that could be done about). The second half was much better and made the overall game statistics for the defense look good. I just wish they’d play a whole four quarters that way. It will be needed against San Francisco. I’m worried about Colin Kaepernick’s running ability and Seattle needs to be able to shut that down early. If Seattle can stop Kaepernick and Frank Gore on the ground, San Francisco will become very one-dimensional and I think our secondary would eat Kaepernick’s arm alive.
Which brings me to Seattle’s pass-rush, or lack thereof. The defensive line was finally able to wear down Buffalo’s offensive line but there was no real pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick until later in the game. Seattle needs to pressure the quarterback early and often. Then they’ll hopefully get more plays like Bruce Irvin’s hilarious recovery and run. He might have the best happy-face in the NFL.
My final thought is something I encountered on Twitter during the game. Seahawks fans are very proud and defensive of their team. I know I am; especially to outsiders. However, I don’t think Seattle is perfect and there is still a lot of legitimate criticism and areas for improvement to be focused on. I’ve outlined some of them above. It isn’t because I’m “not a true fan” or will never be happy. It’s because I have high expectations and I believe that Seattle can live up to them. If I was completely satisfied and had no qualms whatsoever, that would mean that I’d expect another 7-9 or 8-8 season and be happy with just missing the playoffs. Instead, I see a lot of potential in Seattle to be 50% better than they are now. They could be a team that San Francisco fears playing instead of the other way around. Seattle can certainly beat San Francisco, but I in no way feel confident about the game. I’d rather be on the other side of that equation – feeling confident, but not certain. I’d rather have the 60% in a 60-40 split.
I have no problem giving a compliment or celebrating when something is done well. But I don’t believe in focusing on the good at the expense of the improvable. If something is already done well – Seattle’s running game for instance – then I don’t think I need to talk about it as much. Just keep doing what they’re doing. I am strong believer in hanging a lantern on your problems and then working like hell to fix them. It’s not traitorous. It’s simply improving the foundation upon which the franchise is built.
Those are all my immediate gut-related thoughts for this week. Until next week, I’ll be breathing deep and removing throwable objects from my living room in preparation for this Sunday’s game.
The Seahawks entered last Sunday’s game without one defensive starter and a key roll player. Nickel corner Marcus Trufant couldn’t play because of hamstring injury, and starting weak side LB LeRoy Hill was out with an ankle injury. The matchup with the Bears limited the impact of Trufant’s absence, and Walter Thurmond played well in his limited snaps.
It was Hill’s injury that created the biggest question mark for the defense. The Bears offense is such that the Seahawks were going to have to play most of the game in either base defense, meaning Malcolm Smith was going to be on the field a lot. The other problem is that the weak side LB in this defense is responsible for covering the RB on most pass plays. That meant the Smith was going to be responsible for covering Matt Forte, one of the best receiving RBs in the NFL.
That’s a lot to ask of a guy who was making his first start.
The thing is, Smith did more than just fill in for Hill. He excelled. He played better than Hill has in any game all season. I went back and watched the game again, and did my best to concentrate on Smith’s play (I like watching LBers. weird huh?) Smith played very well. He was very disciplined in his gap assignments against the run. There was at least twice that I saw where Forte tried to cut back when the hole was filled, only to cut right into Smith who had stayed home where he was supposed to be.
It was a pleasant sight. Smith found a way to do more to help the defense by not trying to do too much. Too often in recent games we’ve seen Seahawk LBs try to do too much, and get out of position, only to have the RB cut back into the void for a big gain. Forte had no such luck this week.
Against the pass its tougher to grade Smith’s performance. The all-22 film isn’t available yet, so I’m stuck using the incredibly limited broadcast view. Too often the players just aren’t on the screen, which is annoying. I don’t expect to be disappointed though when the tape does come out.
According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was in pass coverage on 19 plays. He gave up 2 catches for 8 yards. Can’t complain there. I’ll take that every day from the WLB to be honest, especially against Forte.
Now, before you think that I’m just blowing smoke here, I’m not alone in my evaluation. The guys at Pro Football Focus scored his game a +2.1, the best of any Seattle defender. That says a lot considering how well Kam Chancellor and Brandon Mebane played on Sunday. Think about that for a second.
Consider it this way: If Smith averaged a +2.1 over 12 games, he’d be at +25.2 for the season. That would be #2 in the NFL. So if you think I’m trying to paint a rosy picture here, I’m not. I’m giving you an honest breakdown of what I saw.
It was an eye opening performance. It’s the type of performance that warrants more playing time, a lot more. Smith needs to be starting. The Seahawks now have the next 5+ games (see what I did there?) to see if Smith can play at that level on a consistent basis. If he can play like this consistently, then it changes the offseason plan. The Seahawks will no longer need a starter at the position, and will only need general LB depth. If this was just a blip on the radar, then they need to know that too.
Either way, I expect to see a lot more of Malcolm Smith over the next few weeks.
I’ve been intentionally saving this position for last; not because I have anything ground breaking to say about this unit, but because writing about them is rather depressing. Linebacker was clearly the Seahawk’s biggest weakness in 2011, and the … [visit site to read more]
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